Most Canadians from coast to coast look forward to Spring arrival as we get excited about warmer weather and watching mother nature show her stuff. Those Canadians living in Ontario however can be both happy and sad about Spring arrival as it has the bad habit of generating increased costs for one of life’s necessities which is energy with an emphasis on the cost of electricity.
Two recent happenings on March 19, 2023, bring the focus on the sad part of Spring arrival. The first is more sunshine which creates more energy from those solar panels which under the McGuinty led government received contacts at ridiculous guaranteed rates as high as 0.80/cents a kWh. Now apparently, they have embarked on more hits to our pocketbooks as the first six (6) hours of March 19th suggests they can now produce power even when the sun isn’t shining as this screenshot from IESO demonstrates!
Solar Panel Generation When the Sun isn’t Shining?
As if the foregoing wasn’t enough weird news, on the same day as solar power was generated in darkness, we note IESO data supplied more bad news. Normally at this time of year as the snow melts and water flows Ontario benefits from more generation from our hydro facilities which are also our cheapest and cleanest source of generation. As it turns out IESO data disclosed more bad news as the first three (3) hours of March 19th (two days before spring arrives ) those IWT (industrial wind turbines) generated more electricity than our hydro plants as evidenced in the following two screenshots.
Wind Generation Beats Hydro Generation!
To accentuate the foregoing those IWT did the same thing in the last three hours of the day as the following screenshots clearly show!
IWT Generation Hours 22, 23, 24!
Hydro Generation Hours 22, 23, 24!
Over the full 24 hours IWT generated a total of 92,447 MW or approximately 78.6% of their capacity and only slightly less than hydro which generated 94,511 MW but could have easily produced more. Ontario was busy selling off the unneeded power which we (logically) should attribute to IWT generation to our neighbours at an average price of $14.86/MWh. We exported 53,308 MW so generated revenue of around $792K while we paid $135/MWh for it, so it cost Ontarians about $6.4 million for unneeded power. We should also suspect IESO were busy telling OPG to spill hydro (we are obliged to also pay for) as demand was low and only peaked at 17,057 MW at hour 20.
The ups and downs of those intermittent IWT and solar panels are in the bad habit of generating lots of unneeded power during the spring and fall seasons when Ontario demand is low. They are the principal reason the Province of Ontario stiff taxpayers with annual additional costs of $6.5 billion in an attempt to hide the mess our electricity system is actually in.
Just one day’s data makes it obvious both of the foregoing sources of intermittent and unreliable electricity generation should be tossed in the garbage!
Ontarians should be thankful Sunday March 12, 2023, was both a weekend day and also kind of an early spring day which contributed to a relatively low electricity demand day. Ontario’s peak demand came at Hour 19 (hour ending at 7 PM) and was only 17,614 MW. While the below screenshot of IESO data shows (at the top) the output of all electricity sources at 8 PM the coloured graph ends at Hour 20 and it shows the peak hour occurred at Hour 19 and at that hour all those IWT (industrial wind turbines) generated was a miserly 244MW or 5% of their capacity and 1.4% of peak demand.
Now squint at the coloured graph above and focus on the green, yellow and red lines at the top which are respectively IWT, solar and biomass generation to recognize why they can’t ever hope to replace flexible natural gas (dark blue), hydro (light blue) or nuclear generation (orange).
Over the full 24 hours of the day total wind generated was 7,215 MW which represented 6.13% of their capacity and at their low point at Hour 15 they only managed to generate 163 MW (3.3% of their capacity). At Hour 1 (ending at 1 AM) they hit their high for the day generating 484 MW (9.9% of their capacity).
Ontario’s natural gas plants stepped up to meet our needs yesterday generating 43,653 MW or six (6) times what those IWT generated. What the foregoing makes obvious is that Ontario would need another 29,400 MW of IWT capacity to replace what our gas plants generated in addition to the 4,900 MW of existing grid connected capacity. Adding that capacity to the grid would also increase the need to upgrade the transmission system and both of those additions would drive up the cost of energy further.
As yet another addition to the foregoing Ontario would need a minimum of approximately 7,500 MW of BESS (battery energy storage systems) with the capabilities to deliver stored power to replace what those gas plants generated. That 7,500 MW of battery storage would need to store their power in the days before the wind disappeared and it wouldn’t happen if the wind wasn’t blowing.
Blackouts would be the alternative to the above.
Now try to imagine how much more IWT generation coupled with BESS units we would need on a hot summer day when demand peaks at over 22,000 MW!
