Friday, September 20, 2013

Engineers: wind and solar "are displacement sources"

From the The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) ...

President's Perspectives: Energy policy must acknowledge engineering facts |OSPE
In advance of the call for submissions for the Ontario Long Term Energy Plan, Greenpeace/The Pembina Institute issued a new report titled "Renewable is Doable.” The main points in the report are that nuclear investments are costly, inflexible and discourage renewables and conservation, while renewables are flexible and affordable.
We at OSPE understand that messages like these capture the public imagination. We all agree, for example, that efforts around conservation and the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) are important. At the same time, engineers understand that there are technical realities that simply don’t support the call to cancel investments in nuclear in favour of bringing more and more renewable online, which will actually serve to increase GHG emissions.
There are several technical issues that this report misses:
  • without storage, variable renewables (solar and wind) are displacement sources
  • variable renewables in Ontario often displace gas, nuclear and hydro
  • there is no mention of the significant rise in GHG emissions when nuclear is reduced
  • displacement sources are only worth the displaced fuel costs, not the total cost of the alternatives
  • there is no mention that the refurbishment and new build at Darlington will indeed provide flexible nuclear
  • there is no discussion of the very high cost of storage needed to keep GHG emissions low without nuclear
Ontario is running about 85 kg of CO2 per MWh of electricity. The USA, Europe and China are close to or above 400 kg of CO2 per MWh. If we reduce nuclear capacity, the GHG emission will start to rise and will approach 200 kg of CO2 per MWh if nuclear is eliminated. That's a higher CO2 emission level than we had before we passed the Green Energy Act!

At OSPE, we are working to ensure governments and the public understand these realities.

Comments on phrasing:

  • Minister Chiarelli probably knows more about "engineering facts" than anybody;  that phrase is already taken, and it's context is not the one OSPE was trying to convey (see Ontario's Minister of Energy and 6 gazillion whatevers for a refresher on the Minister's spin on the term).
  • "displacement sources" is, I think, an exceptionally accurate term for variable renewable energy sources (vRES), and one I have not seen before.
I'm envious of whoever originated that phrase - but still prefer my NENGO's target nuclear at expense of the environment as a response to the Greenpeace/Pembina/OCAA document; and I don't think OSPE's developed the argument that "displacement sources are only worth the displaced fuel costs," as I've done in, for example, The Real High Price of Low-Value Electricity and The Capacity Trap: Ontario's Electricity Costs Soar as Emissions Drop.

When originally posting this, I should have referenced Donald Jones' latest, Nuclear experts get it wrong and Ontario’s Bruce Power gets it right, which refutes this strange idea that nuclear should become more flexible (a good thing) in order to accommodate being displaced by the new "displacement sources" (a nonsensical thing):
...even if manoeuvring nuclear down can allow more wind on the grid it still does not make any environmental, economic or technical sense to do so. Manoeuvring nuclear does make sense if it makes way for more nuclear (reference 2) to eventually lead to a greenhouse gas-free Ontario grid supplied by a mix of nuclear and hydro. Let’s follow the lead of France and Sweden.

No comments:

Post a Comment