Cities around the globe are committing to the goal of being predominantly powered by renewable energy. Now, Ottawa has formally joined that movement of “renewable cities.” On December 13, 2017, City Council took an important step by adopting Phase 1 of a renewable energy transition plan called Energy Evolution: Ottawa’s Community Energy Transition Strategy.
This detailed, three-year plan outlines how the city as a whole can and must begin shifting towards a renewable energy future. Though currently only 5% of Ottawa’s energy is generated from local, renewable sources, Energy Evolution describes five pathways forward to change that.
Developed in collaboration with more than 100 stakeholders from some 50 organizations, the Energy Evolution strategy is a community-wide initiative with a vision to transform Ottawa into a thriving city powered by clean, renewable energy.
In 2015, City Council directed staff to make Ottawa’s Renewable Energy Strategy a Term of Council Priority and, in 2016, Council adopted a new community-wide target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 2012 levels by 2050. These initiatives are inseparable as they work in tandem to move Ottawa towards a low-carbon economy.
Phase 1 of the Energy Evolution strategy focuses on energy supply and demand, laying the groundwork for an honest discussion about where our energy comes from and how we can shift it away from fossil fuels. If we pursue the most aggressive uptake scenario over the next decade, this strategy will offset 43% of current energy use by 2050, and reduce Ottawa’s greenhouse gas emissions by 48% by 2050.
What’s the plan?
Phase 1 sets out 33 action items for the next three years, including 19 to begin in 2017-2018. Here are a few examples:
- New Community Energy Innovation Fund
- Net-metering framework for renewable energy through Hydro Ottawa
- Reduce natural gas use through air-source heat pumps in City buildings and households
- Conduct a feasibility study to expand biogas production at the Robert O. Pickard Environmental Centre wastewater treatment plant
- Produce policy guidelines for thermal, solar and community district energy systems in Ottawa
- Electrify transportation through electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and a new EV Discovery Centre
- Plug City Hall into the federal district energy grid
The City continues to work on Phase 2 of its Energy Evolution strategy, which will align with its next greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory in 2019, when City Council and the public will receive an update on Ottawa's actual carbon emissions compared to our targets. Phase 2 will tackle transformations in waste, energy storage, transportation and buildings, and will offer longer-range planning to 2050.
I look forward to the City of Ottawa pushing this shift even farther in future terms of council. Energy Evolution offers the tools to support the City as a corporation, as well as its residents, businesses and institutions, to make tangible shifts toward a collective vision for a sustainable future. We all have a critical and urgent part to play.
The City of Ottawa is an essential lead actor, but ultimately, the required transition to being a renewable city must be a team effort. We will all reap the benefits.
Councillor for Capital Ward