Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Canada's Carbon Capture and Storage Mandate, part II

The Canadian federal government's first baby-step on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, first blogged about by me in August, the setting of a performance standard of 375 tonnes CO2/Gwh for Canada's 53 coal-fired electricity generating units promises little. There are several "flexibilities" (Environment Canada's term) built into the proposed regulation: they don't apply to existing units until they are "old" -- 45 years old and at the end of a power purchasing contract. Existing units are otherwise grandfathered. Also, "new" units built before 2015 are not subject to the performance standard.

How many units are we talking about? In the analysis for the regulation, Environment Canada says that 35 units -- 66% of the total number of units currently in operation will become "old" by 2025. That's a long ways away. How many are old now? Environment Canada projects that 21 plants will be retired by 2015, but 15 of those are slated for retirement as a result of Ontario's provincial mandate to phase out coal-fired units, so it's not as if the federal government can take credit for it. So presumably 6 units become "old" by 2015, and another 14 become old in the decade following. The rest are grandfathered.

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