Wind turbines near Pincher Creek. Photo by Clive Schaupmeyer.

For three of four days last week, Alberta saw its wind power generation utterly collapse.

On Friday, May 12, Alberta’s wind generation fell to the lowest number Pipeline Online has seen in 17 months of following the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO). At 7:25 a.m., Alberta’s wind generation fell to 2 megawatts, out of a nameplate capacity of 3,618 megawatts installed, between hundreds of wind turbines across 36 wind farms, collectively costing billions of dollars.

That’s 0.06 per cent capacity, or 3 ten-thousandths of capacity.

That also means at most two, and possibly as low as one, of Alberta’s 36 wind farms were generating any power at all. The rest would have been zeros across the board.

That’s according to data from the Alberta Electric System Operator, as logged by Twitter bot account @ReliableAB

At that moment, the 89 megawatts Alberta was importing from Saskatchewan was 44.5x the output of Alberta’s entire wind fleet. The last remaining coal-fired power plant’s two coal units were putting out 813 megawatts, or 406.5x the volume of power those hundreds of wind turbines were putting out. And Alberta’s internal load, at the moment, was 8,510 megawatts, which is about 2,000 megawatts lower than high demand times during the winter.

One singular large diesel generator made by Caterpillar could have produced more power than the entire fleet of Alberta wind turbines at that time.

Just one of these Caterpillar 3616 generators could have put out more power than all of the hundreds of wind turbines across Alberta, combined, at 7:25 a.m. on Friday, May 12. Caterpillar

 

 

Also at that moment, natural gas and coal (principally natural gas) were producing 90.7 per cent of Alberta’s power generation. But the proposed federal Clean Electricity Standard says that by 2035, fossil fuels cannot be used for power generation. Natural gas may only be used in exceptional circumstances at that point.

This graphic from Dispatcho.appp shows the output of all wind farms in Alberta on Friday, May 12. Notice how in the morning, it was flatlines across the board. Dispatcho.app

 

And throughout Friday, wind power remained at 102 megawatts (2.8 per cent) or substantially lower for 14 hours, from 11:15 p.m. the evening before, until 2:25 p.m. on May 12. At 8:25 a.m. it was 4 megawatts, and again at 11:25 a.m.

At 12:25 p.m. it was 8 megawatts.

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This followed abysmal lows at 9:25 a.m. on Tuesday, May 9, when Alberta’s wind power generation cratered, again, to 13 megawatts, or 0.4 per cent capacity.

 

And at 11:25 a.m. on Wednesday, May 10, wind power production had fallen to 6 megawatts, out of a nameplate capacity of 3,618 megawatts. That’s 0.17 per cent, or 17 ten-thousandths of capacity.

 

SaskPower has stated that it intends on expanding the existing 617 megawatts of grid-scale wind and 30 megawatts of grid-scale solar by an additional 3,000 megawatts by 2035.

 

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