An article by Donald Jones in the Toronto Star, from March 2009, was an early indication of the problems integrating intermittent generation with Ontario’s baseload nuclear capacity
Although nuclear units can handle the daily and weekend changes in electricity demand, they have limited capability for the kind of frequent power-up and power-down requirements that would be needed for this support. Furthermore, hydroelectric plants may not always be available due to fluctuations in water supply and water management agreements.
Even without restrictions on nuclear and hydro, it makes little economic sense to run reliable suppliers of steady power, with high fixed costs and low operating costs, at reduced output to support the expensive, intermittent and varying output from wind farms.
So, with coal being phased out by 2014, natural gas-fired generation will have to be used to support wind. Due to the simultaneous demands of home heating and electricity generation in the winter, that may lead to gas shortages. So some of these plants may be dual fuelled with gas and oil, which is not a pleasant thought.
The Ontario government is putting too much faith in natural gas for electricity generation, as the United Kingdom did with its “dash for gas” from the North Sea in the 1990s when gas was cheap. Now the U.K. is in terrible shape with its gas running out and the threat of power shortages in the next decade.
Donald Jones, P. Eng., and Retired nuclear industry engineer, has written articles appearing on a number of blogs, including Rod Adams’ Atomic Insights, Stephen Aplin’s ‘Canadian Energy Issues‘, and Scott Luft’s Cold Air Currents.
- “IESO – less dispatching of nuclear if you please”
- “An alternative Long-Term Energy Plan for Ontario – Greenhouse gas-free electricity by 2045“. An earlier version of this article is posted here
- “IESO – will Ontario’s wind turbine power plants reduce greenhouse gas emissions?“
- “Gas and wind on the Ontario grid – not a chicken and egg thing“
- “Ontario needs more than 2,000 MW of new nuclear despite what the Long-Term Energy Plan says“
- “More wind means more risk to the Ontario electricity grid” – also posted here
- “Why Ontario has to export electricity“
- “Nuclear and Wind on the Ontario Electricity Grid“
- “Time for the Ontario government to rethink this gas and wind thing“
- “Ontario’s CANDUs can be more flexible than gas-fired generation and hydro generation” – also here, here, and here
- “Ontario’s future economy dependent on precarious natural gas“
- “Another inconvenient truth“
- “Failure to condemn wind may condemn Darlington B“
- “No future for wind in Ontario”, Don Jones, Opinion, Toronto Star, 2009 March 2,
- “Natural gas prices go lower and Ontario’s electricity prices go higher”
Check for updates to this list at the articles tab