In his last State Of The Union address, Barack Obama repeatedly emphasized the critical need for America to do what it does best and inspire the world with bold ideas and innovations. Not only to invigorate existing industries and the domestic economy, but also to lead the rest of the world into new phases of growth and prosperity. Meanwhile here in Canada, we’ve long claimed to no longer be just a source of primary resources, but rather a knowledge and technology based economy that can claim leadership in such progressive fields as communications, aerospace, and biotech. Yet these claims of leadership need to be supported in order to remain true. Take for example the leadership demonstrated by Canada in supplying medical isotopes to the world, and providing the planet’s safest nuclear powerplants with the world famous CANDU reactors. This isn’t just some historical reference though or a legacy technology, but rather one that is poised to lead an entire industry into the future as well…If it can first survive the short-sighted dangers of politics.
Ontario is well ontrack to be one of the first industrialized jurisdictions in the world to eliminate coal-fired electrical generation. The original plan was for Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to transition to a lower carbon future by phasing out the use of coal at its four remaining coal-fuelled stations by the end of 2014, but things are proceeding ahead of schedule already! This possibility is due to wide a variety of contributing factors, with one of the most compelling ones being a clear option to convert these plants to burning BioWaste – if indeed the cost of natural gas proves to be too volatile or costly by comparison.
Of course, there’s a whole range of other considerations to factor into this decision, and alot of due-diligence still to be performed. But the considerable economic and ecological benefits to converting bio mass and waste into usable fuel has everyone at OPG considering the very real possibilities of a BioWaste fueled future.
In a rare demonstration of a nearly non-Leftists bias, the Toronto Star printed an article that shows that it’s still capable of presenting slightly balanced views of contentious issues. In this case, it offered some visibility for a realistic presentation from the Organization of CANDU Industries (OCI) which offered clear insights into the effects of replacing two proposed nuclear reactors with the equivalent in renewable sources. In particular, the OCI demonstrates the physical scale of both the solar and wind turbine installations that would be required to match the energy production available from a nuclear site measuring 1.6 square-kilometers. In the end, the Star’s article simply took this issue as another opportunity to discredit nuclear energy, by (indirectly) claiming that the facts aren’t complete.
So in an attempt to right the scales abit, we’ll off our own slant on the subject as well…
Someday people will look back and wonder what could have possibly been the causes for such unprecedented increases in electrical costs on the average Ontarian – all without there being any truly impressive expansions in infrastructure or generating capacity to show for it all. The groundswell of grumblings from ratepayers has already become loud and clear as people are starting to demand reasons for our seemingly hyper-inflationary energy market. At the very least, are expecting some clarified views of any long-term benefits that might come from this short term pain. Otherwise, this information vacuum could really start to seriously damage our social structure and erode our trust in elected officials to not simply hoodwink an entire energy market with shallow short-term promises, and gouging new long-term rates.
Astoundingly, the Government continues falling well short of the mark in their communications efforts, seemingly without any thought for the political consequences.
Unfortunately this superficial approach leaves the electorate to slowly succumb to all sorts of nagging doubts. The most obvious one being that these mounting energy costs could have somehow been better managed by indentured public servants who remain immune to the negative and corrective effects of a truly free-market system. Or that bloated bureaucratic and political posturing has likely also created added costs that have simply been passed down onto the backs of ratepayers.
You can share your own thoughts, and add some new answers in in a quick survey below…Or just consider what others have been thinking and saying to date.
Like most other industrialized societies Ontarian’s have been getting indoctrinated with the lofty ideals of renewable energy for quite a few years now, and thus are quite well prepared for both the daunting costs and perceived benefits of developing greener sources of energy. So even as our hydro bills begin their ascent skyward, as a result of the current provincial energy plan, most Ontarians are still waiting to see the visible evidence of any full-scale deployments of solar and wind energy projects that we’ve been assured are the most beneficial forms of renewable energy. As a result, even the most apathetic energy consumer is starting to suspect that there might be a disconnect between the ‘Renewable’ rhetoric, and the reality of our current plans for energy production, distribution and consumption.
Four years ago, the ruling Liberal government gained the favor of both Environmentalists and Industrialists by promising wind and solar solutions that would not only pave the way to a cleaner Future, but also drive the local manufacturing economy to new heights. Unstated in these goals is a very real possibility that what might also be powered by these announcements were the political favor and fortunes of those who might stand to benefit most…
For anybody who hasn’t been following all the Big Moves being mapped out by the Ontario Governments public transit planning arm called Metrolinx, the projected Air Rail Link (ARL) is a bold initiative to finally connect Toronto’s Union Station with Pearson International Airport via a dedicated express train…All in time for the 2015 Pan American Games.
The objective behind the Air Rail Link is to ensure reliable travel times between the downtown core and the countries largest airport, while taking millions of car trips off the GTA’s already congested roadways in the process. The big challenge is to lay groundwork for a rail system that will be ‘Futureproof”, while still assuring that it can be up and running inside of the incredibly tight timeline for a project of this size.
Beyond the obvious need for re-establishing political unity and effective cost-controls at a time of enormous bureaucratic upheave in Toronto’s transit landscape (Thanks again, Rob Ford) the next biggest requirements for this project are the logistical challenges of assuring not just an environmentally responsible solution, but also a beneficial one that will set standards for clean transit systems for many decades to come…So what stands in the way of this progress?
For most people, the only thing that farming and barbecuing might have in common is where the supply produced by one, meets the market demands of the other on the supermarket shelf. In a day and age where instant gratification trumps tradition, Farmers long ago turned their fields into sterile sponges that they must now constantly fertilize with man-made nitrogen and phosphates. Meanwhile back on the homestead, the fast-firing convenience of gas powered BBQ grills have largely displaced charcoal as the heat of choice for backyard barbecue. Yet charcoal might soon make an enormous comeback in ways that propane and petrochemical fertilizers could never touch, and which will have an enormous impact on farming practices that once relied on the natural biodiversity of soil to sustain healthy crops. This renaissance of ancient agricultural methods will not only enrich our largely depleted farm fields, but also serve to use currently wasted BioMass to sequester carbon and thus combat global warming….by turning it into BioChar.
The trick to this ecologically brilliant shortcut is to simply prepare charcoal at a higher temperature to produce BioChar in an environmentally beneficial process that will far surpass it’s popular role as the perfect heat for traditional barbecue. This old-fashioned soil enrichment method might not only break the petrochemical fertilizer addictions of industrial farming methods, but also serve to naturally capture and store carbon in a stable state that could benefit our environment for centuries to come. If you think that there are still lessons to be learned from the Past, here’s a peek at a Future that can be carbon fixed by BioChar…