Ontario at the crossroads: nuclear now or forget about clean air, climate change targets

In my most recent post, I mentioned that using Ontario electricity for space heating is now slightly less emission intensive than using natural gas. Gas, I should point out, is the least emission intensive fossil fuel.

What will be the emission intensity of Ontario electricity in five years? It could be significantly less than it is today. If the government approves new nuclear reactors, Ontario could return to the 1994 mark, which was 104 grams of emissions per kilowatt-hour generated. For a highly industrialized jurisdiction, particularly one with so much heavy industry, 104 g/kWh is simply phenomenal.

This would bring Ontario’s power generating sector well below Kyoto compliance. Not only that, it would bring the province as a jurisdiction within 18 million tonnes of full Kyoto compliance.

And, because it would make space heating with Ontario electricity nearly twice as clean as space heating with natural gas, it would provide the opportunity to wipe out literally millions of tonnes of emissions from residential and commercial/institutional heating.

In concert with other developments, particularly greater uptake of hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles and the advent of commercially available plug-in hybrids, Ontario would be in easy striking distance of Kyoto targets.

None of this will be possible without more nuclear power. We face momentous decisions. We’d better make them now.

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