On-Site Magazine

Path to electrification faces challenge and change

By Adam Freill   

Construction Green Construction Infrastructure

Report calls for massive investment in electrification to embark on “Project of the Century” so that Canada can meet its net-zero goals.

Project of the Century. (CNW Group/Public Policy Forum)

Electrification is being called the number 1 national project of the 21st century, according to a recent report by Public Policy Forum. The organization says that the creation of an abundant, clean supply of electricity far exceeds the ambitions of previous centuries, including the construction of the Canadian Pacific railways, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the Trans-Canada Highway.

In the report: Project of the Century: A blueprint for growing Canada’s clean electricity supply – and fast, the organization provides insight and a roadmap for the challenges related to electrification of everything from vehicles to building comfort control systems.

With electricity demand forecast to double by 2050, supply capacity will have to grow an astounding 2.2 to 3.4 times of today’s volume, says the report. While Canada has adopted policies designed to shift energy consumption toward electricity, most notably in favour of electric vehicles, the pressing question posed by the authors is, where will all that clean supply come from?

The analysis says that Canadians are not prepared for the shock of moving from electricity abundance to scarcity, and that net-zero goals will be put at risk if affordability, cleanliness and reliability of supply are not included as fundamental values of the electricity transition.


“Electricity is the foundation stone of the energy transition,” said Edward Greenspon, president and CEO of Public Policy Forum, and one of the report authors. “Canada has to build the equivalent of one or two more of everything developed over the past century if supply is to catch up with the demand we’re already stimulating as well as to achieve our net-zero goals.”

Furthermore, the report says that provinces are the most important players in electrification, with each facing its own unique challenges, adding that Indigenous partnership as equity owners in projects and faster policy-making and regulatory streamlining are all needed.

“The impossible is always possible but it will require us to get into a hurry-up offense by acknowledging provincial paramountcy, facilitating Indigenous ownership, reforming approval processes, accepting the need for transitional fuels and intelligently sequencing where new electricity supplies should go first, second and third,” said Greenspon. “Electrification is a worthy and necessary nation-building goal. We will need unprecedented policy coherence for Canada to meet the moment.”

In the sequencing of needs, the report suggests putting energy efficiency and transportation first, then industry, then home heating.





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