Alberta wind turbines. Canadian Press

The chant for this weekend’s Telemiracle telethon in Saskatchewan is “Where are we going? Higher!” But when it came to wind power production in Alberta on Feb. 23, then answer to “Where are we going?” was “Lower!”

As the afternoon led into the supper hour, wind power generation had collapsed across the entire province, floating between 11 and 20 megawatts throughout the 5 o’clock hour. This occurred just as the sun was setting over the Rockies, as solar power production had dropped to 34 megawatts out of a nameplate capacity of 1,165 megawatts. As always it happens every night, it would drop to zero.

That data is according to the Alberta Electric System Operator which did not declare a “grid alert” on Feb. 23, despite proclaiming similar alerts several times in December with similar weather conditions. Alberta’s internal electrical load on Feb. 23 was roughly 900 megawatts lower than those grid alerts in December.

Over the last 30 days, out of the 216,000 minutes of possible in-service time Alberta’s five grid-scale batteries could have provided power, they produced power to the grid a cumulative 202 minutes, or nine ten-thousands of possible service time.

Low wind production had been consistent for several hours. Thursday afternoon was pretty cold in Alberta, so cold that Environment Canada had issued extreme cold warnings from Zama City in the north to Coutts in the south. The entire province was blanketed in extreme cold alerts.

And that’s a problem, because wind turbines, as a rule, shut down around -30 C, because operation at colder temperatures can lead to them shattering due to cold brittle behavior.

But even if the cold wouldn’t destroy the turbines, there was no wind in the prominent wind production areas, characteristic of bitterly cold, high pressure weather systems. At 4:05 p.m., Lethbridge had wind of 3 kilometres per hour. Medicine Hat was 5 kilometres per hour. Both are close to some of the largest wind farms in the Alberta.

  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 9001
  • 0002

 

At 5:34 p.m. Alberta’s 36 wind farms, with hundreds of wind turbines between them, were producing a total of 11 megawatts. That’s 0.3 per cent of Alberta’s installed wind generation nameplate capacity of 3,618 megawatts. And last week, all but one of those 36 wind farms were generating power, meaning the half dozen most recent additions to the fleet have mostly come online.

MC is maximum capacity in megawatts, TNG is total net to grid, and DCR is dispatched (and accepted) contingency reserve. AESO

 

Thirty-one of those 36 wind farms were producing zero power to the grid. The highest any particular facility was producing was five megawatts from Forty Mile Granlea, which, at 200 megawatts nameplate capacity, is one of the largest in the province. The largest, Blackspring Ridge, with 300 megawatts capacity, was producing zero.

Wind power generation in Alberta at 5:34 p.m. on Feb. 23. MC is maximum capacity in megawatts, TNG is total net to grid, and DCR is dispatched (and accepted) contingency reserve. AESO

Despite being one of the most energy-rich jurisdictions on the planet, Alberta was drawing 763 megawatts from Saskatchewan (152 megawatts), British Columbia (432 megawatts) and Montana (179 megawatts).

Twitter bot Reliable AB Energy (@ReliableAB) posts hourly Alberta electrical grid information, derived from the minute-by-minute posts of the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO). It will take two days to find out how SaskPower fared on Thursday, as the Crown corporation only puts out very generic data for each type of power generation averaged for the entire day, delayed by two days.

At 11:25 a.m. Wind was producing 15 megawatts of wind generation, or 0.4 per cent of nameplate capacity.

At 12:25 pm., Alberta’s wind fleet had dropped to 10 megawatts, or 0.3 per cent of total wind generation capacity. At that point in time, Alberta’s two remaining coal-exclusive power generating units were producing 816 megawatts, or 81.6 time the amount of power the entire wind fleet was putting out.

An hour later, at 1:25 p.m., it had risen to 31 megawatts. But by 2:25, it hadn’t changed. The number remained 31 megawatts, or 0.9 per cent capacity. And at 3:25 p.m., the power output was 26 megawatts.

  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 9001
  • 0002

 

Batteries provided Alberta power 0.09% of the past 30 days

The common public perception is that battery storage will step up to fill in when wind or solar power production drops off. But that is not reality. Grid scale batteries are used to absorb short-term peak demand. Alberta now has five grid scale battery facilities, although the fifth does not appear to have gone fully online and was not available to provide power to the grid on Feb. 23. But it did provide some power earlier in the month.

(SaskPower is building its own 20 megawatt grid-scale battery facility on the east side of Regina. It’s expected to be able to output that much power for one hour at a time.)

Between the five battery facilities, over the last 30 days there was a total of 216,000 minutes they could have cumulatively provided power (43,200 minutes per month x 5 batteries). In total, they provided 202 minutes of power, or 0.09 per cent (nine ten-thousandths) of the total time available. That’s for the 30 days previous to Feb. 23, 2023.

The last time the 20 megawatts eReserve1 Rycroft provided power to the grid was near midnight on Jan. 28, providing 20 megawatts for 12 minutes. Indeed, in the last 30 days, the facility only provided power twice, with the other instance on Jan. 25, providing 20 megawatts for 11 minutes, from 4:24 to 4:35 p.m. In total, that battery provided power for 23 minutes in 30 days.

eReserve2 Buffalo Creek, also 20 megawatts in capacity, had similar numbers. Its last power to the grid was 19 megawatts for 11 minutes, from 11:50 p.m. Jan. 28, to 12:01 a.m. Jan. 29. On Jan. 25, it, too, provided provided power from 4:23 p.m. to 4:35 p.m., 19 megawatts for total of 12 minutes, and a grand total of 23 minutes in the last 30 days.

  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 9001
  • 0002

 

eReserve3 Mercer Hill was called upon more recently, providing 20 megawatts of power on Feb. 14 for 9 minutes, from 5:03 to 5:12 p.m. It also was called upon late on Jan. 28, providing 20 megawatts of power for 11 minutes, from 11:50 p.m. to 12:01 a.m. And on Jan. 25, it provided 20 megawatts of power from 12 minutes, from 4:23 p.m. to 4:35. The 30 day total was 32 minutes.

The 10 megawatt Summerview battery facility saw the most usage over the previous 30 days. It was used for 12 minutes producing 10 megawatts, from 5:00 to 5:12 p.m. on Feb. 14. On Feb 7, the battery produced 3 megawatts, from 4:27 p.m. to 5:13 p.m., a total of 46 minutes. On Feb. 4, it contributed a full 10 megawatts for 7 minutes, from 5:37 to 5:44 p.m. Summerview’s total power production over 30 days was 65 minutes.

The newest facility now listed is eReserve5 Hughenden. It produced 2 megawatts from 2:44 to 3 p.m. and 20 megawatts from 3:00 p.m. to 3:43 p.m. on Feb. 7. There is an obvious flaw with data from Jan. 20 to Jan 25, as the graphs show the facility outputting spikes of 74 megawatts, multiple times its rated capacity. This data is excluded from these calculations. Thus, its in-service time was 59 minutes.

 

  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 9001
  • 0002

 

Alberta issues second “grid alert” in one day, the third in 24 hours, and fifth in three weeks, and sets another demand record