Natural gas will be outlawed in new Vancouver homes
December 14, 2020
While B.C. supports a $40-billion liquefied natural gas pipeline and terminal—the biggest private infrastructure deal in Canadian history—and ferries and commercial trucks are being urged to convert to natural gas fuel, there is one glaring outlier.
The largest city in the province is outlawing the use of traditional natural gas in new homes and commercial construction, while the province touts it as the “clean energy option” for the world.
Specifically, the City of Vancouver, under its new climate emergency plan, will ban fossil-fuel natural gas, despite the fact that B.C. has some of the largest and least-expensive gas reserves on the planet. Instead, by 2030, the city will require that all new construction projects that use gas source it only from “renewable sources” such as landfills and bio-mass facilities, or use a blend of regular natural gas and renewable natural gas (RNG).
The city’s Zero Emissions Building Plan and Green Buildings Policy for Rezonings would require all new buildings be emissions-free by 2030—translating into a ban on natural gas for heating within a decade unless enough RNG can be produced by then.
Based on current industry estimates, however, RNG can provide only 1 per cent of the city’s gas needs. Even with a new $15 million biomass plant planned, RNG would only provide 5 per cent of energy needs by 2030.
Jon Stovell, president of major Vancouver residential developer Reliance Properties, noted the change would add to costs in Vancouver, which already has the most expensive new housing in Canada.
According to FortisBC, the chief distributor of consumer and industrial natural gas in the province, the price of fossil-fuel natural gas is around $2.40 per gigajoule. The equivalent cost of RNG is at least three times more expensive. A typical Canadian home consumes 88 gigajoules per year.
The majority of new Vancouver homes, Stovell, suggested, would now likely be heated with electricity, which is also much more expensive than traditional natural gas.