Just two days ago, on March 1, 2021 at Hour 22 (hour ending at 10 PM) Bruce Nuclear’s Unit G-3 with a capacity of 784 MW was shut down for major component replacements (MCR) and will not return to service until sometime in 2026. Daily that unit has been supplying enough generation for 12% (627,000) of Ontario households with (18,800 MWh) their electricity needs. The refurbishment of that unit brought down Ontario’s nuclear baseload to just under 8,000 MW so coupled with all of Ontario’s run of river hydro it is insufficient to meet our peak needs and we can’t count on Quebec to always be there to cover our shortfalls. The Society of United Professionals pointed out why we can’t count on Quebec to help us out in a February 2021 report in which they stated: “importing firm baseload power from Quebec is not as simple as signing a contract and flipping a switch. As a result of bottlenecks in Ontario’s transmission system, pressures on Quebec’s power supply and Ontario’s ongoing reliance on Quebec for summer peak power, there are multiple reasons that imports are not the simple solution they may seem.“
Likewise, even though Ontario has grid connected IWT (industrial wind turbines) with a reported connected capacity of about 4,900 MW (6 times the G-3 unit) their average annual generation is only in the 29/30% range. Further because of their intermittency they cannot be counted on to generate power when it is actually needed. March 2nd is a perfect example as over the full day they only generated 11.6% (13,619 MW) of their capacity with a peak at Hour 18 of 957 MW (19.5% of capacity) and a low of 275 MW (5.6% of capacity) at Hour 1.
Fortunately, yesterday was a relatively speaking; a mild winter day in Ontario and Quebec and peak demand came at hour 20 when it reached its high for the day at 18,579 MW and those IWT contributed only 2.6% (486 MW) of demand at that hour. Because it was a somewhat mild winter day Hydro Quebec was able to supply around 38,000 MWh while we were busy selling about 24,000 MWh to Michigan. Had it been a cold winter day Quebec would have needed the power they supplied Ontario via our intertie connections. As it turned out we were a net importer of power for twenty-two hours and a net exporter for only two hours of the day which is a big turnaround from when our nuclear baseload was higher in the 10,000 MW range only a month or so ago.
What really stepped up to the plate for Ontario yesterday was our natural gas generation thanks to its flexibility and over the 24 hours it supplied us with 68,552 MWh or about what 2.3 million average Ontario households (45% of Ontario households) consume daily. At our peak hour it provided 3,957 MWh or 21.3% of demand and over eight times what those IWT generated. It should also be noted the abilities of natural gas generation to be so flexible presumably resulted in the HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) remaining relatively stable throughout the day in the $30/MWh range.
The good news is Bruce Nuclear’s Unit 6, the first unit to be refurbished under the MCR project, is scheduled to return to service later in 2023 and its life cycle will be extended to the early 2060s! Perhaps by then politicians will have abandoned the concept of wind and solar being a reliable supply of electricity and the eco-warriors will have returned to their caves!
The below screenshot of IESO data for the past several days clearly demonstrates why Ontario needs the reliability of natural gas to fill in for when the sun’s not shining and/or the wind’s not blowing. At the bottom left of the screenshot the “Generation by Fuel Type – Hourly” highlights Ontario’s baseload capacity which is principally nuclear and hydro in the orange and blue colours. Most hydro is classified as baseload but part of it is considered as “variable” generation so is able to ramp up or down as needed when grid demand rises or falls. Nevertheless daily demand frequently is well above what those two sources are able to provide so natural gas plants need to be at the ready when those renewable energy sources are in the doldrums.
The foregoing is demonstrated by the large and small hourly generation from the green (industrial wind turbines or IWT) and yellow (solar) portions of the chart which at times generate as much as hydro and at other times very little! Simply looking at the daily peak demand hours it is readily apparent from the visual observation of the chart that wind and solar often are missing. Natural gas generation (dark blue) and its rammable ability are required to fill in the gaps as is obvious once again from just a quick glance.
Just looking at one days IESO data contained in the above chart clearly shows why we cannot live without natural gas plants and their ability to step up when needed. Looking at February 24th at peak hour 19 (hour ending at 7 PM) natural gas generated 4,907 MWh, hydro 6,088 MWh but solar was absent and those IWT only generated 715 MWh versus their peak generation of 2,516 MWh for the day at 3 AM when peak demand was at its low point for the full 24 hours.
The above is a clear demonstration of the unreliable nature of IWT and why natural gas generation is needed unless the objective is to create blackouts!
OPG recently announced they are buying GM Canada’s former head office building in Oshawa which GM indicated has been virtually empty since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. OPG states the building will be refurbished before they move from 700 University Ave., Toronto late in 2024. Back on November 10, 2022, OPG released their 3rd Quarter results and they were quite favourable but not so much for ratepayers as revenue was up year over year for the nine months by $585 million (11.3%) despite generation only increasing by 2.4 TWh (4%). Net income increased by $199 million or 16% so more than double the inflation rate.
