Wasted Renewables and Marginal Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Canada’s Power Systems

Coal-fired and base-load natural gas power plants often continue to operate at a high capacity even when there is no demand for their electricity, because it is too expensive to reduce output only to increase it when demand picks up. This occurs primarily at night, when excess power needs to be dumped at whatever price can be obtained, even zero. Since wind and run-off-river generating facilities can reduce output most rapidly, coal and gas power will replace these renewable sources, thereby wasting renewables and causing greater emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere than need be. The current research project with Sempa Power Systems Ltd., a provider of hybrid heating systems that lowers costs and greenhouse emissions, addresses this issue by (1) looking at the coordination of power (and transmission line capacities) between two or more system operators (e.g. Ontario Hydro, Québec Hydro, Alberta System Operator and BC Hydro), and (2) examining opportunities and incentives for replacing natural gas used for space heating with electrical heating at times when renewable sources might be shut down.

Faculty Supervisor:

Dr. G. Cornelis van Kooten


Hugh Scorah


Sempa Power Systems Ltd.




Environmental industry


University of Victoria



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