Thursday, 7 April 2016

Why Will Emissions Double as We Add Wind and Solar Plants (in Ontario, or France)?

From Ontario’s Electricity Dilemma (pdf slides, page 15)

  • Wind and Solar require flexible backup generation.
  • Nuclear is too inflexible to backup renewables without expensive engineering changes to the reactors.
  • Flexible electric storage is too expensive at the moment.
  • Consequently natural gas provides the backup for wind and solar in North America.
  • When you add wind and solar you are actually forced to reduce nuclear generation to make room for more natural gas generation to provide flexible backup.
  • Ontario currently produces electricity at less than 40 grams of CO2 emissions/kWh.
  • Wind and solar with natural gas backup produces electricity at about 200 grams of CO2 emissions/kWh. Therefore adding wind and solar to Ontario’s grid drives CO2 emissions higher. From 2016 to 2032 as Ontario phases out nuclear capacity to make room for wind and solar, CO2 emissions will double (2013 LTEP data).
  • In Ontario, with limited economic hydro and expensive storage, it is mathematically impossible to achieve low CO2 emissions at reasonable electricity prices without nuclear generation.

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