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Producers cutting back on power use


August 9, 2011
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Canadian manufacturers are using less to produce more, according to a recent study by Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN).

Canadian manufacturers are using less to produce more, according to a recent study by Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN).

From 1995 to 2009, overall manufacturing output increased by 4.5% to $6.3 billion.

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At the same time, industry’s energy consumption decreased by 18%-an amount equal to the power used by every Canadian office in 2008, the study notes.

Producers of paper, primary metal, petroleum and coal products and chemicals were the biggest energy users, accounting for 76% of all consumption.

The deepest cuts in energy use came from paper manufacturers. Consumption dropped 41%, likely the result of plant and mill closures. Indeed, it was the only sector to experience a decrease in GDP (19%).

In Ontario at least, industry’s energy use took a dive along with the economy, says Alexandra Campbell, spokesperson for Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), which operates the province’s electricity system.

“During the recession, industrial demand went down from 10 to 30%. Since 2009, the industrial load has gone back up about 10%,” she says.

While reduced production does impact energy consumption, there have been other factors at play across Canada.

“Power demand doesn’t exactly mirror what’s happening in the economy,” Campbell says, pointing out that usage from residential, commercial and some smaller industries stayed relatively the same during the downturn.

Another reason for large industry’s lower usage could be intentional.

“Conservation and demand response has had a pretty significant push over the past few years in Ontario,” Cambell says.

She also points to the introduction of more renewables and smaller scale generators offsetting demand on the grid.

“Manufacturers’ improved environmental performance is, in part, the result of reduced energy use and improved energy efficiency by adopting best practices and investing in new and less energy-intesive machinery and equipment,” says Jeff Browlee, vice-president of public affairs at CME.

Brownlee says CME’s analysis has found a close correlation between capital investment by manufacturers, energy intensity and GHG emissions intensity.


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