The future is electric

The news today is filled with information about the Omnicron virus that is a derivative of the Covid virus. It has replaced the headlines from the United Nations Glasgow conference working to reduce green house gases and control global warming in the world. But on the back pages of newspapers and magazines and near the end of news broadcasts, stories now fill those holes about energy shortages and the impact those shortages will have on the world in the next decade.

I was caught off guard by a story about a paper released by a think tank “Clean Energy Canada” on December 1, that called on Canada to build 12 nuclear plants or 113 hydro dams to meet Canada’s commitment to reach zero emissions by 2050. Two days later Ontario Power Generation announced the first new nuclear plant to be constructed in Ontario in decades east of Toronto. Known as a Small Modular Reactor (SMR) it can provide all the energy requirements for 300,000 homes. The site is being readied for this new style nuclear plant developed by Hitachi. The SMR is not expected to come online until 2028. With such a lag time between deciding to create additional nuclear power plants and bringing them online, the Canadian government and provincial government will have to accelerate their commitment for zero emissions. Solar energy and windfarms are not fully dependable. They require far more space than does a nuclear plant.

In the meantime, Canadians are using more energy for transportation than ever before. Vehicles have not improved in mileage. Canadians have been slow to embrace electrical vehicles. The first choice for home heating remains natural gas or oil. That alone is one of Canada’s biggest contributors of green house gases. As the population grows, and the wealth of nations increases, demand for energy will increase.

We are already witnessing this as the price and demand for coal has risen. The demand for oil and gas has exploded in developing countries. This is already leading to energy shortages and price increases for home heating fuels, diesel fuel and gas for vehicles.

And even though world politicians voiced their commitment to bring carbon emissions to zero by 2050, no nation has stepped forward to tackle its objective. Do you recall Prime Minister Trudeau who said the COVID-19 pandemic would provide a golden opportunity to “build back better” by replacing fossil fuel energy with green energy?

A huge gap remains between what politicians said at the United Nations Energy Conference last month in Glasgow and what happens back in their countries in the real world. In our real world for Canada to meet its commitments, green house gas emissions must decline by 7.9% annually for the next 30 years, but this year they are rising at 4.9%.

There are no easy choices. Politicians must be honest with their electorate and compel the electorate to make difficult choices.

Former Publisher
Fort Frances Times