My Clean Break column today takes a look at Vancouver-based Sempa Power Systems, which helps large energy customers reduce their bill and lower greenhouse-gas emissions by dynamically switching their heating requirements between fossil fuels (mostly natural gas) and electricity. Now, you might be saying to yourself: this makes no sense because electricity is too inefficient for space and water heating. True, but in certain jurisdictions off-peak electricity tends to be zero- or low-emission (i.e. nuclear, wind, hydroelectric) and wholesale prices can drop dramatically as power generators look for ways to offload what is often baseload power that can’t be easily turned down. What Sempa will do is install an electric boiler at, say, a hotel or university residence, and use its proprietary software to switch to electric mode when the wholesale price of power drops below the price of the fossil fuel being used, whether that be natural gas, oil or propane. Continue reading Hybrid heating systems make sense for some
There’s a tendency during times of economic trouble to cast eco-friendly policies as risky, expensive, dangerous and reckless, and this is exactly what Prime Minister Stephen Harper did in the lead-up to last week’s Canadian federal election. Thanks to the effectiveness of the media soundbite, it worked. The public got scared, embraced the “steady as she goes” line, and pretty much derailed any hope of serious federal action on climate change and clean-technology development (beyond carbon capture for use in enhanced oil recovery). Fortunately, Canadian provinces are picking up a lot of the slack.
Still, it would be good for provincial officials to read a new study out of the University of California, Berkeley, which found that aggressive energy-efficiency policies embraced by California between 1977 and 2007 created nearly 1.5 million jobs, far outstripping the 25,000 jobs such policies eliminated (hat tip to Joe Romm for the tip at Climate Progress, where he provides his own take on the study). Continue reading Why the credit crunch shouldn’t take our eye off the energy-efficiency ball