Fed­eral govern­ment ‘in­ter­ested’ in hy­dro in­ter­provin­cial ties

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - CITY + REGION -

WIN­NIPEG Canada is tran­si­tion­ing away from fos­sil fu­els and look­ing at more ca­pac­ity for so­lar en­ergy, wind power and in­ter­provin­cial hy­dro trans­mis­sion, Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter Jim Carr said Wed­nes­day.

Carr is host­ing a two-day con­fer­ence on the fu­ture of Canada’s en­ergy in­dus­try, called Gen­er­a­tion En­ergy, where ex­perts said fos­sil fu­els will have to be phased out by the mid­dle of the cen­tury if ma­jor coun­tries are go­ing to come close to meet­ing the emis­sions tar­gets un­der the Paris cli­mate change ac­cord.

“I agree that we are in tran­si­tion. There will be a dis­cus­sion, among those who make pre­dic­tions, about the speed of that tran­si­tion,” Carr said af­ter a morn­ing panel dis­cus­sion.

“The time frame that I heard this morn­ing was 30 years, 40 years, mid-cen­tury, 50 years — which gives Canada and other coun­tries around the world a sense of the way in which tran­si­tion will un­fold and at what pace.”

Carr said en­ergy com­pa­nies can look at fos­sil fu­els as a le­gacy part of their busi­ness while de­vel­op­ing new sources.

The con­fer­ence was told in­vest­ments in re­new­able en­ergy around the world have risen sharply and the cost of pro­duc­ing so­lar power has dropped in many parts of Europe and other re­gions.

“In the last three years, so­lar cost is half (what it was),” said Fatih Birol, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency, a body set up dur­ing the oil cri­sis of the 1970s that now has 29 mem­ber coun­tries, in­clud­ing Canada and the United States.

“We ex­pect in the next three years, between 2017 and 2020, an­other halv­ing.”

Birol said Canada has al­ready done a lot for clean, re­new­able en­ergy by build­ing up hy­dro­elec­tric ca­pac­ity and there is much more room now for im­prove­ments in so­lar and wind power.

Carr said so­lar and wind power will be de­vel­oped, but there is also a fed­eral in­ter­est in help­ing to build more trans­mis­sion lines so that hy­dro-rich prov­inces such as Man­i­toba and Bri­tish Columbia can ex­port to other prov­inces and parts of the United States.

The idea of an east-west power grid was pushed a decade ago by politi­cians in­clud­ing for­mer Man­i­toba Premier Gary Doer, but never came to fruition.

“We’re very in­ter­ested in elec­tric­ity in­ter-ties. We have been talk­ing about that with our pro­vin­cial part­ners for two years now,” Carr said.

“We seek to work with the prov­inces to de­ter­mine what makes sense from their per­spec­tive and build out ac­cord­ing to the pace that’s com­fort­able for our pro­vin­cial part­ners.”

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