Ontario’s electricity – greenhouse gases up, cost up, security down – 2013 December

December 21, 2013

By: Donald Jones, P.Eng., retired nuclear industry engineer.

There is to be no new nuclear build at Darlington so what impact does this have on Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions from its electricity generating sector, on the future cost of electricity, and on the security of its future supply. From the discussion that follows undoubtedly emissions and cost will go up and the security of future supply will go down, by how much is for others to analyze. After all, Ontario’s Green Energy Act was designed to build up expensive wind and solar generation at whatever the price, rather than reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In 2009 when the Green Energy Act came into effect Ontario was well on its way to becoming one of the world’s lowest emitters of GHGs because of the refurbishment of Bruce Power’s nuclear units 1 and 2 that was going on that would reduce gas and coal use. With GHG-free nuclear and hydro there was no need to waste vast amounts of money on wind/solar schemes that have little or no effect on GHG emissions.

Future generation will result in more operation of the frackgas-fired generators, all combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) units except for one simple cycle gas turbine station and a few hundred Megawatts (MW) of inflexible combined heat and power generation. This will be more so during the 15 year long period of nuclear refurbishment starting in 2016 and with the additional loss of Pickering A and B in 2020 resulting in baseload operation of some CCGTs. Some frackgas-fired generation will be on line whether the wind is blowing or not and will be producing GHG emissions. Also expensive wind generation on the grid will be displacing cheaper GHG-free nuclear and hydro generation which makes little environmental, economic or technical sense. However, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) will do whatever it takes to get the system it has been handed by the Ministry of Energy to work, even if it means manoeuvring nuclear stations to make room for wind. As stated in its latest 18-Month Outlook, issued 2013 December 12, “Flexibility, essential to the real-time balancing of supply and demand, is being addressed now through a variety of sources, including increased maneuverability of some nuclear units, demand response measures and new tools for managing wind and solar variability.” Instead of condemning wind the Professional Engineers Association in Ontario, like the IESO, accept wind on the grid as a given and support the manoeuvring of Ontario’s critical nuclear plants for its accommodation. Read the rest of this entry »