By Jonathan Myers, MES 2023
The electrification of road transportation has been touted as the way to limit the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from road transportation thereby mitigating some of the potentially disastrous effects of climate change. The process involves switching from vehicles with an internal combustion engine to electric vehicles (EVs) powered by a battery. This solution comes with significant trade-offs related to the environment and human health which can be identified by conducting a life cycle analysis. Such an analysis reveals that most of these trade- offs occur at either the raw materials extraction and manufacturing phase or at end-of-life (EoL). Policy measures however typically target batteries when they reach EoL, potentially ignoring the trade-offs that occur in the upstream portion of the battery life cycle. In order to assess the effectiveness of such policy measures, this paper conducts a sustainability assessment based on the model established by Robert B. Gibson. The researcher applied the sustainability assessment to proposed regimes for managing EoL EV batteries in British Columbia (B.C.), California, and the European Union (EU). Other than the EU’s Proposal for a Regulation, the results revealed significant shortcomings in the proposed regimes in B.C. and California. The paper concludes with three recommendations from the researcher based on the results of the sustainability assessment: 1) Establish a national framework for managing EoL EV batteries similar to the Proposal for a Regulation in the European Union; 2) limit the power of original equipment manufacturers (EV and EV battery manufacturers) to influence battery management policy; 3) consider more comprehensive policies for sustainable road transportation.
By Mariyan Boychev, MES Planning 2021
Entering the third decade of the 21st century, humanity is facing multiple disasters. These encompass climate change and its consequences, the COVID-19 health pandemic, as well as increased social, economic, and environmental inequalities. These emergencies must all be addressed, in every aspect of our lives, together with better urban planning, to create future sustainable, equitable, and healthy communities and cities, and preserve the planet. The “15- minute city” model that unifies many urban strategies is key for the COVID-19 recovery and for developing sustainable cities. It focuses on meeting all the requirements that a person needs within a 15-minute radius of their household with minimal travel. As well, the strategy to reshape cities addresses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) that lead to global development towards wellbeing for all. It is recognized that going back to the previous “normal” is not an option and we should move away from the unsustainable way of life in our cities. Adopting the “15-minute city” model in Toronto can be a significant tool for better urban planning to create a post-COVID-19 sustainable and healthy community, to address efficiency and resilience of the city, while simultaneously contributing to climate change mitigation. Toronto must follow the examples of Paris, Seattle, and other global cities and implement the 15-minute neighbourhoods’ strategy for creating sustainable, equitable, and socio-economically prosperous communities, as well as meet its goal to become a carbon neutral city.
By Mikaela Kyle
This paper identifies and evaluates the early responses to the COVID-19 pandemic within Ontario. The concept of policy windows is used in this paper to articulate how the pandemic created opportunities for policy and legal changes within Ontario. The Ford government was presented with two potential paths in confronting the unprecedented health and economic crises that were unfolding. These paths were to double down on supporting existing economic actors including entrenched businesses and industries while continuing pre-pandemic trajectories, or to make significant economic changes by putting Ontario on a path towards green business and in doing so spurring new economic activity. This paper demonstrates that the former path was taken, doubling down on pre-existing paths while also degrading and reverting existing environmental protections.
To demonstrate this policy window and the path that was selected, this paper compiles all the decisions and changes made by the Ford government in the first months of the pandemic which relate to or have impacts on environmental laws and policy. This paper compares these decisions to the Ford government’s pre-existing pathways to assess how the pandemic did or did not change trajectories. This paper concludes that these pathways were not significantly altered. Many of the decisions that were made during these initial months were decisions that were already on the government’s agenda. However, this paper does see an increased hostility towards environmental policies, laws and protections that may indicate further degradations in the future – especially in the areas of public participation and consultation, particularly with respect to land use development issues.
