Canadian Government Releases Definition of Renewable Energy

Canadians have three months to comment on the definition of renewable energy proposed by the federal government.

OTTAWA, Ontario, CA, 2001-12-20 [] “The ever-increasing growth of renewable and alternate forms of electricity in Canada has prompted the development of certification standards for green electricity,” says the background to the ‘Guideline for Renewable Low-impact Electricity’ published in the Canada Gazette on December 8. The release starts a 90-day period of formal public review of the draft under Environment Canada’s Environmental Choice Program. Certification of a renewable low environmental impact power source under the Environmental Choice Program will result in the award of an EcoLogo certification mark. Criteria have been in place since 1996 to certify environmentally-preferable electricity by way of a panel review, and the criteria used by that panel have been combined into the draft guideline. Drafting of a formal guideline started in 1998 and, when the current review ends in March, a committee will make final recommendations to Environment Canada, which will release the final Renewable Low-impact Electricity guideline by June 2002. Renewable is defined as “replenished through natural processes or through sustainable management practices so that a resource is not depleted at current levels of consumption,” and refers to electricity generated from sources which “are apt to produce near-zero or low net greenhouse gas emissions through the completion of a renewable full-fuel cycle.” The government intends to consider additional criteria in future to address a wider range of water-powered electricity sources. To be classified as renewable under the draft guideline, an applicant must prove that “appropriate consultation with communities and stakeholders has occurred, issues of concern have been reasonably addressed and, where applicable, reasonable mitigation of negative impacts has been addressed.” The applicant must also prove that “prior or conflicting land use, biodiversity losses and scenic, recreational and cultural values” were addressed during project planning and development. Power must be generated so that supplementary non-renewable fuels provide no more than 1.65 percent of fuel heat input, and that “no adverse impacts are created for any species recognized as endangered or threatened.” The environmental impacts from existing operations and processes will be reviewed and allocated on a case-by-case basis. Solar electricity must be generated so that all solid waste and cadmium resulting from generation is properly disposed of or recycled. Wind turbines cannot harm concentrations of birds and cannot be located where there is a concentration of endangered bird species. Waterpower must be generated to avoid “the harmful alteration or destruction of fish habitat,” and the facility should allow “as much water to flow out of the head pond as is received in any 48-hour period.” It must provide fish passage to ensure pre-existing migration patterns, both upstream and downstream, where a human-made structure is placed across a waterway where no natural barriers exist. Marketers of renewable low-impact electricity must source at least 50 percent of their green power from Type II facilities and no more than 50 percent from Type I facilities. To verify marketing claims, Environment Canada will access production facilities on an unannounced basis.


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