Magical Thinking at Environmental Defence

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Credit: Shutterstock.

As Adam has pointed out, an organization known as Environmental Defence is petitioning Metrolinx, opposing an 18MW natural gas generator proposed for the Kodak lands. Metrolinx claims that the generator will provide power to the Eglinton Crosstown LRT system in case of a blackout and to supplement Ontario Hydro’s grid during peak periods in the summer when air conditioning put a strain on capacity.

Unfortunately, the petition incorrectly implies that the new Crosstown line will be powered full-time by the generator. It does suggest quite rightly that the roof of the new building that will store and maintain LRT trains would be an ideal place for solar panels. Unfortunately solar is notoriously inefficient (20% is considered good) and is not up to this job.

Nellis solar panel plant in Nevada.

Let’s do a reality check. In Nevada, where the sun shines fairly reliably, and stronger than in Ontario, the Nellis solar plant occupies 140 acres or 57 hectares of land. In ideal conditions, it produces 13 MegaWatts which is 5 MW shy of the 18 MW needed to power the Crosstown system. The whole of the Kodak Lands (let alone a building’s roof) is only 23 Hectares. Rooftop panels are therefore a laughable suggestion for this purpose.

Fighting for solar panels is a wasted effort and Environmental Defence should have done their homework before starting a petition that Metrolinx and the Ontario Government can now dismiss out of hand. Even if every square inch of the Kodak Lands was covered in solar panels, only a small fraction of the needed power would be available during a grid blackout (on that proverbial sunny day).

Without wishing to keep repeating the same argument, the community needs to fight the generator in a rational way; not based on magical or wishful thinking.