Wind is not clean anymore, argues Canadian nuclear power

Wind turbines in Ontario

Canada’s nuclear industry has launched a public relations assault against wind energy, reports Sun News.

The Canadian Nuclear Association hired Toronto-based Hatch firm to compare wind farm and nuclear energy.

In Canada, nuclear energy generates major share of electricity for Ontario whereas wind-farm sector is considered as an original energy supplier.

Both nuclear and wind are prime players in the power segment of Southwestern Ontario. The area consists of Bruce Power, one of the world’s largest nuclear plants as well as many of Ontario’s biggest wind farms.

Bruce nuclear plant on Lake Huron
Bruce nuclear plant on Lake Huron

Wind power isn’t as clean as its supporters have claimed. It performs unreliably and needs backup from gas, which emits far more greenhouse gas than either wind or nuclear power, said, John Barrett, president, chief executive, Canadian Nuclear Association.

Hatch conducted studies on 246 samples from North America and Europe and concluded that wind energy over the lifetime of an installation produces slightly less greenhouse gas than nuclear and both produce a lot less than gas-fired generating plants.

However, the picture changes on considering wind energy’s reliance on other generating sources. According to Hatch, wind turbines only generate 20 percent of their electrical capacity because of down time when no wind blows.

Moreover, on taking into account gas-fired generating stations and comparing with wind, nuclear produces much less greenhouse gases.

For every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced, nuclear power emits 18.5 grams of greenhouse gases meanwhile wind backed by natural gas produces 385 grams per kilowatt hour, concludes Hatch.

Wind turbines in Ontario
Wind turbines in Ontario

Recently, Ontario Liberal government justified its multibillion-dollar investment in Southwestern Ontario wind farms on the basis providing green energy.

This is a long pending issue, been under discussion for years. Power industry engineers say that wind power cannot fulfill any of the environmental benefit promises as it needs fossil-fuel backup, said, Jane Wilson, president, Wind Concerns, Ontario.

There’s no surprise that when wind and natural gas generation are paired that the mix creates more greenhouse gases than nuclear. But when wind is paired with other potential electricity suppliers, the results are different, replied Canadian Wind Energy Association.

Unfortunately, by choosing to focus on only one scenario, the study failed to consider a broad range of equally or more plausible scenarios for the evolution of Canada’s electricity grid, concluded the Association.

In 2013, Ontario’s nuclear power contribution was 59.2 percent whereas wind energy contributed only 3.4 percent of the total power supply.

Sabeena Wahid
editor@greentechlead.com