Inspired by a friend’s graph on his twitter page led me to examine IESO data for the full day. The post was on Scott Luft’s Cold Air twitter page and the graph was inclusive for the first 18 hours of Ontario’s generation from wind, solar, gas, hydro and nuclear on January 28, 2023. Wind over the 18 hours continued to shrink in output while gas and hydro generation expanded as Ontario’s demand increased and the graph displayed it so nicely it was hard to ignore
Hour 1 (hour ending at 1 AM) as happens almost every day saw Ontario demand falling which it did so, peak demand was 14,914 MW at that hour and IWT (industrial wind turbines) generation was running at 88.2% of their capacity and generated 4,324 MW or 29% of that hour’s demand. That output was their highest over the remaining 23 hours. At that hour, IESO reported our net-exports (exports minus imports) were 3,176 MW and total exports were 3,686 MW or 85.2% of wind generation. The HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) market price at that hour was a miserly $4.15/MWh! What that suggests is if the 3,686 MW sold were all IWT generated power they earned $15,297, but the cost to us Ontarians was $497,610. Our neighbours in Michigan, NY and Quebec must love the fact our energy mix has lots of IWT connected to our grid with the ability to deliver them cheap power.
Hour 18 (hour ending at 6 PM), the last hour on Scott’s graph, IWT generation was 467 MW contributing 2.5% of Ontario’s demand (18,314 MW). The following hour peak demand for the day was reached at 18,493 MW and IWT generation at that hour fell to 141 MW or 0.8% of demand. Luckily hydro and gas generation were both available to increase their output with hydro generating 5,979 MW (32.3% of peak demand) and natural gas plants 2,576 MW (13.9% of peak demand). The balance was produced by our nuclear power plants with a tiny amount from biomass.
For the full day IWT were forecast to generate 49,294 MW but IESO reported output at 46,966 MW implying they curtailed about 2,300 MW. Net exports over the full 24 hours were approximately 42,300 MW and at the average HOEP for the day of $20.62/MWh would have generated revenue of $872,000. If we attributed the IWT generation was either the full amount of the exports or the cause of other generation being exported; the net cost of that would have been close to $6 million for the full day. We should also suspect their high “middle of the night” generation may also have caused hydro water spillage for our must-run hydro plants which would add further to the costs.
Just another day to remind us of the mess caused by the McGuinty/Wynne Ontario led governments and their compliance with the recommendations of Gerald Butts, Trudeau buddy, and former right-hand man until resigning due to pressuring the Attorney General in respect to the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
NB: I misspelled the word graph on the post by using the word “graft”. I guess I was using that word spelling to reflect what the IWT owners have done to our electricity system
Those IWT in Ontario were in full swing showing off their unreliable and intermittent nature on January 24th and the 25th during the first seven (7) hours (from 12 AM to 7 AM) of each day.
On the 24th over the first seven hours those IWT were humming and IESO forecast they would generate 27,980 MWh which would represent 81.6% of their capacity but IESO scaled back what they actually delivered by curtailing about 2,000 MWh as they were obviously not needed in the middle of the night when nuclear and must-run hydro were pretty well supplying all our needs. The result was our net exports (exports minus imports) over that 7 hours were 22,934 MWh or 88% of what was accepted from those IWT. The average HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) during the 7 hours was $8.13/MWh so their sale generated $186,453. If we logically assume the bulk of them were either all IWT generated power or caused by their excess generation; the cost to us Ontarians was $3.096 million ($430K per hour) for what they generated plus another $240K for what IESO curtailed. Their frequent habit of generating unneeded power with us taxpayers/ratepayers forced to pay them for it at ridiculous prices continues!
