Wind turbines on the Alberta side of the Saskatcehwan/Alberta border, northwest of Macklin, Saskatchewan Photo by Brian Zinchuk

On a day when SaskPower announced a major interconnect agreement with the American Southwest Power Pool, its necessity was vividly demonstrated by Alberta’s power grid.

It turns out that adding more wind power generation does not necessarily mean you’re actually going to get more power to the grid.

Alberta’s nameplate wind generation in recent days climbed from 2,269 megawatts to 2,389, an increase of 120 megawatts of theoretical capacity. But at 10:46 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, the entire Alberta grid, now with 27 wind farms, was putting out just 188 megawatts of power, or 7.9 per cent of its theoretical capacity.

Alberta’s power generation, in megawatts, at 10:46 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 10. TNG means total net to grid, while MC means maximum capacity. All are in megawatts. Alberta Electric System Operator

 

Of those 27 wind farms, 16 were putting out precisely zero megawatts to the grid.

Alberta’s wind power generation, in megawatts, at 10:46 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 10. TNG means total net to grid, while MC means maximum capacity. All are in megawatts. Alberta Electric System Operator

The new addition was the 120 megawatt Wheatland Wind Project, 30 kilometres south of Drumheller. It involved the installation of 24 Siemens Gamesa wind turbines, each rated at 5.0 megawatts. It is listed on the AESO website, however, the project’s website says construction is not expected to be complete until December 2022.

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At the same time, solar was putting out just 184 megawatts of 991, or 18.6 per cent. Again, that was mid-morning, at 10:46 a.m., not the evening or at night.

Alberta’s solar power generation, in megawatts, at 10:46 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 10. TNG means total net to grid, while MC means maximum capacity. All are in megawatts. Alberta Electric System Operator

There are days when Alberta’s wind is blowing and the province’s grid is getting cumulatively 75 per cent, or more of its wind capacity. And at times during the day, its solar capacity nearly maxed out. But Aug. 10 was not one of those days. And neither was July 27. Or July 15.

And this was one of the driving factors for SaskPower signing up with the Southwest Power Pool. When one area, even as massive as southern Alberta, with plenty of wind farms, sees the doldrums curtailing wind power generation, power can be drawn from another region where the wind may be blowing, or the sun shining, or both. SaskPower continues to build out more wind capacity, and will likely face similar conditions in the future.

 

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SaskPower signs 20 year agreement with the States to buy or sell up to 650 megawatts

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