Normand Mousseau
Professor of Physics and Chair
Université de Montréal

Claudio Cañizares

Based on the documents I provided and available in the section above, here are some initial thoughts on your questions:

1. What is there to gain from a common energy policy?

I don’t believe it’s possible to have a common "global" energy policy in Eastern Canada, or Canada for that matter, given the significant energy resource differences among the provinces. For example, the electrical energy resources in QC are quite different to ON’s, i.e. lots of hydro in QC, not much in Ontario. There are also significant differences in the energy needs in each province, i.e. lots of industry based demand in QC and ON, not so much in the other provinces, plus significant population differences. However, all provinces will benefit from more interprovincial energy trade east-west, besides the current north-south, as between QC and ON with the recent and long-awaited electrical interconnection between these provinces, which not only improves energy security but also helps reduce GHG emissions.

On the latter, common/similar policies on the electrification of transportation would go a long way, given the clean energy matrix that most eastern Canadian provinces now have, including ON, once the worst electricity-system polluter. Furthermore, the common policies on adoption and integration of wind and solar power, besides hydro, are necessary, particularly in remote communities based on diesel generation, a particularly Canadian problem, since besides reducing obvious environmental impacts associated with diesel-fuel based electrical systems, it would increase energy security, and address the significant social issue of energy-limited communities.

2. What are the technical, political and economic hurdles, challenges and transformations toward the optimal solution?

Technical (all important current R&D efforts):

  • Lack of proper large and small energy storage system developments and technologies.
  • Limited knowledge regarding management of variable generation, particularly in the small grids (microgrids) prevalent in remote communities.

Political:

  • Lack of commitment from politicians to make hard calls, thinking on next election and reacting to popularity polls (e.g. carbon tax, FITs).
  • Lack of public will to do the "right thing", like paying more for cleaner energy.

Economic:

  • All new renewable energy solutions are costly and need some initial incentives to take off (e.g. FITs).
  • Energy is too cheap!
Friday 10 October 2014

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