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

Wind power generation in Saskatchewan showed incredible variability in the first half of March. Some days the wind blew, and others, it sucked.

According to SaskPower’s Where Your Power Comes From web page, which displays daily 24-hour averages for each class of power generation, on March 15, the 617 megawatts of nameplate wind power generation capacity produced an average of 542 megawatts, or 87.8 per cent capacity. This is among the highest numbers ever observed by Pipeline Online since September, 2022, when SaskPower started posting this data.

Power generation in Saskatchewan averaged over 24 hours on March 15. SaskPower

 

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However, the previous week, numbers weren’t so great. On March 6, wind averaged 51 megawatts. That’s 8.2 per cent of nameplate. And the following day, March 7, saw wind average 59 megawatts, or 9.5 per cent of capacity.

Power generation in Saskatchewan averaged over 24 hours on March 6. SaskPower

And since that’s an average, there were times when output was lower than that. However, this time around, wind output didn’t hit zero, but it did fall below 10 megawatts (1.6 per cent capacity).

SaskPower spokesperson Joel Cherry said by email on March 11, “We actually very little time less than 10 megawatts during those two days – only 1.3 hours on March 6. We didn’t register any 0 megawatts hours.”

On March 6, natural gas made up 47 per cent of generation, coal 40 per cent, wind one per cent, solar negligible, and “other” four per cent. On March 7, natural gas made up 45 per cent of generation, coal 41 per cent, wind two per cent, solar negligible, and “other” four per cent.

That’s significant, because fossil fuels combined to generate 87 per cent and 86 per cent of total average generation. But by 2035, the federal government’s proposed Clean Electricity Regulations would mean shutting down all that natural gas and coal-fired generation, unless carbon capture is installed. And by 2050, the federal government expects the electrical grid to increase by a factor of 2.5. That’s in 25 years, nine months and 13 days.

Earlier in the month, Boundary Dam Unit 4, which supposedly retired Dec. 31, 2021, but keeps getting called back into service because its still needed, was once again fired up. Cherry said, “BD4 ran up to March 1, but it has been off since then.”

However, on March 7, SaskPower’s coal output was shown to average 1,408 megawatts. That’s 19 megawatts higher than the current rated capacity of Poplar River, Boundary Dam and Shand Power Stations, as listed by SaskPower’s website.

 

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