Tag Archives: electricity

John McCallum: Tory emissions plan is all pain, no gain


With all the apocalyptic warnings coming from Conservative MPs about the Liberal Green Shift plan, it is eerie how silent they have been about their own plan — especially the part of their plan that will raise energy prices for Canadians.

The Conservative government’s greenhouse gas reduction strategy is included in their document, Turning the Corner. When it comes to energy prices here’s what Turning the Corner has to say: “Our modelling suggests that Canadians can expect to bear real costs under the Regulatory Framework. For the majority of individual Canadians … these costs will be most evident in the form of higher energy prices, particularly with respect to electricity and natural gas.”

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Canada puts brakes on electric vehicles


Despite increasing local demand for zero-emissions cars and trucks and robust exports of electric vehicles, Canada will not allow them on its roads, lament manufacturers.

“It’s a daily embarrassment,” said Ian Clifford, president of Zenn Motor Company, which builds “zero emissions no noise” vehicles in Canada for export primarily to the United States.

“Even my employees can’t drive to work in a Zenn. It’s absurd,” he said of federal and provincial rules that forbid electric cars from being driven on most Canadian roads.

Clifford’s frustration is aggravated by the view that Canadians are increasingly concerned about the environment and are said to be eager to drive electric vehicles in this warming climate.

“We build the car in St. Jerome (Quebec) and ship them all south of the border,” where 44 states allow them, and some 45,000 electric cars are in use today, he said.

But Transport Canada says the vehicles made of lightweight metals and plastics are not safe to drive on Canada’s open roads, and would not stand up in a collision.

The regulatory agency has so far certified only five models as road-worthy, including the Zenn, and two others that are no longer in production, said Transport Canada spokeswoman Maryse Durette.

But most provinces, which have jurisdiction over the vast majority of roads and highways in the country, have balked at giving electric cars the green light, citing Transport Canada’s safety concerns.

“We found Transport Canada to be very hostile towards low speed electric vehicles,” echoed Danny Epp of Dynasty Electric Car in an email to AFP.

The Canadian company was recently sold to a Pakistani group which plans to move production to Karachi and continue exporting its vehicles to the United States.

According to reports, others allege political bias, noting Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government’s base of support in oil-rich Alberta province.

To date, only westernmost British Columbia allows low speed electric vehicles on its urban roads.

This week, Quebec in eastern Canada announced a three-year pilot project that would permit starting in July the Zenn and an electric truck called Nemo on its roads with posted speed limits of 50 kilometers (31 miles) per hour.

Manufacturers are hoping Quebec’s pilot may spur its neighbors to jump on the bandwagon and eventually make it possible to drive an electric car from coast to coast across all 10 of Canada’s provinces.

“We hope it will lead to changes,” said Jacques Rancourt, head of utility truck maker Nemo, based in Montreal. But the road promises to be uphill all the way, he said.

Despite their widespread use in the United States and strong sales, there are still technical improvements to be made, say experts, such as boosting the life of batteries used in electric vehicles to allow them to go further.

Hydro Quebec subsidiary TM4, which makes electric motors for the Cleanova electric car built by a subsidiary of France’s Dassault auto group, is working on a new more powerful lithium-ion battery for use in electric vehicles.

According to Quebec’s Transport Minister Julie Boulet, TM4 is also seeking to partner on the project with a large automaker, which she refused to name.

“The battery is really at the heart of the matter to get electric cars rolling,” said Hydro Quebec spokesman Flavie Cote. “We all want exceptional performance from a battery that doesn’t take long to recharge, at a low cost.”

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Toddler finds way to really green solar with green plants


Biosolar’s a toddler chronologically, just turned two years old in April. But they’re already publicly traded and they could stand tall in the expanding field of photovolataics, making electricity from the sun. The firm is based in Santa Clarita in Southern California, so they know about sunlight.

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Hydrogen`s role in a nuclear renaissance


Nuclear energy is key to establishing a hydrogen-powered rail corridor in Toronto, says Greg Naterer, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT).

A big issue with hydrogen, he says, is that 96 per cent of what’s produced in the world comes from fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, through a process called steam reforming. This results in greenhouse gases and other emissions.

The rest largely comes from a more expensive process called electrolysis, which is the use of electricity to separate water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen.

Electrolysis has the potential to produce emission-free hydrogen, but only if the source electricity is itself emission-free – that is, it must come from wind, solar or hydroelectric generation. Nuclear power, if you ignore the radioactive waste, also fits the bill, and this has turned the nuclear industry into a big hydrogen-economy supporter as a way of boosting its own self-proclaimed renaissance.

“A hydrogen economy doesn’t make sense if we’re using fossil fuels to generate the hydrogen, so we need a method that doesn’t use fossil fuels,” says Naterer. “And right now hydrogen from electrolysis is too costly because it has to compete against other fuels.”

As research chair in advanced energy systems at UOIT, Naterer is leading a 24-member team that’s exploring a method of producing lower-cost hydrogen from the waste heat of nuclear plants. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago and universities across Ontario are also participating in the research effort.

Some have argued that surplus electricity from the overnight operation of nuclear reactors could be used to produce hydrogen, but UOIT and its research partners have their eye on a more economical approach. Instead of using nuclear power directly for electrolysis, they plan to use the waste heat from a nearby nuclear plant to extract hydrogen from steam.

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5 reasons why Canada is not a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions


According to the latest national inventory on greenhouse gas, Canada’s emissions are now 32.7% above its Kyoto Protocol targets. According to the latest national inventory on greenhouse gas, Canada’s emissions are now 32.7% above its Kyoto Protocol targets.

Here’s 5 reasons why:

1. Over the last 15 years, emissions from light trucks and SUV’s has risen by 109%.

2. Canadians are not conserving energy. Demand for electricity continued to increase between 2003 and 2005.

3. Alberta oil sands production continues to grow at a rapid rate. The province of Alberta (where the oil sands are found) is the largest emitter of greenhouse gas in Canada (230 million tons in 2005), followed by the provinces of Ontario (200 million tons) and Quebec (90 million tons).

4. Leakage from natural gas pipelines grew 54% between 1990 and 2005.

5. The Canadian government has not introduced new legislation to deal with Canada’s rising greenhouse gas emissions, despite promising to do so for the last two years.

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