Now if we traverse to the first 7 hours on the 25th, IESO forecast they would generate 4,526 MWh (13.2% of capacity) but they actually accepted 3,591 MWh meaning approximately 1,000 MWh were curtailed. The good news: for those 7 hours they kind of acted as they would if they were rammable power (similar to our gas plants and hydro). As a result the average HOEP was $32.16 for the net exports of 9,636 MWh we sold to our neighbours meaning the costs for us Ontario taxpayers was only about $500K for the IWT generated power.
To put the above in perspective the 27,980 MWh those IWT were forecast to supply on the 24th is about equal to the daily average consumption of 930,000 Ontario households whereas the 4,526 MWh forecast on the 25th is only enough to power 150,000 households for one day.
What the foregoing suggests:
1.Without the 11,433 MWh our natural gas generators supplied during those 7 hours on the 25th we may well have experienced a blackout, and
2.Without natural gas supply EV owners would have been unable to charge their batteries meaning they may have been unable to use them to go to work the following day!
Full electrification is a pipedream but based on a letter from Ontario Energy Minister, Todd Smith, our politicians fail to detect the flaws!
Minister Smith’s letter to the OEB dated October 21, 2022, carried the following message: “The government has a vision for the energy system in which Ontario leverages its clean energy grid to promote electrification and job creation while continually enhancing reliability, resiliency and customer choice.“
We should all expect the “vision” will fail in many ways including; electrification, job creation, reliability and resiliency!
PS: No solar generation to report from 1 AM to 7 AM on either day.
Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Todd Smith should think seriously about December 20th and contemplate; if we were without natural gas generation, how would the province have avoided blackouts? What would we need to have in place to provide the 124,792 MWh (what 4.1 million average Ontario households consume daily) our gas plants supplied on that December day?
More wind, more solar? If he picked those two intermittent and unreliable sources, we would need a multiple of at least five times current capacity. Even then, if they only generated five times the 232 MWh, they did at Hour 3, we would have experienced a blackout in the middle of the night during a low demand hour. Natural gas generators at that hour produced 4,003 MWh (26.8% of demand).
Throughout the day grid connected wind generated about 21,000 MWh and solar 547 MWh. At peak demand, Hour 18 ending at 6 PM, wind generation neared its peak for the day generating 1,341 MWh (6.8% of demand) whereas our gas plants generated 6,033 MWh or 30.4% of peak demand. Because demand was relatively high and wind failed to generate less than an average of 900 MW per hour the market price (HOEP) averaged $82.88/MWh over the day so the 39,000 MW we sold to our neighbours in NY, Michigan and Quebec generated a reasonable price compared to days when the wind is blowing hard and the sun is shining.
If Smith said hydro, it would be sensible, however Ontario has pretty well exhausted its hydro sources near population centers so that’s not an option. We would need to open up the northern reaches of the province and spend billions of tax dollars to build roads, transmission systems and the hydro plants themselves to get the power to where its needed. Not feasible for well over a decade!
Nuclear would be a good and logical source, however the only possible new nuclear we might get in the next 10 years is a 300 MW capacity SMR (small modular reactor) now in the planning stage by OPG.
What’s left then for him to contemplate is either hydrogen or storage. The former is still in early test stages and unlikely to be scaled up for a decade or more. Despite the foregoing the push for it by many European countries is on as they view it as the solution to achieving “net-zero”. The big concern about hydrogen is associated with possible leaks as a recent article noted: “Scientists have warned that hydrogen could be a significant “indirect” contributor to the greenhouse effect when it leaks through infrastructure and interacts with methane in the atmosphere.“
One should wonder does Minister Smith have a belief “storage” is the option and if so, how much will be needed? In the near term he seems to have somewhat recognized the fallibility of our electricity system as his Ministerial Directive of October 6, 2022 directs IESO to secure a minimum of 1,500 MW of storage generation and a maximum of 1,500 MW of natural gas generation. On the former he had already directed IESO to negotiate a 250 MW battery storage contract with Oneida on August 27, 2022 despite the need for a cost/benefit study as noted in a earlier article.
