Canadian energy systems scenario modelling report outlines pathways to achieve major GHG reductions

Author: Mark Lowey


Publish Date: Tuesday, June 21, 2016

This blog was first published on June 14, 2016 on the Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research(CESAR) website.


As a research group focused on how best to transform Canada’s energy systems towards sustainability, Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research (CESAR) was very interested in the recent release of the Trottier Energy Futures Project report, Canada’s Challenge and Opportunity: Transformations for major reductions in GHG emissions.  In this blog post, Mark Lowey reviews the report’s findings, including an interview with Project Manager Oskar Sigvaldason.

Canada has multiple options or ‘pathways’ for making deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions over the next three decades, a new study using energy systems scenario modelling shows.

However, the changes necessary to achieve deep reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will require a massive transformation of the country’s energy systems, and be associated with substantial costs. These costs generally exceed $100 per tonne of CO2e in the early years for all scenarios and increase over time to several hundred dollars per tonne (in 2011 dollars), the study says.

The objective of the Trottier Energy Futures Project was to define one or more pathways to 2050, with a goal of achieving an 80-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 1990 levels.

In fact, the report did not include an 80-per-cent reduction scenario as it was deemed too costly, requiring either new cost-effective technologies that have not yet been developed, or systemic changes in the nature of Canada’s energy systems that were beyond the options considered in the study.

The message for policymakers, investors and all Canadians is: “Don’t underestimate the magnitude and complexity of this challenge,” says Oskar Sigvaldason, manager of the Trottier Energy Futures Project and president at SCMS Global.

“This challenge is complex and it will have a major impact on Canada’s economy. We’re dealing with massive, massive change.”

The Canadian Academy of Engineering and the David Suzuki Foundation teamed up to produce the 300-page report, Canada’s Challenge & Opportunity: Transformations for major reductions in GHG emissions – a comprehensive engineering analysis of Canada’s future energy systems. The study, meant to provide information for “informed public and policy discussion,” was supported by the Trottier Family Foundation, established by engineer, entrepreneur and philanthropist Lorne Trottier.

The Trottier Project study used systems analysis to analyze 11 separate scenarios with the goal of achieving the 80-per-cent GHG reduction by 2050, while continuing to meet growing energy demands in Canada.

Click here to read the full blog.

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