If you were taking out your turkey in Alberta Saturday evening to get ready for Thanksgiving, it’s almost certain your lights were not being powered by wind.

That’s because at 9:18 p.m. on Saturday, Alberta’s fleet of 29 wind farms capable of a nameplate capacity of 2,734 megawatts was contributing five megawatts. That’s 0.18 per cent. That’s 18 ten-thousandths of its capacity.

It also accounted for only 0.05 per cent of Alberta’s total power generation at that time, or five ten-thousandths of total power production. That’s only slightly more than solar, which was zero.

Alberta’s total power generation at 9:18 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8. MC is maximum capacity, in megawatts, while TNG is total net to grid, in megawatts. Alberta Electric System Operator

Those numbers are from the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), which posts minute-by-minute updates of the Alberta electrical grid.

Only four wind facilities were generating any power at all. Three were producing a singular megawatt a piece, while one was producing two megawatts.

Alberta’s wind power generation at 9:18 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8. Alberta Electric System Operator

In the half hour before that Alberta had been drawing up to 493 megawatts from British Columbia, but after 9 p.m. Alberta fired up additional gas-fired generation such that imports from Alberta dropped to 156 megawatts.

Despite having now 1,088 megawatts of solar power across 27 installations (a number which has recently increased), the sun was not shining at 9:18 p.m in Alberta, even though the full moon was. Curiously, at approximately 2 a.m. a few nights before, AESO reported 1 megawatt was being produced from solar – obviously a glitch, but perhaps a miracle?

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Despite solar putting out nothing and wind putting out next to nothing Saturday night, Alberta’s four battery storage facilities with a combined capacity of 70 megawatts were not called upon to supplement the grid.

Alberta’s battery storage output at 9:18 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8. Alberta Electric System Operator

Two of those facilities were indeed called upon the previous evening of Oct. 7. eReserve 1 Rycroft saw its full 20 megawatts used – for nine minutes – from 11:12 to 11:21 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7, according to Dispatcho.app, which provides historical data published from AESO.

Two of Alberta’s four battery facilities contributed power to the grid in the 24 hours leading up to Saturday evening. eReserve 1 Rycroft did so, for 9 minutes. But that was late Friday night, not on Saturday. Dispatcho.app

 

And eReserve3 Mercer Hill provided its maximum output – 20 megawatts – for 10 minutes as well, from 11:12 to 11:22 p.m. on Friday night, the same time eReserve 1 was use. But the other two battery facilities were not used at that time.

Saskatchewan’s wind did better the day before

SaskPower has recently started publishing similar data, although not as detailed and delayed a few days.

On Oct. 7, SaskPower and its power purchase partners generated an average of 2,808 megawatts. The demand was an average of 2,669 megawatts and an average of 139 megawatts were exported.

Saskatchewan’s wind output averaged 202 megawatts, or 32.8 per cent of the 615 megawatts of installed wind generation. That resulted in wind providing 7 per cent of total generation. That output was the highest observed to date since Pipeline Online has been tracking this, beginning Oct. 3.

Saskatchewan’s grid production on Oct. 7. All numbers are 24-hour averages. SaskPower

Natural gas  and coal were neck-and-neck, within a rounding error. Each provided roughly 39 per cent of total generation, but coal led with an average of 1,107 megawatts, and natural gas was an average of 1,099 megawatts over the day.

Solar averaged 3 megawatts, however, that’s a 24 hour average, and does not reflect its higher output during daylight hours.

 

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What does a day of power production look like in Saskatchewan? SaskPower substantially increases the amount of power production data it releases in effort to educate public