By Ryan McGreal
Published December 20, 2005
The Ontario Government asked the Ontario Power Authority to prepare a report on Ontario's long term energy needs - and to do so with a CANDU attitude, so to speak.
Happy to oblige, OPA came back and recommended $40 billion in new spending on nuclear power over the next two decades.
Electricity demand growth has been averaging around 0.5 percent a year for the past fifteen years, but OPA assumes demand will grow by 0.9 percent from now on - apparently because energy is so cheap and abundant.
This nodding acquaintance - at best -with supply and demand continues through the report, from the hopelessly optimistic cost and efficiency projections for the new nuclear plants to its mindboggling recommendation to increase natural gas fired electricity - a resource that is already past its North American peak and is already in a permanent decline.
The report claims Ontario should provide 12,400 megawatts (mw) of power through new nuclear capacity at a cost of around $40 billion.
Now try to imagine what else we could do with that kind of money.
There are around 12 million people in Ontario, living in a total of around 5 million households. Let's be conservative and assume half those people live in single family homes (I expect the actual number is higher). That makes 2.5 million homes.Assuming $5,000 per unit for residential wind turbines that generate 2.5 kw of power, we could install a turbine on each of those 2.5 million houses for a total of $12.5 billion.
That would produce 6,250 mw of power, or half of the power produced by new nuclear reactors, but for only a third of the price - and for an extra bonus, wind is renewable and doesn't produce radioactive waste.
Combine the dramatic gains in energy efficiency we could realize in Ontario (as the world's highest per capita energy consumer), and the OPA's nuclear option makes less and less sense.