The Dilemma of Energy Management Strategy: Balancing Savings and Emissions

As energy professionals, we are often faced with a critical decision when recommending energy efficiency measures. Should we prioritize energy savings or consider the broader context of emissions reduction? To make the right choice, we need to delve into the intricacies of regional electrical grids and their varying emission intensities, a factor that can significantly impact our recommendations. 

Regional Variations in Emission Factors

In 2020, Canada witnessed notable variations in emission factors across provinces, underscoring the complexity of our energy landscape. Emission factors ranged from a mere 0.04 tonnes/MWh in Ontario to 0.30 tonnes/MWh in New Brunswick and a striking 0.66 tonnes/MWh in Alberta (Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada). These disparities emphasize the importance of tailoring energy management solutions to the unique characteristics of each location.

Understanding the Local Grid’s Impact

The key insight is that energy savings do not operate in isolation; they are intricately linked to the GHG emissions produced by the local grid’s power source. Whether it’s high-emission coal, clean hydro, or renewable energy, the emissions associated with the power generation source vary significantly by region. 

Beyond Financial Viability: A Holistic Approach

While financial viability is a crucial consideration, it offers only a one-dimensional view of energy management decisions. To make informed choices, we must adopt a multi-dimensional approach that factors in both economic feasibility and grid emissions intensities. In some cases, it may be financially prudent for certain provinces to prioritize natural gas savings over electricity savings, but the broader implications on emissions cannot be ignored.

Leveraging Comprehensive Decision Tools

To guide clients toward informed decisions, it’s essential to employ sophisticated decision tools such as life cycle GHG and costing analyses. These tools provide a more comprehensive perspective than traditional cost-only metrics, allowing us to articulate the benefits of our energy and GHG management strategies effectively.

A Sustainable Future: Prioritizing GHG Emissions

In conclusion, I urge my fellow energy professionals to shift their focus and prioritize GHG emissions when crafting energy management strategies. By striking a balance between energy savings and emissions reduction, we not only ensure long-term sustainability but also play a significant role in the global fight against climate change.

Originally published at:


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *