Alberta wind turbines. Photo by Clive Schaupmeyer

On Tuesday night, supper time in Alberta was not lit by wind power, according to numbers posted by the Alberta Electric System Operator.

That’s because at 6:18 pm., Alberta’s installed capacity of 3,466 megawatts of wind power generation was producing 24 megawatts. There are now 35 wind facilities attached to the grid, although about five of the most recent ones are not yet producing power, so the total actual capacity is closer to 3,000 megawatts. At that time, 24 of 35 wind farms were producing zero power to the grid. Even if five of those were recent additions, that still leaves 19 with no power generation at all.

And the result was a “grid alert” issued by the Alberta Electric System Operator, stating, “Due to cold weather, low wind conditions and generator derates/power reductions and an unplanned outage, the AESO declared a Grid Alert at 4:47 p.m. Find information on Grid Alerts here:”

An hour later, the alert was lifted.

Thus, the entire fleet of Alberta’s wind capacity was producing less than 1 per cent of nameplate capacity at suppertime on Nov. 29. And this happened after the sun went down over the Rockies, thus solar, as expected, was producing zero power at that moment.

Power generation in Alberta as of 6:18 p.m. on Nov. 29. MC is maximum capacity, in megawatts, TNG is total net to grid, and DER is dispatched and accepted contingency reserve. Alberta Electric System Operator

 

But this supper hour, as wind capacity collapsed, three of Alberta’s four batteries were called into service. eReserve 1 Rycroft contributed 20 megawatts for 40 minutes, from 5:54-6:34. eReserve 2 Buffalo Creek provided 18 megawatts for the same period. And eReserve 3 Mercer Hill put out 20 megawatts from 5:57 to 6:35. The last time any one of those three batteries provided any power to the grid was over two weeks previous. (Note, it appears there is a one-hour time shift between AESO and Dispatcho.app reporting, perhaps due to daylight savings time)

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Genesee 3, a coal unit which has been converted to run as “dual fuel,” on coal or natural gas, was putting out 467 megawatts out of a capacity of 466. It was recently brought back on stream after several weeks being down for the conversion. The two remaining coal unites, Genesee 1 and 2, were running at full capacity.

 

Wind power generation in Alberta as of 6:18 p.m. on Nov. 29. MC is maximum capacity, in megawatts, TNG is total net to grid, and DER is dispatched and accepted contingency reserve. Alberta Electric System Operator

Over here in Saskatchewan, SaskPower is on the path to build an additional 3,000 megawatts of wind and solar power capacity in the next several years. The most recent numbers available for Saskatchewan are from Nov. 27, when wind produced a daily average of 514 megawatts out of a nameplate capacity of 617 megawatts. That represented an average of 16 per cent of total power in Saskatchewan on that day, out of a total of 3,146 megawatts generated. Coal (28 per cent daily average power generated) was 868 megawatts (down from over 1,000 the day before) and natural gas (41 per cent) was 1,275 megawatts. Hydro was 347 megawatts, or 11 per cent, and solar was 3 megawatts, or negligible. “Other,” which includes small scale wind and solar, was 140 megawatts or 4 per cent.

However, as wind patterns in Alberta are usually closely replicated in Saskatchewan a day later, it remains to be seen what will be posted here in a few days. SaskPower delays its reporting by two days to preserve its competitive advantage trading in the electricity market.

Power generation in Saskatchewan on Nov. 27. SaskPower

 

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