Energy & ClimateScience, Technology, & Innovation

Energy & Climate

Extending Atikokan Biomass Generation Stations (AGS) Operations

January, 2022

The Atikokan Generating Station (AGS) is a 205 MW biomass fueled facility that can provide low-carbon peak, intermediate and baseload electricity in Ontario’s northwest (NW). Stakeholders in the region are concerned the IESO’s evolving procurement practices currently under development may not consider all relevant factors pertaining to sustaining the AGS’ ongoing operations after the station’s contract expires in July 2024. For almost two decades, the Power Workers Union (PWU) has advocated for the ongoing operation of the AGS and support for the local biomass supply chain. Recently the Common Voice Northwest (CVNW) Energy Task Force (ETF) indicated that the IESO plans were not adequately considering the full energy and economic needs of their region.

The PWU remains concerned that the IESO’s procurement mechanisms will not adequately consider the station’s benefits related to full-cost, climate action and the regional economy. These factors are particularly relevant at this time as the government’s policies are evolving as captured by the recent Ontario Ministry of Energy direction to the IESO to evaluate how the province can reduce its reliance on gas-fired generation. This report presents an assessment of the potential benefits of extending the operation of the AGS and an overview of the station’s critical role in the heart of the northwest (NW) region’s electricity system.

Towards a National Energy Vision – The Realm of the Possible for Canada: Hitting Above Its Weight to Reduce Global Emissions

November, 2021

The world’s need for energy is growing and along with that growth comes the adverse effects of climate change. Against this backdrop, the Paris Agreement aligned 194 countries to reduce global emissions. Yet, achieving these goals involves an unprecedented transition in how the world consumes energy.

Unlike most other countries, Canada is blessed with substantial energy resources in the form of hydro, nuclear, biomass, natural gas, and oil. With these resources, Canada has the potential to hit above its weight in reducing global emissions through environmentally responsible development and export of these resources. Achieving this will require the effective and sustainable management of Canada’s energy resources for both domestic needs and export to others. Developing supporting transmission and distribution networks to export energy resources is also required. Progress has been hindered by the material environmental, economic, and social policy challenges that these developments face. There is an urgent need for Canada to embrace dialogue to create a National Energy Vision that can unlock the benefits to Canadians and combat global climate change. This study differs from other in three respects by: (1) providing an integrated compendium of Canadian energy assets and development projects, shining a light on the regional diversity of the initiatives; (2) identifying the contribution these assets can provide in achieving emission reduction objectives, both domestically and globally; and, (3) framing the challenges in developing these assets in the context of the complexities and interests of the myriad pan-Canadian stakeholders.

Electrification Pathways for Ontario to Reduce Emissions: Procuring Ontario’s energy future

August, 2021

Ontario faces an electricity supply shortage and reliability risks in the next four to eight years, and will not meet net zero objectives without building new low-emission supply, such as nuclear generation, as soon as possible. Since 2013, Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has been forecasting a significant gap in the province’s electricity supply due to the anticipated closure of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, now scheduled for 2025. Compounding this supply gap, the electricity required to reduce emissions in the transportation, building and industrial sectors has been underestimated.

Electrification Pathways analyzes how Ontario’s economy can achieve net zero, and illustrates how emerging technologies can be leveraged to reduce the cost of Ontario’s future electricity system in a net zero scenario. It finds that the magnitude of new, incremental, and non-emitting baseload supply necessary is double Ontario’s existing nuclear and hydro generation capacity. The analysis goes further to look at the options for procuring this new generation, and recommends procurement processes that optimize the resulting supply mix and maximize the societal benefits of infrastructure expansion.

