Tag Archives: Electricity

CNA Responds

Wind Attacks Nuclear, Gets Blown Away

By John Stewart
Director, Policy and Research
Canadian Nuclear Association

Chris Forrest is the vice-president of communications and public affairs at the Canadian Wind Energy Association. He wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Hamilton Spectator attacking nuclear on a variety of fronts. Here’s our response to the unnecessary and non-factual assault.

Chris Forrest’s attack on nuclear (“Wind Energy is a Better Deal for Ontario than New Nuclear,” Jan 4) is unnecessary and non-factual.

It’s unnecessary because Ontarians aren’t called upon to choose one energy source over another.   We use many diverse energy sources that support and complement each other.

It’s non-factual because Forrest says that “pricing on nuclear is very hard to find” but in the same breath that “it is broadly understood that electricity from new nuclear generation will be significantly more expensive” than the rate he claims for new wind.

If the data is so hard to find that he doesn’t cite any, what’s the basis for this alleged “broad understanding?”  Nuclear helped to build the affordable business environment that made Ontario so prosperous over the past half-century.

The 2011 Ontario Auditor General’s Report remarked that “Billions of dollars were committed to renewable energy without fully evaluating the impact, the trade-offs, and the alternatives through a compre¬hensive business-case analysis” (page 97). The report also cited Ministry of Energy and Ontario Energy Board projections that residential electricity bills will increase by 7.9% annually over the next five years primarily due to investments in renewable energy (page 89), resulting in a $570 increase in annual household electricity bills between 2009 and 2014 (page 95).

Nuclear power generation currently sells on average at around $.06 per kWh.  By providing this stable, affordable base, nuclear enables the grid to diversify into new sources like wind.

Advocates for wind energy are welcome to make their case without attacking other, good and proven options.

CNA Responds Nuclear Energy

CNA Responds: Clearing the Air on Energy Exports

Today we responded to yet another opinion piece from the Clean Air Alliance’s Jack Gibbons. Our response submitted to the Toronto Star is below but here are a couple of extra points we’d like to make:

  • There is affordable, reliable clean air power in Ontario thanks to nuclear.
  • Without low-carbon nuclear power, we would be burning more polluting coal and natural gas.  Nuclear provides the reliable base load we need around the clock for cooling our homes, powering our freezers, etc.
  • The global adjustment (GA) is paid to all power producers – in proportion. Nuclear powers almost 60% of Ontario’s needs and receives only 45% of the provincial GA. That’s a good deal.
  • Many people may not realize that nuclear’s clean, base load power is enabling the province to be coal-free by 2014 and provides the stable base needed to bring more intermittent renewables onto the grid. Nuclear works when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. Nuclear diverts millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions that would result from the same amount of electricity generated by fossil-based sources, like the natural gas Mr. Gibbons is advocating for.
  • According to a report from the OECD, Canadians pay the same or less for electricity from nuclear power compared to all other forms of electricity; and the overall cost to the consumer is similar to that of large-scale hydro, natural gas and coal, and much lower than wind and solar.  Readers might also be interested in the Ontario Auditor General’s examination of the cost of renewable energy initiatives.
  • Simply shelving the province’s Long-Term Energy Plan, as suggested by Mr. Gibbons, in favour of a less reliable, more financially and environmentally costly energy mix, is risking our ability to meet important emissions-reduction targets and the province’s future energy stability and economic competitiveness.

EDIT: The Toronto Star printed a couple of responses correcting Gibbons’ op-ed, including from Michael Ivanco, Society of Professional Engineers and Associates, Mississauga, and Francois Tardif, Trading Analyst, Market Operations, Ontario Power Generation, Woodbridge.

Read their comments here.

Photo credit: KEVIN FRAYER/CP (via thestar.com)

In response to: Why are we paying N.Y. to take our electricity? (Toronto Star, Aug 7)

Jack Gibbons’ argument contains many unsupported statements as well as many misunderstandings:  about the origins of Ontario’s power surplus, the difference between average and spot pricing, the safety and cost record of nuclear, the reliability of market forecasts, and the constraints of planning our long-term infrastructure.

The power surplus originated mainly in a change in the whole economic growth trajectory for North America, one that very few people foresaw.  The predictions (cited by Gibbons) that power demand will remain flat or falling for the next eight years may be no more reliable than the growth projections made in 2005-2007.  Most market projections more than a year or two out are extremely unreliable.

Meeting any large, long-term supply need is likely to involve arrangements that aren’t completely flexible.  These arrangements are usually entered into in order to obtain prices that are stable and low, close to long term average costs.  These are the kinds of prices that nuclear power has delivered to Ontario.  “Spot” market prices that look low are determined by hourly and daily market forces that can change dramatically.

Gibbons talks about wind and gas power that can be turned on and off instantly, but these sources have fixed installation costs.  Costs do not disappear at the moment that a source is disconnected from the grid.

