From: Scott Haggett, Reuters
Published June 26, 2010 09:36 AM

Canada to phase out older coal-fired power plants

Canada will phase out older coal-fired power plants to cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said on Wednesday, as it moves to make natural-gas fired plants the new clean-power standard.

The new standards, expected to be firmed up by early 2011, will force electricity producers to phase out older, high-emitting coal-fired plants and require newer facilities to match the lower greenhouse-gas emissions of more efficient natural-gas fired plants.

Canada has 51 coal-fired units producing 19 percent of the country's electricity and 13 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions. However, 33 of those plants will reach the end of their economic lives by 2025. Unless the operators make substantial investments to cut emissions from the aging facilities, they'll be required to shut down.
"Our regulation will be very clear," Prentice said at a press conference. "When each coal-burning unit reaches the end of its economic life, it will have to meet the new standards or close down. No trading, no offsets, no credits."


Canada is frequently criticized by green groups for not doing enough to protect the environment and for allowing emissions of greenhouse gases to rise steadily over the last two decades.

As well, the Conservative government's record is expected to be under scrutiny as green groups and international media descend on Toronto for the G8 and G20 summits this week.

Still the measures, expected to reduce emissions by 15 megatonnes -- the equivalent of taking 3.2 million vehicles off the road -- received some support from the green sector.

"We're looking at this positively," said Marlo Raynolds, executive director of the Pembina Institute, an environmental think tank. "For once the minister is heading in the right direction but the details of the regulations must actually result in a true and timely phase out (of coal power) in Canada."

The move is a departure from the Canadian government's usual practice of coordinating its emission-reduction targets with U.S. moves. The planned regulations are much stricter than current proposals for coal-fired power in the United States.

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