The Ontario Liberals’ Green Energy Act is meant to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by generating power from wind turbines and solar panels.
We already know this has turned into a wasteful boondoggle — just look at your hydro bill. But there’s another problem with the Green Energy Act, which I was shocked to learn about.
A 2015 report from the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) makes the alarming case that Ontario green energy policy is actually driving up carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Wind and solar energy seem like good, clean sources of energy. But wind power is intermittent, and about 40% of the generated power arrives when load demand is low. Solar energy is also intermittent and capacity is very low. All this means that wind and solar power are expensive and unreliable.
Basically, windmills and solar panels only produce power when the wind blows and the sun shines. They need backup in the form of other power sources to provide constant electricity when you need it. Ontario has gone with natural gas backup because that is the cheapest source of energy currently available. Other options were available, including nuclear and hydro plants, but natural gas was chosen.
This is unfortunate because nuclear and hydro do not emit CO2, but natural gas does. So as we dial down nuclear and hydro, we are doubling up on CO2 emissions from natural gas.
According to OSPE, Ontario currently produces electricity at less than 40 grams of CO2 per kWh. But wind and solar with natural gas backup release about 200 grams of CO2 per kWh.
Now, the trouble of building all the windmills and solar panels wouldn’t be so bad if it were actually worthwhile. But it isn’t. We do not have a cheap and effective way of storing the energy generated by wind and solar power. Simply put, storage is too expensive at the moment.
Adding solar and wind power to the Ontario grid just doesn’t make environmental or economic sense. Continuing to add wind and solar can only be justified on ideological grounds.
Admittedly, the Wynne government announced a halt to further wind and solar contracts. I’m not sure how long they’ll put their ideology on hold, but this is a short-term solution anyway.
We need to use more of our cheaper hydroelectric and nuclear power. And we need to stop exporting power abroad at low prices.
We all want to do the right thing for our environment and we all want clean air to breathe and water to drink. I sincerely believe it is important we strive for a cleaner and safer future.
But no one likes being misled or lied to. The Ontario Liberal government’s Green Energy Act is an environmental and economic disaster. As both a farmer and a civil engineer, I know about protecting the environment as well as long-term sustainability. Farming teaches you to understand the risks and benefits of co-operating with Mother Nature. Similarly, engineers are required to build things: We build things to last, and we do so in the public interest.
So I think most Ontarians would agree with me when I say that we need to have affordable, clean, reliable, and sustainable sources of energy which do not increase CO2.
Unfortunately the Green Energy Act just hasn’t got it right.
— MacLaren is the MPP for Carleton-Mississippi Mills