By Christie McLeod
According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global temperatures are warming by approximately 0.1-0.3°C per decade. As an estimated 1.1°C of global temperature warming above pre-industrial levels has already occurred, 1.5°C of global warming will likely occur sometime between 2030 and 2052. While international coordination is critically needed to allocate emissions amongst states, such a suggestion raises the contentious question of how to equitably distribute emissions amongst states. This paper uses several equity approaches to consider what might comprise Canada’s “fair” emissions reduction target. A literature review conducted by this author revealed two studies which allow for higher atmospheric concentrations that would not limit warming to 1.5°C as well as three studies which comply with 1.5°C pathways. Every “fair” target suggested by these five studies is significantly more ambitious than Canada’s present emissions reduction target. At minimum, these proposed targets call for Canada to nearly double its emissions reduction target, however, multiple targets call for Canada to reach net-zero emissions by 2030 and undertake mitigation efforts to further reduce emissions beyond its own borders. This paper concludes by highlighting several strategies to work towards setting and meeting fair emissions reduction targets in Canada.
By Sumeet Sooch
The end of life management of EV batteries is a significant issue. With the use of
high performance batteries on the rise, they have the potential to become the next
global waste management challenge. This Major Research Paper comparatively analyzes the policy structures for managing the end of lives for electric vehicle ( batteries in Canada, the European Union and the United States. Sociotechnical transition theory is used to understand the effects of large scale technological transitions as they relate to electric vehicles. Emphasis is placed on the downstream consequences of technological transitions, and the lack of discussion in the transitions literature o f downstream effects. This paper utilizes a methodological framework that draws inspiration from the work of Dr. Mark Winfield and Hugh Benevides in the Walkerton Water Inquiry. It is used to comparatively analyze the policy structures in Europe and North America for end of life EV batteries. I conclude that based on existing policy structures, the European Union has developed a basic framework on this issue through the implementation of the 2006 Battery Directive. The United States and Canada, with the exception of Quebec, are falling behind on the issue. Design for disassembly is explored as a potential method for alleviating the concerns with downstream effects. It also allows for the growth in markets for second life applications of end of life EV batteries. Second life applications, where possible, are preferred to direct recycling because of the potential development of undesirable waste streams. Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is explored and chosen as the preferred model for countries to hold producers responsible for the waste they generate. This model, in conjunction with an emphasis on second life applications, can incentivize producers to design their batteries for easier disassembly reuse and recycling.
By Cristian Hurtado
This research paper explores the potential for transactive energy systems (TESs) and blockchain-enabled microgrids (BEMs) to be integrated into Ontario’s existing electrical grid as a sustainable energy solution for climate change, while also delivering economic and reliability benefits to consumers and other stakeholders. The multi-layer perspective (MLP) framework is applied to assess whether or not a socio-technical transition is possible and/or likely in Ontario, and how this transition might occur. These questions are answered by relying primarily on industry and academic literature in the form of technical whitepapers, academic journal articles and theses. Several case studies are also presented to show how TESs and BEMs have been integrated into existing grids in a variety of jurisdictions around the world. Areas of future research are presented following the case studies to highlight important yet unexplored topics concerning TESs in Ontario. The paper concludes that the blockchain component of BEMs is unnecessary, given Ontario’s incompatible cultural and political context with the technology’s value proposition. However, the paper finds that TESs are likely to be adopted in Ontario, and in some cases, they already have been to a limited extent, as can be seen in the cases of Alectra Utilities and Opus One Solutions. This adoption of TESs in the province is considered to be the beginning of the reconfiguration path transitional pathway, as identified in the MLP literature.
