Sources of Power
For most of us, flicking on a light switch isn’t much more that a reaction to a darkening room. But, do you ever think about the enormous infrastructure that’s in place to bring you electricity?
What is the source of your electricity?
Do you ever consider where the power comes from and how far does it travel to get to your home? Are you aware of how many switches, relays, substations, transformers and kilometres of wire are between you and the generator?
Which is the best way to produce electricity?
If you could get your energy from a renewable, sustainable and clean source with greenhouse gas emissions that are virtually zero, would you?
Where does your power come from?
Energy fuels our lives. Without it we couldn’t heat or cool our homes, grow food crops, build our homes or transport our goods. Our communications, social services and safety services are dependent on energy and are fundamentally linked to maintaining our way of life.
The world’s energy demands are growing dramatically every year. It is estimated that by 2030, worldwide energy consumption will more than double. If we are going to meet this demand and continue to build for a greener future, we will need to use a clean, sustainable and renewable energy source.
In Ontario, our electricity comes from many sources. This is known as the supply mix and is designed to ensure our energy needs are met, even under constant fluctuating conditions.
The power we use to meet everyday needs is called base load. Base load in Ontario is primarily provided by nuclear generation that is designed for steady, efficient, low emission production during periods of predictable usage. Waterpower is also capable of providing base load power
Periods of increased demand are known as peaking periods. Peaking periods can occur during certain times of day or during periods of extreme weather such as heat waves or cold snaps. Unplanned equipment outages can also create the need for peak power.
The main sources of peaking power in Ontario are from waterpower and fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. The Ontario government has plans to phase out coal generation by 2014.
Currently, Ontario has a surplus of base load power, but lacks peaking power production. Efforts are being made to increase availability of “stored power.” Waterpower is an excellent means to balance the supply mix. Water can be stored behind dams in reservoirs and released when needed to generate power during peaking periods. Unlike fossil fuels and biomass, waterpower has a near zero emission level.