As wind and solar energy have become cheaper, they’ve become a more prominent and important way to generate clean electricity in most parts of the world. The Ontario government is cancelling renewable energy projects at a reported cost of at least $230 million while reinforcing the province’s reliance on nuclear power via expensive reactor refurbishment plans.
One concern about renewables has been the intermittency of these energy sources. But studies have shown it’s feasible to have an all-renewable electric grid. These feasibility studies, however, are always location specific. It’s possible to meet Ontario’s electricity demands throughout the year with just a combination of renewables, including hydropower, and storing electricity in batteries.
Dealing with the intermittency of wind and solar energy by adding batteries would be more economical than refurbishing nuclear plants in the foreseeable future before the current refurbishment projects are completed. That’s because of the expected decline in the cost of batteries used to store the electricity during the hours when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining in order to supply electricity during the periods when they aren’t. The cost of different kinds of battery technologies, such as lithium-ion or flow batteries, have come down rapidly in recent years. Nuclear power isn’t needed to meet Ontario’s electricity needs, and the absence of nuclear power won’t have any impact on emissions in Ontario’s energy sector.