CanWEA Media Statement on CNA/Hatch Literature Review:
October 20, 2014
Ottawa, Ontario – October 20, 2014 – The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) has had an opportunity to review the study entitled “Lifecycle Assessment Literature Review of Nuclear, Wind and Natural Gas Power Generation” authored by Hatch for the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA). One aspect of the study compares life cycle greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from nuclear power plants, wind farms, and natural gas plants.
CanWEA notes that the study found: “On average, emissions from wind and nuclear are similar within the accuracy of the study for all emissions except GHG emissions, where wind produces distinctly less GHG emissions on average than the combination of nuclear technologies considered.”
The study also compares nuclear power with one, and only one, mix of potential alternative source of electricity supply – a scenario where wind energy and natural gas are jointly responsible for electricity supply in a 20 / 80 ratio. Naturally, the wind / natural gas supply mix is more greenhouse gas intensive.
In reality, however, there are many potential supply mixes that can facilitate significant amounts of wind energy penetration in Canada and the vast majority of them are much less greenhouse gas intensive than the scenario described in the study. Realistic, alternative scenarios see wind energy partnered with hydroelectric power (60% of Canada’s electricity today), varying mixes of emerging renewable energy sources like solar energy, and the use of energy storage and demand side management technologies. Unfortunately, by choosing to focus on only one scenario, the study failed to consider a broad range of equally or more plausible scenarios for the future evolution of Canada’s electricity grid.
CanWEA agrees that greenhouse gas emissions must be an increasingly important consideration in the selection of future sources of electricity generation, alongside the cost-competitiveness of new generation sources and their overall environmental performance and economic benefits. Today in Canada, wind energy is cheaper than new nuclear power and cost-competitive with new hydroelectric development. It is also not subject to the commodity and carbon price risks facing natural gas generation. We are confident that no potential source of new electricity generation in Canada better addresses these multiple objectives than wind energy.
Wind energy projects are also quickly built and deployed, resulting in a scalable electricity source that retains superior environmental characteristics and that is much better able to grow with changes in electricity demand.
Media Relations Officer
Canadian Wind Energy Association
613 234 8716 ext. 228