The NDP could win if its message becomes that it will shift to renewable energy investment instead of fossil fuel investment, instead of simply opposing pipelines.
The subtext of this thread so far is that it's pipeline fossil fuels or nothing. No one is talking about the economic opportunity costs and risks of extremely massive expenditures on fossil fuels, to say nothing of the environmental costs of betting Canada's future on such megaprojects when global renewable energy investment, jobs, efficiency and use is growing exponentially.
Continuing down this single track fossil fuel route risks leaving Canada behind as the global economy shifts increasingly and rapidly to other sources.
Clean energy's relentless progress at the expense of the fossil fuel sector tallied up another key milestone, with the International Energy Agency reporting that investment in electricity exceeded fossil fuels for the first time last year.
Global investment in electricity infrastructure accounted for 42% of the $1.7 trillion in energy sector investment over 2016, as money continued to pour into new grids and renewable base-power capacity, while upstream oil and gas investment slumped following the fall in oil prices.
"Global electricity investment was nearly flat at $718 billion, with growing network spending mostly offset by fewer coal-power additions," said the IEA in a report published Tuesday, July 11. "While renewable investment (fell)... 3% lower compared with five years ago, it will generate 35% more power thanks to cost declines and technology improvements in solar PV and wind."
Global employment surpassed fossil fuel energy jobs in 2015 but Canada continues down the same road.
For the first time, there are more people employed in renewable energy worldwide than there are in oil and gas. That statistic — based on data in a recent report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) — should be a wake-up call to Canada, where a large part of the economic debate continues to focus on pripeline construction and hopes for an oil-price rebound. The renewables sector employed 8.1 million people in 2015, up five per cent in a year, the report said, while oil and gas lost some 250,000 jobs by the end of 2015.
Canada clocked in with 36,000 jobs in renewables, with wind farms the largest employer. The country isn’t entirely out of the renewables game; it’s the seventh-largest producer of wind energy in the world, thanks in large part to Ontario’s green energy program, which has succeeded in eliminating coal-fired power plants from the province. But relative to population size, the U.S. has created twice as many jobs in renewables as Canada has. The boom in renewables has helped the U.S. offset some of the pain from the oil-price crash, which led to major job losses in oil fields. ...
The boom in renewables isn’t just an opportunity that Canada is largely missing out on — it presents a threat to Canada’s existing fossil fuel industry. If the world shifts to renewables faster than expected, future demand for oil will be weaker than expected, and that will threaten the existence of the world’s most expensive oil producers — including Canada’s oilsands. Without oil prices at US$80 or better, new investment in the oilsands makes little sense.
If the world shifts to renewables without Canada in the game, the Great White North could find itself an importer of renewable energy technologies in the decades to come, even an importer of renewable energy itself — quite a shift for a country that not long ago aspired to “energy superpower” status.
Costs are dropping dramatically as renewable use soars.
In the United States, solar and wind power accounted for nearly 95 percent of all new electricity capacity added last year, according to Engadget. That success can also be partially attributed to the closures of fossil fuel plants.
In the coming years, we're sure to see renewable energy become a real competitor in the fossil fuel industry. A new report recently published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), predicts the cost of renewable energy will experience a noticeable drop by 2020, putting it on par with, or cheaper than, fossil fuels.
The NDP need to look at what we can do with renewables, not just at what we should or should not do with fossil fuels.
- Global competition is helping to spread the best project development practices, reducing technology and project risk and making renewables more cost-competitive than ever before.
- In developed countries, solar power has become cheaper than new nuclear power.
- The levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) from solar photovoltaics (PV) decreased by 69% between 2010 and 2016 – coming well into the cost range of fossil fuels.
- Onshore wind, whose costs fell 18% in the same period, provides very competitive electricity, with projects routinely commissioned nowadays at USD 0.04/kWh.
- As installation accelerates, the cost equation for renewables just gets better and better. With every doubling of cumulative installed capacity for onshore wind, investment costs drop by 9% while the resulting electricity becomes 15% cheaper.
- Solar PV module costs have fallen by about four-fifths, making residential solar PV systems as much as two-thirds cheaper than in 2010.