December, 2020
This report examines the effectiveness of the IESO’s planned competitive market mechanisms for meeting Ontario’s electricity system needs and reviews more suitable alternative procurement approaches. The four-part examination considers:
  1. The theory and effectiveness of electricity markets for achieving efficiencies, managing and sharing risks, and accommodating other public policy objectives;
  2. A historical look at how the electricity markets in Ontario have fared against these criteria;
  3. The nature of demand that the electricity system in Ontario must supply and the characteristics of the foreseeable low emission options available to supply it; and,
  4. Simulations of how market mechanisms would accommodate these low-emitting supply options.
The analysis shows that Ontario’s “lessons learned” are indicative of global electricity market challenges, especially with respect to reducing emissions. These lessons reflect the consequences of Ontario’s pursuit of electricity markets that are predicated on fossil-fuel dominated U.S. market models.
Key subjects: electricity markets, electricity cost, capacity markets, procurement, emissions
2020 Green Ribbon Panel
September, 2020
This report provides the analysis to support the Green Ribbon Panel’s findings and recommendations. The report reviews the need for GHG reductions and how Ontario’s unique low cost advantages can address this need. The report finds that Transportation, Industry and Buildings heating are the largest sources of GHG emissions, and that addressing Transportation and Industry emissions can improve air quality. The report also outlines how GHG emissions reduction will rely on a greater supply of low carbon electricity. Finally, it reviews how Ontario’s existing clean electricity system can be smartly integrated to meet the demand for new clean electricity at half the cost.
Key subjects: emissions, electricity costs, nuclear, hydrogen, storage, electric vehicles
October, 2020
This report provides further analysis to support the Green Ribbon Panel’s findings and recommendations. The report shows how an integrated solution of nuclear, biomass, storage, hydrogen and distribution infrastructure could provide economic benefits to Ontario through creating jobs and enabling domestic strategic industries such as a hydrogen economy, zero-emission vehicle manufacturing, and a transformation of the trucking industry. The report also outlines how these benefits will be shared across Ontario and the Great Lakes region, and lays out the policy design principles available to make them a reality.
Key subjects: emissions, electricity costs, nuclear, hydrogen, storage, electric vehicles
July, 2020
This report examines the potential for using EV batteries as electricity storage options to contribute to Ontario’s electricity system, and assesses the value that EV owners may realize by supporting such use. This report found that the best way to capture the value of mobile storage from a large number of commuter vehicles is at workplaces categorized as Class B electricity consumers. EV batteries could deliver value to several stakeholders through these uses, including EV owners, workplace buildings, and the electricity system.
Key subjects: electric vehicles, DER, mobile storage, residential rates, emissions
June, 2018
Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) places significant reliance upon Distributed Energy Resources (DER) consisting of renewables and storage to address an emerging gap in the province’s electricity supply mix. This report examines the economics of meeting this supply gap with renewables-based (solar and wind) DER and how the intermittent output of these variable generation sources interact with storage to undermine those economics.
Key subjects: DER, Renewables, Nuclear, SMR, natural gas, CCS
August, 2017
In 2016, Ontario and Quebec entered into an electricity trade agreement with the goal of expanded interprovincial trade and collaboration and to generate savings for ratepayers. However, when the specifics of this agreement are examined, it becomes clear that the energy portion of this deal will increase costs to Ontarians. Ontario consumers will pay a premium over market prices when, alternatively, the province’s electricity market and carbon pricing scheme, if left alone, would achieve the same results at a lower cost.
Key subjects: interprovincial electricity trade, transmission, distribution, government transparency, electricity rates
June, 2016
This study examines the implications associated with expanding electricity transmission intertie capacity between Ontario and Quebec by assessing four themes with posited benefits: 1) addressing peak reserve capacity, 2) smoothing intermittent supply, 3) balancing supply and demand economically, and 4) provision of firm imports.
Key subjects: interprovincial electricity trade, transmission, distribution, firm imports, interties, peak reserve, hydroelectric generation, natural gas-fired generation
Ontario’s Emissions and the Long-Term Energy Plan
November, 2016
This study was commissioned to inform Ontario’s 2017 LTEP consultation with research and analysis relating to emission reduction targets, the costs of emission reducing technologies, supply mix choices, and the carbon price within Ontario’s cap and trade program.
Phase 1, “Defining the Challenge”, quantifies the costs of Ontario’s climate actions and identifies the factors that the LTEP consultation process must address. This report documents emission targets for each sector, identifies 45 emission reduction options posited by Ontario stakeholders, estimates the costs of each, and summarizes the aggregated cost to Ontarians and the implications for market carbon pricing, cap and trade program, CCAP implementation, and the LTEP.
Major outcomes include:
  • ~90 TWh of new generation is required to meet the 2030 emission reduction targets, 80% more energy than the ~50 TWh provided for in the Ontario Planning Outlook D scenario.
  • An LTEP process focused on the province’s climate change objectives is critical to lowering costs and meeting emission targets
  • The LTEP should seek the lowest cost emission-free energy solutions that reflect the integrated costs of generation, transmission, and distribution.
Key subjects: interprovincial electricity trade, transmission, distribution, firm imports, interties, peak reserve, hydroelectric generation, natural gas-fired generation
December, 2016
The Phase 2 report investigates the cost and economic implications of Ontario’s electricity supply mix options used for the 2017 LTEP. The analysis looks at the implications on supply arising from the new electricity demand, assesses the costs and implementation considerations of the supply mix options put forward in the OPO as well as alternatives, and describes the cost, schedule achievability, and economic implications to Ontarians associated with those choices.
The report presents a new supply mix option developed to meet three key objectives:
  1. Reduce the estimated annual cost of meeting Ontario’s 2030 emission reduction targets;
  2. Support the timely achievement of Ontario’s emission targets and minimize the need to purchase emission credit allowances from other jurisdictions; and,
  3. Ensure Ontario’s competitive advantage through strategic investments in “made-in-Ontario” solutions that achieve the province’s emission reduction targets and yield the highest payback for Ontarians.
Key subjects: Electricity supply mix, DER, RNG, hydrogen, nuclear, cap & trade, emissions, building heating, residential demand
December, 2015
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) issued a consultation request on the design options of their proposed cap and trade regime in Ontario that would be linked to that of California, and Quebec. The MOECC says that cap and trade will be the primary tool for achieving Ontario’s 2020 greenhouse gas emission reduction target and is seeking input to assist with preparation of a draft regulatory proposal. This report has been prepared in response to that request for input and initiates a discourse on several design features which aim to maximize the likelihood of an implementation program that best serves the interests of Ontarians.
Key subjects: Carbon pricing, emission trading, carbon allowances, border carbon adjustments, climate policy, WCI
November, 2015
This report examines the option of extending the operations of two Pickering A units for two years and four Pickering B units for four years to address two challenges: 1) expected doubling in Ontario’s GHG emissions, and 2) a system reserve capacity gap. The extensions would defer the need to construct 2,000 MW of new natural gas-fired generation plants that are otherwise necessary in 2021.
Key subjects: Electricity system cost, GHG emissions, nuclear, PNGS, reliability reserve capacity, jobs, GDP
June, 2013
Ontario’s 2010 LTEP intended to ensure a dependable future electricity system characterized by low greenhouse gas energy sources while encouraging job growth in the clean energy sector. In April 2013, the Minister of Energy announced that the Ontario government would conduct a review of the LTEP to be completed within six months. While several reports and studies have looked at different supply/demand scenarios for Ontario, none have assessed the economic and greenhouse gas impacts associated with supply mix options and the potential consequences for Ontarians. This report illustrates two supply mix scenarios and compares them on the basis of total energy costs, electricity rates, economic impacts of investments to bring the alternative scenarios online, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Key subjects: electricity demand, LTEP, electricity supply mix, emissions, nuclear, wind, Ontario, economy, cost forecast, jobs
January, 2013
This paper presents the results of an analysis of available public sources with the purpose of creating an evidence-based forecast of the costs that will arise if the Ministry of Energy’s LTEP is fully implemented for the next five years. The objective of this paper is to take a pulse on the emerging cost of this plan and compare it to the cost growth assumptions contained in the LTEP.
Key subjects: annual cost, electricity system, residential cost, industrial rates

