Ontario families and businesses need a reliable, efficient and clean electricity system from a variety of resources. Learn about the current electricity supply mix, and how the province is building a cleaner energy future, in Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan.
Nuclear energy is part of Ontario’s balanced plan to ensure the province has a safe, clean, reliable and affordable supply of electricity in the years ahead.
Nuclear reactors, which produce heat by splitting uranium atoms, do the same job as conventional power-producing equipment in the generation of electricity. They produce heat to convert water into steam, which spins a turbine or generator to make electricity. Instead of coal, oil or natural gas, Ontario’s nuclear reactors use natural uranium in CANDU reactors.
Natural gas is a mixture of methane and other gases found underground. While Ontario does have some natural gas reserves, quantities are limited. The province’s supply is derived mostly from imports from Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
Natural gas has many applications, the most common of which is heating Ontario’s homes and businesses. Electricity can also be produced from natural gas.
Hydroelectricity also called water power, harnesses the energy produced from the movement of falling or flowing water. It is a reliable, clean, local and naturally recurring source of energy.
Water power has been helping to fuel Ontario’s growth for over 100 years and is the backbone of our renewable energy supply. Water power accounts for approximately 26 per cent of the province’s electricity supply. There are currently 200 water power facilities provincewide with a total installed capacity of 8,000 megawatts.
Wind power is one of the fastest-growing sources of electricity in the world. It is a completely sustainable, clean form of energy. It has the potential to provide a significant share of Ontario’s energy needs.
Capturing the wind for local power generation is not new. In the 1930s, before large-scale electricity supply was available in rural areas, more than 600,000 windmills were used to produce electricity and pump water on farms across Canada and the United States.
Solar energy is free and there is an endless supply. Although only a fraction of the energy from the sun actually hits Earth, even that small amount is enough to provide significant power. This clean source of energy is a good supplement to conventional and non-renewable sources of energy such as coal, oil and natural gas.
Solar photovoltaic technology converts the sun’s rays into electricity. It uses silicon, the semiconductor used in computers, to generate electricity.
Bioenergy is a form of renewable energy that uses organic and waste products from agricultural processes to produce heat and generate electrical energy. Biomass uses organic materials such as plants and animal waste, including forest industry residues, agricultural residues, organic solid waste and energy crops like corn and switchgrass. These products can be burned in their original forms or in pellets. Biogas is produced by fermenting organic materials such as manure and other agricultural wastes including crop and food processing by-products.
Coal plants convert this fossil fuel into electricity, releasing greenhouse gases and polluting the air. According to a 2005 study prepared for the government, the health-related damages of coal could top $3 billion a year. Ontario plans to end coal-fired generation by 2014 and move to cleaner sources of electricity like wind, solar and bioenergy.