Category: Energy

Hydrogen – clean or dirty energy

Hydrogen made from electrolysis of water powered by solar or wind could help humans survive beyond the 21st century. The elemental gas could store surplus renewables power and help decarbonize sectors such as long-distance air and road transport and manufacturing processes for steel, concrete and other carbon-intensive products. Hydrogen should have an important role but a revised policy framework is needed to free decarbonization options from the imperatives of private profit…

BC Hydro: a financial disaster that needs fixing

As managed since 2001 under Premiers Campbell, Clark and Horgan, BC Hydro has been an unqualified disaster. The company has used falsehoods to justify capital spending of about $40 billion during a decade and a half of flat demand. Instead of managing BC Hydro for the benefit of citizens, political officials in BC have directed or assented to disastrous utility policies. This is another case of supervision by policy regulators who do not believe in regulation. To them, private interests are foremost, public interests subordinate.

The way forward is privatization of BC Hydro and creation of a strong, independent, and unassailable regulator that ensures citizens are protected from capitalist profiteering and self-interested financial fraud orchestrated by corporate insiders and politicians.

Energy innovation

Hindered by the political power exercised by fossil fuel companies and financial institutions supporting those industries, Canada’s federal government has been little involved in development of non-destructive renewable energy sources. For the same reason, western provincial governments have been even less engaged. Values worth hundreds of billions of dollars flow from the public to private oil, gas and coal operators. Meanwhile, a pittance goes to energy technologies not firmly rooted in the 20th century…

EVs will not disrupt the grid

As vehicles move from internal combustion engines to electric, some presume this will cause massive new demands for electricity. That assumption is encouraged by utilities and vested interests enriched by massive spending to build unneeded capacity. Of course, the global oil industry has its own reasons for promoting the idea that electrification of transportation will be disruptive. As vehicles move from internal combustion engines to electric, some presume this will cause massive new demands for electricity. That assumption is encouraged by utilities and vested interests enriched by massive spending to build unneeded capacity. Of course, the global oil industry has its own reasons for promoting the idea that electrification of transportation will be disruptive. So do automotive retailers that are financially reliant on services needed for internal combustion engines…

An untapped energy source

Humans need stable energy supplies that do not harm the Earth and an underutilized source lies beneath our feet. Geothermal is clean, limitless, predictable, and almost carbon free. But geothermal has no multi-trillion-dollar industry promoting it, nor support from Canadian politicians conditioned to follow established paths. Mostly that means subsidizing fossil fuels…

Privatizing public dollars

The high-priced help at BC Hydro and the provincial government decided benefits of low-costs should never be wasted on consumers. To ensure it was not, the utility signed decades-long deals with private power companies to buy electricity generated by wind turbines. The contracts contained inflation escalators and were designed to be unbreakable. Rather than paying $25 to $40 per MWh, British Columbia’s public utility was far more generous to private power suppliers…

Resolving EV inhibitions

For personal use in urban areas, electric vehicles are clearly in our immediate future. But not everyone lives in a place where battery charging is a simple affair. Fast charging stations are costly to build, damaging to batteries, and may be expensive to use, drawing power at times of peak demand.

Deception and duplicity

While John Horgan’s government was almost doubling the Site C budget to C$16 billion, the Biden administration was getting ready to approve a C$3.4 billion wind project off the coast of Massachusetts. The per megawatt cost of the wind project is less than 30% of Site C’s capital cost per megawatt and it destroys no farmland, violates no Indigenous rights agreements, and presents no threats to nearby communities…

Fuel on a fire

I understand why people gaining direct financial rewards support the Peace River megaproject. But it is harder to explain why rational and, we hope, honest cabinet ministers stay attached to a hazardous hydropower project when less expensive, less damaging options are available. Perhaps the refusal to admit error is explained by Dr. Guy Winch, writing in Psychology Today…

Volte-face

Years from now, after physical frailty or political transience has ensured John Horgan’s removal from the cabinet meeting room, a political opponent or a savvy journalist will definitively explain Premier Horgan’s about-face on energy matters.

BC Hydro quandary

Unrestrained capital spending and needed write-offs of valueless items will result in major rate increases. But that presents a critical problem. Alternatives for consumers are steadily getting easier and less costly. BC Hydro is entering the utility death spiral.

Wind turbine for when the winds don’t blow

Years ago, the head of BC Hydro said the least-cost solutions to energy needs were conservation and efficiency. While that remains true, recovery of energy now wasted would be advantageous. Alpha 311 now offers a vertical axis wind turbine that can produce electricity by harvesting energy produced by moving vehicles.

BC: a follower, not a leader

The BC Government could have learned from hydropower disasters in Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba as those were unfolding. Spending went out of control on Muskrat Falls and Keeyask. Because NL has only about 10% of BC’s population, the federal government had to step in to avoid ruinous electricity rate increases. BC could have learned. It did not, because political and private interests ranked ahead of the public’s.

Electricity policy built on lies

No one doubts that in coming decades, demand will grow, partly fueled by electric vehicles. But that growth will be more modest than claimed by BC Hydro’s agents. It could be easily met by conservation and efficiency programs, upgrades to existing facilities and creation of clean, non destructive renewable sources.

Hypocrisy!

Stop, go, yes, no! NDP Cabinet Minister Murray Rankin wants to be on both sides of a vital issue. He congratulates University of Victoria students for partial success after an eight-year campaign asking the university to adopt responsible investment policies that exclude fossil fuels. Yet, Rankin sits at the Cabinet table of a government making massive investments for the benefit fossil fuel producers.

Limitless supply, limitless potential

You can safely bet politicians and bureaucrats use the latest computers and communication devices and regularly view high-definition smart TVs that replaced smaller screens weighing one or two hundred pounds. Despite knowing about short lifespans in the world of high-tech, decision makers have not used their modern tools to learn how energy technologies have shifted radically as well.

More methane? Meh!

In British Columbia and other western provinces, we will soon be working to reshape the economy. Now is a perfect time to commit to reduced production of fossil fuels and move vigorously toward a clean energy economy. Instead of public relations campaigns, we need action. Real action.