September 21

Renewable Energy Resources and Green House Gases


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There has been much talk in the media and political rallies about the correlation between energy use and greenhouse emissions. Unfortunately, many people get lost in the hype and fail to understand how the two are linked, the effects that can occur from overcompensation of energy, and how this can be mitigated by using renewable energy resources.

What Are Greenhouse Emissions?

The first step in understanding the correlation between greenhouse gasses and energy use, is understanding what greenhouse emissions are. A greenhouse gas, is a compound in the atmosphere that is capable of absorbing infrared radiation (IR). When this occurs, it will trap and hold heat in the atmosphere. As these gases continue to increase the heat in the atmosphere, they will contribute to the greenhouse effect.

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What is Global Warming?

Global warming isn't a new concept in the world of science, though it is one that has received significant attention in recent years. In fact, the concept of global warming dates as far back as 1896, when Svante Arrhenius discussed how the releasing carbon dioxide into the air produced the greenhouse effect. The sun constantly bombards the earth with radiation, which reaches the atmosphere as UV, infrared, and visible light. 30% of this radiation will reflect back into the clouds, and 70% will absorb into the oceans, land, and atmosphere. 

This radiation heats up the land and water, which then release the heat as IR thermal radiation, which then goes back into space. This exchange of radiation is now termed the greenhouse effect. This is because it functions in the same way a greenhouse would, pulling the UV radiation in through the glass to be absorbed by plants. The weaker IR that comes out will have trouble passing through the glass. This creates a warming effect indoors, which is ideal for plants. But when it occurs in the Earth's atmosphere, it can lead to global warming. 

Greenhouse gasses can affect global warming if there is an abundance of them in the atmosphere, they stay long in the atmosphere, or they have global warming potential.

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How Does Global Warming Relate to Energy Consumption?

Many greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, result from the process of burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and gas, which is used to generate energy. In fact, generating electricity accounts for the largest source of CO2 emission in many countries, with coal being the primary resource consumed for electricity generation. As electricity use through coal and other fuel sources increases, more and more CO2 gasses are being released in the air. This contributes to the greenhouse effect and warms the climate steadily over the years. 

One way to combat this problem is through using methods of producing electricity that will emit fewer CO2 emissions. This can often be accomplished through renewable energy resources such as solar, geothermal, wind, and hydropower systems. As climate change and energy concerns continue to grow, there are now more electricity projects designed to harness these alternative power sources. This can help reduce emissions and limit the greenhouse effect.

Canadian Greenhouse Emission Statistics

Recent statistics about greenhouse gas emissions in Canada show that there is an annual average of 704 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent being released in the air. This includes tracking greenhouse gasses that were released by sources of human activity such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, and many other components responsible for the greenhouse effect.

Studies and testing showed that the levels of emissions varied greatly from province to province and were linked to factors such as the available energy resources, the population, and the provinces economic base. The provinces and territories with larger populations tended to rely more heavily on extracted resources and fossil fuels to generate their electricity. Therefore, this lead to higher emissions in these areas. The top five areas in the country that emitted greenhouse gasses included:

  • Alberta
  • Ontario
  • Saskatchewan
  • British Columbia

These areas combined accounted for 90% of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions. Over recent years, there has been a decrease of emissions in some of these areas, including Quebec, which had 9.4 megatonnes less carbon dioxide equivalent compared to the early 1990s. Ontario also saw a reduction in this time frame of almost 18.6 megatonnes of the carbon dioxide equivalent. These declines were heavily driven by reduced emissions coming from the electricity generation sector. 

Oil, gas, and transportation sectors were by far the largest emitter of greenhouse gasses in Canada, accounting for almost half of total emissions. Each other sector ran between 6% and 12% of the output of total emissions. This shows the urgency in Canada to find additional renewable energy resources to reduce the emissions that oil and gas use to generate power.

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How Naveco Power Utilizes Renewable Energy Resources to Reduce Greenhouse Emissions in Canada

Naveco Power is working hard to help reduce the percentage of greenhouse emissions produced in the country, contributing to global warming. With retrofit projects like the commercial building located on the corner of Queen Street and Westmorland in Fredericton, they are showing that taking control of emissions is possible and even older buildings can be designed to be environmentally friendly. 

This project alone is estimated to allow local investors to benefit their community and province by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from the building by an estimated 146 metric tonnes annually. Not only will the building become environmentally friendly, but the retrofit can even cut the utility bills needed to maintain the building by at least half. 

In addition to the Queen Street project, Naveco Power is working on their next energy projects; a wind farm located in northern New Brunswick. This project, which is estimated to be completed in 2020, will have the ability to produce clean energy. The energy produced emits less CO2 per each kWh over the average powerplant that utilizes fossil fuels. 

You can help in the fight to reduce greenhouse gases and global warming by investing in local renewable energy projects, like the New Brunswick Wind Farm or building retrofits, being undertaken by Naveco Power.

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