New emissions standards for Canada’s coal-fired electricity sector
ESTEVAN, Sask.—Coal-fired plants in Canada will have to meet new emissions requirements by July 2015.
The federal government’s proposed rules include a performance standard for both new coal-fired plants and older plants looking to extend their operating lives. Plants already online before 2015 would be able to operate without restriction for their lifetime.
The rules, combined with other measures, will cut greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation by 31 megatonnes by 2020, according to the government.
Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent defending focusing on new plants by noting that “fully two-thirds of Canada’s coal-fired units are very close to their end of operating life.”
“What we’ve done is to avoid stranding capital on plants that still have years left in their operating lives,” Kent said.
The standard will be based on emissions levels from high-efficiency natural gas generation, which is less than half of the emissions from coal. It’s expected to boost investment in cleaner technologies such as high-efficiency natural gas generation, renewable energy and carbon capture and storage.
Kent outlined the proposed regulations at a visit to the Boundary Dam power station in Estevan, Sask., where he pointed to the plant as one example.
SaskPower, the provincial utility, is spending $1.2 billion to rebuild one of its old coal power plants in order to pump its greenhouse gas emissions underground.
The facility is one of 51 coal-fired plants in Canada—33 of which come to the end of their economic lives by 2025.
Some provinces will have more of an adjustment than others. Ontario already has plans to phase out coal-fired generation by 2014.
As of last year, eight of the province’s 19 coal units had been shut down.
© The Canadian Press By Jennifer Graham in Regina