There’s an article worth reading in today’s Toronto Star on how Ontario’s transmission grid is standing in the way of fully developing green energy in the province.
Public debate on energy tends to focus on the choice between energy sources – dirty versus clean power or expensive versus cheap energy – and overlooks any discussion of the transmission system needed to enable the development of a sustainable, safe and climate-friendly energy system.
It’s an essential debate because failing to modernize our transmission grid will block the development of renewable energy and guarantee our continued dependence on dirty power.
Think about today’s electricity grid. It was built to serve the needs of our current dirty power stations. In Ontario, we have a few large nuclear and coal stations that supply about 70% of our electricity supply. To accommodate these centralized generation stations by building big transmission lines to transport the electricity over long distances.
Renewables and clean energy options, however, tend to be smaller and locally based. Thus, instead of a few centralized generators a clean energy system will be more decentralized and based thousands and thousands of generators – our homes, factories and schools will all produce power.
(If you’re interested in a video on the subject watch the video, What are we waiting for for?, produced by Greenpeace UK.)
As the Star article points out, Ontario’s current nuclear-based electricity plan failed to look at how build a modern grid to fully enable the development of renewable energy and other clean energy options over the next twenty-years. That’s a pretty major oversight, and something that other jurisdictions, such as California and many European jurisdictions, are already building into their energy plans.
Meanwhile, here in Ontario we’re told over and over again that we don’t have the green energy potential to forgo nuclear and coal-fired electricity.
Not true. We have the potential. It’s just being blocked by antiquated thinking about how we generate and distribute energy.