Government of Canada accelerates investments in clean electricity

Backgrounder

The Government of Canada has existing regulations that apply performance standard to new coal-fired electricity-generation units and to units that have reached the end of their useful life. Under current regulations, "end of useful life" is generally defined as 50 years of operation from the unit's commissioning date, meaning some units could have remained in operation for decades to come.

The amendments to these regulations, announced today, however, would ensure that all traditional coal-fired units are now going to be required to meet a stringent performance standard of 420 tonnes of carbon dioxide per gigawatt hour (tCO2/GWh) by no later than 2030. This approach would accelerate the phase-out of traditional coal-fired units across Canada. Traditional units are those that don't use carbon capture and storage that traps carbon dioxide and stores it so it can't affect the atmosphere.

To support the transition away from coal towards cleaner sources of generation, performance standards for natural gas-fired electricity are also being developed. The requirements will ensure that new natural gas-fired units are built using efficient technology and will set clear parameters around the use of boilers converted from coal to run on natural gas. 

The regulations would cover new and modified natural gas-fired combustion engines that sell or distribute more than 33 percent of their potential electricity output to the electrical grid. Annual performance standards for large combustion engines [>100 megawatts (MW)] would be set at 420 tCO2/GWh. A less stringent standard of 500 tCO2/GWh would be considered for smaller combustion engines (≤100 MW). Boiler units converted from coal to natural gas would have to meet a performance standard of 550 tCO2/GWh for a 15-year period or until 2045, whichever comes first. A standard of 420 tCO2/GWh would then apply. 

Equivalency agreements with provinces may be established, under which the federal regulation would stand down and the provincial regime would apply if there is an enforceable provincial regime that delivers an equivalent environmental outcome.


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