US and Canada to expand energy co-operation for net zero

29 June 2021

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M Granholm and Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan on 24 June met to launch a new updated and revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to reinvigorate and expand energy cooperation between their departments, accelerate the clean energy transition to net-zero emissions by 2050, and provide reliable, efficient and resilient grid operations. At the meeting, the USA and Canada also released the North American Renewable Integration Study (NARIS), a first-of-its-kind analysis detailing the benefits of integrating renewable energy across the continent and helping to accelerate the countries’ respective goals to achieve a clean power system.

“The United States and Canada have a shared commitment to protect our planet and ensure that all pockets of North America have access to affordable, clean energy,” said Granholm. “We can’t tackle the climate crisis alone — we must work together to accelerate the flow of low-carbon electricity across our borders, spurring job growth and ushering in a 100% clean energy future.”

O’Regan noted that no two countries in the world have their energy sectors as closely linked as Canada and the USA. “It’s a relationship that supports thousands of jobs and drives economic activity on both sides of the border. We’re strengthening our bilateral energy relationship to build a clean energy future. And we’re leaving no one behind.” 

The MOU identifies 15 areas for strategic bilateral energy cooperation and sets the framework for commitments laid out in the Roadmap for a Renewed US-Canada Partnership announced by US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau following their February meeting.

The NARIS release, led by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, underscores a shared commitment to achieving a clean energy future. The study is meant to inform grid planners, utilities, industry, policymakers, and other stakeholders about the challenges and opportunities that come with adding large amounts of solar, wind, and hydropower to the continent’s power system. The study found:

  • Regional and international cooperation on electricity transmission, envisioned by the study, can provide significant net economic benefits – up to $180 billion to 2050.
  • The North American electricity system can decarbonise rapidly and reach high levels of clean energy generation while balancing supply and demand across a wide range of future conditions, with all generation and storage technologies contributing to the power system’s ability to balance supply and demand.
  • Increased investment in transmission, both between regions in the USA and between countries, along with increased coordination, would provide more reliable, efficient and resilient grid operations to match electricity demand, even as clean energy generation, including hydropower, thermal, wind and solar generation, and energy storage increase.

Primary funding for NARIS was provided by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office, Water Power Technologies Office, and Solar Energy Technologies Office and Natural Resources Canada.

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