Green Heat has Higher GHG Reduction Potential than Generation from Coal

Renewable energies could reduce GHG emissions in Canada by a higher level than eliminating all coal-fired generating plants across the country.

Global economies could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a significant amount if they were to increase their use of Green Heat technologies.


Green Heat is the use of renewable energies for low-grade thermal applications to heat and cool buildings, and to heat water. Common technologies are solar thermal, earth energy (geothermal) heat pumps and biomass systems.

In Canada, GHG emissions from these three applications were 109 megatonne (Mt) in 2003, while all coal-fired power plants released 107 Mt. The analysis is contained in the presentation to be delivered by the Canadian Association for Renewable Energies at the COP11 conference in Montreal this Friday, December 9.

Although many countries provide billions of dollars in support for green power (electricity from wind turbines, solar PV, small hydro, wave energy, etc) and for green fuel (ethanol, biodiesel, etc), the level of support for Green Heat ranges from low to non-existent. The presentation will explain how low-grade thermal applications can increase the use of Green Heat to significantly reduce climate change impacts.

In addition to low GHG emissions and minimal operating costs, other benefits of Green Heat include a reduced need to upgrade transmission lines and a high level of local employment from the installation of solar collectors, heat pumps and biomass units. A recent analysis for the province of Ontario shows that a GreenTherms Standard (a regulated requirement to install an increasing level of Green Heat, similar to a Renewable Portfolio Standard for green power) could displace the combustion of 1 billion cubic metres of natural gas by 2020.

Groups in Europe are calling for a Green Heat directive to complement the continent's targets for green power and green fuels, and the United Kingdom is considering a Renewable Heat Obligation to complement its RO on green power.

The Montreal presentation will feature Elizabeth May of the Sierra Club, Guy Dauncey of the BC Sustainable Energy Association and Bill Eggertson of renewables.ca, and will be complemented by a UN webcast on the topic of Green Heat.

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