Canada’s enormous oil sands or bitumen reserve is understandably its major source of fuel. This thick and sticky substance also known as dirty oil is the dismay of climate change proponents because of the amounts of greenhouse gas it emits which is more than the conventional forms of gasoline and heating oils (Van Loon, 2017).
Crude processing in Canada is slowing down despite its seemingly limitless bitumen resource. The country’s climate policies and protest for new pipelines have turned away many international investors, The Economist article reports.
The US crude oil production is rising by 94% from2011 to 2018. Giant oil companies Chevron and Exxon Mobil are pumping capital into shale oil in Texas and New Mexico.
But returns on fracking is meagre as wells quickly dry out which led them to drill new wells and with low gas prices they are also struggling.
Some firms have decided to slow down growth and lower capital spending. Bob Brackett of Bernstein – a research firm says this could also reflect a geological and technical limit as productivity per square foot of shale basins are declining. He says it will continue to peak until 2022 then plateau.
The plummeting oil prices and depletion of oil reserves could as well make firms struggle, the article says.
Depletion of the oil wells in America and Canada’s commitment to their climate policies despite abundant bitumen resources could push these giant economies to invest more on renewable sources of energy.
In Texas, 300-foot wind turbines are beginning to be erected on cotton fields. There are 120 of them now while 120 more are being added according to the economist article. Thanks to a Danish energy firm that have started this project just two years ago.
This is a bit ironic in a state that ushered the world into the oil age.
Each wind turbine generates enough power for 1000 homes. Wind energy now supplies 20% of Texas’ electricity demand. Investment in wind turbines has created an increasing demand for ‘wind turbine technician jobs’ as well.
The good news does not stop there as solar energy and battery systems are also on the rise. It is creating more solar-panel installer jobs.
With solar and wind combined it makes up for 55% of the new electricity generated capacity each year according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. This boom in renewable energy could see the decline in a fossil-fuel generation says the article.
What Has Led to this Renewable Energy Boom?
Here’s a summary of the reasons for this renewable energy boom according to the Economist article.
- Wind energy has benefitted from a production tax credit for decades and a solar-tax credit.
- A new transmission line network by the state made it possible for wind produces to supply power to the grind from remote buy windy parts of the state and the same lines are boosting solar energy.
- The cost of wind turbines and solar panels have greatly fallen.
- Royalties paid for the use of land for landowners and local governments
- Large firms are buying green electricity to reduce their emissions
- Large electricity companies are increasingly withdrawing from coal dependency to renewables.
Climate change is a continuous threat that will bring in more disasters and extreme events if economies continue to rely on fossil fuels to meet its energy demands. Oil shale and tar sands are environmentally destructive, water and energy-intensive. Continuous extraction of oil from both oil shale and tar sands will throw away any hope of reducing carbon emissions.
It is encouraging to know that Canada is slowing down oil extractions and investments due to its climate policies.
Investing and producing renewable energy and slowly turning its back on coal and fossil fuel, the USA is sending positive signals to the world that renewable energy is capable of meeting great demands.
In general, renewable energy is a no-brainer, a win-win solution for both the economy – creating new jobs and for the fight against climate change. The shift to renewables hopefully will be the end of the fossil fuel era and will usher into a clean and renewable energy age.
Van Loon, J. (2017, March 25). Oil Sands and the Environment. Bloomberg [Article]. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/quicktake/burning-bitumen
Canadian tar sands offer lessons for American shalemen. (2020, February 29). The Economist. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/business/2020/02/29/canadian-tar-sands-offer-lessons-for-american-shalemen
A renewable-energy boom is changing the politics of global warming. (2020, March 12). The Economist. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/united-states/2020/03/12/a-renewable-energy-boom-is-changing-the-politics-of-global-warming