Alberta’s Bull Creek Wind Farm, touching the Saskatchewan border between Provost and Macklin. On Sept. 12, the day of the photo, most of the turbines were not turning. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

Re: Brian Zinchuk: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 29 times, shame on me, published Oct. 1, 2022.

In that column you spoke about following the Alberta Electric System Operator website. I, too, have followed the data on the AESO website since about 2015.

About that time I found the article entitled Alberta – A Case Study in Wind Energy Management  I have attached a copy of that report (Alberta – A Case Study in Wind Energy Management – from The Black Swan Blog) as it further highlights what you reported in your “Fool me” article – that wind power is very intermittent and unreliable.  The pie chart below is from the case study

and shows plainly how variable wind power is.

This case study prompted me to follow the AESO data for each month of 2017.  I compiled that data into an Excel table which I have attached (Wind Power stats for 2017 from AESO data).  Perhaps of most concern is that there were 257 hrs (over 10 days in total) when the wind power output was zero – and the months of most ZERO hours are the coldest months when freezing temperatures are happening.  So the 2017 data confirms the earlier 2012 data – meaning that no matter how many wind farms are built, there will always be over 200 hours of ZERO wind power.  From an atmospheric viewpoint, whenever there are recurring periods of prolonged stable high pressure (such as frigid winter weather or summer heat waves) when there is also next to no wind – leading to no (or very low) wind power.

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It may also interest you that NONE of the power stations in Alberta are owned by the Alberta provincial government. So it is the money of private corporations such as Atco, TransAlta, etc that continue to build wind AND solar farms. The AESO is basically just a referee trying to see that the rules of the game are followed.

Both wind and solar change significantly through the day. The attached AESO data for Jan 9 2020 shows wind dropping from over 650 MW at 7 AM to zero by 10 PM.

Click here to see the above graphic as a pdf: AESO Wind Jan 9 2020.

Solar follows the cycle of the sun – and can drop quickly at any solar farm whenever clouds drift by.  In the USA, large solar farms are required to have large battery energy storage systems (BESS)  associated with them to protect the grid from instability and blackouts when a major cloud bank drifts over.

In Alberta we are drifting along into a major dilemma in power generation – and the provincial government either does not see it – or is indifferent.

 

Best regards,

 

Ivan Purdy, P. Eng (retired)

Red Deer, Alta

 

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Brian Zinchuk: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 29 times, shame on me

For 3 days in a row, Alberta’s wind power production has cratered to just about zero

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