Wind turbines in southern Alberta. Photo by Clive Schaupmeyer

Around 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Monday, June 27, the sun had gone down in Alberta and there was no wind power production to be had.

Twitter bot account @ReliableAB reported, “At this moment 90% of Alberta’s electricity is being produced by fossil fuels. Wind is at 0.4% of capacity and producing 0.1% of total generation, while solar is at 0.0% of capacity and producing 0.00% of total generation. At the same time we are importing 513 MW or 5%”

@ReliableAB uses data published by the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO). Recent changes to the Twitter API have caused some difficulties for accounts like @ReliableAB and @SkElectricity, which keep tabs on Alberta’s and Saskatchewan’s electrical grid. Thus, at least temporarily, the fidelity of @ReliableAB’s numbers are slightly reduced. But 0.4 per cent of the installed base of 3,618 megawatts of wind generation means roughly 15 megawatts of power was being produced at that time. And it stayed around that number, less than 1 per cent output, for three hours around midnight.

Notably, as both wind and solar were producing essentially nothing, Alberta’s power grid saw 90 per cent of its generation coming from natural gas and a bit of coal. The proposed federal Clean Electricity Standard would require all natural gas and coal power generation (except in exceptional circumstances) to cease by 2035. That would effectively mean Alberta would need to replace nearly its entire power generation with non-emitting power generation within 12 years to conform to the proposed regulations. Saskatchewan often sees coal and natural gas, combined, making up 84 per cent of its power generation on days when it’s really cold, really hot, and not windy.

 

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