Sustainability Journal

June 2013 Issue (files are in PDF format)

BC's gas plan is a short-sighted pipe dream

The May 30 issue of the David Suzuki blog 'Science Matters' discusses the plans for using fracking to produce natural gas in British Columbia. (Also discussed in the NEB Energy Futures documents and the resulting critiques). Note however that the Suzuki article uses a value of 20 for the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of methane as compared to carbon dioxide. Howarth et al (Dec12 explain why a value of 105 is more appropriate, based on a 20 year integrated time frame that is more in keeping with the need to reduce GHG values within a tolerable period. NOAA tests on two wells showed that the gas leakage amounted to between 4 and 9 per cent of total production. Adjusting for the GWP the leaked gas was as bad as the release of about 4.2 to 9.5 times the CO2 from burning the total gas production of the well. Even those numbers underestimate the magnitude of the problem because they do not include the methane that diffuses up through the ground after the well production ceases.

Comments re. the NEB presentation, May 30

A critique of the May 30 presentation by the National Energy Board on its 2013 Energy Futures Report.

Storing exergy

An explanation of how exergy (equivalent to electricity) can be stored in ground heat storage systems.

Making PEI energy self-sufficient

The Province of Prince Edward Island has enough natural sources of renewable energy to meet all of its own energy needs, with sufficient reserve capacity to handle any likely future population. Since the natural energy sources are all free the capital cost of building the (estimated 575) heat stores could be progressively financed via the savings realized from their operation once a few are in operation. The GHG emissions would be zero. This provides a particularly straightforward example of the advantages of using exergy storage systems except for one feature - since PEI has no native electricity generation that provides a stable output the "electricity storage" feature cannot be demonstrated. Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Alberta all offer similar opportunities.

Making Newfoundland a power exporter

Newfoundland has substantial unused hydro and natural gas resources but it does not need to tap either to become a power exporter or to reduce its GHG footprint.

Prairie Power

Half of Canada's GHG emissions from stationary sources come from the province of Alberta. Although the tar sands operations are widely blamed the emissions from Alberta's coal-fired power stations are almost equal to those from the tar sands. The government plans call for the use of coal to continue in Alberta until at least 2035. Over that period there will also be a dramatic expansion in the use of natural gas, most of which is likely to come from the fracking process that leads to large fugitive emissions of methane. Exergy storage systems could solve most, but not all, of the emission and cost problems.

Nova Scotia: Interlocking systems

A brief note showing how Nova Scotia could have cheaper power and home heating, eliminate its GHG emissions, and become a key part of an eastern interlocking energy network.