In Canada It’s OK to Cut Down Trees but It’s Not OK to Export LNG

Guest Blog by S. A. Shelley: Welcome dear readers to another blog highlighting more energy follies. The world is a mess on several levels, with equity markets roiling, bonds markets churning and of course inflation running amok. Politicians at every level use every hurricane to announce that catastrophic climate change has arrived, and every excuse except fiscal imprudence as the sinister root cause for inflation (nytimes.com, nbcnews.com). We have Europeans still worrying about heat this winter and OPEC+ machinating oil prices. In response to OPEC+ moves, Washington intelligentsia responded by condemning OPEC while sidelining any effort to increase US oil production let alone finish the Keystone XL pipeline. In Europe, Germany has rapidly fired up previously shut down coal burning power plants, and citizens in Austria are scavenging forests for firewood (euronews.com, abcnews.com). In one panicked moment Germany has fallen back to fossil fuels and will once again pump more CO2 into the atmosphere than when it began its Energiewende. Perhaps the sudden new German energy plan is to accelerate global warming to prevent freezing of its populace?

Luckily for Germany and the world, there is a new energy savior to rescue everyone with clean, green energy: Canada. In August of this year, Canada and Germany announced plans to produce green hydrogen in Canada, then ship it across the ocean to Germany where it will be “burned” (note, when hydrogen burns, it becomes water.) Let’s map this in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1: Green hydrogen from Canada (Newfoundland) to Germany.

Think about this.

Canada will use wind power in Newfoundland along with sea water from around Newfoundland to produce hydrogen gas which will then be shipped to Germany which has much more wind power and also locally abundant sea water resources.

In simpler terms: Canada will take water from the ocean, break it into parts, then ship it to Germany where it will eventually end up back as water in the ocean.

How on earth is this Canadian plan more efficient than Germany just locally producing green hydrogen using its abundant wind power and ocean water?

Consider another Canadian green energy export case. The biggest power station in Britain burns wood pellets. Because of bureaucrats many years ago, burning wood pellets is defined as green energy.  To supply that power plant, the company each year is cutting down thousands of acres of primary, old growth forest in Canada.  Let’s map this in Fig. 2.

Fig. 2 Wood Pellets from Canada to Great Britain

Think about this

Canada wants to plant 2 billion trees to fight climate change, but at the same time Canada allows old growth forests, which are among the best carbon sinks, to be cut down to be burned as bio-fuel.

In what Bizarro world does this make sense?

What the world needs is lots of LNG, fast. LNG can be used to displace the much more polluting coal fired power that Germany is bringing back online and of which China is building much more. LNG is used as feedstock for fertilizers, pharmaceutical and other industries. Canada has a huge abundance of gas resource, but no near term means of getting it to world markets. That’s why Germany, after the Canada green hydrogen deal, raced to the Middle East to buy LNG. Imagine if that revenue went to Canada instead of the UAE?  Perhaps Canada would then have enough money for the Prince of Privilege’s cherished social programs?

There is of course, the mutedly touted Coastal Gas Link project in British Columbia. But that is delayed, and now some even argue that it is no longer economic to complete. The coastal gas link project began many years ago with a bureaucrat sitting at a desk in Ottawa drawing the pipeline route before any surveys were completed and before any of the project coalition partners were selected (source withheld as OWOE protects its sources).  The coastal gas link project will probably never be completed before some global industries contract and before global CO2 output jumps significantly.

It is fine to be woke and aware of inequities in the world, but it is worse to base solutions on ideological fantasies without regard to realities. Welcome to the 21st century decline. Welcome to the start of the necessary break-up of Canada.

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2 thoughts on “In Canada It’s OK to Cut Down Trees but It’s Not OK to Export LNG”

  1. Coincidentally, there was an interesting article in the Washington Post recently on Europe’s appetite for wood pellets (though that article focused on pellets from US manufacturers.) Cause and affect in complicated sytems are often not intuitive, so whether these actions actually deliver eco-savings can only be figured out with detailed analysis, not gut feel. Central to this situation is the origin of the wood used to make the pellets. The idea was built on the presumption that suppliers would use scrap/rejected/replaceable wood, and that planting would absorb the CO2 biproduct of the burned pellets. In the Canadian case, it appears profits motivated bad behavior – what a surprise – underminding the assumptions.

    1. That’s one of the dangers of trying to solve complex problems based upon feelings instead of objective, rational analysis. It takes just a few minutes for ESG bunnies chatting in a coffee shop to arrive at new truths, whereas reality requires years of study, data collection and testing to arrive at a feasible and workable solution. The drought of sustained, rational thought is most evident at all levels of government in Canada.

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