Science, Technology & Innovation

June, 2020
This report details the findings of two surveys commissioned by Women in Nuclear Canada (WiN Canada) to better understand the gender balance and dynamics of the nuclear industry in Canada, and to inform the steps WiN Canada can take to support its members. The surveys found that women in the nuclear industry have strong professional development ambitions, but are largely underrepresented and are challenged by sexism in the workplace. The insights provided in this report serve as input for WiN Canada to advance its strategy to provide tangible value to its members and for nuclear industry leaders in Canada to implement programs to enable gender balance.
Key subjects: nuclear industry, diversity, inclusion
February, 2019
As its operations wound down in 2018, the Canadian Neutron Beam Centre (CNBC) requested a summary analysis of its performance and impacts. This report aims to provide highlights of the benefits that the materials research using neutron beams at the CNBC has offered to this country’s academic communities and industries. It also aims to serve as a valuable resource in support of discussions regarding nuclear innovation in the future. The Canadian community of neutron beam users is working to secure access to alternative facilities for the next decade. In parallel, the Government of Canada has signalled a need for national discussions with stakeholders about investments for the longer term.
To capture a record of the facility’s legacy, this study set out to document the CNBC’s performance and impacts within its research community, for its industry collaborators, for the students whose education included hands-on research at the CNBC, and ultimately for Canada’s innovation economy. The indicators included, for example, user demographics, publication and other bibliometric statistics, industry collaborations, and career paths of the highly qualified personnel trained at the CNBC.
Key subjects: Innovation, research, nuclear science and technology
Fall, 2014
Strategic Policy Economics was the lead researcher for this KPMG report.
In 2013, KPMG LLP, in its role as Nuclear Advisors to Natural Resources Canada, initiated a study on Canada’s Nuclear Science and Technology (S&T) capabilities and how they contribute to Canada’s economy, job market and broader innovation system and thus provide a Return on Investment to the federal government. This study is intended to provide input to the government’s work on exploring nuclear innovation. The study considers historical data and information regarding the Canadian Nuclear S&T ecosystem and how Canada’s Nuclear S&T capability has been leveraged, both within and beyond the Nuclear Energy sector.
Key subjects: Innovation, research, nuclear science and technology, government investment, GDP, jobs