Alberta wind turbines. Photo by Clive Schaupmeyer

While most Albertans were in bed or brushing their teeth on the way to bed, Alberta’s newly expanded wind and solar power generation again dropped to next to nothing.

At 10:17 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 3, Alberta’s now 5,523 megawatts of grid-scale wind and solar power generation was producing 84 megawatts.

 

Alberta power generation at 10:17 p.m.. on Thursday, Nov. 2. MC is maximum capacity in megawatts, TNC is total net to grid, in megawatts, and DCR is dispatched and accepted contingency reserve. Alberta Electric System Operator

That’s 1.5 per cent of total wind and solar. Since the sun had long gone down, that was entirely from wind, according to data from the Alberta Electric System Operator.

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(The data at the time showed an improbable 1 megawatt of solar power generated. Unless there was a mirror in space reflecting the sun from the other side of the world, that was likely an error.)

Alberta wind generation at 10:17 p.m.. on Thursday, Nov. 2. MC is maximum capacity in megawatts, TNC is total net to grid, in megawatts, and DCR is dispatched and accepted contingency reserve. Alberta Electric System Operator

That 84 megawatts reflected 2 per cent of the nameplate capacity of wind power, alone. Of the 39 wind farms in Alberta, 26 were generating no power at all at that time.

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Over 94 per cent of Alberta’s power at the time was coming from fossil fuels, mostly natural gas, with a bit of coal. The proposed federal Clean Electricity Regulations, if passed as proposed, will require all of that to be either shut down or see very expensive carbon capture plants installed. Unabated natural gas plants will only be allowed to operated for 450 hours, or 18 days per year, under the proposed regulations.

At that moment, the last remaining coal plant in Alberta was producing 813 megawatts out of a nameplate capacity of 820. That was 99.1 per cent of capacity, and 9.7 times the output of the entire fleet of wind and solar generation at that moment.

It wasn’t terribly sunny during the day, either. Travers, the largest solar facility in Canada at 465 megawatts, peaked at 151 megawatts at 1:36 p.m. According to X bot account @ReliableAB, at 12:39 p.m., when the sun is at its highest during the noon hour, solar was producing 299 megawatts, or 21.8 per cent of installed capacity. And that was its peak for the day, based on @ReliableAB’s hourly samplings.

In recent days, several more solar and wind facilities have been added to the AESO board, although they have not been generating power yet. There are now 39 grid-scale wind farms in Alberta, and 37 solar farms. The total Alberta buildout of wind and solar is already substantially more than the additional 3,000 megawatts SaskPower intends on adding to its grid by 2035. SaskPower currently has 617 megawatts of grid-scale wind and 30 megawatts of grid-scale solar capacity.

 

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