Wind turbines near Pincher Creek, Alberta, on Dec. 1, 2023. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

At suppertime on Sunday, Feb. 4, Alberta saw its wind power generation fall to 15 megawatts out of 4,481 megawatts, or one-third of one per cent (0.3 per cent) at 5:38 p.m. This was at the same time solar was producing zero megawatts as the sun had gone down.

That’s according to data from the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), as recorded by X bot account @ReliableAB, which publishes hourly updates on the Alberta grid.

https://x.com/ReliableAB/status/1754310260897010065?s=20

At that moment, 93.5 per cent of Alberta’s power was coming from natural gas and coal, but mostly natural gas. Something was up at the Genessee Power Station, where the two coal units (400 and 420 megawatts in capacity) and one dual-fuel coal/natural gas unit (466 megawatts in capacity) were each off and on for a period of time since Feb. 1. Genessee Unit 2 was offline at suppertime on Sunday.

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Alberta was importing 400 megawatts at the time, 201 from British Columbia, 90 from Saskatchewan and 100 from Montana.

Total load was 10,788 megawatts, and internal Alberta generation was 10,388 megawatts. That was roughly 1,500 megawatts less than the peak demand in mid-January which had the province go into grid alerts.

Throughout the evening, three of Alberta’s 10 grid-scale batteries were putting out nine megawatts each for most of three hours, according to Dispatcho.app, a website which logs the minute-by-minute data from the AESO. This is a new behaviour that also took place on Feb. 2. These three batteries, eReserve 7, 8 and 9 have been used as a group in patterns different that the previous seven batteries. From Dec. 19 to January 16, they were called upon to each provide 5 megawatts during the supper hour each day. It appears that different modes are being tested with this set.

The province’s wind power hovered below 100 megawatts from 3:39 p.m. until at least around 10 p.m.

Solar didn’t have much of a day on Sunday, with the highest recorded output by @ReliableAB showing 473 megawatts out of 1,650 at 1:38 pm (28.7 per cent of capacity). It likely didn’t help that snow was falling in parts of southern Alberta earlier in the day. But the milder conditions, around -6 C definitely did.

 

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Round 4: Alberta declares fourth electrical grid alert in 4 days, second in 17 hours

Alberta goes into Round 3, with its third electrical grid alert in three days

Alberta goes under grid alert for just under 5 hours on Jan. 12

Brian Zinchuk: Only sheer and utter incompetence at the top could result in Alberta again issuing electrical grid alerts