Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sanity Advocates Policy Shift

John Spears is out with yet another article in the red Toronto Star, quoting, extensively, the Canadian Wind Energy Association's Robert Hornung.  “Wind advocate warns against policy shifts” again notes CANwea's Hornung claiming the low cost per kWh of wind is a cost effective alternative to other new supply possibilities.  It is per MWh, but in reality it doesn't replace any need for generation capacity.  It is simply a frivolous, expensive, extra that we have no need for.
The first rhetorical question asked by Hornung it, "How much will new electricity cost compared to other forms of new electricity?"  Well, an actual environmentalist should ask why choose anything - remember the old reduce, reuse, recycle?  Briskly being moved along on McGuinty's gravy train may have led Mr. Hornung to miss the recent recession, with it's drop in demand.  While the current government of Ontario have been inept economic stewards, the electricity consumption trend is continent wide.  I’ve been examining some data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and the growing glut in supply is more easily demonstrated there.  The graph shows the response to the energy shortages seen around the turn of the century, and the sudden unexpected supply glut now being experienced, which in the US has led to stagnant pricing since 2008, as Ontario’s prices have skyrocketed.

In Ontario, there was a long-term planning document, “Providing The Balance of Power”, in 1989 that called for annual growth of 2.2% up until 2014, and noted that required supply capacity to grow from 23200MW to 39800MW.  That call puts demand about 60% higher than it is today, as demand is right about where we started in 1989.  But supply is claimed to be around 35000MW now, and headed to 38000MW if the currently planned madness unfolds as it should not.  A 50% growth in supply for 0% growth in demand.
The fuel cost argument made by Mr. Hornung is also silly – obviously he is nearly alone in this prognostication.  In the US, prices have moved in a relatively narrow range since 1960, and are expected to do so through 2035.
Horning notes the system operator is addressing the “technical challenge” of oversupply during wind periods – he doesn’t mention that next week they’ll be addressing it by structuring a system to pay wind suppliers not to produce electricity when it isn’t required
We don’t need the cool new trendy thing.
The data I compiled for the chart, along with annual totals for capacity and generation by source fuel, I have put here.

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