Decarbonising industries #WithHydropower
One of the key pillars of decarbonisation is the electrification of end uses which currently rely primarily on fossil fuels, such as industry, transportation and the heating of buildings. Coupled with this move to electrification is of course the decarbonisation of the electricity mix.
One of the companies that is championing decarbonisation in industry is BC Hydro, a vertically integrated utility in the province of British Colombia, Canada. BC Hydro has put into place a program that offers support, tools and incentives to switch from fossil fuels to electricity in transportation, buildings and industry. For industry, it has created a Fuel Switching Rate which is designed to encourage existing and new industrial customers to electrify their operations by connecting into BC Hydro’s grid, instead of relying on fossil fuels. The rate is available to both new customers who can demonstrate that by connecting to the grid they will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is also available to existing customers that modify or expand their plant to take additional electricity supplied by BC Hydro, thereby eliminating or reducing fossil fuel use.
Because 98% of BC Hydro’s power generation is from renewable energy sources, this program allows fossil fuel to be displaced by clean energy. The vast majority of this clean energy is hydropower, a backbone of the province’s electricity mix which also includes a small portion of wind, solar, and biomass.
Due to hydropower’s flexibility, BC Hydro’s system can respond quickly to changes in demand, allowing their operations to ramp generation up or down, almost instantly, when demand fluctuates. This is valuable as energy-intensive industries electrify and will need a reliable energy source.
On the other side of Canada, the province of Québec also has an electricity mix based primarily on hydropower generation, upwards of 94%. This has allowed heavy industry in the province to operate with a relatively low carbon footprint. In particular, the aluminium industry is very present in the province and has historically benefited from an abundant, reliable resource which is available at an attractive cost.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) shared in their 2021 report that achieving net zero emissions from the energy sector by 2050 rests on the world’s ability to triple energy generation capacity by 2030. To keep on track with this goal, more industries need to switch their fuel sources to renewable energies. BC Hydro and Hydro-Québec are part of the solution by providing sustainable hydropower to facilitate the decarbonisation of industries.