No Need for Wind and Solar in Ontario—2020 Shows Why

The IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) recently released data, referenced as the “2020 Year in Review” and surprise, surprise, Ontario’s consumption dropped by 2.1% to 132.2 TWh (terawatt hours) which is the 2nd lowest since 1988.  The pandemic lockdowns worked!

Nuclear generation last year was 87.8 TWh and hydro 36.9 TWh so just those two sources of clean non-emission energy provided 124.7 TWh or 94.3% of total grid demand! 

Additionally, the “review” indicates nuclear steamed off 101 GW.  While the review doesn’t tell us how much hydro was spilled a quick review of OPG’s 3rd Quarter Financial Report indicates to that point they had spilled 3.1 TWh due to surplus baseload conditions (SBG).  If one assumes an additional 1 TWh was spilled in the 4th Quarter that 4.1 TWh plus the .1 TWh of steamed off nuclear means those two energy sources could have supplied 128.9 TWh or 97.5% of grid demand consumption.  Hydro and nuclear represent only 59% of Ontario’s grid connected capacity but together they delivered 97.5% of emission free energy.  The other capacity sources of wind, solar, biomass and gas representing 41% of grid connected generation supplied the other 2.5%.  Something to bear in mind, particularly if you are the Minister of Energy!

If one added 3.3 TWh of gas generation to nuclear and hydro generation we would have had all we ratepayers needed to meet 2020 demand.

Ah, but the foregoing is not how it works in Ontario!  Remember, the former McGuinty led Liberal government gave wind and solar generators those lucrative contracts and “first to the grid” rights. The year 2020 was no different than prior years as they again demonstrated their ability to generate power when it’s not needed.  In 2020 as wind, solar and biomass (also renewable generation) collectively generated 12.9 TWh they also curtailed 2.621 TWh which we ratepayers paid for. Coincidently, we also exported 20.377 TWh to our neighbours in NY, Michigan, etc.  Our neighbours paid pennies for those TWh as the average HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) in 2020 was the lowest ever at 1.39 cents a kWh. Our net exports (exports minus imports) in 2020 were 15.199 TWh.  Those “net exports” were remarkably close to the 14.521 TWh of renewable generation (including curtailment) demonstrating their intermittent and unreliable nature.  

Those “net exports” as outlined earlier this month by Scott Luft in 2020 added $1.8 billion to the total cost of generation. To put that in context it added a cost of 1.36 cents to each and every kWh Ontario ratepayers (households, small, medium sized and large businesses) consumed in 2020.  The cost to the average household consuming 9,000 kWh annually was an extra $122.40 plus tax just for electricity consumed and before charges for transmission delivery.

Because of the intermittent and unreliable nature of wind and solar Ontario’s gas generators actually produced 9.7 TWh in 2020. Wind generation fails to deliver power during hot days in the summer or cold crisp winter days. Solar’s faulty delivery occurs on cloudy days or late fall and winter when the sun only shines for a few hours. For those reasons those gas plants are needed to fill the void due to the failure of wind and solar generation!

Looking Back

Looking back to 2009, the year the GEA was implemented, we see Ontario consumed 139 TWh and the cost of grid connected generation was about $8.6 billion.  For 2020 as noted, consumption fell to 132.2 TWh while our cost of that grid connection generation jumped to almost $18 billion for an increase of 109% or $9.4 billion.

The time has arrived to recognize wind and solar generation connected to Ontario’s IESO managed grid only serves to drive costs up!  Our politicians should act now to stop the waste!

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