Hydro One recently released their year-end results and their revenue, net of purchased power (up by only 827 GWh or 2.7%), increased by $410 million (up 11.2%). Net profit was up by $91 million or 9.2% which also was 46% higher than Canada’s inflation rate of 6.3% for the year.
Despite the foregoing with OPG and Hydro One reporting results surpassing our inflation rate it is worth noting, the Ontario Energy Board’s “Vision” reputedly still is: “To be a trusted regulator who is recognized for enabling Ontario’s growing economy and improving the quality of life for the people of this province who deserve safe, reliable andaffordable energy.“
Melancthon Wind Contract Extended
For some unknown reason Ontario’s Minister of Energy issued a directive dated January 27,2022 to IESO instructing them to renew expiring contracts and IESO did; under the “Medium-Term Request for Proposals“ meaning the contract holder; TransAlta Renewables Inc were granted an extension to 2031. That particular IWT (industrial wind turbines) project has “a long and controversial history, due to hundreds of complaints of noise pollution from residents, so severe that some people abandoned their homes” and it was further stated: “Our own findings from documents received under Freedom of Information is that the Melancthon power project was number one in Ontario for noise complaints related to the turbines and a transformer.“ The foregoing happened despite the promise by the existing Minister to cancel IWT projects before his party gained power!
Joe Oliver retiring as IESO Chair
It was with acute disappointment reading recently former Federal Minister of Finance, Joe Oliver was retiring as Chair of IESO’s Board of Directors as he was only appointed in March 2019! Mr. Oliver has certainly come across as a climate change skeptic recently having penned an article for the Financial Post wherein, he stated: “To justify enormous expenditures and punishing taxes Canadians are endlessly bombarded with apocalyptic climate scaremongering whose main effect is to terrify children and convince the credulous. Even though Canada cannot make a measurable difference to the global climate, the Liberals doggedly push a net-zero agenda that will cost $2 trillion by 2050.“ He reemphasized that point in another article in the FP in early February stating “Canadians are awakening to the terrible harm the government’s destructive climate initiatives inflict on their livelihoods and freedom, without achieving anything meaningful for the environment.“
Based on the very short press release from IESO should we suspect the Ford Government was not happy with what he said and perhaps asked him to retire as they are attempting to stay on the good side of PM Trudeau and his minions pushing the “Just Transition” agenda? We taxpayers should hope not but we should be suspicious!
Prince Edward Island
Back in late 2021 the PEI government announced they would provide free heat pumps for any island household with income of $35K or less and since then they have raised the household income level to $55K but its not working! Their reasoning was because electricity and oil costs (the two main sources of heating households in the province) were very high they would pay to have the pumps installed as PEI seeks to reach “net-zero energy consumption” by 2030! In a province with only 59,000 households, thousands of them indicate they have been waiting for the installations for a long time so the province has now increased the household income to $75K. It certainly appears their provincial politicians are working hard to increase the backlog. It’s becoming harder and harder to find any politicians in Canada or elsewhere that exhibit even a little common sense!
Down Under to Australia
Back in early 2019 the government of NSW (New South Wales) granted approval for a 2,000 MW proposed pumped storage facility at a then estimated cost of US$3.62 billion with commissioning expected in 2024. The approval was granted as the province sought to shut down their coal plants and move to zero emissions and the pumped storage capacity would reputedly be capable of generating 2,000 MW per hour for 175 hours. Sounds like a dream by the politicians in NSW and recent events have perhaps, highlighted their dreams have been shattered! Apparently, the initial costs have ballooned (some estimates are as high as US$9 billion) and the commissioning date in now anticipated to be December 2027 or even later. To make matters worse, recent news was the 2,400-ton boring machine has become stuck under a cave-in so has ground to a halt! Sure looks to be yet another group of politicians and bureaucrats with a shortage of common sense! It appears to be Australia’s version of Muskrat Falls!
Oil City battery energy storage project ‘dead in the water’: mayor
The captioned article in the Sarnia Observer a week ago could be construed as an “ironic” happening as it occurred near to where oil was first discovered in North America back in 1858 when James Miller Williams was drilling for water. The location of the well at that time was called Black Creek but was subsequently changed to Oil Springs and is located about 30 kms southeast of Sarnia, Ontario. Renewable Energy Systems Canada (they claim they are the world’s largest renewable energy company) asked for support from the local council as a requirement to seek a blessing from IESO for a proposed BESS (battery energy storage system) but the mayor and council declined to support them. Perhaps nostalgia played a role as those BESS units are seen as support for the unreliable and intermittent nature of renewable energy from wind and solar which our politicians seem to believe can replace fossil fuels. Nice to see some politicians have basic common-sense!
