FPRN bulletin – 7th August 2023: Focus on Canada

7 August 2023

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The FPRN email bulletin is a semi-regular email highlighting a handpicked selection of recently published research and other knowledge outputs in the area of fuel/energy poverty from around the world. The aim is to share this emerging knowledge more widely and to help generate discussion across the network.

If you have any issues accessing the below articles, or you have articles, research or other information we could share, please contact newsletter@fuelpovertyresearch.net

In this bulletin we focus on Canada. Dr. Andréanne Doyon (Simon Fraser University) has curated this bulletin starting with a summary context followed by recent research articles and policy discussion.

Context: Approximately 7% of Canadians experience energy poverty (almost one million Canadians). This means people are spending more than 10% of household income on energy costs or are forgoing heating or cooling their homes. This inequity is not felt equally across the country though, energy poverty is significantly higher in rural areas and Atlantic Canada (the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island). It also impacts older individuals, and those living in dwellings constructed before the 1960s. However, energy poverty is not recognized as a major policy issue in Canada. Addressing energy poverty in Canada is complex due to multiple jurisdictions that have responsibility or input on energy. For example, climate change is a federal government domain, whereas energy and building codes are either provincial or territorial (Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories), and land use planning a municipal government responsibility. In addition, there are different energy profiles across the country. For example, British Columbia, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Yukon generate most of their electricity from hydroelectricity. Ontario, New Brunswick, and Northern Territories rely on a mix of nuclear, hydro, wind, biomass, coal, natural gas, and petroleum. The articles below are meant to provide an introduction and some insights into energy and energy poverty in Canada.

Energy poverty: an overlooked determinant of health and climate resilience in Canada (Springer)
Mylène Riva; Sophie Kingunza Makasi; Kimberley C. O’Sullivan; Runa R. Das; Philippe Dufresne; David Kaiser; Sébastien Breau (2023)
 Academic Paper  Open Access 

This article explores the association between energy poverty and health in the Canadian context. The results found a higher likelihood of negative general and mental health outcomes for those households with a high share of energy expenditure to income and for those dissatisfied with the energy efficiency of their dwelling, and with their ability to maintain a comfortable temperature both in the winter and in the summer.

Modeling the transition to a zero emission energy system: A cross-sectoral review of building, transportation, and electricity system models in Canada (ScienceDirect)
 Academic Paper  Open Access 

This paper probes whether the existing suite of energy system models are sufficient for guiding net-zero pathways. The authors find that there are a number of limitations of existing energy system models and that there is an opportunity to bring together different models to address these limitations in order to better inform policy development.

Decarbonizing Canada's remote microgrids (ScienceDirect)
Thomas Stringer; Marcelin Joanis (2023)
 Academic Paper 

There are a number of remote communities in Canada who are not connected to the main grid but instead are set up as microgrids and which still rely on fossil fuels. This paper explores how much it would cost to decarbonise the microgrids. The authors find that the cost is not prohibitive but that depending on the specific microgrid and when the decarbonisation occurs will influence what mix of renewables should be prioritised to optimise financial outcomes.

Pumping up adoption: The role of policy awareness in explaining willingness to adopt heat pumps in Canada (ScienceDirect)
Meghan Corbett; Ekaterina Rhodes; Aaron Pardy; Zoe Long (2023)
 Academic Paper 

This research presents outcomes of a survey of more than 3000 homeowners in Canada who do not own a heat pump to explore multiple areas including their willingness to adapt the technology, role of information and levels of policy awareness. The research found that a third of homeowners had a willingness to adopt the technology, but awareness of supportive policy is low, raising several implications for future policy design.

Clean Electricity, Affordable Energy – How Federal and Provincial Governments can save Canadian Money on the Path to Net Zero (pdf)
Canadian Climate Institute (2023)
 Report  Open Access 

This report explores the potential benefits for provinces and territories in Canada following the latest federal financial support for clean electricity, and updates projections of electricity rates from earlier analysis. The financial support will be critical for decarbonising the energy system, and while it might increase energy prices for households in the short term, should reduce energy prices in the longer term.

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