Assembly of a wind turbine near Assiniboia, Sask., on Jan. 7, 2021. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

Every day from Jan. 2 to Jan. 8 saw a period of zero wind, according to SaskPower

 

The first week of January saw wind power production totally flatline in Saskatchewan for at least part of each of seven days in a row, from Jan. 2 to Jan. 8, inclusive.

SaskPower has 617 megawatts of grid-scale wind power generation hooked up to its system, most of which is owned and operated by independent power producers selling through power purchase agreements. The eight wind farms mostly hug the TransCanada Highway from Gull Lake to Moosomin, meaning their relatively broadly dispersed. That’s an area slightly less than the width of Germany. But even so, they didn’t have much power to sell this past week.

On Jan. 2, SaskPower saw zero wind power for 0.6 hours, with wind less than 10 megawatts for seven hours, including that 0.6 hours with no wind at all.

On Jan. 3, there was zero wind power for 0.6 hours and less than 10 megawatts for 4.7 hours (including the zero power 0.6 hours). Wind averaged 97 megawatts over 24 hours (15.7 per cent capacity).

Then on Jan. 4, a whole 2.2 hours saw zero wind power. A total of 2.6 hours had less than 10 megawatts (including the 2.2 hours of zero power). Wind averaged 85 megawatts over 24 hours (13.8 per cent capacity).

Jan. 5 saw 2.0 hours with zero wind and a total 7.1 hours with less than 10 megawatts (inclusive of the 2.0 hours of zero wind). Wind averaged 73 megawatts over the day (11.8 per cent capacity).

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Jan. 6 had 0.3 hours with no wind, and a total of 3.1 hours of less than 10 megawatts (inclusive of 0.3 hours of zero wind).

UPDATE: On 7 numbers, on Jan. 7, there was no wind for 0.1 hours and 3.4 hours with wind at less than 10 megawatts. SaskPower’s Where Your Power Comes From web page indicated wind on that day averaged 27 megawatts for the 24-hour period, lower than all the other days listed above. It’s also 4.3 per cent of capacity.

And on Jan. 8, there were 1.4 hours with no wind and approximately 7.7 hours with less than 10 megawatts of wind generation (inclusive).

Jan. 7 was the highest percentage of fossil fuel power generation Pipeline Online has seen yet, since September 2022. SaskPower

 

According to SaskPower, Jan. 7 saw 52 per cent of Saskatchewan’s power come from natural gas, an average of 1,762 megawatts, and 37 per cent come from coal, an average of 1,238 megawatts. Combined, natural gas and coal made up 89 per cent of Saskatchewan’s power generation. This is the highest percentage Pipeline Online has seen yet since SaskPower started posting this data in September, 2022.

Across the border in Alberta, wind power dropped to 20 megawatts out of 4,481 megawatts installed capacity in that province at 8:42 p.m. on Jan. 8, or 0.4 per cent capacity.

Also notably, these days occurred before the major cold snap settled in on Saskatchewan, which is worsening by the day towards the weekend, when lows of -33 C are expected in Estevan on Jan. 13.

Significance

As noted in previous stories, this number is significant. The 89 per cent of Saskatchewan’s power being provided by fossil fuels, natural gas and coal, is notable because the federal government wants all conventional coal (without carbon capture) gone by 2030, and unabated natural gas (again, without carbon capture) gone by 2035. That’s 25 years, 11 months and 22 days from now. In recent days, Alberta has seen fossil fuels, nearly all natural gas, provide up to 94 per cent of power in that province on Jan. 8.

In the meantime the proposed Clean Electricity Regulations envision multiplying the Canadian electrical grid by a factor of 2.5x by 2050, or 25 years, 11 months and 22 days from now, meaning not only must Saskatchewan and Alberta replace nearly all of their existing power generation on days like Jan. 7 and Jan. 8, but multiply it by 2.5x in that time frame. Both Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and SaskPower CEO Rupen Pandya have said this would be “impossible.”

However, SaskPower intends on adding a further 3,000 megawatts of wind and solar to the grid by 2035. This is in keeping with the province’s commitments to the federal government to build out renewable power generation, part of an “equivalency agreement” to keep existing coal generation going longer than what was going to initially be allowed.

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Wind power flatlined in Saskatchewan on Jan. 2, after days of strong winds

Less than half of one per cent – that’s how much Alberta’s 45 wind farms put out Sunday night