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Cut the real waste in Ontario’s electricity system- nuclear power

Mr. Hudak- Please End Your Nuclear Fantasy and Stop Blaming Renewable Energy and the GEEA

As Ontario Opposition Leader, you recently released your strategy to lower electricity rates, namely, cancelling the Green Energy Act’s feed-in-tariff for renewable energy and embarking on a major nuclear spending program to ensure that nuclear power will meet “half of our power needs.”

Unfortunately, based on the actual facts, it appears that you have got your recipe for lower power costs absolutely backwards:

– According to a recent Ontario Energy Board  ( OEB ) report, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is one of the worst performing nuclear operators in the world. In terms of generating costs per kWh, OPG ranks 16th out of the 16 nuclear companies surveyed.

– According to another recent OEB report, 45% of the increase in Ontario’s electricity generation costs since 2006 are the result of subsidies for the nuclear industry, while only 6% of the increase is due to green power.

– An analysis of nuclear spending plans in the United Kingdom by Citi Bank bluntly states that “new nuclear power plants in the UK are not commercially viable.” Reports this week note that projected costs of new reactors there have close to doubled in the past year alone and will require a government subsidy equal to about 70% of the cost of generating a kWh of electricity with new nuclear.

The truth is that if you really wanted to lower Ontario power costs, you would call on the government to immediately begin shutting down the woefully underperforming and badly aging Pickering nuclear station and toss out the fantastical cost projections for nuclear that, despite having zero credibility, seem to underpin all the government’s – and your party’s – energy planning.

Time to develop a credible, fact-based strategy to cut the real waste in Ontario’s electricity system- nuclear power.

Don Ross
Milford

Filed Under: Letters and Opinion

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  1. Peter Johnson says:

    My math skills are quite poor, but I do know that Nukes produce two things that wind power does not:
    1)reliable power
    2)jobs

  2. David Norman says:

    @ Dan, hmmmm you do have good google skills. I simply transposed the figures ecodonross presented. As you should know, “levelized cost” has very little to do with the “actual cost”. The critical factor here being “variable” (intermittent) verses baseload, power. Presenting the US Department of Energy projected costs in relation to context of my calculations is disingenuous. Seems you may have indeed “wasted 30 minutes of your life”.

  3. David Norman says:

    opps, sorry for the typo… should be median not “medium”. Much like yours for “green” when it should have been greed.

  4. Dan Rogers says:

    Hmmm you do have good math skills, however; it doesn’t show the real cost per kWh of power produced, and that is the only fair way to compare generation sources. Nuclear is baseload generation, and runs all of the time. Wind is a variable generator and only runs when the fuel is available.
    I could waste another 30 minutes of your life (and mine) doing a levelised energy cost (LEC)calculation for both wind and nuclear, but instead I will just quote the US Department of Energy estimates for U.S. Average Levelized Cost for Plants Entering Service in 2016. You can double check if you want.
    Cost per MWh of advanced nuclear generation $113.9
    Cost per MWh of wind generation $97
    Cost per MWh of conventional coal $94.8
    Cost per MWh of advanced coal $109.4
    Cost per MWh of solar PV $210.7
    Cost per MWh of Advanced Combined Cycle NG $63.1

    So from this we see that yes, nuclear is in fact more expensive than wind power. Solar (less than 1% of Ontario’s nameplate generation capacity) is more expensive than the rest; however, as fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource the price will inevitably go up as we run out of fuel.

    Solar on the other hand is a new emerging industry and solar PV modules are expected to cost less than $1 a watt by the end of 2013 (Compared to between $3 and $4 a watt back in 2009). Just Google forecast price of solar if you don’t believe me.

    Now lastly I don’t want to forget ACC natural gas. This is by far the cheapest source of energy. What I don’t know is how much this price would increase if we used a much larger portion of natural gas to power our grid, and thus the demand for the fuel would increase. Maybe you can use your math skills to figure that one out.

  5. David Norman says:

    Lets do some elementary math, shall we? You state; “According to another recent OEB report, 45% of the increase in Ontario’s electricity generation costs since 2006 are the result of subsidies for the nuclear industry, while only 6% of the increase is due to green power.” I checked Ontario’s power generation outputs a few minutes before I wrote this comment and found Nuclear to be 4834 kw and wind 190 kw. I keep an ongoing record of this data and these figures are close to medium outputs. Industrial Wind Turbine energy generation currently represents approximately about 77% of FIT subsidy costs. So lets reduce the “green” Industrial Wind Turbine power ratio to 4.5% to be generous. There are several ways to illustrate this ratio mathematically but the simplest is to divide 4.5 into 45 to get a ratio of 1 to 10. Now compare this by dividing 4834 by 190 and, rounded down, we get a ratio of 1 to 25. So for the same increase in nuclear we get 2.5 times the power we would get with the same contribution by wind.
    You also state; “An analysis of nuclear spending plans in the United Kingdom by Citi Bank bluntly states that new nuclear power plants in the UK are not commercially viable.” Since the UK does not have hydro, and coal and gas are far cheaper electrical power technologies, of course nuclear generated power is going to be more expensive. This is why the UK is currently building new coal powered generating plants.
    And while you did not mention it, the radioactive thorium residue being produced by “rare earth” processing plants which provide the huge amounts of neodymium and dysprosium needed for the permanent magnets of the new gynormous 2.5+mw Industrial Wind Turbines, far exceeds the radioactive waste produced by all nuclear plants globally. Of course it’s predominantly limited to areas such as China, Mongolia and Indonesia and not in your back yard.

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