Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fact-Checking Ministry of Energy Statement Shows We aren't at 1994 yet

Today the Ontario government posted a news release; "Ontario's Electricity System Can Take the Heat."  There's a couple of 'facts' included in it that should be examined more closely - not only to verify what is said in the release, but to show why wind production looks to be intentionally de-emphasized.
In July, Ontario's electricity system experienced the highest monthly summer demand since August 2007.
The communication states "summer" because January 2007, 2008 and 2009 were all higher - the IESO figures also indicate July 2006 was the last summer month with greater demand, but that's probably a deficiency in their inability to report on solar generation coupled with their inability to report actual metered demand.

Looking at the monthly generation chart for July 2007 (page 17 here), generation from coal and natural gas ("other" in the chart) are approximately 3.45TWh, or roughly 200GWh less than the generation from coal and gas-fired generation in July 2012.
We seem to have burned more fossil fuels generating electricity in July 2012 than we did in 2007

Come a long way?
Since 2003, Ontario has brought more than 10,000 megawatts of new and refurbished clean energy online from sources like wind, solar and bio-energy. That's enough power to meet the needs of more than 2 million homes during the hot summer months.
Also sources exactly like natural gas and nuclear - primarily natural gas for capacity, and most significantly to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear.
Added (approximately) were 5600MW of natural gas-fired capacity, 1500MW of nuclear capacity,  500MW of solar and 2000MW of wind capacity.  Subtracted (not mentioned) has been ~4300MW of coal-fired generation.

More pertinent to the reign of the Liberal government are changes since 2005, as the 1500MW of nuclear was initiated before they took power, as was some of the natural gas build and the elimination of the Lakeview Generating station (coal).    Roughly 5000MW of gas, 500MW of solar, 2000MW of wind on the added side (7500MW) and 3200MW of coal-fired generation removed.  2005 was the peak year, and the peak July.  Compared to July 2005, Ontario demand was down 637GWh while production from coal and gas-fired generators was down ~454GWh.  There is some indication reducing demand reduces the use of the dispatchable generation coal and gas provide, but no indication anything else is doing so.

The 2 million homes statement is a bit of a mystery, but it's clear the 7100MW of nuclear and gas capacity are the ones actually powering homes.  While solar is certainly useful in reducing peak demand in July, it is also certainly useless in meeting peak demand in January.

Wind is frequently useless in July, and less frequently, but still at times useless, in January.

The only place the word "wind" appears in the release is in claiming 10,000MW of added overall capacity - of which wind capacity is 20%.

The Quick Facts section of the government's news release states:
Eliminating coal-fired electricity in Ontario is the single largest greenhouse gas reduction measure in North America.
The numbers show natural gas is replacing coal.  This is not going to reduce greenhouse gases anywhere near the extent of Southern Power's construction of Vogtle Units 3 and 4.  In the atmospheric short-term (100 years) the additional methane from the natural gas industry is unlikely to change the greenhouse gas impact, in switching from coal to gas, much at all.
In 2011, more than 80 per cent of the power generated in Ontario came from clean sources of energy such as water, nuclear and renewables.
Water AND renewables?

In 1994, water and nuclear comprised  86% of all Ontario's generation ... before that era's environmentalists started the switch to coal.

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