CORRECTION: This story initially reported that Alberta has 736 megawatts of solar power installed. The Travers facility is listed by the Alberta Electric System Operator, but Travers in fact is not actually operational yet as it is under construction. So the total of Alberta’s installed solar capacity is 336 megawatts, meaning the total of wind and solar’s installed base is 2,605 megawatts, not 3,005 megawatts, as initially reported. Calculations in this story have been updated on Feb. 2, 2022, to reflect that.

It turns out that in addition to getting cold in Alberta, it can also get cloudy. And when it does, as it did on Jan. 13, even the noon hour doesn’t produce much solar power in mid-January.

You can find this information updated every minute from the Alberta Electric System Operator at http://ets.aeso.ca/ets_web/ip/Market/Reports/CSDReportServlet. SaskPower does not provide anywhere close to this level of detail to the public. Instead, its website offers a singular number – the current system load, at https://www.saskpower.com/Our-Power-Future/Our-Electricity/Electrical-System/System-Map.

Alberta power generation, in megawatts, at 12:30 p.m. MST, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. Source: AESO

On at 12:30 MST on Jan. 13, Alberta’s power grid was reporting its 13 solar power generating stations  (12 active, Travers under construction) were bringing in a total of 71 megawatts, or 21.1 per cent of their rated capacity, when the sun was highest in the sky. It briefly hit 77 megawatts, only to fall to 61 megawatts half an hour later.

At the same time, its wind generation had picked up considerably compared to the previous week. The 26 wind farms in the province were putting out 1,398 megawatts out of an installed capacity of 2,269 megawatts. That’s 61.6 per cent.

 

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On at 10:45 p.m. on Jan 5, solar and wind combined were contributing just 3 megawatts to the grid.

 

Alberta solar power generation, in megawatts, at 12:30 p.m. MST, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. Source: AESO

Satellite imagery from Environment Canada showed the culprit for Alberta’s lack of solar output. Satellite photos at 12:20 p.m. showed most of the Alberta and essentially all of Saskatchewan under cloud cover. Milder temperatures across Alberta meant that wind turbines did not need to shut down, as they do when it’s -30 C.

Satellite imagery of Western Canada at 12:20 p.m., MST. Source: Environment Canada

In the past two weeks, Alberta has seen three coal-fired power generators fall off its list. At the end of December, Genesee Units 1, 2 and 3 were in operations, as were Keephills Units 1 and 3, and Sundance Unit 4.

Since then, Keephills 3 has switched over to natural gas, showing up under the gas fired steam heading. Sundance 4 is also on gas fired steam list, too, but it is scheduled to retire April 1, 2022. Keephills 1 was retired on Dec. 31. TranAlta also ended mining operations at the Highvale Mine, west of Edmonton, on Dec. 31.

Alberta coal power generation at 12:30 p.m. MST Jan. 13, 2022. Source: AESO

 

 

 

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NEWS: TransAlta completes conversion from coal to natural gas power in Canada

Alberta’s wind and solar produced 1/10 of 1% of their total rated capacity on Wednesday night

Brian Zinchuk: Alberta wind and solar produced 76 megawatts out of a theoretical 2,605 megawatts at noon on New Year’s Eve, with cold warnings all over the province