Solar Panels Will Move Forward in 2018, Predicts ACW expert

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ACW Co-investigator Warren Mabee of Queen’s University expects more advances in solar panel development in 2018.

“This is a sector that’s growing faster than any of the other energy sectors out there,” he told the CBC. “It’s going to continue moving forward.”

Record cheap electricity is transforming world energy markets as Canada struggles to keep up, reports the CBC. But Mabee is also looking for 2018 to provide key advances in solar panel development as the industry inches closer to grid parity — the point at which it might be cheaper for people to generate electrons on their roof than to buy electrons from a utility.

“It might not happen next year, but we’re moving closer and closer,” he said. “That’s going to be a hugely disruptive moment in the Canadian power industry.”

Warren Mabee is Canada research chair in renewable energy development and implementation at Queen`s University in Kingston, Ont.


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What Killed the Energy East Pipeline?

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In the fall, TransCanada Corporation announced that it was pulling the plug on its Energy East Pipeline and Eastern Mainline Projects, to the dismay of their supporters and the delight of their detractors. As ACW Co-investigator Warren Mabee of Queen’s University argues, the reasons for Energy East’s demise are more complicated than they might appear.

Map of pipeline


In his media release on October 5, TransCanada President and Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling declared that, “After careful review of changed circumstances, we will be informing the National Energy Board that we will no longer be proceeding with our Energy East and Eastern Mainline applications.”

Girlings’s remarks pointed the finger at the federal regulatory system for the cancellation of the projects. Others piled on.

Conservative Party Leader Andrew Sheer took to Twitter to blame Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying: “He’s added new hurdles to Canadian energy producers that don’t apply to foreign companies selling into Canada.” Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall blamed the Liberals for Energy East’s demise because they “moved the goalposts at the last moment by asking the regulator to consider the impact of upstream greenhouse gas emissions.”

On the other side, a coalition of environmentalists, municipalities and indigenous groups that opposed the projects were celebrating a victory. “Both the Northern Gateway fight and this Energy East one show that when First Nations stand together, supported by non-Indigenous allies, we win,” Grand Chief Serge Simon of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake told the CBC.

But Queen’s University’s Warren Mabee poses the question in a recent article on, “Did regulation kill Energy East?”

“In many ways, this mega-project would have been the most ambitious infrastructure build ever undertaken in Canada, surpassing the political difficulties associated with the construction of the national railways at the end of 19th century,” writes Mabee.

At more than 4,500 kilometres, the project would have been the longest pipeline in the country, requiring the co-operation among the federal government, six provinces, 75 municipalities and more than 50 First Nations as it spanned the continent from Alberta to New Brunswick.

So, did regulation kill Energy East? “Many other factors also hurt its chances of getting the green light,” concludes Mabee, adding a new perspective to what is sure to be an ongoing debate over the future of pipelines in Canada.



ACW Baseline Report – Energy

By Trista Wood and Warren Mabee

Queen’s University
Kingston, Canada

Climate change is one of the most important issues Canada is facing. While greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions do arise from natural processes, the current rapid concentration of these gases in our atmosphere is primarily being driven by human activity. Changes to the climate affect all aspects of the natural environment and have the potential to affect the Canadian economy, infrastructure, energy supply and demand, manufacturing, and services. As a consequence, it is critical that Canada move to curb these emissions.

As a signatory of the Executive summary (UNFCCC), Canada signed onto the Copenhagen Accord (December 2009) thereby committing to reduce its GHG emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. The commitment represents a significant challenge for an expanding economy that is expected to be 31% larger in 2020 than it was in 2005 (Environment Canada 2014). In order to follow through on this commitment the Government of Canada is taking a sector-by-sector approach to GHG regulation and reduction.

Canada’s GHG emissions are largely related to the production and use of energy across the country. A review of all energy-related emissions are provided in the pages that follow, along with projections of future energy use. It is shown that oil and gas, transport, and buildings are the sectors most responsible for our increased emission profile. Growth in industrial and transport energy use will demand significantly more fossil fuel unless policy interventions push us towards ‘greener’ scenarios; using projections from the Trottier Energy Futures Project (TEFP 2016), two such scenarios are explored, one focused on sustainable urban development, and the other on a future where new electricity generation from nuclear sources is constrained. In both of these scenarios, the amount of electricity used in every sector increases dramatically. This suggests that a critical issue of the future will be designing new electricity generation in order to benefit both society and the workers who are engaged in the projects.


Download the full report (PDF)


Speed of oilsands restart depends on workers’ return

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By Canadian Press business reporter Dan Healing


Warren Mabee, director of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy at Queen’s University, said he thinks the companies will be anxious to see people allowed back into Fort McMurray as soon as possible because a stable workforce is critical to their operations.

“I would be looking for a better update on what’s happening on the ground,” he said. “The oilsands can continue to operate — as we said, they haven’t really lost a lot of their critical infrastructure — but what they have lost, right now, is the support mechanism that the whole city represented and that is significant.

“Without that, their costs go through the roof. It’s essential to those companies that the city gets up and running even if all the neighbourhoods aren’t inhabited, even if all of it isn’t back where it was.”

Mabee said an extended period of downtime due to infrastructure or staffing issues could lead to the industry requesting financial help through bailouts or tax incentives.


Warren Mabee, director of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy at Queen’s University. He is also Associate Director of the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change Research Group.


Read the full article in the Calgary Herald