CANADA’S INDUSTRIAL DECARBONIZATION PRESENTS opportunities for disruptive world leading economic transformation, with unprecedented greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions. By far the main source of energy use and GHGs in Canada is the activity of heavy industry, and relates to heat production, for large scale liquid-fuel feedstock manufacturing. This chiefly occurs in Alberta’s oil sands. The main energy usage, and GHG emissions source, is burning natural gas to provide heat and chemicals for the main stages of oil sands processing, which consist of separating bitumen from sand and manufacturing hydrogen.
Though uninformed and naïve “thought leadership” articles from certain
well-heeled global consultancies claim otherwise, electrifying these large industrial operations is not practical, much less in cases where variable renewable energy produces the electricity. Rather, replacing gas with a non-emitting heat source opens new energy and chemicals markets for oil sands operators, whether they are currently in the power generation business or not. Many are;
in fact, oil sands–colocated power plants contribute most of Alberta’s baseload electrical supply—and, because they are all natural gas–fired, are a major source of GHGs.
These facilities’ role in general electrification will involve their owners’ business shifting more to power generation and possibly LNG, either or both of which, depending on future conditions, may acquire greater importance as Alberta export products…