Alberta’s oil and gas industry’s energy use skyrocketed by 355 per cent from 1995 to 2011, the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy has found.
The think-tank’s January 2014 report, Energy Efficiency: Finding Leadership Opportunities, found that Alberta’s oil and gas industry jumped from using 12 per cent of the province’s energy in 1995 to 48 per cent in 2011, the most energy use per capita in Canada, according to report co-author Dr. Hamid Zareipour.
On top of that energy use, Zareipour says that apart from Saskatchewan, Alberta spends the least amount of money on improving provincial energy efficiency levels.
“The incentives to become more energy efficient are not particularly strong in Alberta,” states the energy report. “The province’s terrain and size favour larger and less-efficient vehicles. Energy in the province is abundant, so there is little cause for concern over energy security. And energy is relatively affordable, particularly for a population that is more affluent than the Canadian average. There is little pressure on Albertans to radically alter their energy consumption behaviour,” the report adds.
According to Zareipour, Alberta must begin to set strict energy efficiency targets that are monitored by a public agency. He would also like to see power-smart building codes and the repurposing of energy use through co-generation.
“For a province that continues to enjoy growth in business and population, updated guidelines around new building codes have been proven to improve energy efficiency,” states the energy report. “And there remains a significant opportunity for Alberta to improve efficiency in its commercial and industrial sectors, the largest users of energy, by providing government incentives to replace aging equipment with more efficient technology,” the report adds.
The energy report also states that Alberta should consider transitioning its vast industrial transportation network towards natural gas.