Intermittent Renewables: Wind and Solar Generation – Power Workers Union

Wind and Solar

It is time for Ontario to curtail further investments in wind and solar generation until the costs and benefits are clearly defined and understood.

Billions of dollars have been spent on intermittent wind and solar and for backup natural gas generation. These new sources of supply are heavily subsidized by ratepayers and are significant contributors to Ontario’s rising electricity prices.

Unspecified costs for smart grid/emerging technologies and transmission/distribution infrastructure necessary for integrating and managing variable electricity production and changing consumer demand will drive the price /kWh up even further.

By 2030, ratepayers and/or taxpayers will be paying for the decommissioning and waste management costs for some of this wind and solar generation.

Building more wind and solar generation will increase GHG emissions. These intermittent sources require backup more than 70% of the time, a role played by carbon emitting natural gas generation.

No more wind and solar generation should be built. Any future investments should be based on affordability, solid cost benefit analyses and realistic targets.

  • A 2014, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change analysis of life-cycle emissions (tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per gigawatt hour) of energy technologies shows solar photovoltaic at 53 tons, hydroelectric at 26, nuclear at 13 and onshore wind at 12.
  • Ontario’s current electricity surplus has displaced low-carbon hydroelectric (spilling water) and nuclear generation (curtailment) in place of wind and solar production. Effectively, Ontario is “giving” away heavily subsidized and expensive electricity.
  • Experts agree there is no credible path to climate stabilization without a substantial role for nuclear power.
  • In June 2017, a renewable energy study suggesting 100 % wind, water and solar energy system was feasible was described by 21 leading experts as having serious shortcomings and needing more research.
  • Nuclear is the most land efficient means of electricity production. A comparison of generation sources required to produce 100% of global electricity shows that nuclear would require land the size of Nova Scotia, solar the province of Alberta and wind the size of Quebec.
  • In June 2013 a comparison and assessment of two alternative electricity supply options for Ontario—planned wind generation investments continue with additional natural gas-fired generation versus refurbishing Ontario’s existing reactors and building two new ones was released. It showed the nuclear option delivered tens of billions of dollars more in benefits to ratepayers and reduced GHG emission by 100 million tons more.
  • Ontario’s subsidized investments in wind and solar generation were promoted as delivering tens of thousands of jobs. Like Germany and Spain, Ontario has discovered that these investments are expensive and drive up electricity prices. Many of the jobs are short-term and the manufacturing jobs are not sustainable without expensive ongoing subsidies. The domestic content requirement in Ontario’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act was successfully challenged as a breach of international trade law.
  • Instead of creating much needed high-value jobs in Ontario, big multi-national developers have reaped the benefits and jobs for their home countries.
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