Connected To The Land 04-2018-Fall-718-PM96 - Page 19

coal-fired power plants look clean and areas downwind have healthy trees and fish. Now coal-fired power plants are being shut down because another form of pollution – carbon –is the big force behind the move to renewable energy. Burning fossil fuels, coal, oil (including diesel and gas) natural gas produces CO2, carbon dioxide, the gas we, and all animals, breathe out, also the feedstock for plants to make carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Although CO2 is a natural part of our world, fossil fuels are very concentrated sources of energy, formed over millions of years that compressed plants into peat, coal and oil. WIND POWER CAPACITY BY PROVINCE 45,000 40,000 35,000 Total Hydro 30,000 Small Hydro atmosphere, these greenhouse gases (GHGs) collect and retain the sun’s heat, raising the temperature at the earth’s surface and altering the climate of the earth. That doesn’t just mean milder winters, hotter summers. The impact on weather is unpredictable, but scientists agree it becomes more extreme with more storms, droughts, floods hurricanes. Insurance companies were some of the earliest groups to understand and plan for these events. Scientists have used several ways to show their theories are correct. Computer simulations allow them to predict the impact of various levels of GHGs. As those levels have been reached the predictions were confirmed, but too conservative. They’ve measured rising sea levels and changes in ocean chemistry and biology. Some analyze the isotopes of gases in air bubbles in ice cores from remote places to find the age of the trapped air and its CO2 content. 25,000 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000 0 BC AB SK MB ON QC NB NS PEI NFLD YK NT In the natural cycle, plants use CO2 along with solar energy, water and other nutrients to grow and release oxygen. Animals eat the plants or eat animals that eat plants and return nutrients to the soil as urine, feces and carcasses. This cycle kept more or less in balance, with a fairly constant amount of carbon in the atmosphere, for thousands or millions of years, when humans were just a small part of the ecosystem. Plants also support entire unseen underground ecosystems of mostly tiny creatures, microbes and organic reserves in the soil – a huge carbon bank – all depending on plants’ ability to use solar energy. When humans developed the technology to mine and burn large amounts of coal and later oil, we were able to build bigger, more efficient machinery. We embarked on a spiral of ever-increasing fossil fuel use. Bigger machinery allowed cultivation of more land, exposing the soil ecosystem to drying and loss of organic matter. Releasing all this CO2 has put the carbon cycle – the use of CO2 by plants to grow and animals eating plants returning CO2 to the ecosystem – out of balance. Extra CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere. American Eunice Foote discovered an important thing about CO2 in 1856. She put glass jars filled with water vapour, air and CO2 in the sun and found the CO2 became hotter and stayed hot longer in the sun. She wrote that CO2 might affect global temperature. Now, scientists see she was right and that other gases, mainly methane and nitrous oxides (NOx) have similar effects. High in the Fall 2018 Evidence from many sources confirms that climate change is real and that human activities are the main cause. The earth has been hotter and has had higher levels of GHGs, but not when humans lived here. Also, greenhouse gas levels have never risen so rapidly before and human activities are the main source of greenhouse gases. There are deniers, but increasingly they are seen in the same light as those who denied the link between tobacco and cancer. CARBON FOOTPRINT OF POWER GENERATION 10000 9000 9,694 Annual Cumulative 8000 7000 6000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 0 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 The carbon footprint of power generation from various systems, include building, set-up, infrastructure (transmission lines, roads, maintenance) and decommissioning. GHGs are measured as carbon dioxide equivalents, CO2e, to allow for the differing potency of various greenhouse gases. Canadian law requires all provinces to take steps to reduce their GHG production. Some governments have chosen to encourage the use of renewable power generation, to force shutdown of coal-fired power plants. Others focus on energy conservation and carbon capture and storage. Electricity from renewable resources may allow us to lower our GHG production without significant change in our lifestyles. In developing countries, it offers much more, things like lighting and refrigeration. Cutting our GHG production may allow us to avert the worst climate change and diminish the floods of climate change refugees from around the world. W a PEAVEY MART RENEWS PARTNERSHIP WITH BULLFROG POWER Peavey Mart and Bullfrog Power are proud to announce the continuation of an environmental partnership that began in 2015. Since the partnership began, more than 6,600 megawatt hours of renewable electricity have been put onto the grid to match the amount of conventional power that Peavey Mart uses, displacing more than 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from the environment. Peavey Mart is continuing its commitment to clean, pollution-free electricity for its home office and distribution centre, Southern Alberta locations, its store in Kamloops, British Columbia, and its entire electric vehicle network. Through the agreement, Bullfrog’s generators will continue to put 100 per cent clean, pollution-free electricity onto the grid to match the amount of conventional power that Peavey Mart’s bullfrog-powered facilities use. Across Canada, Bullfrog Power’s green electricity comes from a blend of wind and low-impact hydro power sourced from new Canadian renewable energy facilities. For Peavey Mart, Bullfrog Power’s wind power comes from the Piikani First Nation’s Weather Dancer turbine in Southern Alberta, supporting locally produced green power. Peavey Mart is also helping to fund community-based renewable energy projects across Canada through Bullfrog. In 2016, Peavey Mart was a major part of the launch of the Vulcan Solar Park in Vulcan, Alberta, a community green space and renewable energy facility that has a peak output of 23.5 kW. The design and development of the Vulcan Solar Park involved local students and the site includes learning modules on solar power to continue to educate the public on the importance of renewable energy. Stay tuned to future newsletters for more details on Peavey Mart’s and Bullfrog Power’s commitment to community-based energy in Alberta. courtesy of Emily Briggs, Bullfrog Power 19