The Green Medium is an Emerald Award-winning, youth-run blog that seeks to innovate how we discuss and inform ourselves on environmental concerns.

An Introduction to the Alberta Energy Scene: Base Load Energy

Hello Green Medium Readers,

 

 

For my first term as resident writer for The Green Medium I have chosen the oh-so-hot topic of energy in Alberta. This is a topic that, at least in my life, I have heard a lot about but up until recently knew very little about. I will be briefly addressing the three large suppliers of energy in Alberta: coal, oil and others (over my next few posts for Green Medium, between this week and next)  Before diving into each topic, I would like to acknowledge the difference between an energy source that can provide base load energy (coal, oil, bio fuels, geothermal, hydroelectric, etc.)  and ones that cannot (wind, solar, etc.).

 

A base load energy supplier can provide power to your house at 5 p.m. when every house on your block is turning on the stove to make dinner and can meet the 7 a.m. demand for hot water for showers.  In short, a base load source can easily change its production of energy to meet sudden increases (or cutback for decreases) in demand. Sadly, many renewables, like wind and solar are not at the place to do this *YET* (many people are working very hard on cheap storage systems). To add to the problem, non-base load energy producers have to sell the electricity they produce at the minimum price of the market at that time because they are unable to store the energy they generate. This has put many renewables at an economic disadvantage.

 

With that being said, there are definitely more sustainable forms of baseline energy that are not being utilized nearly enough, especially in Canada. One example is geothermal.

Here's a little nerdy video touching on what geothermal energy is about :-)   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCRDf7QxjDk

 

Currently, there are no geothermal plants in Canada, but the potential is there considering our geographical neighbor America has the most geothermal plants in the world.

 

Before I understood this concept I definitely had a skewed and pessimistic idea of why the energy system is the way that it is. Oil and gas do provide valuable service for businesses in the energy market economically and for the consumer. As much as I would like to think of myself as a rough and tough environmentalist,  I definitely enjoy being in a warm home, or being able to work at my computer at anytime of the day or night.  Luxuries that, with our current set up in Alberta, are being supplied by not-so environmentally friendly base load energy sources.

 

To end on a positive note, there are many exciting groups working hard to meet the our energy needs working within the limitations of some renewable. For example, Bull Frog Power (https://www.bullfrogpower.com/)  puts renewable energy into the grid for the consumption of the individual consumer or individual building (like Southgate Mall in Edmonton, Alberta ) for a small cost. This is a crafty way to utilize the already existing infrastructure and to work around problems due to base load energy. In my home, I was able to pressure my parents (student life) into getting it which is sweet. But don't worry if you are unable afford the cost as you can always like their facebook page; they give quite exciting updates :-)

 

Thank you for spending time to read this.

More soon!

Much love,

Elizabeth.

 

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