By Cole Parkinson
With focus shifting to new sources of energy in Alberta, Vauxhall town council was briefed on updates from ATCO Gas’ side of things.
During council’s regular meeting on May 7, a delegation from ATCO Gas gave a presentation highlighting energy and where it’s projected to be within the next few years.
“One of the challenges right now is the energy landscape is a bit confusing. We talk about power in kilowatts, gas in gigajoules, gasoline in litres, propane in litres, oil in barrels and it is kind of hard to compare the energy sources,” said Shane Ellis, ATCO’s Lethbridge manager.
While primary energy sources right now are still fairly evident, over the next few years other energy sources may start to become the front runners in providing energy for Canadians. Projecting over the next few years, Ellis stated more energy will be needed so more sources will eventually be relied upon.
“I don’t think it is a surprise to any of us that oil is the number one use of energy in the world right now. Number two is coal, I was a little surprised coal is just levelling off and not nose diving like we might think. Natural gas is in third and has been rising year over year. Then we have renewables which have been increasing dramatically over the last couple years and then nuclear,” he said.
“When you look at the projections for the future, the one thing that sticks out to me is the world needs more energy. There is not one source that is going to take that energy usage altogether.”
Even with more potential growth seen for things like renewables and natural gas, the expansion isn’t likely going to be enough to cover for all the other sources of energy.
“Again this is only a projection but if you look at any of those sources, if they took off or even doubled their rate that they are projected at, they wouldn’t be able to replace any of the other energy sources,” continued Ellis. “We support renewables. We support the right type of energy in the right situations.”
In terms of cost of delivering energy to homes, Ellis presented a few numbers to council.
While there are several different choices for energy, natural gas is still listed as the cheapest method.
“Natural gas delivered is about $0.02 a kilowatt hour to use units that are similar. Electricity is about $0.10/$0.11 delivery. We try to educate customers and talk about electrification. If we were to switch customers to electric heating in this province, they would pay five times the cost for that heating. Again, it is about finding the right energy for the right source,” he explained.
He also stated natural gas delivery is right around 99 per cent efficiency while many others are around the 60/70 per cent mark.
Moving forward, ATCO Gas is also embracing renewable energy projects.
Focusing on biomass conversion to natural gas, Atco is excited at the possibilities that will bring for the future.
“The other thing we are doing in the natural gas space is incorporating renewables,” added Ellis. “We are taking biomass and digesting that. Something hard to digest such as animal renderings. They digest it and it comes out like a fertilizer which converts into natural gas. We have something that would decompose that releases gas into the atmosphere, it is collected, accelerated and put back into the natural gas system. More and more of that is happening.”