Climate change denial and the undisguised pipe dream of never-ending fossil fuel bliss are somewhat popular in Ontario and Alberta, but they don’t fly in the Yukon.
Still, this is the ideological path the Yukon Party has taken.
A Yukon Party government plans to develop natural gas deposits at Eagle Plains and other areas for the purpose of gas and electricity export and of running natural gas power plants here.
It’s a dirty strategy because life-cycle analysis of natural gas-fueled power generation tends to show carbon emissions are higher than from diesel use. Every form of green-energy development, other than big hydro proposals (all stalled except for Mayo B) have been methodically sidelined by consecutive Yukon Party governments, so I expected the gas announcement for some time.
In the Yukon Party plan, territorial natural gas production will tie in to pipeline links to the proposed Alaska Highway Pipeline and Mackenzie Valley Gas Projects and be sold in the market.
With that, it becomes part of the Canadian gas export regime and lumps in with the rest of Canadian oil and gas production subject to the proportional sharing provision of NAFTA chapter 6 energy.
Yukon energy security planning goes to hell with this prudent link up.
The popular YouTube clips with kitchen water taps and bathroom shower heads that double as flame throwers are hilarious, but it’s a standard occurrence in those areas with geo-fracking that now dominates the gas market.
Viability of a $2-billion Yukon Ã Western Canadian grid interconnection?
An isolated small-grid situation like in Yukon is usually, because of lesser grid stability, considered a disadvantage.
But the silver bullet of a century of magic fossil fuels is on the retreat, geo-fracked or not, and just about every jurisdiction on the planet considers energy security.
In a time of accelerating changes, things like renewable energy and systems resilience become more important, and being in the Yukon could become an asset rather quickly.
Here is another possibility starting with a simple question: How do interesting planning components look in other places?
For example, in terms of establishing ecological energy as well as base load secure thermal plant electrical power generation through the next three to five years, let us consider the Williams Lake, BC, 60-megawatt biomass electric power plant.
It’s the largest of its kind in North America.
Half of that capacity would be in the ballpark of addressing midterm Yukon future needs (especially during winters), but likely in the form of smaller units. The current diesel capacity would practically go into a standby mode, but, for a while, remain in place for very rare peak and unexpected backup demands.
Renewable energy systems and zero-emission transportation have become over-mature technologies with nothing to gain or to save by delay, except the implementation of more subsidized blockage and even stronger special interests lobbies against them and more useless inertia to overcome in the future.
With $50 million or $100 million spent and gone towards natural-gas-fired generation and related infrastructure in the immediate future, Yukon might never again be in such a position to choose a direction of energy infrastructure.
Reduced future transfer payment levels, a disillusioned and shrinking local base of relevant engineering capacity, a green power brain drain, depressed economy and reduced government revenue because of grid failures and energy shortages would have us ride it out to the end with those gas and diesel plants.