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Ontario’s Electricity Dilemma – Achieving Low Emissions at Reasonable Electricity Rates 

Author:  | Economics, Emissions, Grid, Ontario

Original Goals for Electricity System Transformation

  • Reduce CO₂ emissions from power plants:
    • Phase out coal plants and build new efficient CCGT gas plants.
    • Restart 4 nuclear units at Bruce A and 2 units at Pickering A.
    • Add wind, solar, bio-energy and small hydro generation.
    • Refurbish nuclear units as they reach end of design life.
  • Create new green energy sector jobs:
    • FIT program to accelerate deployment of renewables.
    • Create 50,000 jobs in new green sector.
  • Keep transformation costs within 1% per year in additional costs:
    • Install smart meters with Time-of‐Use (TOU) rates.
    • Encourage peak reduction and load flattening.
  • A careful engineering analysis and grid simulation would have shown that the policy goals could not have been economically accomplished because:
    • Backup generation is required for wind and solar. Consequently wind and solar are displacement energy sources.
    • The total value of displacement sources to the consumer is only the economic value of the displaced fuel. For hydroelectric and nuclear it’s 0.5 cents/kWh. For natural gas it’s 4 cents/kWh plus a carbon reduction benefit of 1 cent/kWh for each $30 per ton CO₂ of environmental costs.
    • The policy to eliminate coal in Ontario reduced the carbon reduction benefit of wind and solar by 2.5× because gas is cleaner than coal. …

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 genera,on to make room for more natural gas genera,on 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 at reasonable electricity prices without nuclear generation.

Download original document: “Ontario’s Electricity Dilemma – Achieving Low Emissions at Reasonable Electricity Rates

This material is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this material resides with the author(s). As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Queries e-mail.

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