By Natanel Lev
This MRP is about the sustainability transition of Ontario’s electricity system. A sustainability transition is understood as a type of purposive socio-technical transition, which is meant to address some normative goal rather than to exploit commercial opportunity. I use the analytical framework presented by the socio-technical transitions literature and multi-level perspective theory to assess the state of Ontario’s grid modernization as evidenced through primarily documentary evidence, most notably the 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan. I conclude that based on this evidence, Ontario is taking a transformation pathway, which is characterized as being driven from within the established regime that modifies its own trajectory in response to landscape pressures and an under-developed niche. This is represented by Ontario’s preferred approach to enable LDCs as the primary developers of DERs through regulatory changes. I then argue that in light of sustainability objectives that I identify in this paper, Ontario’s approach has some shortfalls, and instead I recommend a reconfiguration pathway that requires the strategic modification of 3 key areas to enable a competitive retail DERs market. The three key areas are: (1) adjustments to the grid architecture to address the operational and functional roles of grid actors; (2) establishment of a market structure known as a platform to enable the participation of distributed resources to compete with traditional resources on a level playing, which can be done either at the bulk or distribution levels; and (3) the regulation of a competitive retail DERs market in Ontario.
By Amanda Gelfant
The purpose of this paper is to identify regulatory and market barriers to energy storage as a model for the adoption of future sustainable energy technologies in Ontario. This paper examines current barriers and makes recommendations for increased sustainable energy technologies, such as storage, in Canadian markets. Utilizing the Multi-Level Perspective theoretical framework, this paper deconstructs the current state of energy storage technology in North America. An agnostic energy storage technological overview is provided to offer an understanding of where the technology is today and how quickly it is advancing. Three cross-jurisdictional storage markets are reviewed: Ontario, Alberta, and California, along with the American Federal agency, FERC. Each jurisdiction examined is evaluated by highlighting the key regulatory bodies along with the market rules and structures that currently apply to storage. Finally, the paper concludes with a policy overview, a view on the role of consumer engagement, and recommendations for adoption of new energy technologies. The recommendations are offered as a result of the comparative analysis conducted, interviews with energy professionals in Ontario, and a legal and policy review along with a literature review. While it is concluded that major barriers presently exists for energy storage in North America, the paper finds that major transformations are occurring resulting from pressure from consumers and the need to combat climate change.
By Scott Harbinson
The need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and deal with the impacts of climate change has driven the development and implementation of community energy plans. Today, more than 200 communities across Canada, representing over 50% of the population, have an energy plan. Community energy planning (CEP) is an increasingly popular strategy for municipalities to reduce GHG emissions, build resiliency, and create local economic benefits. Due to this significant uptake in CEP nationwide, it is important to understand the impact it is having on multi-level governance systems, as very little is known about the influence CEP has on regional-level institutional, infrastructural, and land use systems.
Current research suggests a divided and territorialised energy system that operates across different levels of government that can impede community energy planning. To help mitigate this problem, this paper identifies alignments, misalignments and gaps in the legislative and regulatory environment across jurisdictions to improve community energy plan development and implementation, and assist policymakers in enacting legislation that supports CEP and jurisdictional goals such as GHG reduction targets. A series of policy and program recommendations are presented to further support CEP.
Canadian Subnational Climate Change Policy
By Joseph Destito
Using a framework, this paper evaluates British Columbia’s and Alberta’s carbon tax and
Ontario’s and Quebec’s cap and trade system, to determine how effective these policies will be at reducing GHG emissions cumulatively. The framework has been primarily shaped via a literature review. The framework consists of the following evaluative criteria: A) policy
effectiveness, B) allocation of public resources and C) policy design. Each criterion consists of multiple questions and sub-questions which are used to determine the effectiveness of the policy. The criterions take into account things such as the carbon scope, price of carbon, the extent of emission reductions, actual and anticipated reductions, allocation of generated revenues, political acceptability, gaming prevention, policy rigorousness, evaluation, and transparency. Since all policies besides BC’s are in their infancy, to satisfy the criteria, this paper primarily utilizes government documents, working paper, and commentaries. Recommendations and findings are summarized in the appendix.
