Ontario's Electricity Sector in Numbers: 2018 in Review


The numbers are in for 2018. Of a total annual electricity demand of 137.4 TWh, 90.1TWh (61%) of grid-connected generation came from nuclear generators, followed closely by hydro at 36.2 TWh (25%); gas and oil at 9.6TWh (6%); wind at 10.7TWh (7%); solar and biofuels at 0.6TWh and 0.64TWh (each accounted for less than 1% of grid-connected generation). Having achieved a 100% phase-out of coal-generated electricity in 2014, 93% of all electricity generated in Ontario in 2018 came from non-greenhouse gas emitting sources. For the third year in a row, peak demand occurred in September and stood at 23,240 MW. Experts attribute this reoccurring seasonal trend to warmer weather in September and decreased output from solar energy sources caused by shorter and less intense daylight hours. Distributed embedded resources, such as solar, have steadily increased up until 2018. Combined with price incentives that encourage large industrial customers to reduce their consumption at peak times, demand peaks were under control, throughout 2018. 

Ontario is currently undertaking a $25 billion nuclear refurbishment of 10 out of 19 of its nuclear generators. In addition to the refurbishment of nuclear units at Darlington, six out of eight nuclear units at Bruce Power will be refurbished. The refurbishment largely constitutes an investment in life-extension activities that will allow Darlington and Bruce Power to operate further into the future. 

During the last nuclear refurbishment project that took place in Ontario (sometime in 1997), the province was able to rely on its coal-fired generators to compensate for the supply shortage caused by temporary shutdowns of its nuclear generators.  The ensuing increase in smog and acid rain eventually lead to a complete phase-out of coal-generated electricity in Ontario; the phase-out was eventually completed in 2014. With (1) no coal-fired electricity generators to compensate for the shortage in supply during the nuclear refurbishment program; (2) maximum exploitation of hydroelectric sources; (3) recent repeal of the Clean Energy Act by Ontario's progressive conservative government; and (4) a steady increase in Ontario's energy demands caused by steady growths in annual GDP and population, Ontario will no doubt be in need of additional supply sources. 

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