Contrary to what was stated in a column by Konrad Yakabuski, the Site C project in B.C. is being built to meet domestic electricity needs. B.C.'s population is expected to grow by more than one million people in the next 20 years and Site C is the cleanest and most cost effective option to provide the new energy and capacity that will be required.
Unlike previous large hydroelectric projects in B.C. and around the world, the huge amount of vegetation within the reservoir footprint at Site C is being removed before flooding. This amounts to millions of tons of wood fibre that is not left to decompose over the decades, emitting polluting greenhouse gases (GHGs) into our atmosphere.
A project-specific GHG study shows that Site C will produce lower greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy than alternatives including solar and wind, due to its northern boreal location, and relatively small reservoir area compared to its high electricity output.
Working with accredited external scientists as well as peer reviewers, BC Hydro built a project-specific carbon model that estimated the GHG emissions associated with Site C for both the construction and operational periods of the project, comparing pre-project conditions with reservoir conditions over a 100-year period, taking into account processes such as vegetation clearing, biomass decomposition and reservoir emissions. Both Environment Canada and an independent federal/provincial Joint Review Panel reviewed and agreed with the outcomes of this model, and the Panel stated that "the Panel is comfortable that the assessment conducted by BC Hydro with respect to the Project's contribution of GHGs is accurate".
The Panel went on to conclude: “Site C, after an initial burst of expenditure, would lock in low rates for many decades, and would produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy than any source save nuclear.”
A new study released this week in BioScience provides information that supports the Site C GHG study, including the estimate of methane emissions.
As the world seeks clean and renewable electricity generation, British Columbia is fortunate to build on an electricity system based on hydroelectricity.
Community Relations Manager, Site C