Building a low carbon economy: Industry in action
Companies across British Columbia’s economy are leveraging technology, innovation, best practices and the province’s low-carbon energy and electricity resources to reduce their carbon footprint and provide low-carbon solutions to international customers in a carbon constrained world. In partnership with the BC Government, the Business Council and its members are advancing a low carbon industrial strategy that will position the province as a global supplier of choice for low-carbon goods, services and technologies in domestic and global markets. This is an opportunity for British Columbia to contribute to the global fight against climate change, while leveraging our unique assets to enhance our competitiveness, grow our economy and attract investment into the province.
Below are several examples of actions being taken across the B.C. economy to drive low-carbon solutions.
Tackling Climate Change using B.C. Wood and Technology
B.C. is at the cutting edge of innovative wood uses, contributing to the fight against climate change. Brock Commons Tallwood House is an 18 storey mass timber hybrid student residence at the University of British Columbia (UBC), which at the time of completion in 2017 was the world’s tallest contemporary wood building. The building proved the case for tall wood and mass timber hybrid buildings as a low-carbon alternative to traditional construction materials and building systems.
By adding capacity for just over 400 students, Brock Commons is not only helping the university meet its mandate of increasing student housing on campus, it is also demonstrating its commitment to sustainability. The use of mass timber in place of more carbon intense building materials realized a carbon benefit equivalent to taking 511 cars off the road for a year. Prefabrication of the mass timber also reduced on-site waste by about two thirds as well as reducing traffic and transportation to and from the site. All of this was achieved while maintaining a perfect site safety record.
TimberWest is committed to pursuing carbon neutrality over the next 10 years and has taken the first significant step in the process by measuring a total carbon footprint going beyond just its operations to incorporate supply chain energy use, forest carbon and its distribution network. Working with KPMG as an advisor and PwC and the Carbon Trust as independent verifiers, TimberWest conducted a carbon accounting of its owned forest assets and activities starting with the organic matter on the forest floor, to the trees and resultant wood products, including TimberWest’s associated operational activities. This approach is believed to be a first-of-its-kind for a forest company to understand its end-to-end impact with respect to climate change. Good measurement is the crucial first step to effective management.
LNG produces approximately half the CO2 emissions of coal, and B.C. is well positioned to be part of the global solution by producing natural gas for export to countries that need a less carbon intensive process for producing power or supporting industrial processes. LNG Canada has designed its export terminal to have among the lowest CO2 emissions intensities of any LNG export terminal currently in operations around the world. (See chart below, click to enlarge.) This means that LNG Canada produces significantly less CO2 per tonne of LNG than nearly all LNG facilities in the world today.
The LNG Canada project consists of a combination of the plant, pipeline and upstream. Phase 1 is for two trains. Each train will emit approximately 1 MT for a total of 2MT. The Coastal Gas Link pipeline accounts for 0.1 MT. Upstream emissions are contingent on whether incremental gas production is required, and the breadth of technological adoption, for example, upstream electrification. The B.C. government estimates total emissions, from well head to water, to be approximately 3.45 MT.
One-year supply of LNG produced at the LNG Canada plant can backout the equivalent of 40 coal-fired power plants currently in use in Asia - or between 60-90 MT CO2 equivalent, which is either equivalent to or more than all of the greenhouse gas emissions British Columbia produces annually.
A snapshot of industry ingenuity is the use of hydro electricity to power the Saturn, Tower and Sunrise natural gas plants near Dawson Creek, B.C., the three largest such processing facilities built in western Canada in the last 20 years. Hydro power will reduce the plants’ C02 emissions by an amount equal to taking approximately 184,000 vehicles off the road each year – making this one of the largest greenhouse gas reduction projects in British Columbia and Canada.
Furthermore, the industry is committed to methane emissions reductions through equipment upgrades and world-class best practices on detection and repair. The collective impact of electrification and methane emissions reduction means the environmental footprint of Canadian-sourced LNG delivered to Asia is projected to be some 55 percent less carbon intensive than typical U.S. Gulf Coast LNG.
Over the last two years, Parkland Refining in Burnaby has been running commercial scale co-processing tests by using various bio-crude oils mixing them with petroleum crude in the manufacturing process. Co-processing creates renewable gasoline and diesel that are otherwise identical to products made from fossil crude. As part of an agreement under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, Parkland is planning to use bio-crude from a range of sources, from industrial grade vegetable oil, to bio-crude made from forest residues or sewage sludge.
The SunMine solar farm – supported by Teck and built on the fully reclaimed Sullivan Mine site in Kimberley– is groundbreaking for a number of reasons. It is Western Canada’s largest solar power facility, the first developed, owned and built by a municipality in Canada, and the first built at a reclaimed mine site. Teck provided use of the land and site infrastructure as well as a $2 million contribution towards SunMine, which uses 4032 solar-cell modules mounted on 96 solar trackers that follow sun movement to maximize solar exposure. The system is supplying enough electricity to the BC Hydro grid to power about 200 homes.
Pursuing a low carbon economy has been a priority for Lafarge. At its Richmond cement plant, low carbon cement, also known as Portland Limestone Cement (PLC), is manufactured with the use of low carbon fuels (non-fossil fuels). PLC has been transitioned to the primary used cement in concrete production in Lafarge and by its customers. In a further demonstration of its commitment to the circular economy, Lafarge is producing recycled aggregates which are used as a road base substitute instead of virgin aggregates. The use of recycled aggregates has given new life to concrete products that would otherwise be landfilled.
Industrial tenants at the Port of Vancouver use more than 1,6005 gigawatt hours of electricity per year. As Canada’s demand for trade grows, more energy will be needed to support port operations. Since power from BC Hydro is largely from low emission hydroelectric sources, meeting this demand with electricity from the grid can lower GHG emissions. The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority partners with BC Hydro to provide port tenants with expertise in industrial energy management and access to BC Hydro’s financial incentives.
LNG as a Marine Fuel
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is working with industry and government to facilitate the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel in the Port of Vancouver. In 2016, the port authority conducted a study that suggested the port would start seeing demand for LNG as a marine fuel as early as 2020, which would increase steadily toward 2030. The number of LNG-capable ships is expected to increase globally in response to forthcoming regulations from the International Maritime Organization on Sulphur oxide and greenhouse gas emissions. LNG represents an opportunity for the shipping industry to significantly reduce air pollutants, including emissions of Sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides, as well as to achieve more modest reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The port uthority is currently working with academic partners and the Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel to better understand the potential environmental benefits and risks associated with LNG as a marine fuel.
The Port of Vancouver was the first port in Canada with stringent environmental requirements for container drayage trucks to reduce air emissions, implemented by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority in 2008. Compliance with the environmental program is mandatory to gain access to port facilities. The key environmental requirements for truck approval in Truck Licensing System target engine age restrictions and idle reduction. This includes mandatory opacity testing, idling reduction and a minimum truck age requirement.