When looking at the results presented in Chapters 6 through 9, caution is advised on how to interpret them from a national perspective. Variations in the energy systems in each province, and the very limited integration of these systems across provincial borders, point to different challenges to be met in each province in net-zero pathways. This chapter helps identify not only some of the key differences in these challenges, but also areas where more integration can be useful.
It should be pointed out that while net-zero scenarios lead to carbon emission neutrality, net-zero is not achieved in each province and territory. From the cost-optimization carried out in the modelling, some provinces end up with net positive emissions, while others are in the opposite situation. This is largely because of (i) specific challenges for emission reductions based on each province’s electricity and industry profiles, (ii) the availability of biomass resources to operate BECCS electricity and hydrogen production at reasonable cost, and (iii) whether DAC operations are used in the province—most provinces do not include DAC in the results. This also means that enforcing a strict net-zero for each province and territory individually will be more expensive than adopting a national reference.
The first of these points also leads to a different schedule in reducing emissions from specific sectors. For instance, provinces with smaller industrial emissions and/or low emission from power generation do not have low-hanging fruit, forcing them to reduce the costliest sectors, such as transport, early on. The opposite is true in provinces where early and relatively cheap emission reductions can be achieved by reducing oil and gas production or by replacing fossil fuel power generation with renewable sources.
Similarly, provinces where there is little hydroelectric baseload generation face more important grid infrastructure development issues. This is where ancillary cost issues associated with high shares of intermittent renewables in the power mix may be most important: a careful combination of storage, increased electricity trade with neighbours, and—in some cases—nuclear power generation may provide help.
The provincial and territorial differences highlighted in this chapter should not obscure the fact that there is considerable room for nationwide federal government programs to help tackle common challenges. In particular, the transport sector faces similar difficulties across provinces and increased interprovincial trade could also help mitigate the cost of transforming electricity grids to simultaneously meet rising demand and decarbonize.