Over to Germany
It is worthwhile to visit a website titled “NoTricksZone” and a recent visit to the site had a short, sad, but true story about Germany’s electricity and gas prices in a revelation by P. Gosselin. The headline read: “My Household Electricity And Gas Prices Rise 87% And 178% Respectively!“ The article went on stating; “my own household had made a contract in 2021 that locked the heating gas and electricity prices for 2 years, our rates had stayed reasonably low. But that contract expires on April 1st, 2023, and last week we got the long-awaited letter announcing the new prices from our gas and electric utility.“ Many are aware Germany, under Angela Merkel, went full bore on what was labelled as “Energiewende“; simply defined as, “the ongoing transition by Germany to a low carbon, environmentally sound, reliable, and affordable energy supply“. As it turns out Energiewende has pretty well failed on all of its objectives due to their push for wind and solar, elimination of their nuclear baseload generation coupled with their shutdown of their variable coal generation plants. They have become the perfect example of what “not to do” but many countries have emulated them and are finding themselves in a similar situation with energy poverty climbing.
An article from October, 2022 stated: “One in four Germans are currently energy impoverished, up from one in six in 2018.“ Those are very dismal results and a reflection on how unconnected from society elected politicians and their bureaucrats have become in their push to achieve the “net-zero” emissions target. In the meantime China, India and many other countries have rejected the call to move in the same direction, so they are lifting many of their citizens out of energy poverty.
The above short stories hopefully highlight the apparent disregard most of our elected politicians have for all but the elites in our democratic countries but it is time to call them out. Join the fight and let them know how they are failing the majority of voters and in the process are causing energy poverty.
There is nothing “just” about the “Just Transition”!
An article from March 2022 cited a Hydro Quebec strategic plan they had just released and it forecast they would need 100 TWh (terawatt hours) annually of additional energy in order to meet Quebec’s net-zero emissions target by 2050.
To put context on that 100 TWh; it currently represents about 50% of generation Quebec Hydro annually distributes to Quebec ratepayers and grid connected export markets! If one does the math the annual generation of 100 TWh would require about 11,500 MW of new generation (baseload) capacity running at 100% and that is, coincidentally, more than double the capacity of Churchill Falls (5,428 MW) which is owned by Newfoundland & Labrador (N/L). The existing contract between the two provinces for the power generated at Churchill Falls expires in 2041 and currently costs Hydro Quebec a very low $2.00 per MWh or $2 million per TWh. The $113 million Hydro Quebec paid N/L in 2021 suggests Churchill Falls supplied them with 56.5 TWh hours or about 25% of what Hydro Quebec distributed in 2021 and around 30% of Quebec ratepayers total demand!
We should guess N/L will be looking for much higher rates for any future contracts come 2041 or instead will run transmission lines to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and/or to New England to achieve a much better return and perhaps help pay those cost overruns for the Muskrat Falls project. The foregoing would raise Quebec’s needs to over 150 TWh by 2050 or at the very least drive up their energy costs!
Hydro Quebec’s 2021 annual report indicated they sold 210.8 TWh of which 35.6 TWh (63% of Churchill Falls generation) were exported to New England, New York, Ontario and New Brunswick.
In respect to the Ontario/Quebec relationship; Ontario will try to supply power to Quebec in the winter (Quebec’s peak demand period) whereas Quebec will try to supply Ontario in the Summer which is generally when peak demand occurs. The agreement between Ontario and Quebec is referenced as the “Seasonal Capacity Sharing Agreement.“ As an example, Ontario, using natural gas generation, recently supplied Quebec with power during the cold snap. We should wonder how importing generation from natural gas plants will help Quebec meet its “net-zero” target or Ontario’s by generating fossil fuel power to supply Quebec?
Hydro Quebec issued a press release in November 2022 forecasting by 2032 they will require an additional 25 TWh principally to support the transition to electrification for transportation, building conversion, green hydrogen production, battery production, etc. etc. The press release suggests: “The anticipated growth takes into account significant energy efficiency efforts that will make it possible to curtail 8.9 TWh by 2032. Hydro-Québec programs such as the Efficient Heat Pump Program for residential customers and the Efficient Solutions Program for business customers will help optimize electricity use.“ They will also seek a “demand response” of 3,000 MW during the coldest winter days from those labeled as “various customer segments”. The release also indicated they have put out a call for tenders including; “one for 300 MW of wind power and the other for 480 MW of renewable energy—are already underway“, and “Two more, for 1,000 MW of wind power and 1,300 MW of renewable energy, respectively, will be launched in the next few months, and others will follow in the coming years to meet the needs“.
