Business & the Environment

Alternative and Renewable Energy

Manitoba is positioned to become a Canadian leader in renewable-energy production and consumption through decreasing reliance on non-renewable fossil fuels and rising in use of geothermal heat pumps. Today, Manitoba is internationally recognized as a clean-energy leader, ranked as the #1 province in Canada in energy efficiency. Manitoba is leading the country in geothermal heat pump installations, has made dramatic investments in wind power and has the most aggressive biodiesel strategy in Canada.

The development of renewable energy has reached a level at which new technologies are making substantial contributions to the energy supply in Manitoba.

Manitoba is continually working to reduce the use of fossil fuels through greater energy efficiency and renewable fuel production. Some renewable energy sources and technologies include solar energy, wind power, hydrogen fuel cells, and “biofuels.” Biofuels refers to energy that has been extracted from either plant material or composted waste. One of the most common biofuels, ethanol, is produced by the fermentation of grain, usually corn or wheat.

Manitoba is a leader in producing and consuming a biodiesel that has a number of significant environmental benefits and as an emission-reduction measure for environmental, agricultural and transportation sector. Manitoba has expertise in producing non-toxic, renewable biodiesel fuel made from a variety of sources such as vegetable oilseed crops, animal fats and tallow and it burns cleaner than traditional diesel and requires little or no engine modifications. This material comes from crops such as canola, corn, sunflowers, soybeans as well as tallow oil, derived from wood pulp waste. Manitoba is Canada’s third largest producer of oilseed crops, especially canola. Manitoba has potential sources of feedstock that would support larger scale biodiesel production. Biodiesel is competitive with regular diesel fuel within a local market as well as market abroad for this product is developing very quickly. Europe is now the largest biodiesel market in the world. Ambitious future targets for biodiesel use by the European community could mean increased imports, which Manitoba would be able to supply through the Port of Churchill.

There is huge opportunity in Manitoba for the newest idea in biofuels. It explores the potential of an alternative heating fuel, the combustion of pelletized grass using efficient “gasifier” technology. Using of this fuel source will not only provide alternate markets for farmers, but a much cleaner combustion process than conventional fuels. The most favourable species of grass for this is a Manitoba perennial plant known as “switchgrass.” As a native species, this grass is well adapted to the Manitoba landscapes and requires no energy-intensive annual cultivation.

Currently, Manitoba has well-established technology to pelletize grasses, and much of the transport and storage infrastructure for grain suits biomass energy production. The fuel can be used in commercial and residential boilers and recent figures show that grass-based pelletized biofuels cost about half as much as natural gas.

Households are now switching from electrical heating to biofuel heating systems and there are many opportunities to expand internationally.

Furthermore, as prices continue to rise for high-grade energy forms, low-priced farm-derived biofuel pellets will increasingly become the heating fuel of choice for worldwide energy consumers.

Manitoba is well-placed to become a major player in a variant of the solar power industry. One Manitoba company, “Solar Solutions” is mid-North America's largest designer and supplier of commercial and residential solar energy product solutions for today's growing solar market place and for tomorrow's energy demands.

Large scale wind power generation is one of the most competitive forms of renewable energy is the fastest growing energy source in the world. With the world focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, wind power is playing an increasing role as a price competitive, clean supply of electrical energy. Manitoba has one of the most significant resources in Canada. The province has undertaken several studies to determine potential wind power generations, and plans to have approximately 1,000 MW of wind power capacity. St. Leon Wind Energy is the first independent power development project in Manitoba. Having the capacity to generate 99MW of power, it marks the start of an important era of complementing traditional hydro-electric resources with wind electricity production.

Manitoba Hydro has very good firming and shaping capabilities and very good transmission capabilities, making Manitoba well positioned to be a global leader in wind generation

Manitoba Hydro is a world leader in energy conservation. The Power Smart program has found advantages to using heating pads instead of heat lamps in hog barns. Electric heating pads provide an alternative heat source in one of the highest energy-using areas in hog production - the farrowing or birthing pen. Compared to lamps, the pads require 60% less energy to keep piglets in the environment they need to attain healthy weight gains and to avoid scours and respiratory diseases.

Manitoba Hydro is an enironmental leader, providing reliable power that is clean and renewable. They are committed to sustainable enrionmental policies. With a s trong madate to supporting leading edge environmental research, Manitoba Hydro also has the most aggressive commitment of any utility in Canada to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Since 1990, they have reducted cumulative emissions by more than 850,000 tons. In 2000, the Pembina Institute, a leading Canadian environmental think-tank, named Manitoba Hydro the top performer among Canadian utilities in the effort against climate change.

Manitoba's electric energy exports to the U.S. over the last 30 years has displaced 157 tons of greenhouse gases formerly from coal-burning thermal plants.

Companies: Energy, Renewable | Equipment & Supply

Links: Biodeisel (Wikepedia) | Environmental Industries Sector | Energy Division | Earth Power Program | Manitoba Hydro

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