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|CLIMATE CHANGE IN CONTEXT
Energy Supply and reducing emissions to reduce the impacts of climate change.
In August 2004 the City of Toronto launched its Cool Water Project – on the 1st anniversary of the eastern North America Blackout! Aging infrastructure and human error were found to be the keys to this major disruption of service. The increasing demands for electricity – as if there were an unlimited supply- pushed governments to try to deliver more electricity with aging and often polluting power generation resources.
The concept of a conservation culture is now being promoted to encourage individuals, corporations and governments at all levels to use less energy both directly and indirectly in their daily lives and in their positions as decision makers. Concern for the projected risks of exposure to impacts of climate change that can bring high damage costs and danger to the population is present at decision-making tables.
Measures and incentives to reduce energy use are being examined- some have already been put in place -such as off peak time usage incentives. E.g. Mississauga’s “Before 8 am or after 8pm program”. Sources of energy generation that are less polluting are also being encouraged to come on line.
THE POWER WE USE EVERY DAY
Ontario’s Daily Energy Need and How to reduce it
August 20, 2003 Supply (the last figure in the chart on the right) and demand for energy during one day in Ontario http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2003/08/20/ontario_energy030820
An Energy Attention Grabber Blackout!
A power blackout gets everyone’s attention. In August 2003 on a hot afternoon, the lights went out on 50 million people in southern Ontario, New York state, Michigan and Ohio. In the week that followed that blackout, people were looking hard at the amounts of power it takes to keep the lights on in our province.
They were also looking at how local power systems are linked together over vast areas. A problem somewhere in the large, inter-connected electrical distribution system (or the “grid,” as electricity producers call it) can, if things go wrong, shut down large parts of it. That’s what happened, and kept people in the dark on that hot August night that followed.
The Mayors’ Megawatt Challenge
The Office of Energy Efficiency is looking for ways to make people more aware of their energy use and they ways they can reduce it. They’re helping cities do the same thing. The Mayors’ Megawatt Challenge brings the leaders of Ontario cities together to build effective energy efficiency programs.
Reducing energy NEED is the best way to take the load off the power generation and distribution systems. When the need for energy goes down, so does the need to build large, expensive new energy-generating facilities. Conservation is the best way to make the best use of the resources we have. See also http://www.trca.on.ca/living_city/megawatt/
Source: E. Houghton, Environmental Education Ontario 2004
Increased temperatures have a double meaning!
Beginning in 1940’s normal temperatures increased noticeably through the 1960’s and 1970’s. The 1990’s recorded the greatest change from normal temperatures. These increased temperatures reduced the need for heating energy the most in the last decade of the last century.
Since 1960 all weather stations have recorded a significant decrease in heating demands during January, February, March. This means that the recorded temperatures were higher so less heating was demanded from suppliers. There also has been a decrease in the coldest temperatures recorded. i.e. LOWS ARE NOT SO LOW NOW!
During El Nino and La Nina events years the heating degree-days (HDD) were significantly less – up to 20% below normal. The effects from these atmospheric-oceanic events in the Pacific Ocean increased Ontario temperatures in the same years causing up to a 20% warming i.e. an overall decrease in HDD.
Climate change and heat island effects in our big cities, such as Toronto, are considered as “likely” contributing factors to the decline in HDD in the last (20th) century.
Atmospheric-oceanic events add to the already complex of factors that influence natural variability in climate. Climate change projections for changes in temperature add to the uncertainty and variability of future heating demands.
However these higher temperatures also reach into the summer months especially raising the daily minimums. This increases the use of air conditioning which is not very energy efficient. Hence the Toronto Cool Water project. See ” Successes”.
During the summer of 2004, energy generation in Ontario was so near the maximum energy usage that brown outs were occurring. The energy consumed across the province was on the daily news with a plea from the government for citizens to reduce their energy use so more brownouts and blackouts could be avoided.
The connection between the electrical switch and transmission from the source of electricity was not clear in the mind of the consumer until the shortages began to occur.
Solar, wind and heat pumps generate electricity off the grid. Energy conserving appliances, better design and insulation of buildings and positioning of buildings with respect to the elements are all ways to reduce energy consumption and hence greenhouse gas emissions. Using the concept of a building as an ecosystem in envelope, which can regulate internal conditions regardless of seasonal conditions, is a new way of looking at building design. New building codes for Ontario have been established.
The connection to the switch is the connection, which must be made in consumer’s minds.
The insert below helps to make this connection to encourage reduction in the daily use of electricity.