Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New Study reveals Ontario's wind subsidies benefit a select few

A joint study by "Toronto-based think tanks Energy Probe and Consumer Policy Institute" was released today; Corporate Welfare Goes Green in Ontario

The study is written by economist Brady Yauch, and I think it's excellent.  There's an introduction to the study on the Energy Probe site, and an equally strong Background to Corporate Welfare Goes Green in Ontario. I can pick out some quotes and graphics, but both papers are more accessible than I usually make the topic. If you're interested in the topic, read Brady Yauch's work.

What I will do is prove I read it by picking up on the section that most angered me, which is a footnote ending page 10 of the background report:
17 The government on September 30, 2014 raised the FIT rate to 12.8 cents per KWh. 
Let me explain why this set me off, and perhaps that will emphasize the work's claim that, "the benefits from [the province's renewable energy policy] have accrued to a small group of companies."

September 30th struck me as about the time a deal was done between the Korean Consortium and the Ontario government for a 100MW wind project in Ontario - and it was, in fact, exactly the day. I checked today because of what I'd found when checking into Ontario's contract with the Koreans on, or shortly after, September 30th, 2014.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ontario and Quebec sign memorandum to share electricity generation capacity seasonally

Friday November 21st, Ontario and Quebec signed a "Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to exchange electricity capacity."

The deal is important in a couple of ways

  1. Formalized the existing supply relationship should contribute to both province's ability to meet reserve requirements as defined by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) 
  2. The increased ability for Ontario to utilize Quebec's generation resources to provide capacity reserve
I can write much more on this, and may do so, but after providing a harsh rebuttal to the first of a number of dishonest and ignorant media reports on the agreement, I think it's now appropriate to note what content there is in the agreement is positive, if only understandable to the public service that achieved the MOU.

Agreements Reached at Québec-Ontario Joint Meeting of Cabinet Ministers
November 21, 2014 3:00 P.M. | Office of the Premier
At a joint meeting of ministers today in Toronto, the Ontario and Québec cabinets reached several agreements that will strengthen Ontario and Québec's partnership to build up Central Canada's economy, create jobs and make a difference in people's lives.
The governments signed agreements in the following areas: 
Electricity Trade 
Ontario Ministry of Energy Graphic
Ontario and Québec have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to exchange electricity capacity to help make power more affordable and reliable in each province.
The Seasonal Capacity Exchange -- the first agreement of its kind between the two provinces -- takes advantage of the fact that electricity demand peaks in the winter in Québec and in the summer in Ontario. Starting in late 2015, Ontario will make 500 megawatts (MW) of electricity capacity available to Québec in the winter, and Québec will make 500 MW available to Ontario in the summer. This agreement comes at no additional cost to Ontario and Québec electricity ratepayers. It will help Ontario reduce future costs, by reducing the need to build new electricity generating stations after 2020, and it will help Québec meet its seasonal capacity needs.

Friday, November 21, 2014


"An indispensable element of sustainable human development is access to energy."

In August T. Nitheanandan and M.J. Brown, of Atomic Energy Of Canada Ltd. , delivered a paper to the The 19th Pacific Basin Nuclear Conference (PBNC 2014). [1]

I have received permission to share that paper here. It seems appropriate now as Ontario's emissions hit record lows, but that appears likely to be short-lived as the province's electricity system operator gears up to acquire more natural gas capacity as the government continues to contract wind and solar generation.

A review of Ontario’s electricity mix over the past two decades provides lessons for future electricity supply planning. To sustain the level of well-being in a community and plan for the future, a historical perspective of electricity generation capacity is useful. The electricity generation mix requires a balance of generating technologies for stable and controllable amounts of continuous electricity generation. Historical records over forty years reveal nuclear energy to be a reliable baseload producer in a sea of changing supply mix and policy emphasis. As intermittent sources of generation in the electricity mix increase, the need for backup generation capacity also increases, in conjunction with maintaining a stable grid. In the electricity mix, flexible despatchable power generation capacity comes from gas and hydro, which can be brought online at short notice to meet variations in demand and generation. 
Within the past decade, the non-hydro renewable contribution to the electricity mix has increased in Ontario. This review determined that replacing coal-fired generation with nuclear and renewable electricity sources reduced the carbon intensity significantly. The energy (including electricity) use of a community is closely linked to the health of the economy - significant reductions in energy use occur due to global economic factors like a recession.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What It Would Really Take to Reverse Climate Change

