Low-carbon energy systems costlier than gas-fed plants

Low-carbon energy systems costlier than gas-fed plants


As Vancouver encourages the creation of new low-carbon district energy systems, users of those utilities can expect to pay more in order to help the city reach its goal of reducing city greenhouse gas emissions by a third by 2020.

However, those district utilities, targeted for some of the city’s densest neighbourhoods, are also making Vancouver a North American leader in both the reduction of greenhouse gases and the expansion of waste heat recovery systems.

But low-carbon utilities, such as the city-owned waste-heat system in South East False Creek and a biofuel-energy system proposed for Northeast False Creek by Ian Gillespie’s Creative Energy, are about 10 per cent more expensive than conventional natural gas, according to Brian Crowe, the city’s director of water, sewer and district energy.

“Of course it is cheaper to burn natural gas. It is cheaper to destroy the planet,” said Mark Jaccard, an energy economist at Simon Fraser University. “For 25 years, the movements by energy experts, environmentalists and politicians who were interested in this has been around energy-efficiency. A criticism that people like me have is that you can’t do just efficiency. You have to do fuel-switching. You can’t just keep burning fossil fuels.”

As new systems are developed that use fuel sources such as wood waste, they are showing cities there are ways to economically switch away from greenhouse gas-producing sources such as natural gas.



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