Ontario's Green Future


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Big nuclear, big problems Doing more with less The efficiency advantage Resources

The efficiency advantage

Renewable power a big part of the answer

Under the government's current plan, only about one-third of Ontario's electricity sources will come from renewable sources within 20 years. Half will come from nuclear power plants.

This might make sense if Ontario was desperately short of clean renewable power opportunities, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

Government studies, for example, have found that Ontario's on-shore wind potential (wind turbines located on land) is enough to supply more than 10 times the power the province needs. Off-shore projects (wind turbines located in water, such as in the Great Lakes) could supply 75% of our power.

And then there is solar, hydro, geothermal, and biomass. Study after study comes to the same conclusion: these sources all have enormous potential, are increasingly less costly (especially compared to nuclear power) and provide increased system reliability (protection against wide-spread blackouts) thanks to their non-centralized nature (again, unlike nuclear).

But, you say, I've heard that the wind isn't always blowing. You're right, except the wind is rarely not blowing everywhere in Ontario at once. Even so, we can easily deal with this issue through smart power system planning. We can use hydro and biomass to provide power when the wind isn't blowing. When the wind is blowing, we can keep these resources in reserve. Or we can use excess wind power to pump water up into hydro reserves. Best of all, our neighbour Quebec has huge quantities of surplus hydro power that can be used to backstop Ontario's wind power to create a true 100% renewable system.

It's a problem that is a lot easier to solve than how to store radioactive waste for tens of thousands of years.

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Ontario's on-shore wind potential is enough to supply more than 10 times the power the province needs

Renewable power can often be brought into service much more quickly than large, centralized nuclear stations.  Germany, for example, added 14,000 MW of renewable power between 2000 and 2004.  In fact, it added enough new renewable capacity in one year (2007) to eliminate the need for one nuclear plant.

Ontario's Green Future

Ontario Clean Air AllianceThe Ontario Clean Air Alliance is a coalition of health and environmental organizations, faith communities, municipalities, utilities, unions, corporations and individuals working for cleaner air through a coal phase-out and a shift to a renewable electricity future.