Cloud cover across much of Alberta at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, June 20. Environment Canada

 

Alberta has 1,209 megawatts of nameplate installed solar generation capacity. And at noon on June 20, the second longest day of the year, all of that solar generation was producing half of the rated capacity.

At 11:00 a.m. it was producing around 400 megawatts, according to the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO). That’s one-third of nameplate capacity. By 12:12 p.m., the number had risen to 590 megawatts – half of theoretical capacity.

Alberta has 33 solar farms, but by far the largest is Travers, located in Vulcan County. It has a capacity of 465 megawatts, more than one third of Alberta’s solar capacity. Indeed, on sunny days, Travers often reaches that full output. But at 11:17 a.m., it was producing 240 megawatts, just slightly over half of its capacity.

The reason for this sharp reduction of power output was clear upon inspection of weather satellite imagery. A thick bans of cloud extended across Alberta, from Fort McLeod to Fort McMurray.

 

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