MBiz Magazine | Going Green: Manitoba’s Clean Energy Future

Jun 3, 2024 | Front Page, MBiz Magazine, Natural Resources & Environment & Energy

By Kristin Marand, Winnipeg Free Press

More than 95 per cent of the electricity generated in Manitoba comes from a renewable source: hydro, making the province a leader in clean energy development.

However, Manitoba still imports 70 per cent of its energy for transportation and heating in the form of fossil fuels. In accordance with national greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, Manitoba is moving towards a cleaner energy future with ambitious goals of having a net-zero power grid by 2035 and being carbon neutral by 2050.

Manitoba has unique advantages for harnessing green energy, including freshwater resources that support hydro and hydrogen production, along with conditions that support the incorporation of wind turbines and solar panels. In addition, the province has biomass feedstocks (crops that can be used as fuel or converted into other forms of energy) and critical minerals essential for developing clean technologies, energy storage systems and electric vehicles. Efficiency Manitoba, a Crown corporation mandated to support the clean energy transition, is also a benefit. Regulatory factors driving the push to a low-carbon future include the province’s commitment to meet national emissions reduction targets and new national building codes. Trending technologies in the clean energy space include ground and air source heat pumps, geothermal heating, the use of hydrogen in transportation, and carbon capture and storage.

As more businesses and people make choices and changes to become more efficient and less reliant on fossil fuels, there will be anticipated cost savings, job creation and other economic advantages. Through collaboration and consultation with governments, NGOs, businesses and Indigenous groups, the clean energy transition in Manitoba is set to position the province as a prosperous leader driving change.

In the following pages, key stakeholders — including Minister of Environment and Climate Change Tracy Schmidt, Manitoba Hydro-Electric board chair Ben Graham, Efficiency Manitoba CEO Colleen Kuruluk and Business Council of Manitoba’s president and CEO Bram Strain — share their insights on Manitoba’s clean energy future and the tangible benefits it will bring.

LEVERAGING RESOURCES

Tracy Schmidt: “Between Manitoba Hydro and Efficiency Manitoba, Crown corporations designed to support a clean energy transition, there’s a lot of opportunity to find efficiencies to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and footprint. We also have a world-class wind regime, excellent solar resources, significant biomass feedstock to support hydrogen production and a natural advantage in our critical mineral resource sector, which is going to help build green technology.”

Colleen Kuruluk: “Energy efficiency is increasingly being viewed as a ‘first fuel.’ Even though energy efficiency reduces the amount of energy you use, it can also be seen as a source of supply for homes and businesses that Manitoba Hydro can leverage, along with other forms of energy provision and production. Technically speaking, the cleanest or most sustainable formof energy is a unit you don’t needto produce.”

Bram Strain: “Manitoba has a distinct advantage because our hydro is green and renewable, and it is how we start everything we do. Whether you’re starting a manufacturing process, a goods and services company or an insurance company, whatever you do, everything starts from a green place. There are some really good natural advantages in Manitoba that we absolutely need to take advantage of and the world needs to know about.”

Ben Graham: “There’s a targeted focus on not just the capacity that we can provide but also the reliability of that system. Manitoba Hydro is investing a lot into the future and creating even greater efficiency within our existing infrastructure. There’s been a real look at what wind power can generate. It’s a very cost-effective and readily available source of energy. And as battery technology advances, the ability to store energy will become even greater.”

COLLABORATIONS

Tracy Schmidt: “We’re collaborating with a variety of stakeholders and partners to reach our sustainability goals. We work closely with the business sector through the Merit Fund. We’re also very proud of our collaborations with Indigenous communities to support energy improvements and fuel switching. We’re working with rural municipalities and an organization called Eco-West to support climate resiliency, reduce emissions and expand our electric vehicle infrastructure. We will continue working closely with the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, which is doing great work in increasing education and collaboration opportunities across the business sector.”