Current modeling and data suggest that all four policies will not result in enough
emission reductions to allow the respective provinces to achieve their emissions reduction goals. Although, some are further off the mark than others. However, it is blatantly clear that the recommendations that are required with the timeframe allotted is steep to say the least. Ultimately, each policy can benefit from a price on carbon that is significantly greater than $30/tCO2e and a much leaner scope. Particularly, Alberta and Ontario damage their scope substantially to preserve their large emitters. Blanketed exemptions seem to be a popular theme between these two provinces. Better redistribution of revenues to achieve further reductions can also be had, particularly from British Columbia. Notably, Quebec sets the pace for good transparency and something that the other three policies should aspire too. All provinces can also improve their reporting and evaluation processes.
Greywater is a technology with the potential to reduce water demand. This paper looks to answer, is Ontario's water management regime is undergoing a sustainability transition that is conducive of greywater technology's adoption? The multi-level perspective has been applied as a theoretical framework to comprehend this as a technological transition within a sociotechnical system. The multi-level perspective perceives transitions to be the result of interactions between actors at multiple levels of a system. Policy was identified as the dominant factor in determining the answer posed by this research. Selections from Ontario's policy-led planning structure illustrate how the province's water management regime is currently transitioning toward sustainability objectives that are accepting of greywater technology. However, widespread adoption of the technology has not occurred. A review of key barriers suggests that amendments in policy could potentially facilitate adoption of the technology.
Local Distribution Companies (LDCs) have the potential to be leaders in coordinating and stewarding a Sustainable Energy Transition (SET) in Ontario. However, under the current LCD business model structure, LDCs are unable to capture the benefits from sustainable energy and advance a sustainable energy transition. Separately from LDC operations, sustainable energy is disrupting the electricity system through the proliferation of Distributed Energy Resources, Information and Communication Technology occurring Behind the Meter (BTM). The adoption of BTM applications erodes LDC profitability and threatens their existence. The pushing force from an outdated LDC business model compounded with the pulling force from disruptive sustainable technology has created an opportunity for LDCs to innovate their business model in order to adapt to the changing energy paradigm of the 21st century.
This paper explores and evaluates seven emerging LDC business models used in Ontario and provides a recommendation of a possible pathway for a viable LDC business model that can leverage sustainable energy while maintaining the electrical grid infrastructure.
Evaluation of Ontario’s Cap and Trade Regulation
By Judy But
Using an interdisciplinary framework, this paper evaluates the effectiveness of Ontario’s cap and trade regulation to achieve sustained emission reductions. This framework is shaped by six evaluation criteria to assess the program’s effectiveness: (1) comprehensiveness in scope and coverage of emissions; (2) distributional fairness in the allocation of allowances; (3) effectiveness of the market design; (4) transparency of accommodations and flexibility arrangements; (5) measurability of emission reductions; and (6) the program’s integration potential with broader political, economic and environmental policy initiatives.
The purpose of this major research paper is to examine how existing policies and programs in socio-political contexts comparable to Ontario’s make the inclusion of solar energy technology with affordable housing possible. The paper begins with the investigation of Ontario’s housing and energy systems. Following this assessment is the analysis of existing policy and programs in the United Kingdom and California that facilitate the integration of solar energy technology with affordable housing. The programs discussed in these regions are compared to past, present and future energy efficiency initiatives in Ontario in order to identify which aspects of them can be adopted to facilitate the creation of solar-equipped green affordable housing in the province. The concluding chapter discusses recommended planning and policy actions to be taken at the municipal and provincial level that will incite the creation of solar-equipped green affordable housing in Ontario. The paper highlights the environmental, social and economic benefits of developing domestic solar energy systems as a decarbonization strategy. Together, these benefits act as an endorsement of a potential reality in Ontario in which affordable housing and sustainable housing become synonymous concepts in the age of climate change mitigation.
