Strategies for lowering your GHG emissions depends on where you live.
As I started discussing in my last blog on Geothermal heating and cooling systems, electricity in Canada is produced by many different sources. There are hydro, nuclear, coal and NG power plants in addition to solar photovoltaic, wind turbines and biogas installations. As you can see in the chart below, hydro accounts for the majority of electricity production in Canada, while despite all of the news surrounding renewable energy, non-hydro renewable energy accounts for less than 3% of total energy generation.
When it comes to GHG emissions and public health, the biggest culprit is conventional steam electricity generation which primarily uses coal as its energy source. In turn, the province that uses the most coal is Alberta, as seen in the chart below. Not only does Alberta rely on coal for more than 70% of its electricity needs, they also account for over 50% of total coal used for generation in this country.
Why does this matter? Well, depending on the province/region, your electricity consumption and the GHG emissions associated with that consumption will differ greatly. If your faith community or you personally, are concerned about your GHG emissions, and wish to lower them, then you need to understand the electricity mix so that you can make informed decisions on energy efficiency upgrades. For example, if I live in Alberta and attend a church with electric baseboard heating, then I would likely make a push to switch to a gas furnace. However, if the same building was located in Quebec, and I was only concerned about GHG emissions, then electric baseboard heating would be my first choice, and I would be happy to have it.
– David Patterson