Dec 18, 2019

Year in Review: Town of Caledon

Marcus Lawrence
3 min
We look back at our feature with the Town of Caledon, Ontario, and how municipal sustainability is being driven by local government
The opportunities for improved sustainability are vast when considering how townships can be better managed to cut emissions, waste...

The opportunities for improved sustainability are vast when considering how townships can be better managed to cut emissions, waste, and energy consumption. Caledon, a town situated an hour’s drive from Toronto, Ontario, is emblematic of such opportunities. Back in July, I had the pleasure of speaking with the municipal government’s Katelyn McFadyen, Manager of Energy and Environment, and Cristina Guido, an Energy and Environment Specialist in McFadyen’s team, about the initiatives driving enhanced sustainability for Caledon and the surrounding area.

With a marked focus on buildings efficiency and optimisation of transport networks, the municipality is a shining example of the positive impact that can be driven by local government. “Energy consumption in buildings is our number one contributor to corporate GHG emissions,” says McFadyen. At the time, Guido was working on the 2019-2024 Corporate Greenhouse Gas Reduction Framework: “It’s a requirement of the provincial government, but we took this as an opportunity to go beyond provincial regulations and expand this to broader corporate GHG emissions,” says Guido. 

“We’re assessing strategies to enhance operations and maintenance, and get our buildings to be as efficient as possible.” Reflecting on the successes of 2014-2018, the new framework highlighted that facility energy consumption in 2018 was 12.6% lower than in 2012, and CA$171,567 was spent on energy retrofits over the same period. 

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The strategy that has enabled this success, and will continue to reap sustainability-focused and fiscal benefits, has been orchestrated in no small part by McFadyen and her team, along with the town’s Building Operations Team. “We’re very fortunate to have the level of engagement from our Building Operations Team that we do,” says McFadyen. “They’re an incredible group of people who’ve totally embraced our corporate strategy and are actively engaged in – and excited about – efforts to leverage opportunities and retrofits to reduce energy consumption.”

At the outset of the journey, Guido was instrumental in the Town’s building benchmarking initiative, leveraging RETScreen Expert, a software developed by Natural Resources Canada, which streamlines the Town’s building benchmarking initiative as well as visualising progress on Caledon’s goals. “RETScreen allows us to normalize for variables that drive energy consumption which staff cannot control, such as weather. This allows us to isolate factors such as heating degree days, cooling degree days, and the number of days arena ice is operational in facilities. 

For some facilities, we also look at recreation building booking hours and how this influences their energy performance,” says Guido. “We also use RETScreen to monitor progress towards our reduction targets. For example, our current corporate energy management plan has a target of a 9% reduction in building energy consumption, and we use the software to monitor how close we are to reaching that target,” explains Guido. Caledon is well on its way to meeting its current goals, and McFadyen enthuses that doing so is just the beginning.

For more on the exciting sustainability work being done in Caledon, check out the July issue of CSO Magazine or its exclusive brochure

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Jul 29, 2021

Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030

Energy
technology
CCUS
Netzero
Dominic Ellis
4 min
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades says the UK's National Infrastructure Commission

Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission

Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.

The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.

The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture. 

It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.  

The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020. 

Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.

The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.

While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.

Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.

Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse. 

"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.

“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.” 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets. 

Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.  

Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."

McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:

  • Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
  • Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
  • Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
  • Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
  • The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere

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