Unrealistic Paths for Net Zero: You Can’t Get There From Here

The Ontario grid alone cannot meet the demand for electricity if all those political promises of 100% EVs and heating and cooling were to materialize.

By Ian Harvey Principal Curator

Depending on your crystal ball reaching Net Zero by 2050 is either the Holy Grail or a complete nightmare.

The concept that transportation, manufacturing, construction and life generally will produce zero carbon emissions or at least negligible emissions in less than 30 years is a vaulted promise which has become politicized to the point of overlooking the basic realities, say critics like former banker and now energy sector analyst Parker Gallant.

The fatal flaw in the equation is that there’s no plan for where the energy to replace fossil fuels will come from other than vague claims of wind and solar which are almost useless without robust storage and, at this stage, affordable, compact and high energy density batteries just don’t exist other than the laboratory.

Electricity is just one of our energy sources.

More than that, it all ignores the irrefutable laws of supply and demand.

As it stands the Ontario grid alone cannot meet the demand for electricity if all those political promises of 100% EVs and heating and cooling were to materialize, Gallant says, requiring massive investments in infrastructure over the next 30 years, money which has never been budgeted.

Paul de Berardis, director of building science and innovation at industry group the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCO) says just recently Toronto Council accelerated its net zero plan to 2040 which means all new building will have to have new recharging outlets, with interior electrical heating and cooling and water heating on electric.

He says this puts pressure on Toronto Hydro to deliver the power required when all those devices come online as mandated.

“Toronto Hydro is forecasting that there will be a double to three time more demand for electricity in the next 10 years and in order to meet that demand they will need about $10 billion in upgrades, all of which are unfunded at this time.”

Someone, he says, will have to come up with that money but more disconcerting is that the IESO Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) https://www.ieso.ca the agency responsible for managing the power system and planning for the province’s future energy needs projects it will cost $27 billion to meet the political direction being imposed with a resulting 60 per cent increase in electricity rates.

Wind can’t always provide energy and there’s no viable strategy yet to store it.

While energy has long been a political football in Ontario, Gallant, a regular contributor to the Financial Post, says recent political decisions have taken that to a new level.

The City of Ottawa has also jumped on the bandwagon, he says, with a plan projected to cost $57.4 billion by 2050.

“To put that in perspective those investments are 14.5 times the City’s current annual budget of $3.94 billion,” he says noting the construction opportunity is as massive as the cost, but the pay back is going to hit consumers hard.

“The proposal to have 1060 MW of solar panels (40 per cent of what Ontario currently has) and 3,218 MW of wind turbines (60 per cent of what Ontario has currently) to supply Ottawa with the power needed to achieve net-zero by 2050 is a dream Ontarians have already suffered though,” he said referring to the Green Energy Act which has seen rates triple. “Residents in Ottawa should get ready for electricity prices to more than double every 10 years.”

On the energy generation side, IESO says 20 per cent of the doubling of demand will be driven by EV take up starting in the early 2030s.

However, politicization of energy production further complicates things, says de Berardis, with the IESO, prodded by lobby groups, looking at phasing out natural gas which produces about 10 per cent of Ontario electricity.

This seems inconsistent with the lessons learned in Europe where Germany and Italy import nearly half their natural gas from Russia which has funded Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. In fact, even the federal government is backpedaling on its strategy to limit natural gas as a result of Europe’s energy crisis and is now looking at fast tracking LNG pipelines and shipping terminals on the east coast to supply Europe.

Solar doesn’t work when the sun doesn’t shine

Yet strangely, lobby groups like Clean Air Ontario Alliance has convinced 32 municipalities to pressure the provincial government to phase out electricity generation and rely more on wind and solar, neither of which have ever consistently produced anywhere near the power output they promised and likely never will.

The only thing which saves us from black outs are the natural gas generating plants which back up wind and solar and then sit idle when those sources actually do produce enough energy on a good day.

Incidentally, about 96% of electricity in Ontario is produced from zero-carbon emitting sources: 60% from nuclear, 26% from hydroelectricity, 7% from wind, and 2% from solar. The remainder is primarily from natural gas, with some biomass.

Given its role in supporting wind and solar, the question remains why LNG is being harshly treated with carbon taxes and CFS levies when the European experience shows it’s a beneficial transitionary energy over coal.

“In Europe with the energy crisis they’ve had to turn to reopening coal plants,” de Berardis says, noting they’d be frozen without natural gas which in Germany is being supplied by an increasing hostile Russia. “Even in Britain which has a less cold climate than say Canada they are turning to wood stoves for heating when it is cold because their heat pumps can’t keep up.”

Further, those carbon taxes and the CFS are helping drive inflation which has become more acute with the war in Ukraine, pushing up the price of all goods, service and food.

So, sacred cows like affordable housing? Just got more expensive.

“Carbon tax alone adds $2 or $3 per m3 to the cost of concrete and we’re pumping hundreds of thousands of cubic metres a year,” says de Berardis.

Burning money on virtue signaling schemes which don’t change anything is insane.

Steel is another massive consumer of energy and while the Canadian Steel Producers Association is also pledging to be net zero, it will need government support such as the $400 million from the federal government and $500 million donated by the Ontario government to build a new blast furnace to make new steel at ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s (AMD) Hamilton steel plant. The plan is to use Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) feedstock to cut three million tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2028 when it is operational.

Again, however, it needs natural gas as a transitionary fuel.

The $1.7 billion upgrade will remove 60 per cent of emissions from the plant replacing metallurgical coke with natural gas. Eventually, AMD will convert to another fuel such as hydrogen or electricity when it is feasible and globally there are pilot projects underway investigating those options.

