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Is there a Future for Nuclear Power? Wind and Emission Reduction Targets in Alberta

Gerrit van Kooten, Rachel Lynch and Jon Duan

No 2016-03, Working Papers from University of Victoria, Department of Economics, Resource Economics and Policy Analysis Research Group

Abstract: This paper explores the viability of relying on wind power to replace upwards of 60% of electricity generation in Alberta that would be lost if coal-fired generation is phased out. Using hourly wind data from 17 locations across Alberta, we are able to simulate the potential wind power output available to the Alberta grid when modern, 3.5 MW-capacity wind turbines are spread across the province. Using wind regimes for the years 2006 through 2015, we find that available wind power is less than 60% of installed capacity 98% of the time, and below 30% of capacity 74% of the time. In addition, although there is insignificant correlation between wind speeds at different locations, it will still be necessary to rely on fossil fuel generation because winds are generally too variable and weak to replace reliable sources of power. Then, based on the results from a grid allocation model, we find that CO2 emissions can be reduced by about 30%, but only through a combination of investment in wind energy and reliance on purchases of hydropower from British Columbia. Only if nuclear energy is permitted into the generation mix would Alberta be able to meet its CO2-emissions reduction target in the electricity sector. With nuclear power, emissions can be reduced by upwards of 85%.

Keywords: Electricity; renewable energy and climate change; wind power; intermittent energy; nuclear power (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H41 L51 L94 Q42 Q48 Q54 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 26 pages
Date: 2016-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ene, nep-env and nep-reg
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (3) Track citations by RSS feed

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