Solar and the Evolution of Ontario's Electricity Generation

Oct 19, 2015

Ontario has come a long way in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the generation of electricity. After all, we’re the first jurisdiction in North America to eliminate coal from electricity generation. However, nuclear still represents the major source of the electricity in our province, and natural gas is playing an increasing role.

Ontario's Energy Output by Fuel Type*
Total: 154 TWh (terawatt hours)

   2014 2008
 Nuclear  62%          
 94.9 TWh             53%              84.4 TWh         
 Hydro  24%
 37.1 TWh 24.1%   38.3 TWh
 Coal  <1%**
 0.1 TWh 14.5%
 23.2 TWh
 Gas/Oil  10%
 14.8 TWh 6.9%
 11 TWh
 Wind  4%
 6.8 TWh 0.9%
 1.4 TWh
 Biofuel  <1%
 0.3 TWh  ***
 Solar  <1%
 0.0185 TWh

*This data comes from Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and includes all Ontario generators registered as market participants, including those in commissioning.
**Coal was eliminated as an electricity source in Ontario in 2014.
***In 2008, there was no reporting of Biofuel or Solar. There is 1 TWh, accounting for 0.6% of the electricity mix that encompasses "other" electricity sources.

Photo Credit: Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO)

With the elimination of coal successfully completed, where is Ontario going now? Based on Ontario’s Long Term Energy Plan, created in 2013, in regard to forecasted energy production by 2032, conservation measures will increase to reduce the overall demand for electricity, nuclear will decrease in its percentage of contribution to the mix, solar, wind, and bioenergy will increase, and hydro and natural gas will stay the same.

But should natural gas and nuclear provide such a large percentage of the electricity in Ontario? The amount of renewables in the mix proposed for 2032 isn’t much of a jump. For our System Tour and Social for Green Energy Doors Open on October 3rd, one of our SolarShare Ambassadors created an exhibit depicting Ontario’s electricity mix using jellybeans, which sparked discussion on how we would like to see it evolve in Ontario.

Glenn Pierce, a SolarShare Ambassador, is explaining the current mix of electricity in Ontario, while having attendees guess how many jellybeans are in the container to win a SolarShare t-shirt at our System Tour and Social on October 3rd

As you can see from the figures above, wind energy has seen substantial growth in Ontario. Although solar electricity makes up a very small percentage of the total electricity generation in Ontario, the Ontario Energy Board is reporting that in 2015, 2% of Ontario's electricity supply is coming from solar electricity, with more solar electricity expected to come into service still into 2015.

We would like to see solar and wind energy continue to grow in Ontario through a co-operative approach. How important is it for you to have a say in where your electricity comes from? Through renewable energy co-operatives, residents of Ontario can have a say and make an impact. In Germany, 65% of the wind turbines and solar panels are owned by individuals, farmers and communities. In Ontario, only 18% of Ontario’s wind and solar facilities are community-owned.

Here are some ways that you can help push for more renewables in Ontario: