New Emissions Rules For Coal-Fired Electricity Sector
The Canadian government has released final regulations for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from coal-fired electricity generation.
The long awaited measures will apply stringent performance standards to new electricity generation units and old units that have reached the end of their economic life. In the first 21 years, the regulations are expected to result in a cumulative reduction in GHG emissions of about 214 megatonnes.
These regulations, in addition to commitments made by provinces and industry and other measures, are projected to reduce greenhouse gasemissions from the electricity generating sector to 41 megatonnes below 2005 levels by 2020. This constitutes a 33% reduction in GHG emissions from electricity generation over this period.
'We have also recently announced that we are working with the Governments of Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan on an equivalency agreement to prevent duplicative coal-fired electricity regulations, and our Government is open to discussions with other provinces and territories, said Environment Minister Peter Kent in announcing the regulations in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Provinces had sought this flexibility in how they dealt with their coal-fired electricity facilities. In addition to the equivalency deals struck with Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan, Alberta is expected to seek such an arrangement in the near future.
Those three provinces are the most dependent in Canada upon coal for their electricity.
Today's announcement is part of a longer term strategy of sector-by-sector measures to reduce emissions and meet the government's 2020 emissions reduction target the Minister noted. Draft regulations for the oil and gas sector are expected next year.
The regulations for the coal-fired electricity sector will set a stringent performance standard for new coal-fired units and units that have reached the end of their useful life.
- Units that have reached the end of their useful life, in general, are those that have been producing electricity commercially for 50 years. However, as a transition measure:
- Units that were commissioned before 1975 will reach their end-of-life after 50 years of operation or at the end of 2019, whichever comes earlier. Units commissioned in or after 1975 but before 1986 will reach their end-of-life after 50 years of operation or at the end of 2029, whichever comes earlier.
New units are those which start producing electricity commercially on or after July 1st, 2015.
It is hoped these new standards will foster a permanent transition towards lower or non-emitting types of generation such as high-efficiency natural gas and renewable energy.
Environment Canada estimates that Canadians will be better off by $7.3B as a result of these regulations due to avoided costs associated with climate change and electricity generation, and avoided health problems from smog and air pollutants.
There are also potential benefits associated with the use of carbon capture and storage technology to enhance oil recovery.