We should find it odd Hydro Quebec would believe 1,300 MW of wind and 1,780 MW of renewables (solar?) will be sufficient to provide them with the 25 TWh they forecast needing by 2032 due to their intermittency and unreliable nature but perhaps they are really counting on the 3,000 MW of “demand response” to keep the lights on and households warm during cold winter days. We should also wonder where the other 75 TWh they will need by 2050, will come from?
They shouldn’t count on Ontario being able to supply them as the Ford led government here in Ontario is on the path to also achieve the same “net-zero” target our Energy Minister, Todd Smith, asked IESO to achieve via his October 7, 2021, letter to them. While he has subsequently backtracked somewhat on the foregoing in his October 6, 2022, directive it nevertheless may detract from attracting new generation as the following sentence from his directive implies: “New build gas facilities will be required to submit emissions abatement plans to IESO as part of their future contractual obligations, including considerations for operating in special circumstances such as emergency events, if applicable.“
Ontarians and Quebecers should wonder; in the future, will those emergency events include us sending our natural gas generation to help them keep the lights on and their households warm during winter cold snaps in Quebec and will they be able to supply Ontario with power on those very warm summer days when our peak demands occur?
No doubt by the time the foregoing potential problems become a regular occurrence our current group of politicians will have retired from politics and be living on nice taxpayer funded pensions so will not care about the consequences of their failed policies.
We voters should find a way to make elected politicians responsible for their ineptitude but perhaps that is far too much to hope for, just as “net-zero” is simply “wishful thinking” if we want reliable and competitive power prices!
Over the past week or so those with an interest in what has been going on in Davos, Switzerland, at the WEF conflab may have missed a few interesting happenings. Here is a brief review of a few of them.
New York state to forgive $672 million of overdue gas, electric bills
A January 19, 2023 article in Reuters carried the news, New York Governor Kathy Hochul was going to forgive $672 million of unpaid electricity and gas bills for almost 500,000 customers. She said it was “the largest utility customer financial assistance program in state history.” The forgiveness will provide “one-time credits to all residential non-low-income customers and small-commercial customers for any utility arrears through May 1, 2022.“ Governor Hochul went further and “launched a pilot program that guarantees its low-income participants will not pay over 6% of their incomes on electricity, and set aside an additional $200 million in discounts on electric bills for over 800,000 New York state residents who make less than $75,000 who are ineligible under the current discount.“ As a matter of interest New York state has the 9th highest residential electricity rates of all US states and the $672 million is only about 10% (without currency conversion) of the $6.5 billion Ontario taxpayers absorb annually to keep our electricity rates at current levels. Ontario’s huge cost increases were caused by the McGuinty/Wynne led governments and their renewable energy push with high contract prices driving rates up by over 100%. It is worth noting wind and solar contributed only 6% of NY’s total generation in 2021 and Governor Hochul has set 2030 as their carbon free targets at 70% and 100% by 2040. We should have serious doubts those targets are attainable without more financial pain to New Yorkers!
For all their ferocity, California storms were not likely caused by global warming, experts say
The foregoing headline was from the LA Times January 19, 2023 edition, and as one should suspect the Times is considered a MSM news outlet. The article was related to the outcry from ENGO blaming the recent “drought-to-deluge” cycle that impacted California causing floods, property damage and 19 deaths on (as one would expect) “climate change”! It is so refreshing to see the reporter actually did research and this particular paragraph stands out in the article: “Although the media and some officials were quick to link a series of powerful storms to climate change, researchers interviewed by The Times said they had yet to see evidence of that connection. Instead, the unexpected onslaught of rain and snow after three years of punishing drought appears akin to other major storms that have struck California every decade or more since experts began keeping records in the 1800s.“
It’s so nice to see a few MSM journalists actually consult with real weather “experts” not just those like Al Gore or Greta who push for mankind to stop using fossil fuels to save the planet!
