An osprey flies in front of an Alberta wind turbine. Photo by Clive Schaupmeyer

Wednesday morning, Alberta’s wind and solar power had flatlined to next to zero, again. Coffee makers in Edmonton and Calgary were not running on wind.

As the sun had not yet risen at 7:26 a.m. on Jan. 11, only 1 megawatt of power was being produced from solar, as is expected at this time of the winter (likely an error, as that one megawatt was reported throughout the night.) But wind power generation, which now has a nameplate capacity of 3,618 megawatts, was producing just 19 megawatts across 36 wind farms. And nearly an hour later, that number had only gone up to 26 megawatts, meaning that during morning preparations to go to work or school, Alberta’s grid got basically nothing from wind power.

That’s according to the Alberta Electric System Operator, which posts power production data minute-by-minute. Dispatcho.app logs that data, and it shows that wind power throughout the entire province petered out during the night.

Alberta total power generation at 7:26 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 11. MC is maximum capacity, in megawatts, TNG is total net to grid, and DCR is dispatched (and accepted) contingency reserve. Alberta Electric System Operator

 

Indeed, wind generation had been at that level for several hours, according to Twitter bot account @ReliableAB. At 4:25 a.m., wind was producing 22 megawatts. And four hours later, at 11:18 a.m., wind was generating 28 megawatts.

Only six of those 36 wind farms were generating any power whatsoever. To be fair, around a half dozen were recently added to the grid, and have not yet fulling gone online. But that still leaves 24 wind farms, with hundreds of individual turbines between them costing collectively several billion dollars, producing zero to the grid.

Alberta wind generation at 7:26 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 11. Alberta Electric System Operator

 

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Alberta’s last two coal-generating power units, Genessee 1 and 2, are still cranking out power, but they are expected to soon be retired and converted to “dual fuel” units in 2023. “The Genesee Mine will cease operations as the facility transitions to natural gas in 2023,” states Capital Power’s website. The cessation of coal usage will mean an end to fly-ash production, which is used in cement. But Capital power wants to dig up the fly ash it has landfilled over the years and market that.

Alberta’s remaining coal units will soon go offline from coal, and use only natural gas. The mine will shut down this year.

The slack in wind generation was being picked up by gas-fired generation, producing 8,134 megawatts of the 10,020 total being generated at that time. Alberta was importing 660 megawatts, including 152 megawatts from Saskatchewan.

And, as usual, despite essentially total failure of wind and solar as people were heading into work Wednesday morning, Alberta’s four battery units, with a total capacity of 70 megawatts, were producing zero megawatts to the grid.

Those are zeros, when it comes to power from batteries, just as wind and solar have flatlined and people in Alberta fired up their coffee makers on Wednesday morning. Alberta Electric System Operator

In the province which has the highest energy reserves of coal, oil and natural gas in the country, the Alberta Electric System Operator declared “grid alerts,” asking that province’s citizens and business to curtail power usage on Nov. 29, Dec. 1, 20, and 21.

 

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Alberta issues second “grid alert” in one day, the third in 24 hours, and fifth in three weeks, and sets another demand record