Canadian Energy Issues by Steve Aplin
At four p.m. on Tuesday, with temperatures pushing toward 30 degrees, Ontario electricity generators were collectively cranking out 20, 514 megawatts. To that, the province’s wind farms were contributing a laughable 0.3 percent. That works out to around 5 percent of their capability at that time (see the IESO’s output tables). Nice to know they’re there when we need them.
Ironically, the Toronto Star on the same day carried this letter to the editor, saying that wind turbines are a “sustainable power source and a necessary part of our green energy future.”
I’ll try to remember that next time I’m about to step onto an elevator in an air-conditioned high rise.
This is the first time in a long time that the Ontario system has cracked 20,000 megawatts. For months, Ontario has had mild temperatures and because of that an easy time, power-wise. That all changed last Sunday with the first high-twenties day of 2010.
This is a bit early for Ontario to have a major heat wave. Is it a harbinger of the summer to come? We’ve had a couple of very easy summers in 2008 and 2009. I think that on that basis people assume we don’t need that much electricity.
That assumption has produced the non-action at the Darlington nuclear station. The province said a few years ago that it needs over 3,000 MW of new nuclear capacity. In 2009, it even asked reactor vendors to submit bids. The vendors did so, at which point Ontario declared one—Atomic Energy Canada Limited—to be “compliant” with the bid requirements but far, far too expensive. And then the process stopped, hung up on the rocks of federal-provincial disagreement over who should pay what in the event of cost overruns involving AECL, a federally-owned company (see article).
Either the weather cooperated with the stoppage, or the stoppage was because of the weather. But Ontario had an easy summer of 2009, an easy fall, a mild winter, and a long, cool spring of 2010. During that time, there was almost no mention of the Darlington situation.
Will the current and subsequent heat waves put pressure on the feds and Ontario to work something out? I hope so. We don’t want to rely on wind. That just puts us into a dangerous dependence on expensive, emission-heavy natural gas.