The New Energy Economy Series
Written by Radha Curpen, Sharon Singh and Duncan McPherson
It is an exciting time in the Canadian energy industry, but also a pivotal one. We need to maximize the value of our current energy resources, and continue to develop new lower-carbon sources that customers want to buy, to help drive growth and to make our economy more resilient and diversified.
The 2020 Greater Vancouver Board of Trade Energy Forum was a powerful two days of discussion, ideas and vision on what the future of the energy industry will look like in B.C. and Canada. Bennett Jones was the title sponsor of the event and we joined energy leaders from business and government to discuss what is shaping the sector, what it means for Canada and how quickly we need to move to succeed.
Here are three key takeaways from the 2020 Energy Forum.
Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability
B.C. and Canada are home to world-leading electricity, battery, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen technology companies. All of these innovative technologies are at the heart of the new energy economy, and Canada is one of many countries competing in these areas.
Innovative technology is driving continued LNG development to take advantage of B.C.'s abundant natural gas and the role LNG can play in electrifying economies around the world. The world needs energy and Canada can supply global markets with the world's cleanest natural gas. Much of this demand will come from Asia.
Hydrogen is increasingly considered a vital fuel of the future and could account for 25 percent of all the energy used around the world by 2050. The Canadian government has unveiled its hydrogen strategy, as has Ontario, and the Alberta government is expected to soon. Please see our post on Canada's Hydrogen Strategy. The hydrogen sector is not new in B.C., but there is much more support and interest from industry and governments than ever.
The oil and gas sector and its innovation continues to be a critical part of Canada's economic growth and the evolving energy economy. Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, said at the Energy Forum that, “Canada cannot reach its climate goals without the oil and gas industry, without our oil and gas producing provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador."
On both days of the Energy Forum, several speakers addressed the critical importance of partnerships in Canada's energy future. This includes partnerships with Indigenous communities, governments, suppliers and between companies—all to advance innovation and a resilient, sustainable, and responsible energy sector.
Indigenous peoples participation in resource projects increasingly includes equity participation. More Indigenous investment with a strategic focus should be coming in the next decade. This focus is distinct from Indigenous peoples participation and partnerships in the regulatory process.
New energy projects will continue to have an important part to play in advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada. Governments, Indigenous communities, industry, and the wider community all have a role to play.
Canada will only find customers that want our energy exports and be able to compete internationally by working together provincially and federally. Countries around the world are making commitments to be net zero by 2050 and fuels like hydrogen are in demand. By 2040, Alberta aims to export hydrogen nationally and globally and getting it to Asia's markets means transporting it through B.C.
Several panelists at the Energy Forum discussed the need to improve regulatory certainty in Canada, for both energy project proponents and investors. Government policy needs to focus on the opportunity costs to other jurisdictions—and not take the energy sector for granted. This is the only way to ensure Canada's competitiveness in a fast-evolving global energy industry.
Greater certainty means greater investor confidence. Investors should see that Canada is visibly demonstrating a continuous improvement mindset when it comes to our regulatory process.
For more on the future of Canada's energy industry, the Bennett Jones New Energy Economy Series looks at key developments at the provincial and federal levels and what they mean for businesses and investors.