How often does the power go out in your part of Canada?
Probably not very often, but likely at least a few times per year depending on your location, especially in rural areas. Canada is a very big and mostly empty, country with many miles of power lines to come down in the event of a problem.
Power can be out for any number of reasons, but usually due to weather events. High winds, snow storms, ice storms, floods and equipment malfunctions can cause the electricity to go out, sometimes for a few minutes and, at least once a year somewhere in the country, for a few days or more.
On the other hand, when was the last time you lost your natural gas supply (assuming you are part of the natural gas system)? Other than the odd construction or excavation accident, which typically affects only a handful of localized households or businesses at the most, I cannot remember a time when a large swath of the country lost access to natural gas. Yes, I realize most natural gas furnaces also rely on electricity to operate. But gas stoves and fireplaces typically do not, nor do gas or propane BBQs.
So what do you think is going to happen in the future? Climate activists tell us extreme weather events are going to increase in frequency. Unfortunately, this will lead to more, not fewer, electricity interruptions of various sizes. What is going to happen if/when all of our building heat, transportation, and heavy industry is powered by electricity? What if there is a widespread power outage for a number of days? No cars will be recharged, thus forcing them to stay idle.
There will be no going to school or to work, no ambulances or fire trucks, no heat (or cooling) for homes and businesses with the new generation of heat pumps. There will be no ability to store or cook food, no heavy industry and no public transportation. What if the temperature is -30 C? Or 30 C? In either case, the results could be be devastating.
Use hydrogen, I hear you saying. The problem is the creation of hydrogen requires vast amounts of energy. It takes much more energy to create the hydrogen than (the energy) you get when you finally burn the hydrogen. In the world of thermodynamics, there is no silver bullet. Alternately, there will never be enough solar or wind power production possible in Canada to produce all the energy we need. Besides, why use one energy source to create another? That just results in efficiency losses all along the supply chain, thus driving up costs and environmental impact.
Are environmentalists going to go along with the construction of 10 or 12 new nuclear plants in Canada? Not likely. (Some) are already protesting the construction of heavy metal mines and the installation of large wind farms. When you protest everything, no progress moves forward.
(This is all) something to think about the next time someone tells you a future free of all fossil fuels is desirable, or even possible, here in Canada.
Lloyd Vinish, Kelowna