Ontario Getting Out of Coal-fired Generation

Archived Backgrounder

Ontario Getting Out of Coal-fired Generation

Ministry of Energy

Ontario will shut the last of its coal plants in southern Ontario by the end of 2013, a year ahead of schedule. 

According to a 2005 independent study, "Cost Benefit Analysis: Replacing Ontario's Coal-Fired Electricity Generation," this will save approximately $4.4 billion annually when health and environmental costs are taken into consideration.

The closure of coal plants has already produced significant health and environmental benefits for Ontarians. For example, 2011 sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions were 93 per cent and 85 per cent lower, respectively, than they were in 2003.  And in 2011, Ontario's coal plants emitted 43 kilograms of mercury, the lowest on record in over 45 years.

We have already shut down 11 of 19 coal units. By the end of 2013 we will have shut down 17 out of 19. Ontario's electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions will decrease dramatically as a result of becoming coal-free, from a high of 41.4 megatonnes in 2000 to only five megatonnes post-2020.

In 2003, coal accounted for 25 per cent of our generation. Coal-fired generation made up less than three per cent of Ontario's total electricity generation in 2011.

Ontario is replacing coal with a mix of emission-free energy sources like nuclear and renewables, along with lower-emission energy sources like natural gas. Natural gas emits nearly 70 per cent less particulate matter than coal and virtually eliminates mercury and sulphur dioxide emissions. In 2011 over 80 per cent of our electricity generated was emissions-free.

Years

Coal (Terawatt hours)

Coal as % of total generation

2003 Totals

36.6

25%

2004 Totals

26.8

17%

2005 Totals

30.0

19%

2006 Totals

25.0

16%

2007 Totals

28.4

18%

2008 Totals

23.2

15%

2009 Totals

9.8

7%

2010 Totals

12.6

8%

2011 Totals

4.1

< 3%

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Environment and Energy