In 2007, when Google unveiled its initiative to make renewable energy competitive with coal, called RE<C, it represented a major breakthrough for the industry.
...Then, in 2011, Google stopped its R&D efforts prematurely.
...Two Google engineers who worked on the RE<C initiative have finally opened up about why the team halted their efforts.   - quoted from Stephen Lacey article
The article, by Ross Koningstein and David Fork, is fascinating.
What It Would Really Take to Reverse Climate Change| IEEE Spectrum:
...calculations cast our work at Google’s RE<C program in a sobering new light. Suppose for a moment that it had achieved the most extraordinary success possible, and that we had found cheap renewable energy technologies that could gradually replace all the world’s coal plants—a situation roughly equivalent to the energy innovation study’s best-case scenario. Even if that dream had come to pass, it still wouldn’t have solved climate change. This realization was frankly shocking: Not only had RE<C failed to reach its goal of creating energy cheaper than coal, but that goal had not been ambitious enough to reverse climate change. 
Image from IEEE Spectrum article
That realization prompted us to reconsider the economics of energy. What’s needed, we concluded, are reliable zero-carbon energy sources so cheap that the operators of power plants and industrial facilities alike have an economic rationale for switching over soon—say, within the next 40 years. Let’s face it, businesses won’t make sacrifices and pay more for clean energy based on altruism alone. Instead, we need solutions that appeal to their profit motives. RE<C’s stated goal was to make renewable energy cheaper than coal, but clearly that wouldn’t have been sufficient to spur a complete infrastructure changeover. So what price should we be aiming for?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

News and commentary re: U.S.-China Joint Announcement

Then (1997):
... the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol to, or other agreement regarding, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992...which would--
(A) mandate new commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the Annex I Parties, unless the protocol or other agreement also mandates new specific scheduled commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for Developing Country Parties...  -Byrd-Hagel Resolution, Summer 1997
Image from vox, credit to Global Carbon Project
The resolution in the U.S. Senate opposing what became the Kyoto protocol passed unanimously, and then the Clinton administration signed on anyway - but it was never presented to the Senate for ratification.

The American "commitments" at Copenhagen, which aren't binding, were taken from the American Clean Energy and Security Act that had passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in the prior months, but was not expected, and never did, pass in the Senate.

I'm taking the U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change as a replay, coming, as it does, shortly after the Republicans gained control of the house; it's act III, but there is some interesting change from Act I (Kyoto).

The United States of America and the People’s Republic of China ... are committed to reaching an ambitious 2015 agreement that reflects the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances. -U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change, Fall 2014
My hope is the announcement that Barack Obama is conceding a long-standing U.S. point prior to next year's climate negotiations, and concedes his administration will, appropriately, not attempt to take a lead role during those negotiations.

Here's a collection of other views on the joint announcement:

Monday, November 10, 2014

Candu Energy sees promising future

“There’s a lot of exciting things [happening] for Candu that I don’t think any of us would have recognized five years ago.” -Candu Energy President and CEO Preston Swafford

A double: promising developments for CANDU technology, and some nice press coverage in Toronto!

In China, Candu Energy sees promising future - The Globe and Mail
Jean Chrétien was in a good mood when he came to Shanghai in late 1996 to sell two Candu reactors. He kidded around with Li Peng, the then-Chinese premier, going so far as to try to place a red pompon on the head of the famously dour leader. Mr. Chrétien promised a future filled with more multibillion-dollar sales of Canadian nuclear technology to China. “I hope we will have many more Candus built in this great country of yours,” he said then.
Graphic grom Candu: Advanced Fuel CANDU reactor (.pdf)
For the nearly two decades that followed, that optimism bore no fruit.
Now, however, Candu Energy – divorced from the federal government and in the hands of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. – says it is working toward a deal that could see it partner with a Chinese nuclear giant to build new reactors, both in China and abroad.
By June, 2015, Candu hopes to finalize a joint-venture deal with China National Nuclear Corp., the massive state-owned atomic power and weapons company, “to develop global opportunities” for its advanced fuel reactor. The two sides signed an initial broad-strokes memorandum of understanding during the visit of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Beijing this weekend.

In the past week, a technical committee led by CNNC also gave its approval to the technology Candu intends to use, classifying it as a third-generation nuclear system that can meet post-Fukushima safety requirements.
Continue reading at The Globe and Mail

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IPCC reports? We don't need no IPCC reports

On climate change communication....

We don't need any more IPCC reports on climate science.:
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Scientists are in the news, warning about the dangers of escalating fossil fuel emissions:
A quarter century has improved our understanding of ...
  • “Emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing.”
  • “These increases will enhance the greenhouse effect, resulting on average in an additional warming of the Earth’s surface.”
  • “Continued emissions of these gases at present rates would commit us to increased concentrations for centuries ahead.”
  • “The longer emissions continue to increase at present day rates, the greater reductions would have to be for concentrations to stabilise at a given level.”
  • “The long-lived gases [like carbon dioxide] would require immediate reductions in emissions from human activities of over 60% to stabilise their concentrations at today’s levels.”
Only thing is, the above statements were written in 1990.