Twenty-three (million) tons, and whaddaya get? Another day older, and still no credit

Okay, so I’m no Tennessee Ernie Ford. But that doesn’t mean I can’t lament the sheer non-recognition of Ontario’s CANDU nuclear fleet for outstanding services rendered over the past four decades to me, my fellow Ontarians, and the planet. Sticking only to the most recent decade, while the world has argued endlessly over what to do about anthropogenic climate change, Ontario’s CANDUs have quietly chopped the better part of 23 million tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the provincial inventory.

(Alert readers will notice I have already dropped my original claim of 26 tons—that’s what happens when you base today’s projections on last month’s data).

I base this on Environment Canada’s National Inventory figures (linked here—see Table A13-7—and I’ll embed a table soon), which says that Ontario’s electricity GHG emissions were 39.6 million tons in 2003. Why 2003 as the reference year? I’m just trying to put this into political terms. The McGuinty Liberals were first elected in 2003, on a platform that called for closure of the provincial coal-fired power plants.

The second part of my comparison is my own estimate of the CO2 emissions from Ontario power plants so far in 2011, which is roughly 16 million tons:

As far as I know, I’m the only person who has pointed this out. Which is strange, because the data on which I make the 23 million ton reduction claim is available to anybody with an internet connection.

The upshot is that Ontario as a jurisdiction is achieving pretty amazing CO2 reductions, and these reductions are due in most part to the nuclear generating fleet. I believe it is because of nuclear’s central role in this reduction that nobody knows about it. The provincial government wants to pretend that wind and solar did the job (they plainly did not), and the constituencies the government wants to please are theologically anti-nuclear.

Nuclear delivered most of those 23 million tons, more cheaply and effectively than the other emission-free sources. And what does it get? No credit.

Meanwhile we’re deeper in debt paying for the expensive unreliable sources.

I’ll elaborate in upcoming days.

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8 years ago

Hello Steve, I’ll look forward to your upcoming analysis, but …
Nuclear has had another very productive year over the first 11 months, but fossil fuel use is up over 2009 regardless, with about 3.8TWh of coal being 4.5TWh less than in 2009, but natural gas is up to about 21.4TWh, up 6TWh from 2009. I’d note 2009’s low emissions from the generation of electricity in Ontario were down about what we had in 1994 – the year the final Darlington unit came online. 1994 was, as far as I know, the only year nuclear output exceeded 90TWh, and consumption in Ontario that year was over 141TWh – about the same as will be accomplished this year.

As far as I know the emissions figures are not based on actual smokestack measurements, so 2011 will probably be lower than 2009 because of how gas and coal are treated – not because anybody will have measured.

Some of us do pay attention to such things.

Steve Aplin
8 years ago
Reply to  Scott Luft

Scott, thanks — glad you are looking at these numbers. That makes you and me so far, discussing an issue that the world media and every green NGO have been yammering incessantly about without bothering to delve even a centimeter deep into the pertinent numbers.

My 26 million tons is a rough estimate, based on this imperfect estimate of Ontario electricity generation so far in 2011. Bear in mind that those numbers represent my estimate as of mid-morning December 11.

The CO2 estimates are based on 950 grams per kWh from Lambton, 1000 from Nanticoke, 988 from TBay and Atikokan, 700 from Lennox, and 550 for all in the Gas category. The latter, Gas, is simply based on numbers that Environment Canada used to publish.

My estimate of 14 million tons for 2011 was actually made a few weeks ago, and has obviously been proved wrong by my own more recent estimate. Still, I believe we, Ontario, will do better than even the 1994 low of 16,500 tons; 1994 was the year that the fourth Darlington unit came online and the Pickering A and Bruce A layups had not happened yet.

8 years ago

Thanks Steve. Are you aware of any review or summary of decommissioned coal plants in Ontario? Or a breakdown of existing Ontario coal plants?