Impact of bad choices for climate change mitigation

In the Ontario electricity generation sector, this paper shows that selection of an intermittent carbon free wind generator actually increases the carbon emissions by displacing other carbon free generators, nuclear and hydraulic, and requiring the operation of carbon emitting natural gas and even coal generators to provide support for when the intermittent wind generation routinely falls in output. The introduction and conclusion of this paper are shown below. The full paper can be accessed by clicking on the link(s) at the bottom of this page.


Choice, the act of selecting the best alternative, needs to be based on wisdom, and fact. Choices to combat climate change need to carefully consider if they will meet the desired objective, as well as to meet parallel objectives of not destroying the environment in which humans and other creatures live or of being economically unsustainable. Decisions related to the energy supply provide a large challenge since the provision of energy enables humans to have healthier living than a subsistence existence, and yet, inappropriate choices for energy supply by themselves can be damaging to the environment. Progress from using open fires for heating and cooking enabled civilization to advance. However, since the supply of energy is a major economic driver, the choices for an energy supply can be influenced by many factors. This paper will show how bad choices can be driven by misguided public opinion, and those who stand to benefit from the choice, rather than science, or by ensuring that harm is minimized.

In the case of Ontario, from May 2005 to February 2013 at least 65 “Directives” plus more letters of instruction have been written from the Minister of Energy to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) and the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) specifying choices to be made, as identified in a listing on the Ontario Power Authority site. [1] Without going into detail of the progression of the directives, in general terms they have provided an evolving picture requiring an increase in the renewable energy supply, specifically focusing on wind generators, with a goal that has evolved from considering a path, to identifying a goal of 10,800 MW of renewables (mostly wind) to be installed by 2015, and over 15,000 MW of wind ultimately with a possible increase in both targets to be considered in 2013. Additionally, the goal of phasing out coal-fired generators has regressed from an objective of 2007 to a current objective of 2014.

The Auditor General of Ontario has already commented on some of the drawbacks of the choices. The Auditor General at a conference held as a follow up to the Auditor General’s Report in Toronto in April 2012 made a presentation. [2]. At that conference, the Auditor General summarized his perspective on some of the issues, noting concerns that the usual planning and oversight process had been superseded by the Green Energy and Economy Act, permitting the government to further its objectives rapidly without oversight. The presentation summarized that business case evaluations had not been made for initial wind and solar projects, and as a result rate increases would be well above predictions. The planning responsibility of the OPA had been suspended, replaced by the Ministry’s own Long-Term Energy Plan resulting in confusion. The agreement regarding the Korean Consortium had been made without a formal business case analysis, and the Auditor General questioned the basis for the job creation projections.

Bearing the concerns identified by the Auditor General in mind, the implications of the actions taken in response to the directives are considered in this paper, showing some of the adverse consequences that have already occurred. It will be demonstrated how the directives have actually produced results directly opposite to those desired.


This paper has shown that selection of a course of action to combat climate change that is made without adequate consideration of the facts can do more harm than good. A series of directives in Ontario have led to the addition of 1725 MW of wind generators now, with more directed to be added by 2015 and onward. The result of the actions as recognized by the Ontario Auditor General has been to increase the cost of the electrical supply and as shown in this paper to decrease the reliability of the electrical system. Claims made about shutting down coal generation and improving health have been shown to lack basis. Other claims made in support of expansion of wind generators have been challenged and found wanting.

Finally, the concluding words have to be regarding the adverse health reports filed by many citizens after installation of wind turbines in Ontario. Although the Chief Medical Officer of Ontario reported, "While some people living near wind turbines report symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and sleep disturbance, the scientific evidence to date has not demonstrated a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects. The sound level from wind turbines at common residential setbacks is not sufficient to cause hearing impairment or other direct health effects, although some people may find it annoying." However, the World Health Organization 2011 report titled "Burden of Disease from Occupational Noise (Quantification of healthy life years lost in Europe)" [14] concludes "There is sufficient evidence from large-scale epidemiological studies linking the population exposure to environmental noise with adverse health effects. Therefore, environmental noise should be considered not only as a cause of nuisance but also as concern for public health and environmental health." Indirect effects also matter.

Cctc2013 Alt1 1 Palmer

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JUN 1 2013
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