Wind turbines near Assiniboia, July 10, 2021. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

REGINA – Another cold day, another record set.

SaskPower reported on Dec. 31 that it set another record for power consumption at 6:01 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 30.

The province was consuming 3,910 megawatts, an increase of 42 megawatts over the previous day’s record of 3,868 on Dec. 29, also around the same time of day.

According to Environment Canada, at that time, temperatures across the province were as follows (in Celsius): Estevan, -28; Regina, -32; Saskatoon, -31; Prince Albert, -31; Lloydminster, -31.

In the areas where Saskatchewan’s wind farms operated, the temperatures were: Swift Current, -29; Eastend, -23; Indian Head, -33; Moosomin -30; Assiniboia, -26. Those temperatures are significant, because when the temperature dips below -30 C, wind turbines shut down so that cold brittle behaviour does not cause them to shatter.

“At peak we were generating about 120 megawatts of wind,” SaskPower spokesperson Scott McGregor told Pipeline Online on Dec. 31.

He noted that records are often set when there’s multiple days of extreme weather, be it hot in the summer, or cold in the winter. “From what grid control told me, it usually goes when there’s extreme weather, be it hot or cold, that sustains for multiple days. It goes high the first day, higher the second day, higher the third day, then it plateaus at the third day level and then it starts going down, when the weather starts to normalize a bit.”

This being News Year’s Eve, he said things might be a bit different, with people going out for supper or coming home earlier in the day.

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Dec. 30 was the second day in a row power consumption peaked during the supper hour. Asked to explain this, McGregor said, “The majority of Saskatchewan gets home around five-ish. Everyone starts heating up their home at the same time, around 5 o’clock, 4:30 or so. People are coming home, and turning on their TVs and their lights, starting up their ovens and doing laundry. It’s just kind of when everyone does the same thing that uses a lot of energy.”

He explained that the residential use is on top of the industrial consumption from companies like Enbridge, which use power throughout the day.

Across the border, in Alberta, it’s also cold. The Alberta Electric System Operator posts minute-by-minute power production numbers. This data is provided at http://ets.aeso.ca/ets_web/ip/Market/Reports/CSDReportServlet.

At noon, on Dec. 31, the province was running near its own record of power consumption, with an internal load of 11,232 megawatts being consumed. Earlier in the week, Alberta was consuming 11,620 megawatts. Its all-time record was 11,729 megawatts, set in February, 2021.

Alberta power generation summary at noon, MST, Dec. 31, 2021. Source: Alberta Electric System Operator

 

Alberta has 736 megawatts of its solar installations installed and linked to the grid. At 9:20 a.m. MST, during daylight hours, it was producing a total of 10 megawatts out of its 13 grid-linked solar facilities. At noon MST, the sun highest in the sky, that output had improved to 58 megawatts to the grid, out of a possible 736. In other words, Alberta’s entire solar fleet was producing 7.9 per cent of its total theoretical capacity.

Alberta solar generation summary at noon, MST, Dec. 31, 2021. Source: Alberta Electric System Operator

Wind produced even less. At noon, MST, on New Uears Eve, Alberta’s entire wind fleet was producing 18 megawatts to the grid out of a total installed capacity of 2,269 megawatts. The entire wind fleet was producing 0.8 per cent of its theoretical installed capacity. Only seven of Alberta’s 26 wind farms were producing any power at all, and their combined output averaged less than one megawatt per facility.

The remaining coal fleet, however, was running near close to full capacity.

Alberta coal generation summary at noon, MST, Dec. 31, 2021. Source: Alberta Electric System Operator

 

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NEWS: TransAlta completes conversion from coal to natural gas power in Canada

SaskPower sets consumption record of 3,868 megawatts on Dec. 29, wind created 290 megawatts of that

It’s -32 C, and we spent 3.5 hours snowblowing today. Could an electric snowblower charged by wind power have done it?