Gibbons’ casual accusation that Pickering A is a “safety and financial hazard” is not supported, nor is his claim that “every nuclear project in Ontario’s history has gone dramatically over budget.”  Pickering, like other CANDU units in Ontario, has a terrific safety and performance record.  To learn about “financial hazards” to their energy bills, Ontarians could read the provincial Auditor General’s critique of the province’s renewable energy program.

Guest Blog Nuclear Energy

Ontario Nuclear Performance in the Recent Heat Wave

The following is reblogged from Steve Aplin’s Canadian Energy Issues blog. Steve does a great job explaining the realities of power generation in a carbon-conscious world.

Nuclear power generation plays an important role in providing Canada with a safe and reliable source of low-carbon baseload electricity. Currently, nuclear energy provides 15% of the electricity produced in Canada, and almost 60% in Ontario alone. Nuclear power generation is the most affordable source of non-hydro power, low-carbon electricity in Canada, selling on average at around $.06 per kWh. Plus because nuclear power facilities produce large amounts of continuous power, they enable the use of complementary renewable energy sources that are intermittent (such as wind and solar).

The Pickering Nuclear Generating Station – Operated by Ontario Power Generation

Ontario nuclear performance in the recent heat wave
July 10, 2012
By Steve Aplin

Anybody who followed the output of Ontario’s electric generators during last week’s heat wave would have noticed the nuclear fleet’s stellar performance. During the entire week, the sixteen nuclear units—with a total electricity generating capacity of around 11,500 megawatts—ran at just over 96 percent. Through the week of July 1 to July 7, they generated over 1.8 billion kilowatt-hours of rock-steady cooling power to fight the heat wave.

By contrast, the performance of the much-vaunted wind turbine fleet was dismal. The fifteen provincial wind farms scattered all across southern Ontario contain nearly a thousand individual turbines, and have a collective (fleet) capacity of around 1,700 megawatts. Over the same July 1 to July 7 period their actual output represented less than 14 percent of that capacity. They collectively produced less than 38 million kWh—about one-fiftieth of the nuclear fleet’s output.

Put another way, the nuclear fleet, the capacity of which is only 6.7 times that of the wind fleet, produced nearly 50 times as much actual electricity.

That’s called clutch hitting. When Ontario needed cooling power to fight the heat wave, nuclear stepped up and delivered it.

It is also called bang for the buck. Those 1.8 billion kWhs of nuclear electricity each cost around 6 cents. Each of the less-than-38-million wind generated kWhs cost at least 11 cents.

That is to say, Ontario rate payers paid less money for nuclear power, which—as last week proved—is by far the more reliable power source.

Moreover, nuclear is the only reliable carbon-free power source. People think wind is carbon-free. It’s not. Because wind is so unreliable, it must be paired with a backup source that is capable of delivering power on demand. In Ontario, the preferred backup source is natural gas.

Well, natural gas is mostly methane (CH4). React CH4 with oxygen—i.e., burn it—and you create a lot of carbon dioxide (CO2) to go with the heat. That CO2 gets dumped into our atmosphere, where it swirls around for centuries before dissolving in ocean water and turning that water more acidic.

From an environmental point of view, the sheer unreliability of wind power during last week’s heat wave should come as a sobering wake-up call. If Ontario’s wind fleet only produced power at 14 percent capacity during a period when every megawatt of capacity was needed, then what produced the other 86 percent? The answer: natural gas. Gas is a carbon-emitting fossil fuel.

CNA Responds Nuclear Energy

Half-Truths and Outright Lies about the Cost of Nuclear in Ontario

This Letter to the Editor is in response to an article that appeared in the news today.

Mr. Jack Gibbons of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance is using an Ontario Energy Board (OEB) report on Global Adjustments to twist the facts about the role nuclear power plays in providing clean, affordable, and reliable electricity in Ontario.

Mr. Gibbons takes one section of the report on Market Operations for 2010, and concludes that nuclear power is responsible for most of the price increases since 2006.

This isn’t correct. To better understand the costs of Ontario’s energy mix, plain and accessible information can be found in the provincial Auditor General’s December 2011 report.

Nuclear power provides more than half of Ontario’s energy. It does this reliably and at a low cost every day of the year, even when the wind doesn’t blow. Reasonably, it would be a large part of an energy bill, but Mr. Gibbons is ignoring basic math and calling it news.

Premier McGuinty understands the math and that’s why he’s committed to nuclear energy for the province in the Long-Term Energy Plan.

Nuclear has contributed reliable base load power and stable jobs for decades and will continue to do so for decades more. Our industry is committed to ensuring safety throughout all aspects of our operations and being responsible environmental stewards in all our communities.

