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Proof Canada could be 100% powered by renewable energy

Posted on Apr 29, 2013

Bloomberg News is a fairly reputable large business news service in the United States that makes money by providing US and global business with accurate and useful information about business. In this case , the article "Nuclear Industry Withers in U.S. as Wind Pummels Prices", provides surprisingly powerful evidence to support a strategy that could see households in Canada achieve 100% renewable energy in the next ten years. You can get to this understanding by coupling the fact that Canada has about 11 million households together with the following quote from the Bloomberg article linked above. "U.S. wind installations have risen 10-fold since 2003 to 60,007 megawatts, attracting $120 billion investment that has produced new capacity equivalent to 14 nuclear power plants and enough to power 14.7 million homes, the AWEA, the industry group based in Washington, D.C., said in a Jan. 30 report."

There it is, plus or minus a million here or there, throw in a variety of renewables into the portfolio, rather than only wind, and voila, 100% renewable energy for Canadian households. Why stop there? Why not double or triple our investments and get to 100% renewable energy for everything we do from housing, industry, transportation and agriculture. The numbers show us we could achieve it with plenty of profit potential each step along the way. Of course, it isn't likely to happen if the oil, coal and nuclear industries have anything to do with it...and they do, of course, with their gargantuan multi-billion dollar profits each year. Still, interesting to note that if we could simply work on the level of what makes real sense for real people, there is a way to get to 100% renewable energy.

Consider the following factoids pulled from the Bloomberg article:

  • On the one hand Wind power is credited with a 40% plunge in wholesale prices for power since 2008, benefitting consumers, while at the same time wreaking havoc for nuclear and coal industries, that when forced to compete in the subsidized energy world they created, find they can't compete any more.
  • “But to some extent wind does reduce power prices and that’s a good thing for homes and businesses.” A side note to the impact that the low cost of subsidized gas pricing is having on overall power prices.
  • "Natural gas is fuel for a growing number of U.S. power plants because of its cost advantage and new environmental rules for coal. Wind is gaining as turbine costs plummet -- they are down one-third since 2010 -- and technology gains make windmills economical in states with lower average wind speeds." No comments required to explain this one.
  • “We can’t find enough demand for the amount of energy created by Mother Nature,” said Doug Johnson, spokesman for the Bonneville Power Administration, which manages the grid in the Pacific Northwest. You've gotta love this one. Doesn't economics say something about what happens when supply outstrips demand...prices decline, which is usually good for consumers as long as these price declines actually represent all externalities which renewables do much better than fossil and nuclear power.

It is what it is, a distorted world of subsidies, hidden costs, uncounted externalities, and power politics in the hands of the highest bidder. Despite that wind, solar, and hydro are plummeting in costs, and decreasing the overall cost of power. In the long run a stable renewable source fuel in wind, sun, and water, will beat non-renewable fossil and nuclear. The only question is when and how.