It’s Armageddon: Media Silent on Biden Admin Plan to Snatch Public Land For Solar Farms
The captioned headline was from the Washington Free Beacon a few days ago and noted: “In December 2022, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced that her department would expedite plans to build solar energy farms across tens of thousands of untouched public land in 11 Western states. The announcement has garnered little to no national attention, save for the occasional report that the Biden administration is expanding renewable energy production.“ The article, linked to a presentation by the US Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM), referenced those 11 Western States and specifically provided details on six of them. The public land identified in those six states totalled 440,200,000 acres of which 97,921,069 acres (22.2%) were designated as “Available for Development by BLM! One acre could potential hold up to 2,000 panels so at that level for just those 6 states there could be as many as 19 billion solar panels installed. We should all wonder after their “end of life” where would those solar panels wind up. A Harvard Business Review article about solar panels suggested: “In an industry where circularity solutions such as recycling remain woefully inadequate, the sheer volume of discarded panels will soon pose a risk of existentially damaging proportions.“ The article went on to note; “The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)’s official projections assert that “large amounts of annual waste are anticipated by the early 2030s” and could total 78 million tonnes by the year 2050.“ The Harvard article goes on to say: “With the current capacity, it costs an estimated $20–$30 to recycle one panel. Sending that same panel to a landfill would cost a mere $1–$2.“ Perhaps solar panels are not the nirvana pushed by those eco-warriors who want us to completely abandon fossil fuels including US President Biden!
It’s hard to spot any solar panels on the roof of President Biden’s beachfront home pictured below.
The Biden Administration Finally Admits Its Mistake in Canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline
Last but not least was a great article disclosing how the US Department of Energy quietly released a report about the effects of President Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline right after his inauguration. As the article discloses; the cancellation; “has already cost the United States thousands of jobs and billions in economic growth while families suffer under the weight of record high energy prices.“ The article was written by Tom Harris and posted in Real Clear Energy just a few days ago. The article included specific details from the report noting: “the pipeline would have created between 16,149 and 59,000 jobs and would have had an economic benefit of between $3.4 and 9.6 billion.“ What the foregoing also suggests is there was an effect on Canada as the crude oil that would have been carried in that pipeline would have been from Canada and have generated both royalties and taxes to government coffers. The sale of that crude would have benefited the economy and increased the value of the Canadian dollar giving it more buying power and have helped to reduce our inflation rate.
The article goes on to state: “Two years into sowing its Green New Deal policies, the administration is reaping a bitter harvest. Due to Biden’s folly, oil, natural gas and electricity prices have more than doubled in just a single year. Meanwhile, more than 28 percent of Americans abstained from purchasing food or medicine to pay an energy bill in 2021.“ Additional points in the article clearly outline the cascade caused by the cancellation and its effect on global energy prices that hit the European community even harder then North America.
The follies of the Biden Administration’s mistakes will undoubtedly go down in history in a negative way as will our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who didn’t fight back on behalf of Canadians after Biden’s decree.
We should all recognize and note the damage being done on a collective basis by the WEF, the UNIPCC, etc. but we mustn’t forgive or ignore the damage being caused by our local politicians be they municipal, provincial or federal!
As has been highlighted in the foregoing four above brief synopsis the road to “Net-Zero” is paved with bad intentions and bad outcomes.
Those IWT (industrial wind turbines) along with solar panels once again demonstrated their inability to provide Ontarians with reliable power when it’s actually needed!
Peak hour on January 18th came at Hour 18 (hour ending at 6 PM) when Ontario’s peak demand reached 19,250 MW and those 4,900 MW of grid connected IWT managed to only generate 218 MWh or 1.1% of peak demand and 4.4% of their capacity. At that hour the sun wasn’t shining so no solar generation occurred. Our natural gas plants however, filled in the gap providing 4,038 MWh or 21% of peak demand while the balance came from our nuclear and hydro generation sources.
If one travels back in the day and notes what IWT were doing, they once again demonstrated their nasty trait of generating unneeded power. From Hour 1 to Hour 13, IESO forecast they would generate 29,859 MW (46.8% of their capacity) but accepted only 25,040 MW meaning just over 4,900 MW were presumably curtailed. Due to the “first-to-the-grid” rights and the generous contracts granted the owners of those IWT we taxpayers and ratepayers paid for both the accepted and curtailed power.
Over those same 13 hours our net exports (exports minus imports) were 19,827 MW (79.2% of accepted IWT generation) and the intertie price only averaged $17.47/MWh or 1.7 cents/kWh over those hours. As IESO were selling the surplus power off we were paying $135/MW for the IWT accepted power and $120/MW for what was curtailed. The foregoing suggests it cost us (ratepayers/taxpayers) about $3.5 million for that unneeded IWT generation over those 13 hours.
While natural gas stepped up when needed in Ontario, we should also understand it’s importance by simply seeing what most of Europe is experiencing without natural gas. Many households are suffering from the lack of reliable electricity generation due to their various government’s endorsement of wind and solar while exiting fossil fuel generation except for a little bit of natural gas. That push coupled with Russia’s curtailment of natural gas sales into Europe has driven up their costs of power and is even creating energy poverty for many “middle class” households! In some instances rationing of electricity is happening as charging EV and running your heat pumps could cause the electricity grid to collapse.
