Varcoe: World power business buys in to power transition, however who picks up the tab?

Varcoe: World power business buys in to power transition, however who picks up the tab?

‘The true price of transition, I believe the truth is it isn’t going to be low-cost, so why are we not speaking about who’s going to pay for it?’

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Expertise and its important function within the power transition took centre stage on the World Petroleum Congress on Tuesday, however some large questions loomed over it.

How a lot will the transition price — and who’s going to pay for it?

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It’s no insignificant matter, as power costs have taken off in a lot of the world. Oil costs have surged previous US$90 a barrel, electrical energy prices are up and the worth tag to decarbonize key sectors is unclear.

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Amrita Sen, analysis director of London-based consultancy Vitality Facets, put it succinctly throughout one panel on the second day of the summit.

“Every time I hear about power transition, notably within the West, everyone’s professional it, so long as we don’t should pay for it,” Sen stated.

“The true price of transition, I believe the truth is it’s not going to be low-cost, so why are we not speaking about who’s going to pay for it?

“How are we going to fund it?”

It’s a very good query, with out a whole lot of easy solutions.

The pinnacle of the Worldwide Vitality Company (IEA) stated final week that demand for oil, pure gasoline and coal will peak this decade, however these projected declines in consumption are “nowhere close to steep sufficient” to restrict world warming to 1.5 levels Celsius.

The function of expertise within the drive to scale back greenhouse gasoline emissions has been a spotlight of this week’s World Petroleum Congress, which has attracted a few of the key leaders within the world oil and gasoline sector to Calgary.

Carbon seize and storage, direct air seize, hydrogen and biofuels are attracting elevated business consideration and funding.

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The CEO of Madrid-based Repsol spoke Tuesday in regards to the firm’s plans to supply renewable fuels, made utilizing natural waste and renewable uncooked supplies.

“This yr, we’re going to take a position 37 per cent of complete capex in low-carbon applied sciences — that’s fairly an enormous determine for an oil and gasoline firm,” Respol CEO Josu Jon Imaz stated.

“We want regulatory assist, we’d like political assist, we’d like a social assist, as a result of we’re a part of the answer.”

Nonetheless, growing the expertise shall be costly.

One instance will be seen within the aviation sector.

Air journey was accountable for about two per cent of worldwide CO2 emissions final yr, in keeping with the IEA, and it is going to be one of many more durable sectors to decarbonize.

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At one of many congress panels, the CEO of Calgary-based WestJet talked in regards to the airline shifting to low-carbon sustainable aviation gasoline (SAF). The provider started testing SAF by mixing it with jet gasoline on flights between town and San Francisco final yr.

WestJet, which has a objective of reaching net-zero by 2050, spends greater than $1 billion a yr on jet gasoline.

SAF is anticipated to scale back emissions by as much as 80 per cent; nevertheless, deliberate manufacturing capacities of sustainable aviation gasoline will solely present one to 2 per cent of worldwide jet gasoline demand by 2027, the IEA estimated in a report final yr.

The CEO of Canada’s second-largest airline says the worldwide push to decarbonize the aviation sector by 2050 will result in a serious improve in ticket costs except governments step in to supply assist. A WestJet Encore Bombardier Q400 twin-engined turboprop plane is ready for a flight in Kamloops, Saturday, June 3, 2023. Photograph by Jeff McIntosh /The Canadian Press

WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech stated the corporate selected to run the check on the San Francisco route as a result of there may be “not a single drop” of SAF produced in Canada.

Analysis signifies SAF may grow to be a big market, price as much as $500 billion a yr, he stated.

“The answer is there, the answer is in sight, it’s going to be large — nevertheless, the trail to get there’s a tough one,” von Hoensbroech informed reporters after the assembly.

South of the border, the U.S. Inflation Discount Act supplies tax credit to encourage SAF manufacturing.

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In Canada, motion is required from governments to create the required insurance policies, airways have to be keen to purchase SAF and producers should be ready to spend money on new amenities to fill the hole — and shoppers ought to count on to pay extra.

WestJet’s CEO identified SAF is as much as 5 occasions dearer than jet gasoline. If these prices have been totally handed alongside to clients, the corporate must greater than double ticket costs.

“That is definitely one thing that we don’t need, that nobody else desires, as a result of aviation needs to be accessible,” he added.

This is only one instance of the complexities going through only one business.

Premier Danielle Smith speaks at a ministerial round table with Tutuka Ariadji, director general of oil and gas with Indonesia’s ministry of energy and mineral resources, left, Mohammed Oun, Libya’s minister of oil and gas, and Amrita Sen, founder and director of research with Energy Aspects from United Kingdom, at BMO Centre at Stampede Park during the World Petroleum Congress on Tuesday, September 19, 2023.
Premier Danielle Smith speaks at a ministerial spherical desk with Tutuka Ariadji, director normal of oil and gasoline with Indonesia’s ministry of power and mineral assets, left, Mohammed Oun, Libya’s minister of oil and gasoline, and Amrita Sen, founder and director of analysis with Vitality Facets from United Kingdom, at BMO Centre at Stampede Park throughout the World Petroleum Congress on Tuesday, September 19, 2023. Photograph by Azin Ghaffari /Postmedia

The problem of the best way to carry down prices as new applied sciences scale up — one thing that efficiently occurred with renewable power — are being carefully examined by an array of industries.

And there’s additionally a price for not investing or appearing, stated Chris Severson-Baker, government director of the Pembina Institute.

“We’re beginning to pay increasingly more yearly for the influence of local weather change,” he stated.

“We’re going to pay increasingly more, the longer we take to begin mitigating the influence of local weather change.”

Sen identified increased power prices have already prompted some western governments to step in and provide subsidies or rebates to shoppers — together with in Alberta, the place the provincial gasoline tax has been suspended — however many international locations don’t have the posh of doing that.

“It’s the largest problem of the power transition,” Sen stated after the session wrapped up.

“No person is saying no to power transition . . . The talk is what’s the true price of the power transition? And none of us know that, by the best way.”

Chris Varcoe is a Calgary Herald columnist.

[email protected]

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