Ontario backs renewables and nuclear over coal

6 September 2007

According to a new energy plan filed by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) with the province’s energy regulator, the Ontario Energy Board, conservation, renewable energy, nuclear and natural gas are to be the cornerstones of Ontario’s electricity future.

Described as an action plan with a 20-year outlook, the Integrated Power System Plan (IPSP) will be updated every three years. The plan’s estimated C$60billion (US$48 billion) capital cost will be directed toward conservation initiatives, new renewable generation, natural gas distributed generation, nuclear generation and transmission capacity.

Designed to ensure a reliable, adequate and sustainable long-term electricity supply for the province, the plan is a roadmap for doubling renewable energy on the grid by 2025, phasing-out coal-fired generation by the end of 2014, refurbishment or replacement of the province’s base load nuclear capacity, and any necessary transmission upgrades. The plan also includes one of the most ambitious electricity conservation efforts in North America.

With regard to nuclear capacity, the plan envisages a focus on maximising the cost effective contribution from energy efficiency, demand management, fuel switching, and customer based generation together with renewable sources. Any remaining base load requirements will be met with nuclear power, including replacing existing coal-fired generation. Under the terms of the IPSP plan, installed in-service nuclear capacity will be limited to 14000 MW over the life of the plan.

After the contributions from existing and committed supply, planned conservation and renewable resources are taken into account, there remains a base load requirement of 85 TWh that may be met by nuclear power or combined cycle gas turbine generation. However, the OPA’s analysis finds that, in light of the OPA’s planning criteria, “nuclear power is superior.” Refurbishment of existing nuclear facilities is the preferred option to increased nuclear capacity, although the plan adds that the most immediate implementation decision respecting refurbishment is about Pickering B.

In order to ensure that existing coal-fired facilities are replaced by 2014, gas-fired generation facilities are planned to be installed in the areas of Northern York Region, Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge-Guelph and the Greater Toronto Area by that date. However, gas-fired generation will only be allowed when additional conservation and renewable resources are not feasible or cost effective.

The goal is for a 2010 target for renewable supply of 10 402 MW and a goal of approximately 15 700 MW for 2025, increasing the installed capacity of new renewable energy resources, including hydro, by 2700 MW from the 2003 base in stage 1 of a three phase programme. Stage 2 increases planned renewables by 1500 MW to a cumulative total of 4220 MW, over the period 2016 to 2019; and Stage 3 further increases planned renewables by 2280 MW to a cumulative total of about 6500 MW, in 2020 and beyond.

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