Zerofootprint Energy = No More Nukes in Ontario?
Zerofootprint is a great organization. They are a not-for-profit whose stated goal is to "connect people who care about the environment for the purpose of reducing ecological footprint." Part of their operations is Zerofootprint Energy, an energy service company. It was recently featured in the Toronto Star in an article about alternatives to building new nuclear power plants in Ontario (Canada). Cameron Smith, the author of the piece, argues that the future of energy does not lie with the "centralized bigness" of nuclear plants (which he briefly compares to the "inflexible, inefficient and vulnerable" central planning of the Soviets 50 years ago), but with decentralized renewable energy production and efficiency/conservation. That's where Zerofootprint Energy comes in.From the Toronto Star:
the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) is recommending to solve Ontario's electricity woes: centralized power generation, where half of the province's electricity will come from massive, inflexible, breathtakingly expensive nuclear plants, with a history of breakdowns and cost overruns. [...]
It argues that nuclear power is needed for security of supply. But it's not listening to people involved with renewable energy who say the opposite: that there's no security in centralized bigness because when something breaks, there's an immediate crisis. Moreover, the enormous cost of nuclear plants will financially starve other services in the province. [...]
In Ontario, I wouldn't be surprised if ground-source heating and cooling could eliminate the need for an entire nuclear plant, simply by cutting electricity demand for air conditioners, electric hot water tanks and electric baseboard heaters.
The problem is that high costs and long payback periods are barriers to installations. [...]
[A] new firm installs ground-source heating and cooling [geothermal heat-pumps] in newly constructed buildings at no extra cost to builders above what they would otherwise pay for conventional systems. In return, purchasers of the buildings agree to pay Zerofootprint a monthly charge that's slightly below what they would pay for oil or natural gas at the time of purchase.
Payments don't increase, electricity bills are lower and property owners are protected against rising fuel prices. Once the installation costs are recovered, heating and cooling bills drop dramatically. It's a model that could be modified for retrofitting existing buildings. [...]
So, Zerofootprint is showing it's possible to reduce electricity demand significantly at no cost to the government or to property owners. It underscores the need for Ontario to take time to look much more seriously at renewables.
You might also want to check out Zerofootprint's Green Events Calendar. It covers events from around the globe. Maybe some cool eco-event is happening near you?
Other articles from Treehugger on similar topics: ::Efficiency Works Forever, ::What Is A Kilowatt-Hour Anyway?, ::Cut Your Gas Consumption in Half in One Day, ::Geothermal Energy Can Be Sexy, ::Her Majesty goes Geothermal at Buck House