Wind. Solar. Geothermal. In the future, it will be much easier for Canadians to choose the kind of energy they use for everything from heating the home to running a business. And as an important part of the current and future energy infrastructure in Canada, CEPA members are playing a role in that evolution.
When Alberta-based Enbridge entered a partnership in a Saskatchewan wind power project 15 years ago, it was the beginning of a green energy portfolio that today represents more than $5 billion in investments.
The CEPA member company is involved in 12 wind farms, four solar energy operations, a geothermal project and waste heat recovery facilities. All these initiatives, along with new ones on the near horizon, represent more than 3,800 megawatts (MW) of green power — enough to provide energy for 1,668,800 homes.
Since 2002, Enbridge has been focused on how to advance its commitment to renewables while using its considerable existing pipeline infrastructure for energy delivery. As Canada’s climate change initiative came into effect last year, Enbridge saw increasingly positive conditions to continue its quest.
Now, Enbridge is building momentum on two initiatives that connect to its natural gas pipeline infrastructure: power-to-gas technology and renewable natural gas. And both are coming soon.
What is power-to-gas technology?
Power-to-gas technology is a method of integrating natural gas and electricity infrastructure.
Enbridge has been working for years to develop expertise in storing low-carbon electricity. Essentially, power-to-gas technology converts surplus electricity to hydrogen, which is then stored. Then, when demand for electricity rises, the stored capacity is either returned to consumers as renewable electricity or blended into the natural gas distribution network.
Enbridge’s power-to-gas facility is under construction, and is slated for commissioning this year. It is the first of its kind in North America, a huge milestone in renewable energy infrastructure.
How about renewable natural gas?
Not all natural gas comes from underground. Renewable natural gas can be harvested from organic waste and biomass. Reusing this waste keeps it out of landfills, and reduces emissions as well.
Methane is released from organic waste when it decomposes. Enbridge’s system captures and cleans methane, turning it into renewable natural gas. The gas can then be transported via existing pipelines, and used as fuel and for powering homes.
The potential uses are extensive. For example, Enbridge has approached several municipalities about the possibility of using renewable natural gas for their garbage trucks. It could reduce fuel costs by up to 40 per cent, and emissions by 15 per cent.
Both power to gas and renewable natural gas are technologies that will use the gas grid to move energy. So, in addition to reducing emissions, they use the reliable, safe, cost-effective and extensive pipeline infrastructure in Canada as an alternative to electric infrastructure to deliver energy.
What does this mean to you?
Renewable fuel creation, transportation and storage means a future with fewer emissions and potentially lower energy costs for some uses.
For Enbridge, it means using its extensive infrastructure, including transmission pipelines, to continue supplying customers with a reliable stream of energy. But it also allows customers to choose the kinds of energy they use in their communities, homes and businesses.
All CEPA members are committed to delivering the energy that Canadians need in the safest and most responsible way. Check out our 2017 Transmission Pipeline Industry Performance Report for more on Enbridge and how CEPA members are working to protect the environment.