Ontario Waves Bye-Bye To Coal Fired Power Generation

Ontario, Canada’s most populated province, has seen a boom in renewable energy jobs, with 20,000 employed in the sector. It’s not such a rosy picture for the coal industry though, with coal fired power generation in Ontario slated to go the way of the dodo by 2014. 
   
Ontario’s Ministry of Energy says the province’s Green Energy Act is on track to create 50,000 clean energy jobs by 2012 and coal usage for the first six months of 2011 was 94 per cent lower than for the same period in 2003. 
   
According to Ontario’s recently released 2011 Progress Report, eight coal fired power generation units have been closed already and two more will close later in 2011.
   
Thanks to initiatives such as feed-in tariffs, renewable energy is rapidly replacing fossil fuels. To date, over 2,000 medium and large-scale feed in tariff  projects have been announced, representing enough electricity each year to provide the power requirements for around 900,000 homes. 
   
Ontario’s government says it will be one of the first places in the world and the first in North America to cease coal-fired power generation totally. It has set a goal of eliminating coal entirely by 2014. It believes shutting down coal will save Ontario’s health care system CAD$3 billion annually and in relation to emissions, will be the equivalent of taking up to 7 million cars off the roads.
   
The Ministry predicts that by 2018, 10.7 gigawatts of clean renewable electricity from wind, solar and bio-energy will be operational; producing enough electricity for 2 million households.
   
Residents of Ontario are also becoming more energy efficient, saving 1,700 megawatts of electricity through conservation – which is the equivalent of taking half a million homes off the grid.
   
Ontario’s clean energy economy has generated more than $20 billion in new private-sector investment. The province’s energy plan will rebuild 70 per cent of its electricity infrastructure over the next 2 decades.
  
While Ontario’s commitment to renewables and the end of coal is admirable; its continuing love affair with nuclear power has been criticised. Nuclear power has been part of Ontario’s energy mix since the 1960’s and currently provides more than half of the power used by Ontarians every day.