From Scotland to New Scotland: Constructing a Sectoral Marine Plan for Tidal Energy for Nova Scotia
By Stephen J. Sangiuliano
This paper constructs a draft Sectoral Marine Plan for Tidal Energy (SMPTE) for Nova Scotia. The paper overviews the operation and timeline of tidal energy development internationally and compares it to the Nova Scotia context. Due to the complexities associated with the multiplicity of federal and provincial governmental departments delegated with legislative jurisdiction over various aspects of the marine environment, an analysis of legislation and policies is undertaken in conjunction with best practices in Europe in order to establish jurisdictional boundaries and authorities in relation to the proposed SMPTE. The SMPTE process and outputs are then detailed and a map of suitable plan option areas that take into consideration ecological, technological, social, cultural, political, and economic factors is presented and compared to the marine renewable-energy areas legislated under the Marine Renewable-energy Act 2015. A quality management review of the SMPTE is undertaken in relation to the ICES Marine Spatial Planning Quality Management System and compared against the quality management review undertaken for Scotland’s SMPTE. Research and data gaps are identified and key recommendations are made for the province of Nova Scotia and its tidal energy industry.
Using the Agreement on Internal Trade to Promote a more Sustainable Electricity Sector in Canada
By Zachary D'Onfrio, MES 2016
The purpose of this major paper is to examine the potential for the Agreement on Internal Trade (“AIT”) to facilitate electricity trade between the provinces of Ontario and Québec. The AIT covers a wide range of topics, but its chapter on energy was never completed. The principle objective of this paper is to identify current interprovincial trade barriers in the electricity sector and determine whether the addition of an energy chapter to the AIT would be a viable method of minimizing those barriers.
Renewable Energy Mobility
By Mustafa Nazari, MES 2015
As the urban population soars to 86 per cent in Ontario, municipalities will face increased pressure to plan for energy as it is intrinsically linked to the urban infrastructure. The widespread deployment of renewable energy is severely limited by the provincial governments in Canada. This project report starts by discussing the role of municipalities in energy planning in Ontario. The report will mainly focus on my experiences on designing and implementing a modular solar photovoltaic (PV) charging station structure for electric vehicles at Keele Campus, York University. Mainly, this report outlines the steps involved in developing a 6.84 kW solar PV structure with local industry partners. It covers the design criteria established to maintain key aspect and goals of the Renewable Energy Mobility (REM) project. The report ends with discussions and concluding remarks regarding the development, design, installation, policy and energy structure implications of the REM project.
Energy Storage Leading Ontario to a Emission-free Electricity System
By Adam Jones, BES 2015
The purpose of this research is to understand the role that energy storage plays in the current energy supply mix of Ontario and its potential to expand the role of renewable energy (RE) and reduce carbon emissions from electrical generation. To achieve this goal it was necessary to first understand what is meant by the term energy storage, review the benefits that storage technologies can provide to electricity systems with and without relation to renewable energy. Second, it was necessary to understand how electricity systems are organized and regulated and why this impacts development of energy storage. Third, it was necessary to understand the case of Ontario; the regulatory environment, existing energy storage facilities, and influence of renewable energy.
From Smart Grids to the Internet of Energy
By Scott Weiler, MES 2014
Globally, electricity systems are undergoing rapid modernization as they transition into the digital era of the ‘Smart Grid’. By integrating information and communication technology with the electricity grid, the smart grid will become a highly automated network with two-way flows of electricity and information. This research questions whether the smart grid will be an evolutionary technology that enhances grid operations, but maintains the existing institutional order, or will the smart grid be a revolutionary technology that disrupts the natural monopoly of electricity utilities. This research also explores the potential for the smart grid to cause a broader transformation in energy systems that will bring about a sustainable energy transition.
Advancing District Energy in Ontario's Urban Municipalities
By David MacMillan, MES 2014
The purpose of this project is to understand and demonstrate some of the high-level aspects of planning for district energy as a means to facilitate implementation, primarily for planners and other municipal staff interested in district energy. A literature review and interviews with land developers, municipal staff, district energy experts and university personnel provided the basis for conceptual discussion. In addition, a case study of the opportunity to expand York University’s Keele Campus district energy network, which employed several quantitative methods, yielded important practical lessons regarding planning for district energy.
