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Climate Change Advisory Panel - Buildings and Houses Session

What policy mechanisms can our government use to reduce the rejection of energy by buildings and houses in Alberta?  

Every time energy is wasted through inefficient consumption, it is a rejection of useful energy. Every time a building is constructed that doesn’t make use of solar power and ignores natural heating and cooling, it is a rejection of free available energy.  We need to support efficient consumption and on site generation of energy from solar power.

Here is what the team at SOLARMAX Power would recommend:

Mandatory EnerGuide certification and energy audit requirement for all residential and commercial building real estate transactions.

Such policy will be the fastest vehicle to educate the public about energy efficiency and indirectly the environment. Each year in Alberta more than 60,000 homes and thousands of commercial buildings are sold or purchased. With such metrics, the market will pay a premium price for highly energy efficient buildings and will discount poor energy performing ones. This will also trigger a flurry of retrofit activities and energy upgrading of old buildings.

A Feed-in Tariff (FiT)  or Value of Solar Tariff (VOST) program at a $0.25 to $0.30 per kWh for solar power to recognize its true value to our society and kick-start a new industry.

With only 11% of the power generation, Alberta accounts for over 50% of total GHG emissions from the Canadian electricity sector. In 2013 Alberta generated 39,000 GWH of power from burning coal.

A FiT or VOST system at reasonable rates (25¢ to 30¢ per KWh) supporting primarily small (up to one Mega Watt) Micro Generation sites can replace a good part of the coal generated power in Alberta over several years.Such a rate makes economic sense for households and industries to convert to renewable energy. According to 2014 AESO marketing stats, Alberta electricity demand in 2014 was 80 TWh. A levy of 1¢/KWh will raise $800 million per year. With a 25¢ per KWh FiT rate and 10¢ per KWH market price, the program has to compensate micro suppliers only an additional 15¢ per KWh. $800 million can purchase 5.3 TWh of renewable power which is equal to 730,000 households with 6 KW of solar PV on their roofs.  The States of Minnesota and Maine along with the City of Austin with similar electrical systems to ours have successfully taken this approach.

It would take years to have that many systems installed however; the program will start a frenzy of economic activity in solar, combined heat and power (CHP) and other related renewable energy industries in the province.

Minimum EnerGuide 82 for new homes or, in anticipation of the revised EnerGuide label for new homes, mandate that new homes achieve 20% better energy performance than the current and future Building and Energy Codes.

Alberta adopted the two national codes in 2014, but in the past 5 years, several things have happened, most important one being people’s attitude towards energy efficiency. The cost of materials (e.g. foam insulation), equipment (fans, efficient furnaces etc.) and newer technology to improve the homes energy efficiency dropped significantly. I think it makes sense for our government to take action to set the Alberta code requirement for new buildings to 20% better than the 2010 Canadian Building Code and 2011 National Energy Code for Buildings, as Vancouver and Toronto have done.

Posted by: kylek
Posted on: 2015-08-28 00:00:00