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The Untapped Potential of District Energy Networks

Cities consume a lot of energy – in fact, the World Bank recently stated that cities account for two-thirds of global energy consumption and for more than 70% of greenhouse gas emissions. This is partly because cities are such high-density areas, with 55% of the world’s population, or about 4.2 billion people, living in cities. Fortunately, because cities are high-density environments, they’re well-positioned to play a leading role in driving global action to address climate change. One of the ways that cities can do this is by lessening their consumption of energy. This can be done through advocating for the use of low-carbon district energy networks.

The Costs of Cooling

Those living in Canada right now, particularly in Ontario and Quebec, are currently grappling with two threats: a historic heat dome and a global pandemic that forces people to spend more time at home. During these extreme temperatures and high humidity, many people rely on their air conditioning (AC) to cool off. In 2017, 60% of Canadian households reported having some type of AC system in their home. Globally, the number of air conditioners is expected to grow from 1.6 billion to 5.6 billion between 2018-2050, according to a report by the International Energy Agency.

Living Under a Heat Dome

With hot weather and easy-to-access outdoor activities, many Canadians embrace the summer season. This year, though, the summertime heat means being really, really hot. According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, temperature predictions for July 2020 indicate a historic heat wave unlike any other, at least out east, with heat warnings in effect for more than 70 districts in Ontario and Quebec. The majority of southern Ontario has received below normal amounts of rainfall in early July, with most areas experiencing recorded rainfall of less than 0.5 mm for 30-50 days between June and early July.

Offshore Oil Production

Newfoundland and Labrador leads oil production outside of Western Canada

Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) is the only Atlantic Canadian province currently producing oil, and the largest producer outside of Western Canada. Roughly 6% of Canada’s oil production comes from NL.

In-Situ Production in the Oil Sands

In-situ projects lead growth in the Canadian oil sands

In Western Canada, about 80% of oil sands deposits are located more than 75 metres underground. These deposits cannot be developed through open-pit mining as too much rock and soil would need to be removed to access the oil sands. At this depth, extracting oil sands is only workable using what is referred to as in-situ methods, which combines drilling and steam injection.

Mining the Oil Sands

Incremental growth projected for oil sands mining

Oil sands mining is expected to expand modestly in the future relative to oil sands in-situ projects. According to the Canada Energy Regulator (CER), oil sands mining production will increase by 13% in the next 20 years, from 1.5 to 1.7 million barrels per day.

This growth is not expected to come from new projects, as no new mines are under construction. Rather, this growth will come from expanding existing mines. Many of the projects that are producing today are expected to continue to do so through 2040 and beyond.

What is the Future of Canadian Oil?

The future of crude oil development in Canada is an open question. Government, industry and civil society have mixed feelings about how to balance the environmental impacts and economic benefits of fossil fuel resource development. It’s hard to predict what will happen to the industry, as projections vary greatly from source to source. To complicate matters, the future will not only be shaped by Canadian climate policies, but also by factors that affect oil supply and demand worldwide, such as recovery from COVID-19, new low-carbon electricity and transportation options, international economic growth, and oil production in the US.

Favourite Energy Graphs of 2019

Favourite Energy Graphs of 2019 December 16, 2019 With 2019 wrapping up, we thought we’d highlight some of our favourite energy graphs we’ve come across during the year! We’re cool, we know. It’s been a year of insightful reports and tons of research in the energy sector but we’ve narrowed it down to our top …

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