This past weekend’s stats are not kind to the wind power cheerleaders
The wind power trade association, the Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA, uses every opportunity to push for more wind power development, and often uses “selective facts” to promote their claims. One of the latest relied on investment firm Lazard by stating: “A December 2016 report from the U.S. investment firm Lazard found that wind energy is the lowest cost option for new supply in the United States without any subsidies. Wind energy costs continue to fall, offering an attractive electricity source to provinces seeking to clean and diversify their electricity systems.”
That statement is included in CanWEA’s recently released brochure “The Secret is Out, Wind is in”.
Had the unknown author(s) at CanWEA simply looked at the Ontario Energy Board’s (OEB) semi-annual Regulated Price Plan they would have noted Table 2 on page 21 of the April 20, 2017 report that the cost of a wind-generated kilowatt hour (kWh) in Ontario is shown as 17.3 cents ($178/MWh), as the cost of “curtailed” (not added to the grid) wind is also included as a cost input.
Had the author(s) also simply looked at IESO data they might also have noticed that maybe wind energy costs are not continuing to fall! Saturday, November 25th was an example: it was a very windy day in Ontario with an especially windy night. Unfortunately for the wind power cheerleaders, our demand for power from 12 AM until 7 or 8 AM was relatively low, but the wind was really blowing. That meant the 4,200+ MW of wind capacity were running at 90% (approximately) of their capacity, at the same time as Ontario’s demand for power was hovering mid-way between 11,000 and 12,000 MW. That’s very close to what our nuclear plants can provide on their own without help from other generation sources.
As a result, IESO ordered wind’s curtailment, hydro’s spilling and nuclear steam-off. At the same time, they were exporting whatever the market would take.
So, all together on November 25, the IESO curtailed 35,600 MWh of grid-connected wind and accepted 30,600 MWh into the grid, while scrambling to prevent brownouts or blackouts by exporting about 50,000 MWh over the day.
Industrial-scale wind power developers get paid $120/MWh for curtailed wind and $135 MWh for grid-accepted wind.
Quick math on all that means:
Ontario’s ratepayers picked up the costs of almost $8.6 million for curtailed and grid-accepted wind power produced when it wasn’t needed.
The cost of the grid-accepted wind (30,600 MWh) was therefore just over $280/MWh or 28 cents per kWh or, 10.7 cents more than the OEB reported back in April. On top of that, we ratepayers also ate the costs of spilled hydro, steamed off nuclear and the losses on the 50,000 MWh exported at a price close to zero.
Now if that author or authors who cranked out the latest CanWEA “selective facts” brochure were brutally honest, they would immediately change the title to:
“The Secret is out: wind is horribly expensive, intermittent and unreliable!”