Sustainability Journal

December, 2013 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Power generation in Eastern Ontario The hydro power that is produced in Eastern Ontario comes from run of the river generating stations that could produce twice as much power if there were a means of storing their output during periods of low grid demands. A means of achieving that with ExS systems is described. The ExS systems would at the same time eliminate the GHG emissions and pollution from using combustible fuels. Such an approach could cut the cost of electricity in half and reduce the costs of heating by an even larger factor. The obstruction is a lack of a suitable government policy on how the costs should be split between the two parties that benefit - the electricity producers and the energy consumers.

Fugitive methane emissions A summary of calculated fugitive methane emissions as a % of natural gas consumption from many peer reviewed reports. Note that the fracking process has been in use for extracting shale gas for only a few years so little is known about the slow diffusion of released gas to the surface. That diffusion may take many years and the fractured shale by its nature does not provide a seal that might trap the methane, and moreover the effective lifetime of the methane is likely to be longer in the rock than it is in the air so those "late" emissions may add substantially to what eventually reaches the surface. That is especially a concern for the residual gas that has been released by the fracking process but remains in the ground after the well production has ceased - for which there is no experimental evidence at all because none of the wells have been taken out of production to date. Even as things stand nearly all of the reported results put the fugitive emissions well over the 1.64% figure for which natural gas becomes a worse choice than coal, based on the GWP of 72 from the IPCC report. If the GWP is 105, as some authors suggest, then the crossover point is only 1.1%.

Using exergy storage systems for cooling The design of an exergy storage system for cooling is dependent on the size of the building(s) for which it is to be used and the location of those buildings. Three of the most common cases are considered.

Stabilizing the ExS output temperatures ExS systems nominally provide thermal outputs at 60 degrees for DHW, 40 degrees for space heating, and 4 degrees for space cooling. The permissible tolerances and the measures that can be taken to keep within those tolerances are discussed. (Sorry about the delay in posting this - there are some design changes in progress.)

2013 LTEP plan The Ontario government has released the latest version of its Long Term Energy Plan, which is not much different from its predecessors. The plan concentrates exclusively on the means of generating electricity. The more significant forms of energy like thermal energy for buildings and fuels for transportation are all but ignored, as is any concern for the GHG emissions from any of the energy sources. It would be impossible for Ontario to meet its long term (2050) objectives for GHG reductions on the basis of what is proposed in the LTEP. Moreover, the LTEP proposes a continuation of the escalation of capital expenditures for generation and distribution facilities and a continuing rapid increase in the prices for electricity. Cleaner, more comprehensive and more affordable alternatives proposed in the submissions for the LTEP were ignored.

2013 Conservation Report by the Environmental Commissioner The two highlights of the ECO's annual report are that the LTEP should should consider the other energy sources (heat and fuels) instead of concentrating on just electricity, and that the responsibility for monitoring the energy mix should be taken away from the Ministry of Energy and transferred to the Ministry of the Environment.