by Guy Dauncey
$4.5 Billion Dollars to Subsidize Fossil Fuels? Here’s a Much Better Idea
$4.5 billion of Canada’s money, to buy a bitumen pipeline? Some suggest that it could rise as high as $12 billion, including future construction and legal costs.
So what if the money was invested in solutions to the climate crisis, instead making things worse by being invested in the primary cause, which is our use of fossil fuels? When Canada signed the Paris Climate Agreement most people presumed that it was being signed honestly, not as an act of laugh-behind-your-hand hypocrisy.
Thirty to Fifty Times More Jobs
That much money could leverage enough electricity to replace most of Alberta’s coal and gas-fired electricity, and generate between 30 and 50 times as many jobs. It could also power 18 million electric vehicles for 25 years.
In January 2018, wind energy was contracted in Alberta for 3.7 cents kwh, or $1 million per MW. So $4.5 billion could buy 4,500 MW of wind energy.
Wind energy is an investment that pays for itself over time, so if the money was spent as a 25% grant to accelerate the process it would lead to the generation of 18,000 MW of wind power capacity.
1 MW of wind energy from turbines operating at 35% capacity will deliver 3,000 MWh of electricity a year, so 18,000 MW would deliver 54,000,000 MWh or 54,000 GWh a year. That’s enough to replace 75% of Alberta’s coal and gas-fired electricity. Alberta’s current goal is to generate just 30% of its electricity from wind, solar and hydro by 2030.
The installation and maintenance of wind turbines also generates well-paid jobs – 8.6 direct and indirect jobs per MW – so installing 18,000 MW would generate 155,000 such jobs. Not to be sneezed at.
Kinder Morgan claims that the pipeline would generate 15,000 jobs, but the economist Robyn Allan disputes this. She concluded that their number is a scam, and the real number is more like 3,000 jobs. Kinder-Morgan’s own submission to the NEB claimed that they would employ 2,500 construction workers a year for two years.
In other words, that $4.5 billion, invested as a 25% incentive towards the installation of wind turbines, would generate between 30 and 50 times more jobs for Albertans.
What about transportation?
An electric car uses 3,000 kwh (3 MWh) a year, so if all of Canada’s cars and light trucks were electric that 54,000,000 MWh would power 80% of them – eighteen million vehicles a year for 25 years (the life of a wind-turbine before blade replacement).
As Catherine Abreu, long-time campaigner for a better world and current executive director of Climate Action Canada writes, “The truth is that working on climate change is not a fight: it is an act of love.”
Sophie’s choice was heartrendingly difficult. Canada’s choice is heartrendingly easy. But maybe the Liberal government doesn’t have a heart – not for the climate crisis, and not for Albertans either.
Guy Dauncey is author of Journey to the Future: A Better World is Possible. www.journeytothefuture.ca. He lives on Vancouver Island facing the Salish Sea, which would be devastated by a major bitumen spill, and opposite Vancouver, which will be inundated by sea-level rise if countries like Canada do not make a very rapid transition off fossil fuels.
 Alberta’s 3.7 cents/kwh wind energy: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/wind-farm-rachel-notley-alberta-university-calgary-1.4448323
 2017 Wind Turbine Price Index. Bloomberg New Energy Finance, May 2018. https://about.bnef.com/blog/2h-2017-wind-turbine-price-index
 In 2016 Alberta generated 82.3 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity from 16,602 MW of generating capacity. 87% is from fossil fuels = 71,600 GWh. www.neb-one.gc.ca/nrg/ntgrtd/mrkt/nrgsstmprfls/ab-eng.html
 Renewable Energy and Jobs. IRENA, Annual Review 2017. www.irena.org/publications/2017/May/Renewable-Energy-and-Jobs–Annual-Review-2017 Detailed jobs statistics also here: Almost Twice as Many Green Jobs if Canada Phases Out Fossil Fuels. Guy Dauncey, 2015. https://thepracticalutopian.ca/2015/09/10/almost-twice-as-many-green-jobs-if-canada-phases-out-fossil-fuels/
 The Search for Kinder Morgan’s mythical 15,000 jobs. Robyn Allan, The Province, August 2017. http://theprovince.com/opinion/op-ed/robyn-allan-the-search-for-trans-mountains-mythical-15000-construction-jobs
 Canada has 22.5 million registered cars and light trucks. https://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/trade14c-eng.htm
 Working on Climate Change is an Act of Love. Catherine Abreu, National Observer. May 2018. www.nationalobserver.com/2018/05/28/opinion/working-climate-change-act-love
3 thoughts on “Canada’s Choice”
None of the parts used in a wind-turbine come from renewable resources. The remaining coal-fired electricity plants in Alberta are scheduled for complete shut down within a few years. If BC wants electric cars let them buy them at a current price in the US$70,000.00 range each. Vancouver and all of BC can then build electric stations for the cars and trucks to charge up.They are so out of touch with reality no one has asked where the electricity is going to come from for the lavish project. Trump has already said he wants to kill the Columbia River Treaty. It supplies nuclear, gas and coal fired electricity to BC at little to no cost as a part of the Treaty with British Columbia due to be renewed. To top it off Alberta has more truly renewable solar power than any province in Canada.
Thanks, Dennis. The actual price for a Nissan Leaf EV is $35,000. And yes indeed, it’s a big question where the electricity will come from – that’s why it’s so important – IMHO – to accelerate the transition. I’ve got a detailed jobs analysis of such a transition for BC here: http://www.bcuc.com/Documents/wp-content/09/DOC_90070_F62-1_Dauncey-G_Site-C-Submission.pdf
Thank you Guy for your job analysis file. Will give it a read this morning. The electric car I was referring to is Telsa 3 with the extras 🙂 Pricing starts around $45,600.00 in Canada. Supposed to run up to 380 km on one charge.