Gas on the brain: official “greens” continue to sell fossil fuel to Ontario

Over the Thanksgiving long weekend, Ontario natural gas-fired power plants dumped roughly 57,908 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, into Ontario’s air. They did not pay a dime for this privilege. The CO2 dumping occurred as a by product of generating roughly 106 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. That electricity cost Ontario ratepayers an officially undisclosed but inferable rate that is much higher than the rates for clean power like hydro and nuclear. The table below shows the output of the major generator types over the long weekend.

Ontario electricity generation, and associated CO2 emissions, October 6-8 2012 (source: Independent Electricity System Operator
Fuel Output (MWh) CO2, metric tons
Nuclear 773,107 0
Hydro 224,204 0
Gas 105,906 57,908
Wind 36,947 0
Coal 17,857 16,971
Other 13,094 1,264

Those 57,908 metric tons of CO2 dumped out of Ontario gas-fired power plants are now acidifying the world’s oceans. What a shame, to see the world’s oceans treated as a garbage dump for electric-power generation from a landlocked jurisdiction. Is it necessary to do this?

Of course not. The table shows that the provincial nuclear generators produced more than 773 million kilowatt-hours over the weekend—more than seven times as much electricity as the gas-fired plants. And this seven-fold outperformance of gas did not come with a single gram of CO2. Nuclear plants do not produce CO2, and unless the laws of physics change, they never will. The nuclear plants have been running for 40+ years. I shudder to imagine how much CO2 would have gone into our atmosphere had they not been there.

In spite of this, the self-styled environmental movement in Ontario calls for the closure of the provincial nuclear plants and their replacement with natural gas-fired plants. Yes, you read that right. The “greens” don’t mind that their preferred fuel dumped 57,908 metric tons of ocean-acidifying CO2 into the air over a single long weekend. If they get their way, those 57 thousand tons will turn into 57 million tons each year going forward.

With “friends” like this, Mother Nature doesn’t need any enemies.

The official “green” crowd is hosting a panel discussion tomorrow night (Wednesday, October 10) in support of exactly this goal: to replace Ontario’s zero-carbon nuclear plants with carbon-belching gas plants like the ones that dumped the 57,908 tons of CO2 into our air over the weekend. Unfortunately I will not be in Toronto, or I would attend and ask the obvious question why people who call themselves green would support fossil fuels after all the talk of opposing them.

But if you are in Toronto and are curious to hear their answer, you are invited to a panel discussion featuring representatives of the provincial green movement. It is at Metro Hall (King St. and John St., Toronto), Room 303, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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11 years ago

That is again astonishing information Steve. Thanks for putting it in perspective. I went to the Ontario Clean Air Alliance website and saw this link which tries to justify the reason for wanting to close the Pickering plant based on the idea that we had a surplus of energy this past summer 2012. I don’t know who does their math but did they calculate decommissioning costs? Here’s a quote from the report.
“Pickering A’s fuel and operating costs alone are more than four times greater than the market price of electricity. Pickering B’s fuel and operating costs are more than double the market price of electricity. (The market price of electricity is approximately equal to the fuel and operating costs of our new gas-fired power plants.)”

That would mean they operate at a loss. Not very likely.

11 years ago
Reply to  Rick Maltese

They specialize in bad data and are either liars or just innumerate. They have been trotting out this BS forever, and I am amazed but not all that surprised that the Green Party of Ontario regurgitates this trash. That’s no way to become a serious contender at Queen’s Park.

11 years ago
Reply to  Rick Maltese

What they can’t deal with is that the nuclear stations undercut their gas clients’ output and still make a profit — without dumping a single gram of CO2 into the air. In the case of Pickering, the profit is on OUR — Ontario citizens’ — behalf! And the OCAA opposes that!

Moreover, the low price of nuclear includes waste/decommissioning. The high price of gas-fired power doesn’t set aside a dime for recovering the millions of tons of CO2 they dump into our air every year.

The OCAA and their phony-green fellow travelers are flat-out BSers who deserve to be totally ignored.

Ron Hartlen
11 years ago

Thanks also to Rick for the direct quote. They are making up nonsensical comparisons, of apples and oranges with bananas, to further manipulate the Public`s (mis)understanding.

11 years ago

There are preliminary reports coming out that the WTO has ruled against Ontario’s FIT program.

Maury Markowitz
11 years ago

“Over the Thanksgiving long weekend, Ontario natural gas-fired power plants dumped roughly 57,908 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), [snip] The CO2 dumping occurred as a by product of generating roughly 106 million kilowatt-hours of electricity”

You “forgot” to mention that this power offset what would have come from coal, which would have dumped ~200 million tons of CO2 into the air. So we’ve reduced emissions four times.

Ontario’s coal and gas plants are used to offset nuclear’s inability to throttle. I consider this to be released by the nuclear plants.

11 years ago

Maury, that’s a pretty bizarre line of argumentation. What fossil source dumped the 57,908 tons of CO2 into the air, coal or gas?

And what do you mean, nuclear’s inability to throttle? Build enough plants to handle most power including peak, then engineer either steam bypass or load sinks (in lieu of hydrogen production via electrolysis) for when power is not needed. We could have 100 percent zero-carbon electricity.

11 years ago

I second the appraisal of the assertion as bizarre, if not delusional. If the same number of MWH had been generated by wind (which is far more variable and harder to regulate around than nuclear), would there have been LOWER emissions from coal and gas plants?

Perhaps Quebec can be persuaded to use its hydro capacity for peaking, and even build pumped storage.  That will allow the gas and coal capacity to be put on standby status, and eventually retired.

11 years ago

The cleanairalliance’s document linked by Rick Maltese says that Ontario now has surplus electricity generation, which is not likely to go down, even in the future. I take this assertion to be a fact (I have no direct knowledge of Ontario’s electricity generation and demand scenarios). I am sure Ontario is, as France does, earning money exporting electricity to sister provinces in Canada and to the USA. Going a bit farther than that, and keeping in view energy deficit in many parts of the world, perhaps Ontario can consider setting up projects to generate Hydrogen using its excess energy, and transport it overseas, may be in gas cylinders (risky), or may even be as adsorbed in some chemical (Zeolite for example?) in a suitable solid form (less risky), from which hydrogen gas can easily be desorbed with low energy expenditure such as solar heating. This could come in handy for use in transportation sector in the recipient country. The adsorber material may even be reusable when shipped back to Canada. IF (I concede that it is a big ‘if’) economics of the scheme, and input-output energy balance for the cycle as a whole, work out to be favorable, as might be the case when large quantities are involved, it may become a win-win situation for both Canada and the importing country!