Fuelling a Superpower Sustainability
By Paul Cockburn, MES 2013
The United States has made significant commitments to expanding sustainable energy in recent years, seeking to achieve ecological gains, growth in GDP and jobs, and increased national security. This paper examines some of these sustainable energy strategies, including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and the opening of land for renewable energy development by the Department of the Interior (DOI), to determine whether or not the U.S has achieved their sustainable energy goals so far. The paper also identifies significant barriers to sustainable energy in the U.S, including increased natural gas production and the approaching end of some federal sustainable energy incentive programs.
Electricity Conservation Policy in Ontario
By Rebecca Mallinson, MES 2013
This paper assesses the effectiveness of Ontario’s electricity conservation policy framework according to six criteria developed through examining best practices and successful strategies employed in leading North American jurisdictions. After identifying problem areas and cross-cutting themes, the paper contributes twenty recommendations to the conversation about how to best move forward with electricity conservation policy in Ontario.
Community Energy Planning: State of Practice in Canada
By Bahareh Toghiani Rizi, MES 2012
The purpose of this major paper is to broadly examine the state of practice of community energy planning (CEP) in Canada by exploring its definition, reasons for implementation, and differences between its theory and practice. Its principle objective is to bridge gaps in an area of study in which secondary literature has been sparse and limited in scope, providing insight on successful approaches to climate change mitigation through community energy planning. A comparative analysis is performed through a secondary literature review, multiple document analysis, and four case studies that employ the use of interviews.
The primary aim of this research is to analyse and synthesise findings related to i) the prevailing renewable energy (RE) context in Ontario as well as global RE financing trends; ii) financing model design criteria and trade-offs; iii) key supporting policies for RE deployment; iv) alternative RE financing models; and v) an integrated financing model in Ontario, Canada.
Small Scale, Big Impact: A Comprehensive Evaluation of Ontario’s microFIT Program
By Dawn Strifler, MES 2012
This paper presents a comprehensive evaluation of the energy production, economic, social, and political impacts of Ontario's microFIT Program - a feed-in tariff for micro-scale renewable energy projects. In an effort to determine whether the program can be justified from political and sustainability perspectives, the paper examines the government’s goals for the program and determines whether they have been met; investigates the full range of program benefits and detriments, and utilizes sustainability assessment criteria to evaluate whether the program can be considered sustainable; and assesses whether policy acceptance has been achieved among various stakeholder groups.
Operationalizing Feed-in Tariffs in Ontario: A Solar Photovoltaic Development
By Jay Willmot, MES 2012
This project report details the development of a 200kW AC / 270kW DC rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) system on Kinghaven farm in King City, ON. It covers both the regulatory requirements associated with interconnecting with the Ontario electrical grid, and the steps involved in procuring and developing the solar PV system itself. The report finishes with conclusions and reflections about the development process and lessons learned throughout its execution.
This paper examines how a community-based renewable power industry can be established in Ontario. It explores and compares the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) regimes in the three European nations with Ontario’s FIT scheme and suggests how Ontario’s system can be modified to promote greater investment from community-based power developers.
Disclaimer: due to legislative changes/amendments, some of the provisions cited in this MRP may have slightly changed
Ontario’s Low-Carbon Transition: The Role of a Provincial Cap-and-Trade Program
By Ian Rice, MES 2011
This research paper broadly examined the politics of climate change policy in Ontario before delving into complex design questions around how a cap-and-trade system could be developed in Ontario that would drive the transition to a low-carbon economy.
The Sustainability Case for Community Power: Empowering Communities Through Renewable Energy
By Sarah Martin, MES 2011
Sarah’s master’s research paper, The Sustainability Case for Community Power: Empowering Communities through Renewable Energy, evaluates community models that support renewable energy projects, using a sustainability metric that was developed through her program.