Twitter/Alberta Electric System Operator

For the second time in three days, on Dec. 1 the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) has issued a “grid alert” and called on people to conserve energy.

They even made a handy dandy graphic to tweet, saying, “Reminder to try and conserve energy between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.”

This, in one of the most energy-rich jurisdictions on the entire planet. This, in a province with the third-largest oil reserves. This, in a province which has coal under much of its soil, and more natural gas than God.

Alberta has coal under much of the southern part of the province. albertawilderness.ca

This is ludicrous.

Why did this happen? First, they shut down nearly all the coal-fired power generation. You know, the stuff that works, and has worked, for generations. Now, only one facility remains, with just two coal units left and one capable of coal or natural gas.

Much of the rest of the coal fleet has been converted to natural gas, and thank God for that, because at least they have something to fall back on.

And it’s absolutely necessary, because the continued construction of additional wind turbines, diluting the fleet with intermittent power.

Twice, in one week. Twice the Alberta grid has tottered on the brink. The brink of what? Do we want to find out? Maybe we could ask Texas how much fun that was in February of 2021?

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Let me point out this is happening when nearly everyone is still driving a gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle. Electric vehicles are very much the exception, not the rule.

Yet the federal government has decreed in its last budget that by 2035, you will no longer be able to purchase a gasoline or diesel-powered light vehicle. They’ll have to be zero emissions, which means either electric or hydrogen vehicles. But the purported hydrogen economy doesn’t exist, at all, right now. It will take decades to put in place.

So what happens when everyone in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Stettler and Oyen comes home from work and plugs in their EV? On Thursday, the AESO chose a graphic suggesting people not turn on their dishwashers, which draw an average of 10 amps. The extended range Ford F-150 Lightning and Chevy Silverado EV come with an 80 amp charger, which requires a 100 amp service – just for the charger. That’s equal to the service of a typical house built prior to this century.

And even if no one buys an electric pickup and they all buy electric Teslas running on 30 amp chargers, that’s still three times the power draw of the dishwasher AESO was so kind to warn Albertans about.

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Oh, maybe they’ll program their EV to not start charging until later in the evening, when grid demand goes down. Okay, but what if the wind does not pick up for an entire day?

And while it’s cold in Alberta now, it’s not that cold. Southern Alberta, where all the wind farms are, is only around -20 C. At -30 C, those wind farms have to shut down lest they shatter from the cold.

As I’ve written time and time again this past year – this is not a “once in 100 year flood event,” as we hear from weather forecasters. This happens time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time again in Alberta. (All those 12 times are just the failures of wind in Alberta since June that I’m aware of.) Wind power production drops to next to zero.

And, of course, solar drops to zero every single night. Forever. Every. Single. Night.

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  • 0033 Buffalo Potash Jared Small Footprint
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
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  • 0025 Kendalls
  • 0026 Buffalo Potash Quinton Salt
  • 0023 LC Trucking tractor picker hiring mix
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Alberta leads, Saskatchewan follows

And we are well on this path in Saskatchewan, folks. SaskPower did a presentation to the Estevan Chamber of Commerce a month ago, one where I asked a lot of hard questions. They’re proud of the fact that 3,000 megawatts of wind and solar are going to be built here over the next few years. Indeed, on Nov. 7, it announced a further 700 megawatts of wind and solar – 400 megawatts of wind and 300 megawatts of solar.

On Nov. 29, SaskPower’s entire grid produced 3,341 megawatts.

That’s up about 10 per cent, by the way, from usual 3,000-odd megawatts SaskPower has been producing most of the fall.

So what happens in this province, when we build out all this wind and solar, and we’re all driving electric vehicles, and the wind simply dies? Again? And again? And we’ve shut down our coal, and maybe we haven’t built enough natural gas and nuclear reactors are delayed and over budget?

What then?

Do we, quite literally, freeze in the dark?

SaskPower is bound and determined on this path, building more wind and solar. And they answer to the provincial government, its sole owner and shareholder. That government must stand up and take notice.

We can’t build a power grid where “grid alerts” become routine. I don’t ever want to see a grid alert in Saskatchewan because it got cold one day. This is Saskatchewan. It gets cold here. Any day. And I don’t want to see a grid alert because the wind fails. Because it does that, too.

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  • 0026 Buffalo Potash Quinton Salt
  • 0023 LC Trucking tractor picker hiring mix
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We are a 21st century society in a G7 nation. We’re not some warm equatorial backwater Third World nation where, if the grid becomes unstable, we’ll be okay. We will not be okay. Someone’s grandma will end up freezing to death. And then someone’s dad. And someone else’s kid. Maybe that’s your grandma, dad or kid.

This is not hyperbole. How many died in Texas in February 2021? (The answer is at least 57) And that was Texas, not a province that could have stood in for the planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.

As evidenced twice this past week, the electrical grid can barely handle the demand we have, now, before we switch most of our transportation system to electric vehicles. What happens when half our cars and trucks are EVs? Then three-quarters? What happens when the wind doesn’t blow then? No one goes to work?

When will the other media take notice? When will they start to question this mad rush to wind and solar, and total adoption of electric vehicles? When will someone else in the Saskatchewan media declare “The emperor has no clothes?”

I’m waiting, not so patiently, for the other media to join me.

Maybe you might want to ask them why they aren’t ringing the alarm bell, too? Ding! Ding! Ding!

 

Brian Zinchuk is editor and owner of Pipeline Online. He can be reached at brian.zinchuk@pipelineonline.ca.

 

  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0040 Southeast College safety tickets
    0040 Southeast College safety tickets
  • 0036 Prairie Lithium - Chad Glemser 30 Sec
  • 0033 Buffalo Potash Jared Small Footprint
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0029 Latus Viro updated Latus phone
  • 0025 Kendalls
  • 0026 Buffalo Potash Quinton Salt
  • 0023 LC Trucking tractor picker hiring mix
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0019 Jerry Mainil Ltd hiring dugout
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0014 Buffalo Potash What if PO
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0004 Royal Helium PO Ad 02
  • 9001
  • 0002

 

Editor’s note: below are just some of the stories documenting wind’s failure in Alberta since June. To find even more, click here

Alberta’s now 32 wind farms with 3,076 megawatts capacity put out just 15 megawatts at supper on Tuesday, and 3 megawatts at midnight

Wind power is not cooking your Thanksgiving turkey in Alberta on Sunday afternoon

Alberta’s wind power generation drops to 18 ten-thousandths of its capacity Saturday evening, or 0.18%

Sunday morning, Alberta’s wind was putting out just 106 megawatts of 2,589 megawatts, or 4 per cent

Alberta’s wind power generation drops to 0.5 % capacity on a day when temps hit 30+ C across much of the province

Another Wednesday, another day Alberta’s wind power puts out 2% of its rated capacity

Thursday morning, Alberta’s wind fleet was producing just 10 megawatts out of 2,589, 0.4% of capacity

Alberta adds another 200 megawatt wind farm, yet still gets next to no power from its now 28 wind farms

Alberta’s wind fleet was putting out less than 1% of its capacity during Wednesday morning coffee break

Two days ago, Saskatchewan set another summer power consumption record. Today, Alberta’s wind is currently putting out 1.2% of its capacity