But those are just two components essential to our economy. Then there’s the looming battle for metals and minerals like copper, iron ore, cobalt, nickel and lithium.

China controls 90% of the rare earth minerals needed EVs. Canada has those resources but needs to develop infrastructure and mines to extract them but inevitably environmentalist will slow any approvals and construction process.

Meanwhile The soaring prices of the metals and minerals used in EV manufacturing and charging stations reflect the growing demand as government deadlines for phasing out new fossil fuel vehicles loom and the limited supply.

Brendan Marshall, Mining Association of Canada’s VP of Economic and Northern Affairs says EVs require three time more copper than comparable combustion cars.

Canada needs more pipelines to transport Natural Gas and, yes, crude oil from the west to markets beyond the US

“This is a second industrial revolution with a scale which requires development and redesign of how we move everything,” he says. “In Canada we have all these minerals and metals, and we can compete with the world. We also have the cleanest grids on the planet.”

It all adds up to a massive logistical headache. Politicians want to virtue signal but have no grasp of the realities involved and the ultimate cost.

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors my be the best alternative electricity source yet.

And to what effect? Passenger cars are 6% of Canada’s emissions which are 1.5% of global emissions. EVs are unaffordable, impractical and lose resale value faster but the federal government is going to force people to buy them without considering the ripple effect.

For one, only higher income families can afford them and they’re really only viable if you have a house with a driveway and a 200-amp service for a rapid charger. If you have an apartment or a condo or street parking, you’re probably out of luck and have to line up to use a charger which may take up to three hours to complete.

Politicians forcing Net Zero without a road map is destined to be disruptive and disastrous for the economy and our communities.

Versions of this article have been published at ConstructConnect.com and thebramptonist.com

3 thoughts on “Unrealistic Paths for Net Zero: You Can’t Get There From Here

  1. CO₂ caused “Global Warming” is nothing but “dezinformatsiya” from the “settled science” and corrupt Climate Hysterical Complex, and here is why:
    PV = nRT (Ideal Gas Law)
    How can 4 ‱ CO₂ instead of 3 ‱ CO₂ change T? 
    Answer: (44 ➗ 32) ✖ E-04 
    This is 0.00014 ℃ due to density change, if all increase of CO₂ is human caused. In reality, it is ~10% of the increase (Ed Berry & ¹⁴C). See “Climate Miracle” by Ed Berry. The rest is from natural sources, primarily the Oceans. Also see this link.
    CO₂ has higher heat capacity (8.7➗7.0) than O₂, and this reduces the increase that is due to density change (1.37↑ vs 1.24↓ or 0.13). Result: 0.000014 ℃, and only 0.0000014 ℃ due to human activities. Balloon data (measured) (Dr. Connolly & Dr. Connolly) has proven that the Ideal Gas Law is valid, and that the atmosphere is in thermodynamic equilibrium.
    There is no “greenhouse effect” by gases. Fine water droplets can absorb IR radiation and slow down radiation to space. Hot, hazy nights provides examples of this effect. Deserts are arid, and temperatures drop rapidly at night, sometimes to below freezing temperature.
    Energy transfer is always from warmer to colder. This means that “back radiation” by CO₂ cannot heat the lower atmosphere. This is stipulated by The Second Law of Thermodynamics.
    Temperature variations are cyclical as proven by mathematical analysis of temperature data (Dr. Carl-Otto Weiss & Dr. Lüdecke).
    The near surface average temperatures (within 1 ℃) of planets with gaseous atmospheres is determined by pressure and distance to the Sun. Atmospheric composition does not matter. This is proven by data from NASA space probes. See Zeller-Nikolov and Robert Ian Holmes., PhDs.
    It is known that CO₂ absorbs IR energy radiated from the Earth, and that all (The Infrared Handbook, Chapter 5) available energy (~8%) is absorbed at the 15 μm band, and the energy is instantly re-radiated at a continuum of wavelengths. The energy flows from warmer (near surface) to colder (space).
    Then there is the effect of clouds as proven by Svensmark. Incoming and outgoing IR radiation is greatly affected by clouds (water droplets). Even modellers are now admitting that they have been wrong, and that clouds have a major climate impact. See Wall Street Journal. Actual measured (reality) data trumps anthropogenic models.
    ALL the hysterical climate predictions have failed to come true, yet ridiculous new ones are invented, and spread by the scientifically illiterate media and their “journalists”. Taxpayer funded (bought) media are the worst offenders for infecting people with certified “Climate Rectosis”.
    The MSM is the messenger of “dezinformatsiya”, and the media cannot be trusted for any information.

    “We know they are lying.
    They know they are lying,
    They know that we know they are lying.
    We know that they know that we know they are lying.
    And still they continue to lie.”

    -Alexander Solzhenitsyn

    NASA motto used to be: In God we trust, everyone else must bring data. NASA is now corrupted and specializes in creating a warming trend from any measured temperature data.

  2. My experience is purely Ontario based. Over the last 30 years I have been witness to Ontario’s electrical regulation and seen it being brutalized by short sighted political interference attempting to follow global trends for addressing climate change and decarbonization. Too much effort has been placed on attempts to privatize the grid allowing profit mongers take control, which has only achieved in only driving up the cost of electricity. Attempts at privatization of the electrical grid has been nothing but plain stupid. It is not working. To get to a truly decarbonized electrical system there are many structural changes that need to be made. My thinking is we need to start by returning Ontario’s electrical system to a public model, scrapping antiquated legislation, making market regulation independent from politics, promoting localization of generation using SMR technology and focus on hydrogen as a universal fuel source. The advances in technology grows by the day to support this. The biggest problem is our current numb nut electrical leadership system in Ontario is way broken to see the sensible way out.

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