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Electricity mix

Which electricity mix is the most affordable, reliable and sustainable?

New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are finalizing long-range electric and energy system plans with both focused on ensuring customer affordability, reliability, sustainability and utility financial viability.

The Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) asked Energy Futures Group (EFG) to provide a comparative analysis on a selection of long-term resource plans and energy scenario studies to examine these questions. This report, Comparative Analysis of Long-Term Resource Plans and Energy Scenarios, explores two dozen cases drawn from scenario studies and integrated resource plans across Canada and the United States. The research illustrates a trend towards an increasing number of clean portfolios being selected as preferred resource plans.

This is the second report in the Atlantic Vision for Clean Electricity 2020-2021 series.

Clean portfolios, based on renewable energy, demonstrate significant greenhouse gas reductions. In both the electricity sector and economy wide, the combination of decarbonized electric supply, efficiency, strategic electrification, and flexible load management can be used to create plans that result in 50% medium term, and 80% to 90% long-term reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Comparative Analysis of Long-Term Resource Plans and Energy Scenarios Tweet

Key Findings

The report presents a broad-scope view of more than two dozen studies and scenarios to provide context and support for energy system planning in Atlantic Canada. Key findings include: 

Clean energy portfolios are cost competitive with conventional portfolios.

Even when environmental externalities are not valued and quantified, clean energy portfolios from a variety of studies have costs that are lower or very close to conventional portfolios. With few exceptions, our research indicates clean portfolios are affordable. They can also be expected to keep more spending, investment and jobs local, thereby contributing to healthy and sustainable economic growth in our communities. 

Clean portfolios, based on renewable energy, demonstrate significant greenhouse gas reductions.

In both the electricity sector and economy wide, the combination of decarbonized electric supply, efficiency, strategic electrification, and flexible load management can be used to create plans that result in 50% medium term, and 80% to 90% long-term reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. 

The end use and supply side technologies required to create such portfolios are available today.

Moreover, electric systems can reliably, and cost effectively, be designed and operated with high levels of renewable energy saturation. 

The financing for clean energy portfolios, for both investor owned and public utilities, can reasonably be expected to be less costly and less risky than for fossil fuel and nuclear projects.

With lower operating costs, lower operating risks, lower environmental compliance risk, lower risks for decommissioning, and greater modularity, clean portfolios are likely to have increasing advantage over conventional resources in attracting capital investment.  

Social equity metrics

Growing attention is being given to social equity metrics as a means to improve ability of clean energy portfolios and initiatives to benefit all customer classes, and to enhance the equity of economic development impacts from more equitable investment and job creation. 

“Our research provides starting references and grounds for further investigation on many of these points. It also clearly illustrates the trends we highlight above, and points towards an increasingly bright future for clean energy portfolios.”

Energy Futures’ David Hill Tweet

Join us in demanding a clean, modern electricity system for New Brunswick.

About the Atlantic Vision for Clean Electricity

Solving climate change requires deep social change, including an expanded reliance on non-polluting electricity to power our lives. The key to this transition is ensuring that our modernized and sustainable electricity system is affordable and reliable.

The Conservation Council of New Brunswick and the Ecology Action Centre are excited to launch the Atlantic Vision series of reports, webinars and research to show that affordable, reliable, sustainable electricity is possible in our region, right now. Cleaner electricity can help make us safer, more secure and healthier. We can use it to help make electricity affordable for everyone, reliable for when we need it, and cleaner for our health and for our planet.

The Atlantic Vision series is focused on the transition to electricity portfolios that phase out coal-fired electricity and ensures our regional electricity system is 90 per cent emissions free before 2030 as required by federal regulation and climate change policy. As a key part of the Just and Green Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, clean electricity can build green careers, bring health and economic benefits to communities and help us emerge from the pandemic better off than when we began.

Our definition of cleaner electricity has two components. First, cleaner electricity relies primarily on non-polluting sources like wind, solar and hydro technologies and it is used efficiently. These renewable technologies have lower environmental impact than electricity generated from coal, oil and natural gas that generate greenhouse gases when burned causing the global heating that is supercharging our weather. Second, our sustainable electricity portfolio needs to be affordable and reliable.

We know that cleaner electricity is affordable, reliable and sustainable – and it’s ready to be deployed right now. The major barriers keeping us from achieving the clean electricity system we deserve are the outdated laws, rules and targets in our region. We need to come together to update the laws that control how we plan for future electricity systems, in order to ensure a safer, more secure and healthier future with clean electricity.

We need to avoid the risks, mistakes and delays that come with continued coal burning, more nuclear energy, and dependence on fossil fuels.

We need to build electricity connections to allow renewable energy like wind and solar to be reliable at all times of year, by backing it up with existing hydroelectric capacity, storage technologies, and collaboration with our neighbours.

Download the letter from CCNB:

To learn more about how our electricity and energy use changes the climate and what New Brunswickers are doing about it, visit this link.

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