Potential is one thing but reality is another

Green Energy - Spin vs. Reality

The Whig-Standard published a story on Queen’s University professor Joshua Pearce’s work on the potential for electrical energy from solar power in Eastern Ontario ( “Surprise potential for solar power,” April 15). Potential is one thing but reality is another.

Ontario is signing 20-year contracts under the Feed-In-Tariff program of 44.3 cents/kWh for large-scale (10 kW) projects and 80.2 cents/kWh for residential roof-top solar panels.

Given that a coal plant generates about 1.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide for every MWh generated, this sets the carbon price for coal-generated electricity replaced by solar-generated electricity as $300/tonne for large-scale projects and over $500/tonne for residential systems. This is madness.

Compare it with the European Emissions Trading Scheme price of about $20/tonne; the U.N. carbon price is similar. Proponents of solar energy claim that prices are falling. Perhaps elsewhere this may be true, but in Ontario the 20-year contracts have no clause to decrease the price as time goes by.

The other real problem is that, like wind energy, solar energy is intermittent. This means that back-up power generation is required and that is one of the reasons that the province is building gas-turbine generating plants. Wind and solar generation, as presently conceived and priced, are mere vanity projects supported by the Ontario government and the renewable energy industry and to be paid for into the foreseeable future by Ontario taxpayers and residential and industrial electricity users.

John Harrison, Stella, Ontario

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