Canada’s Gas Industry Is Mad at Justin Trudeau
When the Canadian government launched its Greener Homes Grant program, upgrading gas heating appliances was not eligible. This was a surprise; The gas industry is very strong in Canada and much of it comes from the province of Alberta. This is the same government that just months earlier announced a hydrogen strategy that included “blue hydrogen” that was clearly a thorn in the side of Alberta and the fossil fuel industry – what happened? Suddenly there is no more room at the table for clean, affordable, maybe one day renewable Canadian natural gas?
Ordinarily, one would expect outrage from the industry and many complaints in the media right away. Nothing but grilling so far, except for a very polite letter from Timothy Egan, President and CEO of the Canadian Gas Association, to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, starting with:
“This letter, on behalf of the members of the Canadian Gas Association (CGA), requests an amendment to the eligibility criteria for the Canada Greener Homes Grant (CGHG) to include natural gas technology solutions for Canadian homebuyers.”
Egan wonders how this could be because “despite the fact that no changes are required to natural gas appliances to use zero-emission renewable natural gas (RNG), and the fact that most natural gas appliances are expected to be able to use natural gas-hydrogen – Burn mixtures with minimal or no modification. ”
Egan doesn’t explain that RNG is methane, which comes from landfills that rots organic waste or from digesting animal manure, which isn’t exactly a growing resource. Nor does he mention that adding hydrogen to the natural gas stream does not really reduce the amount of natural gas used because it is not very dense. As energy expert Paul Martin Treehugger explained, with a 20% hydrogen supply you would have to burn 14% more volume.
Egan then presents natural gas heat pumps: “A technology that can enable significant cost and fuel savings without the refrigeration efficiency and operating problems of electric air heat pumps. Natural gas heat pumps represent a new leap in efficiency – from over 90% today for stoves to 130-140% for heat pumps. “He claims they don’t have the refrigeration efficiency problems that electric heat pumps have,” as well as the elimination of toxic working fluids like ammonia used by absorption heat pumps “.
As this industry white paper states, the gas heat pumps described by Egan do exist, but mostly for commercial installations. Some simply replace the electric motor that drives the compressor with a gas-fired internal combustion engine and have any restrictions on temperature or greenhouse gas refrigerants like electric. Others work on the same principle as propane refrigerators, the absorption cycle, with ammonia as the refrigerant. Most are more expensive, not yet available and offer no discernible advantages over electric heat pumps.
But perhaps more importantly, they are not available now – neither RNG nor green hydrogen – so there is no reason for the government to consider them part of a program now.
“The CGA doesn’t understand why a more reliable, affordable energy path – gas infrastructure – should be ruled out. We don’t understand why Canadians are being deprived of the choice. ”We hope this is an oversight and that the program eligibility criteria are subject to change. We ask the Canadian government to rethink their program design and ensure that new technology solutions are not arbitrarily excluded. ”
We reached out again to Monte Paulsen of RDH Building Science (he commented on the original scholarship program) and he first advised us to see Samantha Bee in “Here’s Why Your Gas Stove Is Killing You” – it’s hilarious, devastating, and blaming the industry the “gaslighting” of the public.
He then said to Treehugger, “There is no credible path to zero emissions that does not involve the quick disposal of burning gas in buildings.” This is obviously a problem for the gas industry.
“The removal of most gas appliances will inevitably lead to the collapse of the business of distributing gas to buildings through pipes. This is why the gas industry is panicking … It probably makes sense that methane obtained from landfills or other sources – sometimes referred to as “clean” gas because the term “natural gas” has become meaningless – is part of this orderly mining plan. But there is no point in subsidizing the installation of new gas appliances when we know the gas network is on the way to being mothballed. ”
It is unlikely that the deference and courtesy in this discussion will last; This is an endangered industry where businesses and governments are struggling to survive. That will be interesting.