Brian Zinchuk is editor and owner of Pipeline Online
REGINA – There are some days where the wind simply doesn’t blow. And there are some days where it does, and pretty hard, at that.
Oct. 23 was one of those days.
According to SaskPower’s daily webpage update of “Where your power comes from?” on Sunday, Oct. 23, wind power was contributing one of its highest, if not the highest, outputs yet posted since the page went live on Sept. 21. It’s a web page Premier Scott Moe encouraged Saskatchewan people to check out on a regular basis, according to an interview with him on Oct. 11.
On Oct. 23, SaskPower saw an average of 518 megawatts generated over a 24 hour period. Most of the last month that number has been between an average of 150 and 300 megawatts per day.
That 518 megawatts is out of a total nameplate capacity of 617 megawatts. The total average power output was 84 per cent of nameplate capacity. But again, that’s an average – meaning the output varied both higher and lower throughout the day.
According to SaskPower spokesperson Joel Cherry via email on Oct. 25, “(It) turns out our peak wind on Oct 23 was 580 megawatts, which is indeed very high – I am not sure yet whether it’s a record.”
That would mean the eight grid-scale wind farms totalling 617 megawatts across the province peaked at 94 per cent capacity. Usually it is nowhere near that number.
Throughout the day, wind contributed 19 per cent of total generation. Hydro was 10 per cent, or an average of 288 megawatts. Grid-scale solar was negligible, not even showing up on the graph as either a percentage or even an average of a single megawatt (there’s 20 megawatts installed grid-scale solar in Saskatchewan, not counting smaller facilities).
Natural gas generated an average of 1,040 megawatts, or 38 per cent. Coal was 27 per cent of total generation, or an average of 738 megawatts. “Other,” which includes small independent power producers like flare gas, waste heat recovery, landfill gas, and small-scale solar, came in at an average of 167 megawatts, or six per cent overall.
Asked if coal and natural gas had been scaled back to allow for the additional wind that day, Cherry responded, “We ramp down our fossil fuel generation when more wind is available. The grid is actually pretty nimble when it comes to accommodating changes in available intermittent power such as wind.”
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