In our pursuit of a sustainable future, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind have taken centre stage. But as the provincial government and Alberta Utilities Commission have discovered, local needs must be considered in the pursuit of greener energy. Recently announcing a six-month moratorium on approving all wind and solar power projects greater than one megawatt, they cited concerns raised by rural municipalities and landowners about development on agricultural and public land, the effect on viewscapes, reclamation security and electric system reliability.
Undoubtedly, solar and wind technologies have their merits, but no province in Canada should have a “one-size fits all” energy solution. There must be a flexible and adaptable approach to energy policy that considers the needs and potential challenges of all individuals and regions while ensuring affordability and reliable energy choice.
Decarbonization is a dial and not a switch. It will take time for technologies to develop, resources to be available and communities to accept change. All low-emission energy options must be considered — including low-emission propane — to help turn the dial more quickly.
Canadian-made propane is often overlooked as an affordable, low-emission energy that is reliable, even when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.
Critics may argue that propane is a fossil fuel and therefore not entirely “clean.” However, advancements in technology are significantly reducing propane’s already low emissions. As innovation and technology continue to progress, renewable dimethyl ether and renewable propane, already produced in the United States with near zero emissions, will be options for Canadians with little to no changes to existing infrastructure.
While solar and wind installations require large swaths of land, potentially disrupting natural habitats and scenic landscapes, propane remains unobtrusive. It allows us to reduce our carbon footprint without significantly affecting the environment.
Energy choice also means reliable and consistent energy supply. Both solar and wind energy are dependent on unpredictable weather patterns. On cloudy days or during lulls in the wind, energy production can dip, leaving consumers without a stable power source. In contrast, propane offers reliability by being independent of external factors. Stored safely in tanks for extended periods of time, propane ensures a steady and continuous energy supply, even during adverse weather conditions. For areas prone to extreme weather events, this reliable energy source is a lifeline in times of need.
Furthermore, propane proves its advantages in scenarios where power grids are unavailable or unreliable. Rural and remote communities often face the challenge of accessing low-emission energy from traditional sources or integrating complex renewable energy infrastructure. Propane is cost-effective and has an extensive energy distribution system to provide communities with a dependable energy source without major infrastructure investments.
The transition to a low-carbon future requires a diverse set of solutions to cater to all needs and situations. Propane’s less invasive nature, reliability, and versatility make it a valuable player in this energy landscape. By recognizing the advantages of propane and incorporating it into our energy mix, we can move closer to a greener and more reliable future more cost-effectively and quickly. To decarbonize the energy system effectively, Canadians need energy choices that fit their circumstances.
Shannon Watt is president and CEO of Canadian Propane Association.