Recent Headlines have reported the Canadian federal government intends to eliminate coal for electrical production, replacing it with renewables. For example: Ottawa to phase out coal, aims for virtual elimination by 2030
Ontario is not part of this because they have already done it. How is that working out for Ontario? A cautionary tale follows.
Arrogant Ontario politicians thought they knew better than engineers how to manage the supply of electricity to the citizenry. Pursuing their dream of “green” energy, they enacted policies that have failed in every possible way: power costs are skyrocketing for businesses and residents, emissions reductions are outrageously expensive, and worst of all, more future renewables will increase CO2 emissions.
The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) are speaking the truth about power (not for the first time), and maybe finally the powers that be will wake up or be voted out of office. From OSPE presentation, Ontario’s Electricity Dilemma – Achieving Low Emissions at Reasonable Electricity Rates
The outline includes everything that a reasonable person needs to know. Two of the most important sections are excerpted below
Why Are Electricity Rates Rising So Fast in Ontario?
The major drivers of rapidly rising rates in Ontario:
- Incremental cost of wind/solar energy compared to displaced generation.
Over 1 B$ in 2014, rising to over 3 B$ in 2021
- Loses for curtailment and exporting at very low price.
- Conservation and demand management programs have reduced financial value during periods of excess capacity (2013 Long Term Energy Plan predicts excess capacity will persist from 2009 to 2019).
- Higher costs for refurbishment of older plants.
- Higher costs for power system upgrades to accommodate renewables and Bruce A restart.
In the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) residential “energy” rates have risen about 70 to 90% in the 7 years since 2008 depending on when the utility switched you to TOU rates.
Why Will Emissions Double as We Add Wind and Solar Plants?
Wind and Solar require flexible backup generation.
- Nuclear is too inflexible to backup renewables without expensive engineering changes to the reactors.
- Flexible electric storage is too expensive at the moment.
- Consequently natural gas provides the backup for wind and solar in North America.
- When you add wind and solar you are actually forced to reduce nuclear generation to make room for more natural gas generation to provide flexible backup.
- Ontario currently produces electricity at less than 40 grams of CO2 emissions/kWh.
Wind and solar with natural gas backup produces electricity at about 200 grams of CO2 emissions/kWh.
- Therefore adding wind and solar to Ontario’s grid drives CO2 emissions higher.
From 2016 to 2032 as Ontario phases out nuclear capacity to make room for wind and solar, CO2 emissions will double (2013 LTEP data).
In Ontario, with limited economic hydro and expensive storage, it is mathematically impossible to achieve low CO2 emissions and reasonable electricity prices without nuclear generation.
Truth about power falls on deaf ears
From Terence Corcoran at the Financial Post Boondoggle: How Ontario’s pursuit of renewable energy broke the province’s electricity system
Paul Acchione, an OSPE engineer with long experience in the electricity industry, said the government was “hiring political scientists and environmentalists because they thought they were the experts.” As a result, the government has issued more than 100 ministerial directives that ignored the dramatic decline in demand and the realities of managing an electrical grid where new expensive supply was mushrooming all over the province.
Expensive wind and solar supply needs to be backed up by expensive new gas plants that in turn operate at a fraction of optimal capacity. The new capacity came at the wrong time of day or season, forcing curtailment in which producers were paid for electricity that wasn’t needed.
The result, Acchione said, is “everything costs more.”
Through the years, escalating government control was cheered on by a growing industrial complex of wind and solar promoters backed by a large contingent of financial firms, big name consultants, fee-collecting law firms and major corporations. All were anxious to play a lucrative role fulfilling renewable objectives.
The provincial auditor general last year delivered a devastating report on the Liberal green electricity campaign. The report estimated that by 2014, electricity consumers had “already paid a total of $37 billion, and they are expected to pay another $133 billion in Global Adjustment fees from 2015 to 2032.” That’s $170 billion over 30 years.
As for job creation, Rick Smith and company promised hundreds of thousands of new jobs. The government now claims 42,000, although it is widely conceded that job creation is minimal. The auditor general said the jobs appear to be mostly short-term subsidized jobs for workers installing wind turbines and solar panels.
The Ontario green electricity regime is a monumental failure. The costs to consumers are prohibitive and damaging the economy. The environmental and health benefits are debatable and likely non-existent. Worst of all, while the few jobs that have been created are mostly temporary, the high prices it foisted on consumers are permanent.