We Ontarians should take a moment to thank Alberta for providing us with natural gas which in addition to helping keep the lights on and power our businesses also provides heat for over 60% of all our households in the province.
The numerous eco-warriors in Canada and elsewhere around the world continue their push to end the use of fossil fuels despite the damage now being felt in most European countries. Europe’s climbing energy poverty rate was where 36 million European people in 2020 were unable to keep their homes adequately warm during the winter. We should have no doubt winter 2023 will undoubtedly increase those numbers considerably!
Those eco-warriors are sold on the concept that wind and solar generation coupled with EV (electric vehicles) are the magic formula for full electrification. At the same time as they advocate for full electrification of transportation, they ludicrously reject the need to mine for the materials used in the manufacturing of EV batteries, solar panels and IWT (industrial wind turbines). In the latter case they frequently exhibit their “hypocrisy” as those 300-foot blades evident on most IWT are made from composites that are not recycled such as fibreglass and balsa wood. “Balsa wood’s characteristics as a light and soft, yet highly resistant wood – strong and light at the same time – make it perfect for the manufacture of cladding for cruisers, skis, bridges… and especially for wind turbine propellers.“ It seems ironic the advocates of IWT; ie: those same eco-warriors such as WWF Canada and Greenpeace, are frequently the ones demanding retention of the Amazon rain forests in South America where those balsa trees grow. The WWF declared: “there’s no way we can slow climate change without stopping the destruction of our forests, and the Amazon is our planet’s biggest rainforest.“ Greenpeace Canada went well beyond that sending a petition in October 2020 to the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly stating: “prioritize the Amazon rainforest! Canada needs to immediately halt the Canada-Mercosur free trade negotiations and speak up for Amazon protection.”
Many of the IWT in Canada and around the world are reaching their end of life and being retired or refurbished. Disposal of the old blades is having a negative impact as they are not recyclable and are piling up in landfills as the following picture shows and presumably includes balsa wood from the Amazon rainforests.
As noted above much of the balsa wood used in the fabrication of those IWT blades emanates in Amazonian Indigenous communities and makes its way to China, Denmark, etc. Those countries then manufacture those IWT blades that find their way to countries around the world whose politicians have bought the eco-warrior’s objectives to create electricity (unreliable and intermittent) from IWT. At this juncture it is interesting to point out, Sir James Blyth of Scotland was the first to generate electricity from a wind-powered generator back in 1887. Blyth’s invention never really caught on until recently when the eco-warriors started shouting about “global warming” sic “climate change” in recent times.
We should all ask the question of those eco-warriors and our politicians supporting their demands:
How is this saving the world from climate change and how will it achieve your “net-zero” targets when you knowingly ignore the effects those IWT have including the generation of electricity that is both intermittent and unreliable?
The foxes are truly running the henhouse and from all appearances and actions are clearly hypocrites!
Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Todd Smith should think seriously about December 20th and contemplate; if we were without natural gas generation, how would the province have avoided blackouts? What would we need to have in place to provide the 124,792 MWh (what 4.1 million average Ontario households consume daily) our gas plants supplied on that December day?
More wind, more solar? If he picked those two intermittent and unreliable sources, we would need a multiple of at least five times current capacity. Even then, if they only generated five times the 232 MWh, they did at Hour 3, we would have experienced a blackout in the middle of the night during a low demand hour. Natural gas generators at that hour produced 4,003 MWh (26.8% of demand).
Throughout the day grid connected wind generated about 21,000 MWh and solar 547 MWh. At peak demand, Hour 18 ending at 6 PM, wind generation neared its peak for the day generating 1,341 MWh (6.8% of demand) whereas our gas plants generated 6,033 MWh or 30.4% of peak demand. Because demand was relatively high and wind failed to generate less than an average of 900 MW per hour the market price (HOEP) averaged $82.88/MWh over the day so the 39,000 MW we sold to our neighbours in NY, Michigan and Quebec generated a reasonable price compared to days when the wind is blowing hard and the sun is shining.
If Smith said hydro, it would be sensible, however Ontario has pretty well exhausted its hydro sources near population centers so that’s not an option. We would need to open up the northern reaches of the province and spend billions of tax dollars to build roads, transmission systems and the hydro plants themselves to get the power to where its needed. Not feasible for well over a decade!
Nuclear would be a good and logical source, however the only possible new nuclear we might get in the next 10 years is a 300 MW capacity SMR (small modular reactor) now in the planning stage by OPG.
