The coal-burning plant at Nanticoke could produce 4400 megawatts of electricity. By 2020 the Nanticoke Solar Project will produce 44 megawatts.

Forgive my cynicism. If I was tasked with supplying power to a (supposedly) growing economy, and my new energy project was projected to generate one percent of the old project, I wouldn’t tell anyone.

How much would it have cost to upgrade the emissions systems (scrubbers, etc.) at the coal plant? How much will the solar project cost by 2020? More than one percent of the upgrade I’d bet.

Even if upgraded, the coal plant would have had a negative impact on the environment. Solar panels are not benign either.  Besides using environmentally sensitive materials in their construction, they degrade with use. That is, they become less effective at producing energy and eventually need replacement.  I’m told they are not recyclable at present.

We could spend a zillion dollars covering the county with turbines and solar panels. But since we have no way to store the power they generate, most of it would be sold outside the Province at fire-sale prices or given away.  (It’s rumoured that we’d even pay others to take it!)

We’d still be unable to reliably supply the quantity of power that the coal plant did. We’d still be dependent on nukes, (no carbon, but I’d take a ton of carbon over an ounce of radiation) or plants outside Ontario that burn natural gas (carbon!) or coal (gasp!!) and we’d pay market value.

If only we could convince everyone around us to do what we’ve done, we could all have cheap\free energy.  It’d be like, while sitting at the bar, buying beer for the guy on your left while the guy on your right buys yours.

Since the fashionable concern is carbon (at least in Ontario) know this: some scientists claim that agriculture (tilling the soil) releases more carbon to the atmosphere than industry – including coal-burning plants.

Given how brilliantly they’ve handled the energy file, if the Liberals stay in power their new motto might well be, “Phase Out Farming!

Doug Fleming

Cayuga