It’s Been a Long Time Coming – Alberta’s Phasing-out of Coal

By February 15, 2018 General No Comments

Alberta’s energy sector is among the most prominent features in its robust economy. The Province reported revenues in the area of $33 billion dollars in 2013 . With figures like this, it’s no wonder that the international stage has its eyes on Alberta as it undertakes the transition to a low carbon economy. Currently, greenhouse emissions resulting from the generation of electricity are comparable to that of the oil sands.
Our Province’s energy sector nearly tripled in size in the decade between 2003 and 2013, despite complex extraction methods and contentious weather. While sector growth indicates a strong industry, it has increased concerns over the environmental implications of fossil fuel extraction not just on plants and trees – but on human health as well, as a result of increased air pollution.
The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) found that an accelerated Alberta coal phase out will prevent 600 premature deaths, 500 emergency room visits, and will avoid nearly $3 billion in negative health outcomes.
Health concerns come as a result of exposure to cadmium, lead mercury and other toxic pollutants known to cause, among other things, respiratory disease and heart problems. In response, the government’s Climate Leadership Plan aims to eliminate coal-based emissions by 2030, a bold move that speaks volumes to the Province’s commitment to the responsible protection of its environment, and its people. It is also worth noting that in positioning itself as a leader in green energy, Alberta sets the stage to have more influence, internationally, as a marker for success in responsible industry.
Coal plant closures have begun, with some plants being ‘mothballed’, a term for a suspension of operation that allows the possibility of reopening for operation at a later time. TransAlta began the new year with the closure of Sundance Unit 1 and mothballing of unit 2 to a maximum of 2 years. TransAlta has further committed to an early phase-out of its coal-based operations, with all operations out of service by 2023 – 7 years ahead of the imposed Client Leadership Plan deadline.
There will be hurdles, that’s to be sure, but overall, it’s safe to say that Alberta’s residents will gain more than we will lose in the long run with a move away from coal. The green energy sector brings with it opportunities for new employment and new job creation that, to this day, don’t exist. Alberta is on track to make unprecedented changes in the way that it does electricity, with a minimum of 30% green electricity taking up permanent residency on our grid over the next 12 years – that’s something to be proud of!
Burst Energy continue to follow the transition away from coal closely, and with interest. By staying abreast of new developments in the energy sector, we are better positioned to offer our clients the best value for their energy needs.