August 28, 2006

Ontario should do more to encourage CHP, says WWF-Canada

As the August 17 deadline for the Ontario Power Authority's combined heat and power (CHP) request for proposals (RFP) passed, World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Canada said the province should be tapping into far more than a modest 1,000 megawatts (MW) of new electricity supply from this environmentally friendly "recycled" energy source.

CHP, also known as cogeneration, involves installing specialized turbines to capture and "recycle" the waste heat produced by industrial or commercial operations to produce electricity. WWF-Canada says many of Ontario's large- and medium-sized industries are prime candidates for cogeneration, which would allow them to use waste heat to avoid purchasing huge amounts of electricity, while cleaning up the air and reducing fossil fuel pollution that contributes to climate change. They could potentially even sell electricity into the grid, adds the group.

Approximately 2,000 MW of electricity is already produced at CHP facilities in Ontario (out of a total generating capacity of 30,000 MW). WWF-Canada cites a government-commissioned report which concluded that the technical potential for this kind of 'recycled' power is over 16,000 MW, and says industry experts estimate that at least 9,000 MW are cost-effective now.

The Ontario government, says the group, should more aggressively pursue CHP plants at facilities such as paper or steel mills, chemical and petroleum refineries, smelters, food processing plants, pipeline compressor stations, cement kilns and car manufacturing plants, as an alternative to coal and nuclear plants. Ontario's 20-year electricity supply plan, however, limits CHP development between now and 2025 to 1,000 MW.

"Big industries use huge amounts of energy and often produce huge amounts of waste heat which they could be using to generate electricity," said Keith Stewart, manager of WWF-Canada's climate change campaign. "Recycling waste energy will help their bottom lines while helping to clean up our air and protect the climate."

WWF-Canada has also called on the Ontario government to: eliminate the 1,000 MW limit on CHP projects and instead pursue all cost-effective projects; pay a fair price for electricity from CHP, recognizinb its environmental benefits and reduced transmission costs; and remove policy barriers to CHP such as costly grid connection charges and staffing requirements.

"Instead of investing tens of billions in nuclear plants and pumping out millions more tonnes of pollutants from dirty coal plants, the McGuinty government should pursue the cleaner, faster and cheaper options, including getting "double-duty" electricity from energy already being used at existing industries," said Stewart.

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