Sustainable Business News (SBIZ)
c/o Squall Inc.
P.O. Box 1484, Stn. B
Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 5P6
Canada: 1-855-569-6300

Meet the man who has mapped Canada’s net-zero carbon future


Energy consumers will drive Canada’s transition to a net-zero carbon-emitting economy, according to Dr. David Layzell, emeritus professor from the University of Calgary, and energy systems architect with the Transition Accelerator, a pan-Canadian non-profit.

Dr. Layzell contends that a successful net-zero transition will only be realized when the end-use customers (including transportation, buildings and non-energy industry) are convinced that there are credible and compelling zero-emission alternatives to the existing carbon-based energy carriers and associated technologies they use today.

The challenge confronting Canada and the world is that carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere as a by-product of producing and using fossil fuels is changing the climate. Canada needs to fuel its economy using cost-effective energy carriers that do not emit carbon dioxide when they are produced or consumed.

A roadmap for Canada

Layzell and colleagues have created a roadmap for Canada to make this transition. Using their Net Zero Energy System Transition (NZEST) model, they defined a scenario for Canada and its regions that uses techno-economic analyses and sector engagements to identify the most credible and compelling alternatives for each sector in a net-zero future.

Layzell described the NZEST model and scenario in a webinar presentation hosted by 360 Energy, which can be accessed here.

The scenario shows some interesting regional differences. Quebec, for instance, is projected to continue to expand the role of its clean electrical grid, so electricity accounts for about 65 per cent of end-use demand by 2050. On the other hand, Alberta decarbonizes and expands its grid to about 39 per cent of end-use demand while bringing on hydrogen and ammonia for an additional 38 per cent of end-use demand by 2050. The provinces projected to have the largest demand for biomass and biofuels are B.C. and Atlantic Canada.

These end-use net-zero scenario projections for each region were then embedded into the larger energy system of Canada (including oil, gas, uranium production and exports, etc.) and used to drive changes in the projected scale of energy recovery, import and export markets for Canada to 2050. The assumption is that Canada’s transition to net-zero will only occur if other nations, especially its major trading partners, are also transitioning.

At a national level, the scenario model projected that the conventional oil and gas market would decline to 24 per cent to 30 per cent of the 2028 peak by 2050, but a new market would emerge, especially for natural gas, in the production of "blue" hydrogen and ammonia as zero-emission energy carriers. While significant volumes of "green" hydrogen and ammonia were also projected to be produced using water electrolysis, the lower cost of "blue" hydrogen required geological storage capacity of over 350 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2050.

While Layzell is confident that this NZEST scenario is a credible roadmap for Canada to meet its net-zero emissions target by 2050, he emphasized the need to use the NZEST model to explore other net-zero scenarios, including one with an even greater shift to electrification.

In the webinar, Layzell describes how NZEST enables end-use energy consumers to engage in discussions and explore alternatives for how zero-emission energy carriers and associated technologies could meet their needs in a net-zero future. This understanding is vital for energy consumers to make informed investment decisions.

Canada’s transition to non-carbon-emitting energy sources is not predetermined. However, as energy consumers become better informed, the transition to non-carbon-emitting sources will gain momentum. The tipping point for most Canadian energy consumers is imminent.

Learn more about how the non-carbon-emitting energy transition will likely affect your region and business in this webinar and begin devising your roadmap today.

Industry Events