Ben Graham: “We’re working closely with the Government of Manitoba on an energy policy and the Public Utilities Board. We’ll be speaking to Manitobans throughout this transition process. We’ll try to get as many Indigenous Manitobans involved in this consultative process as possible to ensure everyone has a voice on how we make this transition to green power beneficial to everyone across the province.”

Colleen Kuruluk: “Everything we do is collaboration. We have a network of delivery partners — everything from an insulation contractor to an energy auditor or a specialized professional doing energy modelling on buildings. Energy efficiency is delivered more effectively via us working closely with these partners. With the Manitoba Métis Federation, we’ve funded an energy advocate and work in partnership on several initiatives. We also have an Indigenous energy-efficiency working group to ensure we’re recognizing and responding to the needs of the communities accessing our programs. For our business customers, we work with the Association of Manitoba Municipalities and both the Manitoba and Winnipeg Chambers of Commerce. And, for attracting new customers to Manitoba, we work super closely with CentrePort, Business and EconomicDevelopment (Province of Manitoba) and Yes! Winnipeg.”

Bram Strain: “We need to do an inventory of what’s available and what best practices are, making sure that we’re making the best use of our resources. There is a ton of work going on in the logistics field, investing in fuel efficiency, drag reduction and anything they can do to use less fuel and lower the cost of freight, resulting in lower cost of goods for consumers. The provincial government just talked about an Electric Vehicle Centre of Excellence, which is going to help with electric buses. We have the largest bus manufacturer in North America investing a lot of money into hydrogen cells and electric buses. We also need to forge true partnerships with Indigenous communities to ensure future natural resource deals include and benefit everyone — not just in royalties and jobs but most importantly in ownership.”

CHALLENGES

Ben Graham: “We need to really involve the business community in key decisions. In Europe, they’re placing tariffs on non-green imports from other countries. Considering where we’re starting from, Manitoba is in a great position to leverage those types of tariff positions because we can export green energyproduced products.”

Tracy Schmidt: “We have to make the adoption of low- or zero-carbon alternatives more accessible and affordable. We want to ensure that as we head into this clean energy transition, that it’s a just transition that brings Manitobans along and meets them where they’re at.”

Bram Strain: “Some of the carbon tax money is not going back to incentivize the large producers, the people that can really make a difference, for instance, the logistics industry. Everybody’s getting a carbon tax back equally, and it’s not being invested into reduction. Manitoba does not get enough ‘prior learning credit’ for investments in hydro.”

Colleen Kuruluk: “We want to ensure people think of energy efficiency first. Energy is invisible, so it’s a bit of a marketing and communications challenge, but we’re up for it. For our business customers, we can help make a commitment to and the benefits from sustainability visible for attracting and retaining talent or communicating to a customer base.”

ECONOMIC BENEFITS

Ben Graham: “With our current import of natural gas, a lot of money leaves the province. With every new renewable energy developed in Manitoba, all that money will be spent within the province. There will be substantially more jobs across the province to meet these new needs.”Tracy Schmidt: “Clean energy provides all sorts of economic, environmental and health benefits, and reaching net-zero will bring those advantages to Manitoba in perpetuity. Manitoba has an opportunity to become a trendsetter. We will be able to attract investments and export highly valuable commodities.”

Colleen Kuruluk: “The most direct advantage is bill savings. When you implement energy efficiency, you get bill savings immediately. From a commercial customer’s perspective, it’s a guaranteed return on investment, and that return persists for the life of the installed measure. Efficiency Manitoba’s programs and incentives for business customers can be found at efficiencymb.ca/ business.”

Bram Strain: “Businesses can benefit greatly from increased efficiency; there are benefits to the company — financially, environmentally and socially. It is also very much a demand of clients and consumers.”

 

While an initial investment in clean energy and technologies may seem daunting, the benefits are immeasurable. You can be a better corporate citizen by eliminating toxic substances from your production stream. By reducing emissions, you can avoid carbon-related impacts and penalties, while lowering your regulatory costs. Reducing waste has a great return on investment, and there are myriad provincial and federal tax credits and incentives for businesses to choose green options. There has never been a better time to consider the switch to cleaner and more efficient energy sources

Similar Posts