What’s left then for him to contemplate is either hydrogen or storage. The former is still in early test stages and unlikely to be scaled up for a decade or more. Despite the foregoing the push for it by many European countries is on as they view it as the solution to achieving “net-zero”. The big concern about hydrogen is associated with possible leaks as a recent article noted: “Scientists have warned that hydrogen could be a significant “indirect” contributor to the greenhouse effect when it leaks through infrastructure and interacts with methane in the atmosphere.“
One should wonder does Minister Smith have a belief “storage” is the option and if so, how much will be needed? In the near term he seems to have somewhat recognized the fallibility of our electricity system as his Ministerial Directive of October 6, 2022 directs IESO to secure a minimum of 1,500 MW of storage generation and a maximum of 1,500 MW of natural gas generation. On the former he had already directed IESO to negotiate a 250 MW battery storage contract with Oneida on August 27, 2022 despite the need for a cost/benefit study as noted in a earlier article.
Minister Smith had also asked IESO to prepare a plan to allow Ontario’s electricity system to be fully “decarbonized” by 2050 and in their response titled: “The Pathways to Decarbonization” they included 2,507 MW of storage capacity in 2035.
The full costs of that capacity will be in excess of $2.4 billion based on a recent well researched article suggesting battery costs are a minimum of US$700K (CA$950K) per MW of capacity. Battery storage capacity results in about only 80% of it as being available when it’s needed on the grid, but, it can deliver the rated capacity for three hours. That means 2,507 MW of battery storage at a capital cost of $2.4 billion could deliver approximately 6,000 MWh before having to reload.
Now, if we consider the generation provided by Ontario’s natural gas plants on December 20, 2022, one notes we would need twenty-one times more battery storage to generate the almost 125,000 MWh they delivered. The capital cost would be astronomical and amount to about $50 billion. Repaid over the 10-year lifespan of the batteries (including a profit margin of 10%), it would result in adding $5.5 billion of annual costs to ratepayer bills.
What the IESO chart suggests is natural gas capacity coupled with; “New Capacity Online by 2035” in the form of; Demand Response, Solar, Wind and new Nuclear, we will not need additional storage. Let’s hope their forecast is accurate despite the “Disclosure” on Page 2 stating:
“The information, statements and conclusions in this report are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results or circumstances to differ materially from the report’s findings. The IESO provides no guarantee, representation, or warranty, express or implied, with respect to any statement or information in this report and disclaims any liability in connection with it.”
The 2035 scenario depicted by IESO also contained the following suggesting they had some faith in part of their report: “New large hydroelectric and nuclear facilities were not selected due to lead times that extended beyond the horizon of this scenario. As firm imports from Québec would require resource development in that province, they proved to be costly and were also not selected. Finally, with 2,500 MW of battery energy-storage systems included in the base supply mix, the value of additional storage diminished, hindering its selection.“
Hmm, kind of makes one wonder if the “Pathways” report is delivering what Minister Smith has in mind?
An article written by Allison Jones of the Canadian Press and dated December 26, 2022 reputedly confirmed Minister Smith’s directive to IESO to obtain the additional 1,500 MW of natural gas generation along with the “2,500 megawatts of clean technology such as energy storage”. The article went on to claim, “Smith said in an interview that it’s the largest active procurement for energy storage in North America.“ Another quote in the article came from Katherine Sparkes, IESO’s director of innovation who apparently said:
“As we look to the future and think about gas phase-out and electrification, one of the great challenges facing all energy systems in North America and around the world is: How do you address the increasing amounts of variable, renewable energy? resources and just make better use of your grid resources,” she said.
“Hybrids, storage-generator pairings, give you the ability to deal with the variability of renewable energy, meaning storing electricity when the sun isn’t shining or the wind not blowing, and then using it when you need it.”
We ratepayers should all be troubled if the foregoing is a quote from IESO’s director of innovation! In that position she should know if the sun isn’t shining, or the wind isn’t blowing there is no energy that can be stored!
On the other hand, if it’s a misquote by the author of the article, its what we have come to expect from the MSM reporters who seem to frequently fail to do any fact checking. The latter is evident in other parts of the article where obtuse comments are made and accepted with one of them suggesting their company will “make power plants obsolete” using EV and another suggesting “the provincial and federal governments need to fund and install bidirectional chargers in order to fully take advantage of electric vehicles.” No indication was in the article as to what sources of energy would be used to power up those EV batteries nor does the author question those making the statements.
It is readily apparent the author of the article failed to either question those interviewed or to seek other views that might challenge their claims. Unfortunately, investigative journalism is no longer within the purview of those associated with the mainstream media.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel that benefits mankind in many ways and the cold December day we Ontario residents recently experienced clearly demonstrated how it is needed until something better comes along. It is self-evident the “something better” is clearly not battery storage.
Let’s turn up the heat on our Ministry of Energy and the many reporters in the media who message us with the propaganda perpetrated by those who want us to freeze in the dark!