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Producing Electricity from Natural Gas a Dead End

Toronto Star - December 14, 2000

For a chart of monthly natural gas prices going back over 9 years, check my Natural Gas Price Graph.

The constantly increasing price of natural gas should set alarm bells ringing for homeowners and for the utilities responsible for the generation of electricity.

In the short term, until it can be taken over by electric heating, natural gas is the most convenient way of heating homes. But at the same time, burning gas contributes to the greenhouse effect. It is a non-renewable resource and is a valuable feedstock in the chemical industry.

One reason for the increase in the price of gas is the introduction by electrical utilities in North America of large natural gas-fired generating stations which put up the demand for gas.

In the Greater Toronto Area, the calls for converting Ontario Power Generation's Lakeview Generating Station in Mississauga to natural gas and the proposed building in Mississauga of two privately-owned gas-fired stations exemplifies this trend.

Even though the new combined cycle plants are relatively cheap to build, the cost of the electricity and reliability of production will be subject to the vagaries of the gas supply.

California has major problems in the supply and cost of electricity brought about by deregulation and the use of natural gas for its generation. Also, large quantities of greenhouse gases are produced when natural gas is used for electrical generation.

The answer is to generate electricity in nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants do not produce any greenhouse gases and do not produce smog or any gases that contribute to acid rain.

In the long term, the plants will provide for the demands of electrically heated homes and provide the electricity needed to provide the hydrogen required by the fuel cells now being introduced.

Nuclear generated electricity has been meeting some of the demand in Ontario since before 1970 and in France it supplies nearly 80 per cent of total demand. Electricity from gas is dead-end technology, causing the waste of a valuable resource.

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