Wind turbines near Assiniboia. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

REGINA – It’s hot out, and Saskatchewan people have cranked up their air conditioners. SaskPower announced on July 15 that two days earlier, the province hit a summer peak in electrical demand. On July 13, at 5:22 p.m., SaskPower observed a new summer demand record for electricity of 3,551 megawatts (MW).

SaskPower said in a release, “With the extreme heat anticipated to remain for several days it is possible that another new record could be set within the week.”

“Saskatchewan is no stranger to extreme temperatures, and with every new demand record set, SaskPower continues to provide stable, reliable power for our customers,” said Kory Hayko, Vice President of Transmission and Industrial Services at SaskPower, in a release. “We have a number of protocols and contingencies in place to ensure that throughout this current heatwave, SaskPower’s system will deliver the power our customers need.”

In its release, the Crown noted, “At peak, SaskPower registered approximately 260 MW of generation coming from wind facilities and 8 MW coming from solar facilities. SaskPower also had adequate power reserves throughout the peak hours, should demand increase further.”

What it did not mention was that 260 MW was less than half the 626 megawatts of installed wind capacity. Thus, at peak demand, Saskatchewan’s nine wind power facilities with a cumulative installed capacity of 626 MW were putting out 41.5 per cent of that rated capacity.

SaskPower has 10 MW of utility-scale solar generation, with a further 44 MW of customer generated solar capacity, according to its system map.

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The previous record was set on June 30 of last year and was 3,547 MW. The difference of 4 MW is the equivalent of approximately 4,000 average Saskatchewan homes. The all-time demand record of 3,910 MW was set on December 30, 2021.

SaskPower does not make its minute-by-minute power generation numbers available online like Alberta does. To see what’s happening there, check out http://ets.aeso.ca/ets_web/ip/Market/Reports/CSDReportServlet .

And July 15 revealed yet another say where Alberta wind generation was an utter failure, producing less than a couple per cent of its supposed capacity.

Looking next door to Alberta, on June 15, at 11:24 a.m., the Alberta grid was getting just 28 MW out of its installed based of 2,269 MW of wind generation across its built out of 26 wind farms. That’s 1.2 per cent of nameplate capacity and an average of just 1.07 MW per wind farm, even though some have a capacity of more than 200 MW and one has 300 MW capacity. Solar in Alberta was doing far better, however, producing 688 MW out of an installed base of 977 MW, or 70.4 per cent.

And an hour later, at 12:20 p.m., Alberta’s wind generation dropped to 20 megawatts, 0.88 per cent, or less than one per cent. By 12:51, it dropped to 11 megawatts, or 0.5 per cent capacity.

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Notably, Alberta has installed 50 MW of battery storage to deal with such contingencies, but not once in over six months of observations of this site has Pipeline Online seen one megawatt actually applied to the grid. On this day, all 50 megawatts are listed as dispatched contingency reserve. But it’s not being used.

This is occurring as Alberta is in the middle of its own heat wave, with much of Western Canada, including southern Alberta, having heat warnings issued by Environment Canada.

Alberta’s electrical grid, in megawatts, as of 11:24 am on July 15, 2022. AESO

 

Alberta’s wind generation, in megawatts, as of 11:24 am on July 15, 2022. AESO

Alberta’s wind generation, in megawatts, as of 11:24 am on July 15, 2022. AESO

Heat warnings as of 11:52 a.m. across Western Canada. Environment Canada and Climate Change

 

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Two days in June show utter failure of solar and wind power in Alberta