Energy & Climate
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
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.
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.
- The theory and effectiveness of electricity markets for achieving efficiencies, managing and sharing risks, and accommodating other public policy objectives;
- A historical look at how the electricity markets in Ontario have fared against these criteria;
- 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,
- Simulations of how market mechanisms would accommodate these low-emitting supply options.
2020 Green Ribbon Panel
Ontario’s Emissions and the Long-Term Energy Plan
- ~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.
- Reduce the estimated annual cost of meeting Ontario’s 2030 emission reduction targets;
- Support the timely achievement of Ontario’s emission targets and minimize the need to purchase emission credit allowances from other jurisdictions; and,
- 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.