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Opinion: Realizing the benefits of combined heat and power systems


June 8, 2021
By Jeff Yurek, Ontario's Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

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A woody biomass CHP system being tested at CanmetENERGY's laboratory in Ottawa. Testing was done in collaboration with Yukon University, Volter Oy, and the Ontario Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks. Credit: Dr. Sebnem Madrali, CanmetENERGY

Efficiency is important. We talk about it a lot. When it comes to the principles of governing a province, it’s good to be efficient. When it comes to matters of protecting the environment, efficiency is an important tool in our box.

Being efficient comes with a host of benefits, like smaller price tags, better reliability and better access to the things we all need, like sources of heat and energy. Combined heat and power technologies are energy-efficient systems that generate both, by capturing and using excess heat that would otherwise be wasted.

Using fuels like natural gas or wood biomass, Ontario can use CHPs in buildings like hospitals, colleges and universities, residential condos, commercial and industrial facilities – providing cheaper, more energy-efficient fuel sources and technologies, and more reliable power in emergency situations like blackouts.

The benefits don’t stop there. The adoption of this technology will also spark job creation and investment opportunities, and lower greenhouse gas emissions, especially in rural or northern Ontario where the need for dirtier diesel would be reduced.

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These technologies just make sense.

To unlock these benefits, it’s my job as environment minister to make the approval and implementation of these technologies as efficient as possible. Until now, CHPs have been playing on an uneven field – subject to more burdensome requirements than technologies with similar environment and human health impacts.

We’ve brought forward changes to match up the required level of approval with other comparable energy technologies and environmental impacts, saving businesses and communities time and money, all while ensuring appropriate environmental protections are in place by aligning approval requirements with the level of risk.

Through consultation on the Environmental Registry of Ontario, we heard overwhelming support for making it easier for this technology to exist in Ontario.

As part of the province’s open-for-business initiative, we’ve now posted a decision posting to the registry, which I encourage organizations like yours to review 019-1134.

I see before us countless opportunities for many sectors, like agriculture and green energy. Simple modifications to existing systems can usher in more widespread use of combined heat and power technology, paving the way for greater security, reduced emissions and job creation. All driven by efficiency.

That’s good for the people of Ontario and good for our environment.


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