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

Wind power in Saskatchewan flatlined to zero three times on Sunday, Aug. 6

REGINA – Wind power generation dropped to zero three times on Sunday, Aug. 6, according to SaskPower.

“Wind dropped to zero a few times through the day – 8:11-10:30 a.m., 6:34-6:50 p.m. and 8:52-9:34 p.m. Maximum wind output was 161 MW at 1:16 a.m.,” said SaskPower spokesperson Joel Cherry in an email on Aug. 8. That means for a total of three hours and 17 minutes, zero grid-scale wind power was produced in Saskatchewan from 223 wind turbines across eight wind farms spread across southern Saskatchewan (224 if you include the singular wind turbine operated by Cowessess First Nation, east of Regina).

SaskPower has 617 megawatts of grid-scale wind power generation hooked up to the grid, mostly through power purchase agreements with independent power producers.

A common argument for wind power generation is that “if it’s not blowing here, it’s blowing somewhere.” But the low wind generation in Alberta at 10:47 a.m. coincided almost exactly with zero wind power generation in Saskatchewan at 10:30 a.m. That same day, Alberta also saw wind power generation bottom out much of the day. According to the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), At 10:47 a.m. on Sunday, Aug 6, wind power fell to 31 megawatts out of a possible 3,853 megawatts, or 0.8 per cent. That’s eight ten-thousandths of overall nameplate capacity.

The wind power production belt in Alberta and Saskatchewan runs from Pincher Creek, Alberta to Moosomin, Saskatchewan. That’s the size of the north of France, seen superimposed here. Thetruesizeof.com

That means from Moosomin to Pincher Creek, there was effectively no wind power generation. That’s an area the entire width of northern France, according to thetruesizeof.com.

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Despite our low wind situation in Saskatchewan, at 10:57 a.m., Alberta was importing 87 megawatts from Saskatchewan. At that time wind generation there was 34 megawatts, or 0.9 per cent of nameplate capacity in that province, according to @ReliableAB, an automated Twitter bot account that posts hourly updates on the Alberta Grid using AESO data.

 

In September of 2022, SaskPower started providing daily updates on power generation in Saskatchewan on its website. The page is called Where Your Power Comes From. The data is updated once daily, and provides 24 hour averages of each type of power generation. But those averages can mask the actual fluctuations occurring, as evidenced above, with three periods of zero power from wind and a peak of 161 megawatts.

Power generation in Saskatchewan on Sunday, Aug. 6, in megawatts (MW). These are 24 hour averages. SaskPower

On Aug. 6, wind averaged 27 megawatts, or one per cent of total generation. Hydro came in at 282 megawatts, or 10 per cent total generation. Solar averaged five megawatts, which was negligible. Natural gas’ 1,551 megawatts made up 56 per cent of total generation. Coal produced an average of 776 megawatts, or 28 per cent, and “other” was 136 megawatts, or five per cent of total generation.

That means once again, coal and natural gas combined to supply an average 84 per cent of Saskatchewan’s power needs for that day. The federal government is seeking to remove unabated fossil fuel power generation from the electrical grid by 2035.

Since early June, SaskPower has been contending one of its three coal-fired power plants being out of order – the Poplar River Power Station at Coronach. It was damaged by flooding. SaskPower expects to see one of the two units there to come online within days, but it’s not up yet.

 

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