Wind and solar generation will save us from “climate change” according to the pundits
One doesn’t have to search Google for hours to find the reputed attributes of wind and solar as an energy choice. The message always tells us their costs keep falling and the energy they use is free and doesn’t generate emissions. Sounds like utopia unless you live in places like South Australia or California who have had unfavourable experiences with blackouts and/or rolling blackouts! South Australia has the highest electricity rates in that country and California the 7th highest rates in the USA of all states and both have endorsed wind and solar generation in a major way.
Could that utopia soon be a part of Canada’s experiences as it has been in South Australia, California, the UK and our own lotus-land of Ontario (no blackouts yet, thanks to nuclear, hydro and gas plants) with the highest (before taxpayer subsidies) electricity rates in Canada?
Those who follow the news in Canada since re-election of the Trudeau led Liberal Party should expect the events in the above named locations will soon permeate the rest of Canada as the Speech from the Throne implied. The Throne Speech, in many ways suggested the Federal Liberal Government; with support from the NDP, will push to blanket Canada with wind turbines and solar panels. “Building back better” as contained in the “Speech” stated: “It will also include fighting climate change, and maintaining a commitment to fiscal sustainability and economic growth as the foundation of a strong and vibrant society.” The speech goes on to declare; in respect to the Paris Accord: “The Government will immediately bring forward a plan to exceed Canada’s 2030 climate goal. The Government will also legislate Canada’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.” The message is clear and amplified by government departments including the Canada Energy Regulator who posted the following: “As capital costs for wind and solar continue to fall, they become increasingly competitive with fossil fuels in generating power, and will likely become greater sources of power generation in the years ahead.”
When one reads the balderdash emanating from our elected politicians echoed by the bureaucrats charged with executing those destructive beliefs it’s disconcerting. Facts matter!
Ontario’s 2019 wind and solar Costs
Let’s start with the contracted costs of wind and solar generation in Ontario for 2019. The IESO in their 2019 Year-end-Data Report show “grid connected” wind delivered 11.0 TWh (terawatt hours) and solar delivered 0.7 TWh. From that information and the grid connected capacity, one can determine what the “embedded” wind and solar connected capacity should have added to total generation. As it turns out “embedded” wind and solar added around 4.07 TWh of solar and 1.65 TWh of wind generation. So total wind generated was 12.65 TWh and solar 4.77 TWh. It one applies the “average” cost of $135/MWh for wind and $448/MWh for solar the cost to the electricity sector was $3.844 billion. Including the cost of the 2.581 TWh IESO curtailed @ $120/MWh the total cost becomes $4.133 billion or a per kWh (kilowatt hour) cost of 23.9 cents.
In addition to the foregoing IESO also reported in 2019 there were 292 nuclear maneuvers (steam-off) and 2 nuclear shutdowns resulting in 0.7 TWh curtailed and those costs were around $60 million. On top of that OPG reported spilling 3.3 TWh of hydro in 2019 which added $200 million in costs. Collectively those latter two events were probably related to wind and/or solar generation pushing the price of delivered wind and solar generation to an average cost of 25.9 cents/kWh.
The other issue surrounding wind and solar relates to their unreliability and intermittency when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun is hiding behind clouds. Some time ago the German energy giant, E.ON, their largest grid operator, noted: “wind needs about 90% back-up” and reference to IESO’s Reliability Report rates wind and solar with capabilities averaging approximately 15% for both. That strongly suggests wind and solar need at least 85% back-up so the 4,910 MW of wind and the 2754 MW of solar capacity require 6,514 MW of gas plant capacity for those times when the wind is not available or the sun is behind clouds. Most of Ontario’s gas plants are contracted on the basis of capacity and on average are paid $10K per MW per month for their capacity. What the foregoing suggests is the 6,514 MW of gas plants as back-up would add costs of just over $780 million annually to the electricity bills in Ontario. This increases the total cost of wind and solar generation to 30.4 cents/kWh.
The foregoing flie’s in the face of the bogus claims wind and solar are cheap sources of electricity. In Ontario they added total costs of almost $5.3 billion for their generation of 17.2 TWh in 2019.
As if to solidify wind and solar add no value it is worth noting Ontario exported 19.779 TWh in 2019 selling it to NY, Michigan, etc. at an average HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) of $18.3 million/TWh generating revenue of $362 million. The costs to Ontario’s electricity system however averaged $126.3 million/TWh meaning Ontario ratepayers and taxpayers provided subsidies of $2.136 billion for those exports. Co-incidentally those 19.779 TWh were 2.5 TWh over what wind and solar generated so without their generation we probably woud have saved $1.87 billion!
In an effort to ensure Ontario’s economy is further crippled Ecojustice, a charity, launched a lawsuit against the Ontario Government on behalf of themselves, Greenpeace (who lost their charitable status) and Wilderness Committee (another charity) claiming the government failed to consult before making changes to environmental laws under Bill 197. Those changes were related to the Environmental Assessment Act and the Planning Act.
To top things off Kitchener City Council voted unanimously on October 26, 2020 to join Halton Hills in calling on the Province to phase out gas-fired power production by 2030. Perhaps the local municipal politicians in Halton Hills and Kitchener were spurred on by the Ontario Clean Air Alliance who in April issued what they labelled a 12 page “report” titled “Phasing-Out Ontario’s Gas-Fired Power Plants”. The report failed to examine facts and suggests more wind generation (off-shore) plus imported power from Quebec could replace all gas generation in Ontario. The unnamed author(s) of the report failed to note Quebec is a “winter” peaking province and during those months would not have the surplus power availability for Ontario, so those potential future blackouts in Ontario would occur during our winter.
From all appearances it seems conclusive that the “charitable” environmental organizations in Canada are intent on not only driving up the cost of electricity further to make Canada an economic wasteland but seem inane to the realization their recommendations could result in future blackouts.
The time has come to remove the charitable status of these environmentalist groups and their use of our tax dollars aimed at crippling the Canadian economy!