Ontario phased-out coal using reliable nuclear power, one of the most significant emissions reduction achievements globally
Coming out of COP26, the issue of phasing out coal-fired generation has emerged front and centre as a key element in the global fight to tackle climate change.
A clean electricity system is a foundational element to clean air. Electricity not only powers our homes, businesses, schools and hospitals but it is essential to enable cleaner transportation, a high standard of living, and a robust economy. If we are ever going to phase out coal globally, we have to do so using proven, reliable solutions.
So how did one of the only jurisdictions in the world to successfully phase out coal actually achieve this?
What was missing from the coverage of COP26 was how Ontario phased-out coal using reliable nuclear power. This achievement in Ontario represents one of the most significant emissions reduction achievements globally.
Twenty years ago, coal generated more than a quarter of our electricity in the province and today it’s zero. That has not only reduced emissions but has reduced smog days and established a clean electricity system we can now leverage to make progress in other areas like transportation.
The renewal of our nuclear fleet, dominated by the return to service and optimization of the Bruce Power units, accounted for approximately 90% of the energy needed to phase out coal — 70% from the Bruce site. By leveraging our nuclear fleet in Ontario, which produces 60% of our electricity, the elimination of coal, while not impacting reliability, was achieved.
It’s a clean source of electricity which is also reliable and stable from both an output and cost perspective over the long term. In Ontario, it’s a source of innovation, tens of thousands of jobs and also the source of life-saving medical isotopes. For that reason, as demonstrated through independent polling, 80% of residents in the province support the ongoing work to extend and optimize our existing nuclear fleet.
This is in stark contrast to a country such as Germany that has reduced nuclear power and consequently both coal use and electricity prices have dramatically increased. Combine that with a continued instability in both reliability and pricing and you end up with a country that will be challenged both environmentally and economically for years to come.
If we are serious about fighting climate change and phasing out coal, we need to be serious about nuclear power.