Denise Carpenter
President & CEO
Canadian Nuclear Association

CNA Responds Nuclear Energy Nuclear Outreach Nuclear Pride

Nuclear Main Source of Affordable Clean Electricity in Ontario

Greenpeace anti-nuclear campaigner, Shawn-Patrick Stensil, wrote a blog recently blaming nuclear energy for Ontario’s rising electricity rates. He referred to a small section (pp. 69-70) of a very complex and technical report by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) that investigates the sources of something called “Global Adjustment” — which is not the same as “recent increases in your electricity bill.”

To better understand the costs of Ontario’s energy mix, plain and accessible information can be found in the provincial Auditor General’s latest report, which tells us:

“Billions of dollars were committed to renewable energy without fully evaluating the impact, the trade-offs, and the alternatives through a compre­hensive business-case analysis” (page 97).

“In November 2010, the Ministry [of Energy] forecast that a typical residential electricity bill would rise about 7.9% annually over the next five years, with 56% of the increase due to investments in renewable energy” (page 89).

“In April 2010, the OEB completed an analysis predicting that a typical household’s annual electricity bill will increase by about $570, or 46%, from about $1,250 in 2009 to more than $1,820 by 2014. More than half of this increase would be because of renewable energy contracts” (page 95).

And this is despite the far larger and more reliable role that nuclear plays, relative to renewables, in our power supply. Nuclear energy is an integral part of Ontario’s clean energy portfolio. And because nuclear energy facilities produce large amounts of continuous power, they enable the use of complementary renewable energy sources, like wind and solar. Without nuclear energy, this base load power would need to be supplied by burning carbon-emitting coal or gas.

The AG’s report also clarifies what role Global Adjustment plays in your electricity bill (see graphs on page 94).  It recommends that the Province should “increase consumer awareness of the concept of the Global Adjustment and make more information available on the cost impact of its major components,” a step that the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) and our members would welcome.

In fact, according to the OECD, Canadians pay the same or less for electricity from nuclear power compared to all other forms of electricity; and the overall cost to the consumer is similar to that of large-scale hydro, natural gas and coal, and much lower than wind and solar. Here’s a link to that report as well.

There’s a reason anti-nuclear activists tend to criticize nuclear energy based on cost rather than on environmental arguments about the technology itself. Critics know there are virtually no greenhouse gas emissions from our nuclear facilities and that nuclear does not contribute to climate change or smog. Carbon-cutting is at the top of all of our agendas and is an area where nuclear makes a valuable contribution to Canada’s status as a clean energy superpower.  Nuclear energy saves the potential emission of about 90 million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year that would result from the same amount of electricity generated by fossil-based sources. Many people may not realize that nuclear’s clean, base load power is enabling the province of Ontario to be coal-free by 2014 and provides the stable base needed to bring renewables onto the grid.

The CNA invites Canadians to read the Auditor General’s report and make an informed decision on energy costs. We also invite you to join the conversation on our TalkNUclear blog, Facebook and Twitter and ask us about the topics that are important to you. Our NU microsite NUnuclear.ca is an excellent tool that illustrates the role nuclear technology plays in our daily lives beyond power generation. From life-saving nuclear medicine to enabling materials safety, we depend on nuclear for much more than just keeping the lights on.

Thank you to Greenpeace for allowing us to address this issue and clarify the facts for Canadians.

Sincerely,

The Canadian Nuclear Association

CNA Responds

CNA Responds to “Nuclear Aftershocks”

Last night, CBC’s The Passionate Eye, aired a re-broadcast of PBS’ Frontline documentary “Nuclear Aftershocks.” The doc asks: how safe are North American nuclear facilities?

The focus of the program was South of the border, and the Nuclear Energy Institute (our equivalent in the U.S.) did a great job of responding in two blog posts.

So, how safe are Canadian nuclear facilities?

Very safe. They’ve been very safe for 45+ years (as demonstrated by our remarkable safety track record).

But we NEVER rest on our laurels. Here’s what Canadian operators and the federal regulator have done to ensure the safety of our facilities post-Fukushima.

Soon after the disaster struck, nuclear operators in Canada launched a thorough assessment of their own systems and operations to confirm their safety. This included looking at back-up power systems and the ability of nuclear plants to withstand natural disasters that might occur here.

Last October, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission released the Fukushima Task Force Report. It concluded that all Canadian nuclear power plants are safe. It also said our plants are designed to withstand conditions similar to those that triggered at Fukushima. Still, it’s important for the nuclear industry internationally to share valuable lessons learned from the tragedy in Japan and ensure that safety standards and policies reflect current findings.

Nuclear power is very important for Canada’s future, as it is an energy alternative to fossil fuels. But power generation is only one of the many great things about nuclear power. Our nuclear industry provides a broad spectrum of products and services that benefit not only Canadians but people around the world. Nuclear science provides nuclear medicine and food safety technologies. Innovation in nuclear science is also being applied to address a number of societal challenges such as public health and transportation.