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Canadian Hydropower vs the Tar Sands

The Keystone XL pipeline is considered by many as the best way to import energy from Canada, yet there are other options that are far more environmentally friendly, and less likely to attract such opposition.

In an event on Monday titled ‘Power Partnerships: How Canada-U.S. Hydroelectric Partnerships Reinforce America’s Clean Energy Economy’ representatives from the hydroelectric industry spoke to government officials and utility companies about how to increase the clean energy relationship between the two countries.

Canadian hydropower has contributed to the US energy mix for over 40 years. In 2010 the US imported 43.8 terawatt hours of electricity from Canada (only about one percent of the US annual electricity demand), and of that, about 80% was generated from hydropower.

Related article: With Rail Interest, Who Needs Keystone XL?

At the conference one of the main topics of discussion was how to overcome the barriers that currently prevent hydropower imports from contributing a larger amount of energy to the US energy mix.

Barriers include: transmission capacity; the low prices of natural gas; the loss of domestic jobs by sourcing energy from another country; competition from domestic renewable energy sources; regulatory barriers, and environmentalist opposition.

The hope is that these barriers can be reduced in order to allow Canadian hydropower to provide more electricity to the US which will help to replace dirty coal power stations. Concerns exist that importing more renewable energy from Canada will cause investment in domestic renewable energy projects to fall.

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com



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