(Jan. 12, 2011) Parker Gallant looks at Ontario’s Long Term Energy Plan and its vision for renewable energy in the province.
The Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP) released November 23, 2010 by Brad Duguid, Minister of Energy (MEI) projected capital expenditures of $43.6 billion on renewable energy or just over half of the full budgeted capital costs. A little of this is to be spent on hydro and biomass but the bulk is to be spent on wind and solar with $12 billion aimed at conservation. Not sure what the capital expenditures are for conservation (CFL bulbs for everyone?) but we will leave that for another day.
The bulk of the renewables spending will be on wind and solar ($23 billion or 26% of total capital spending) and by 2030 these two power sources will purportedly be providing 11.5% of our electricity.
Looking at wind on its own, the projected capital cost of $14 billion would mean 7000 MW of installed capacity at today’s average cost per MW of $2 million. At 1.5 MW per turbine we are looking at 4,600 new wind turbines on top of the 700 or so we already have.
An article in the UK’s Daily Mail on December 27, 2010 by Richard Littlejohn, (when the UK was in the midst of a nasty cold snap) carried a story about how much electricity was being produced by the 3150 wind turbines operating and it was a meagre 1.6 %. The other odd part of the story was that because of the cold the turbines had to be heated and were actually consuming more electricity than they were generating. With Canada traditionally being a lot colder than the UK that doesn’t bode well for our future—unless we have backup power or heated turbines.
On the latter issue another interesting article posted in the Guardian on June 4, 2008 reported that “One of Britain’s leading energy providers warned yesterday that Britain will need substantial fossil fuel generation to back up the renewable energy it needs to meet European Union targets.” The warning by E. ON indicated that Britain would require up to 90% as backup from coal and gas plants to ensure supply when intermittent renewable supplies were not available. E.ON, headquartered in Dusseldorf, Germany is one of the largest investor-owned power companies in the world with annual revenues of over Cdn $100 billion (2009) and generation capacity of 73,000 MW (OPG had 21,700 MW) with 6% from wind and 34% from coal fired plants. An announcement on December 30, 2010 indicates that E.ON was given the go-ahead to build another 1100 MW coal fired plant in central Germany at a cost of $1.6 Billion.
So what happens in Ontario in 2030 if those 4700 wind turbines freeze up or consume more power than they generate as they were doing in the UK? Ontario will presumably need to rely on backup from gas plants. Amazingly the LTEP is forecasting a reduction of installed capacity in gas plants from 2010 to 2030 of over 200 MW. By that date the existing coal plants will have been shut down for 15 years so how will we keep the lights on and cook our meals?
Oh yes, we will plug everything into that “conservation” outlet which the LTEP says will be pumping out 7100 MW of conservation power by 2030 at a cost of $12 billion.
Parker Gallant, Energy Probe, January 12, 2011
Parker Gallant is a retired Canadian banker who looked at his Ontario electricity bills and didn’t like what he saw. He also sits on the board of Energy Probe Research Foundation.