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Choosing the right net zero paths – from the editor, February 2022

February 24, 2022 | By Anthony Capkun

February 24, 2022 – In response to some 30 municipal councils who, in their resolutions, called for the complete phase-out of natural gas generation in the province by 2030, Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator undertook a study to assess the viability of such a thing.

Not surprisingly, IESO found such an action would lead to blackouts; at least 17,000 MW of non-emitting forms of capacity and 1600 MW of energy conservation would be required; and more than $27 billion would be required to install new sources of supply and upgrade transmission infrastructure.

The motivation behind these calls for phase-outs is about reducing emissions. In fact, we learned during our EBPowerCon 2022 session Net Zero for the Rest of Us that, ultimately, net zero is not about net zero energy, but net zero emissions (although net zero energy puts you on the path to net zero emissions).

A concern for Tonja Leach, one of my Net Zero panelists, is that we become so married to a specific, cookie-cutter solution for curbing emissions that some of us may end up living in energy poverty because that particular solution simply does not work in our corner of the world.


Roman Kramarchuk, another guest at EBPowerCon, spoke of the skyrocketing costs of battery materials and the impact this would have on electric vehicles and our goal of electrifying transport. He added that availability—the ability to even get those materials—may prove a bigger concern.

Which begs the questions: What can we put in place now? What can we achieve, realistically by, say, “Net Zero 2050”?

Reducing emissions will remain high on the agenda for our federal, provincial and municipal governments. And that’s good for the electrical disciplines, because electrification plays a pivotal role in our net zero journey.

But there are very real hurdles: time, money, technology. To my mind, we should base our respective journeys to net zero emissions on reality, and not just on what makes us look good to our constituents.

This column—along with more great content—appears in the February 2022 edition of Electrical Business Magazine. Back issues are located in our Digital Archive.

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