The Canadian federal government has committed to powering all of its buildings and operations using renewable energy sources by 2025. The goal is in support of a broader target to reduce the government’s greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by 40% by 2030.
Catherine McKenna, the federal minister of environment and climate change, announced the new commitments while speaking at the Canadian Wind Energy Association conference in Calgary on Wednesday. In a press release from the government, McKenna commented, “We are taking action on climate change by greening our government’s activities and are doing our part to make further progress toward Canada’s emissions target. We will do more as we develop our pan-Canadian climate plan – a plan that will create good jobs for the benefit of Canadians, especially the middle class and those striving to join it.”
In its release, the government notes that although the GHG-reduction target is set for 2030, it aspires to meet the goal by as early as 2025. By that date, the government continues, Public Services and Procurement Canada – the government’s principal landlord – will be purchasing 100% of its electricity from clean energy sources. The government notes that its Department of National Defense will be buying a significant amount of renewable electricity for its installations in Alberta. This will meet most of the electricity requirements for installations in Calgary, Cold Lake, Edmonton, Wainwright and Suffield.
John Gorman, president and CEO of the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA), has lauded the government’s new initiatives.
“The federal government’s commitment to purchasing 100 percent renewable electricity from sources, such as solar energy, as early as 2025 makes a significant contribution to Canada’s innovation and environmental protection agenda in two ways,” said Gorman in a statement.
“Firstly, they have the purchasing power to make a difference. Not only will their actions directly displace significant levels of greenhouse gas emissions, it will also give rise to new businesses and infrastructure.
“Secondly,” he continued, “being a part of the global response to climate change will bring changes to the decisions that are made by all consumers for goods, products and services. By leading by example, the government of Canada is demonstrating that every one of us has a role to play in making the right decision for future generations.”
In addition to renewable energy procurement, the government says it will make strategic investments in vehicle fleets and infrastructure. For example, the government says it will invest in revitalizing the heating and cooling plants in the National Capital Region, which provide services to more than 85 buildings and facilities. That investment is expected to modernize six separate facilities and reduce their emissions by more than 45%, according to the government.
The announcement did not provide many details regarding planned renewable energy procurements, including solar’s potential role; however, the government says it is establishing a new team, called the Center for Greening Government, to track the government’s emissions centrally, coordinate efforts across agencies and drive results to ensure the objectives are met.
Notably, these new initiatives are just the latest signs of hope that the Canadian government has provided to the country’s fledgling solar industry, which had only about 2.5 GW of cumulative installed capacity by the end of 2015. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has committed Canada to the Paris Agreement, and in June, he united with U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to set a goal of achieving 50% clean power generation in North America by 2025. Furthermore, in October, the government introduced a nationwide carbon pollution pricing plan.