Thursday, February 29, 2024

Reader: Let’s Spend Billions For Less Net Electricity


I noticed two contributions to Letter to the Editor on January 18 attempting to legitimize the expenditure of what will eventually be $10 billion for the Pumped Storage Project (PSP).

I spent 20 of my 40-year engineering career directly involved with the design and construction of hydro-electric dams and water storage facilities internationally. The following comment is based on Laws of Physics that influence design and performance parameters of energy extraction and not on emotional, political, cultural, environmental or proprietary matters.

The following needs to be understood. Pumping water uphill to later extract energy from it through gravity outflow is not a “perpetual motion device”. In the case of the Meaford project proposal, if 1,000 megawatts are to be regenerated by the water outflow, then 1,430 megawatts of energy is required by the pump motors. The process is known to be, at best, 70% efficient. This process will convert 430 megawatts of previously generated electricity into waste heat. This waste is sufficient to power over 43,000 homes. Those proponents of PSP, including TC Energy are wilfully insisting we accept these substantial losses and endure them for 50+ years of the projected life of the installation.

The obvious question is “WHY?”….. Why would battery storage not be recommended for Off-Peak energy surpluses? Exponential growth in this technology is producing efficiencies of over 90%. This would mean only 1,100 megawatts would be needed to regenerate the desired 1,000 megawatts.

TC Energy has refused to confirm this energy waste and when I informed Meaford Council members of this well before Christmas (they were not aware of this), the Deputy Mayor immediately sent this inquiry to TCE representatives, and as of January 26, there is no response.

If the province’s need for energy storage was tendered in a Free Market (which it must be), project bidders would be required to offer the most efficient of storage technologies. Pumped Storage would not be any bidder’s choice in 2024.

Taxpayers need to be very wary of this non-tendered and over-priced promotion of antiquated technology. It has totalitarianism written all over it.

Ontario needs more net electricity, not less. Inefficiencies in energy storage and regeneration must be minimized. Real CO2 reductions will be achieved by the electrification of fossil fuel furnaces in Ontario homes and businesses, and of the GO train facility and motor vehicles, and not by pumping water uphill.

The only benefits of the PSP will be to provide a higher revenue depository for TCE’s Off-Peak energy and to create an opportunity for them to invoice twice for the same energy. Firstly, when originally generated at 1,430 Mw, and secondly, when it is regenerated at 1,000 Mw.

Never in my project management duties have I ever seen an untendered and sole sourced entity make so much monetary “investment” in a small community. Curious!

Stephen Carr, Meaford


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