Last week I had the opportunity to meet with leaders from the bioenergy sector at the Biomass North Development Centre’s AGM & Forum in North Bay. It was inspiring to be in a room with people who understand the importance of bioenergy in the transition to a 100% sustainable and low-carbon energy system. Our communities use up to 80% of their energy to heat spaces and water and only 20% for electricity. Yet, when talking about energy, we (our Ministry of Energy included), all too often, concern ourselves only with the electricity portion, ignoring the much larger need for energy for heating our homes and water. By doing so, we ignore a tremendous opportunity and something that could be considered – Canada’s competitive edge – namely heat and electricity from biogas and biomass, most efficiently utilized in a Combined Heat and Power application.
For years, OSEA members have tried to stress the importance of seizing the opportunities and break down the silos between electricity and heating and cooling, to allow for the most efficient and effective integration of these technologies and processes. Communities who can realize these opportunities through community energy plans are well-positioned to being self-reliant in the face of climate change and to developing economic opportunities, allowing their neighborhoods to remain intact and be re-vitalized.
OSEA members are supporting this development with two exciting initiatives. One is the Green Heat Working Group’s white paper on sustainable heat – a policy brief defining green heat and outlining the opportunities and barriers as well as providing an overview of best practices from other jurisdictions.
The second initiative is the Combined Energy Options Ontario study – a research project lead by a consortium of academic and industry partners to develop a model and simulation for a 100% sustainable, low-carbon energy system that is build on portfolios of sustainable energy technologies for power, heating, cooling, and transportation. OSEA members feel strongly that this initiative is essential to evidence-based, sound, long-term energy planning, detached from political ideology and partisan interests. It is our desire that this model will soon be able to inform the government’s long-term energy planning efforts.
An effort that is currently under way again with the development of the new Long-term Energy Plan that is scheduled to be released in the spring of 2017. I encourage you to get involved in the consultation by attending any of the government’s public consultation sessions (for details click here).
In our pre-consultation submission, OSEA highlighted five main areas of concern based on feedback from our membership. I would appreciate it, if you could keep the following five points in mind and, if necessary, address them during the meetings you attend:
• Any future Long Term Energy Plan should be based on publicly available, transparent, and full lifetime feasibility and cost analysis of the most sustainable technology options for all forms of energy, i.e. electrical, thermal and mobility.
• Define clear, ambitious energy conservation and GHG emission reduction targets in the LTEP for all sectors and government agencies in line with Canada’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.
• Improve stability and predictability of renewable energy procurement programs for all participants.
• Design the regulatory process to support and simplify the economic participation of the communities hosting renewable energy projects.
• Change building codes to include mandatory and ambitious energy efficiency standards for new buildings, commercial and residential.
See OSEA letter to the Minister for the pre-consultation: http://ontario-sea.org/resources/Documents/OPRAC/OSEA_LTEP2016_Pre-Planning_Submission_06152016.pdf
See OSEA pre-consultation survey report: http://ontario-sea.org/resources/Documents/OPRAC/OSEA_LTEP2016_Pre-Planning_Submission_06152016.pdf
If you need additional support or guidance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I am also very excited to announce our upcoming Powering Prosperity Awards 2017. Once a year, we have a chance to recognize the champions in our sector who drive sustainability concepts and sustainable energy initiatives big and small. I hope you can join us on Thursday, February 2, 2017, for an evening of celebration and networking. And if you know anyone or any organization that deserves to be recognized, please note that we are receiving award nominations until November 21st, 2016. For more details visit www.poweringprosperity.ca.
Finally, I am happy to announce that OSEA’s board is looking to fill several upcoming vacancies. All OSEA members in good standing are eligible to run for director positions on the board. Serving as a director on OSEA’s board is a voluntary position. It is an opportunity to work with the other directors on the board helping to shape the direction of the organization and the sustainable energy sector at large. Click here for further details
The month of November is busy with conferences, social events, public consultations, and meetings. I wish you a good month and look forward to seeing you around.