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Alberta follows UK decision to phase out coal & will transition to renewables & gas generation by 2030

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Alberta Premier Notley’s new announcement of a phase out of coal emissions by 2030 is a significant step forward, and builds momentum following the UK coal phase-out announcement just four days ago. Alberta accounts for 65% of Canada’s total coal capacity.

Alberta is home to 18 out of the remaining 35 coal units in Canada, and accounts for 65% of Canada’s total coal capacity. Alberta is responsible for 36% of Canada’s GHG emissions, despite being only having 11% of the population. Coal is the source of 55% of electricity generation in the province. In contrast, Ontario shut down its coal power plants between 2007 and 2014, more than 6GW of capacity was retired (E3G Canada country profile, October 2015).

Canadian electricity production has been dominated by hydropower over past decades, accounting for 65% of power generation in 2013. In 2013, coal combustion accounted for over 8% of Canada’s total CO2 emissions. Coal power only made up 10.5% of electricity generation in 2013.

The coal mining industry provided over 25,000 direct and over 16,500 indirect jobs in 2011. Yet Canada’s renewable energy sector is already starting to rival coal job figures. In 2013, the green energy industry employed 23,700 people directly.

Al Gore, Former US Vice President, Chairman of The Climate Reality Project said: “Today’s announcement by Premier Notley that Alberta will put an economy-wide price on carbon, phase out coal and increase its commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency represents an inspiring addition to the legacy of leadership and forward thinking action by Canadian provinces to speed our transition to a low carbon economy. This is also another powerful signal — well-timed on the eve of the Paris negotiations — that humanity is beginning to win our struggle to solve the climate crisis.

“We do need to win faster. I encourage Premier Notley, and all of Alberta, to follow this first step with continued bold action to transition away from fossil fuels.”

Key details of the announcement include:

– Alberta will phase out all pollution created by burning coal and transition to more renewable energy and natural gas generation by 2030.

– Three principles will shape the coal phase-out: maintaining reliability; providing reasonable stability in prices to consumers and business; and, ensuring that capital is not unnecessarily stranded.

– Two-thirds of coal-generated electricity will be replaced by renewables – primarily wind power – while natural gas generation will continue to provide firm base load reliability.

– Renewable energy sources will comprise up to 30 per cent of Alberta’s electricity production by 2030.

Tim Flannery, PhD., head of the Australia Climate Council and best-selling author of The Weather Makers and Atmosphere of Hope, said: “Moving off of coal and onto renewables is an essential part of this global energy transition. Alberta has made the right choice in its new plans to act on climate.”

Ed Whittingham, Executive Director, Pembina Institute commented: “The complete phase-out of coal by 2030 makes clear the government of Alberta’s intention to improve air quality and to tackle one of our highest-emitting fuel sources. Given the international attention on coal as an unnecessary source of pollution, the government of Alberta’s decision not only protects people’s health and saves the province’s health care system hundreds of millions of dollars a year, it gives Alberta the credibility to bring a better message and approach to Paris.”

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune added: “In the United States, the Sierra Club is proud to have helped slow the expansion of tar sands infrastructure and ensure that over 200 dirty coal plants are slated for retirement, and Alberta’s announcement today is a welcome sign that the climate movement is continuing to grow. Just last week, the United Kingdom announced it was also transitioning fully off of coal and Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau issued guidance to ban oil tankers off the North Coast of British Columbia.  This commitment and leadership shows it is not only possible to move beyond dirty fuels in the United States and around the world — it is inevitable.”

Chris Littlecott, Programme Leader at E3G said: “Alberta’s climate plan combines bold goals with credible policies. It deserves real praise for prioritising the phase out of coal power plants and accelerating the deployment of renewables. When an energy producer like Alberta takes action the world must sit up and take notice that the shift away from coal is gathering pace. The new Canadian government now has a great opportunity to join the UK in driving this transition across the G7 and internationally.”

Energy

Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?

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sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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Energy

7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees

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As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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