The path to a net-zero carbon emissions society started decades ago with environmental movement protests and science fiction novels. Today, political and industry leaders broadly accept that net-zero is the way forward and they are beginning to allocate the resources to transition to net-zero.
Though it is far from firm, Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) recently released a landmark report that shows what it will take to create a net-zero energy system. We can now say we have some idea of what kinds of energy generation we will need to use instead of those that emit greenhouse gases.
Though we need to get off fossil fuels as quickly as possible, according to the IESO, this is what a net-zero carbon emissions energy supply mix could look like in 2050:
Most importantly, the IESO shows that Ontario would have no natural gas on its electricity grid in 2050 — and based on its other reports that could happen as soon as 2027. Rather than gas, Ontario would see massive increases in nuclear, solar and wind power, as well as a significant boost to imported electricity from other jurisdictions. The IESO also believes that evolving technologies will be dependable or more effective by 2050. Specifically, the IESO says that Ontario will be able to rely on low- or no-carbon hydrogen power, electricity storage, and demand response to support more than a quarter of the province’s net-zero electricity needs.
There are no guarantees that this is what Ontario’s electricity system will look like in 2050 but it’s helpful to have the IESO’s experts sketch out the scale and attributes of a reliable and efficient net-zero electricity system.