Minister Smith had also asked IESO to prepare a plan to allow Ontario’s electricity system to be fully “decarbonized” by 2050 and in their response titled: “The Pathways to Decarbonization” they included 2,507 MW of storage capacity in 2035.
The full costs of that capacity will be in excess of $2.4 billion based on a recent well researched article suggesting battery costs are a minimum of US$700K (CA$950K) per MW of capacity. Battery storage capacity results in about only 80% of it as being available when it’s needed on the grid, but, it can deliver the rated capacity for three hours. That means 2,507 MW of battery storage at a capital cost of $2.4 billion could deliver approximately 6,000 MWh before having to reload.
Now, if we consider the generation provided by Ontario’s natural gas plants on December 20, 2022, one notes we would need twenty-one times more battery storage to generate the almost 125,000 MWh they delivered. The capital cost would be astronomical and amount to about $50 billion. Repaid over the 10-year lifespan of the batteries (including a profit margin of 10%), it would result in adding $5.5 billion of annual costs to ratepayer bills.
What the IESO chart suggests is natural gas capacity coupled with; “New Capacity Online by 2035” in the form of; Demand Response, Solar, Wind and new Nuclear, we will not need additional storage. Let’s hope their forecast is accurate despite the “Disclosure” on Page 2 stating:
“The information, statements and conclusions in this report are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results or circumstances to differ materially from the report’s findings. The IESO provides no guarantee, representation, or warranty, express or implied, with respect to any statement or information in this report and disclaims any liability in connection with it.”
The 2035 scenario depicted by IESO also contained the following suggesting they had some faith in part of their report: “New large hydroelectric and nuclear facilities were not selected due to lead times that extended beyond the horizon of this scenario. As firm imports from Québec would require resource development in that province, they proved to be costly and were also not selected. Finally, with 2,500 MW of battery energy-storage systems included in the base supply mix, the value of additional storage diminished, hindering its selection.“
Hmm, kind of makes one wonder if the “Pathways” report is delivering what Minister Smith has in mind?
An article written by Allison Jones of the Canadian Press and dated December 26, 2022 reputedly confirmed Minister Smith’s directive to IESO to obtain the additional 1,500 MW of natural gas generation along with the “2,500 megawatts of clean technology such as energy storage”. The article went on to claim, “Smith said in an interview that it’s the largest active procurement for energy storage in North America.“ Another quote in the article came from Katherine Sparkes, IESO’s director of innovation who apparently said:
“As we look to the future and think about gas phase-out and electrification, one of the great challenges facing all energy systems in North America and around the world is: How do you address the increasing amounts of variable, renewable energy? resources and just make better use of your grid resources,” she said.
“Hybrids, storage-generator pairings, give you the ability to deal with the variability of renewable energy, meaning storing electricity when the sun isn’t shining or the wind not blowing, and then using it when you need it.”
We ratepayers should all be troubled if the foregoing is a quote from IESO’s director of innovation! In that position she should know if the sun isn’t shining, or the wind isn’t blowing there is no energy that can be stored!
On the other hand, if it’s a misquote by the author of the article, its what we have come to expect from the MSM reporters who seem to frequently fail to do any fact checking. The latter is evident in other parts of the article where obtuse comments are made and accepted with one of them suggesting their company will “make power plants obsolete” using EV and another suggesting “the provincial and federal governments need to fund and install bidirectional chargers in order to fully take advantage of electric vehicles.” No indication was in the article as to what sources of energy would be used to power up those EV batteries nor does the author question those making the statements.
It is readily apparent the author of the article failed to either question those interviewed or to seek other views that might challenge their claims. Unfortunately, investigative journalism is no longer within the purview of those associated with the mainstream media.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel that benefits mankind in many ways and the cold December day we Ontario residents recently experienced clearly demonstrated how it is needed until something better comes along. It is self-evident the “something better” is clearly not battery storage.
Let’s turn up the heat on our Ministry of Energy and the many reporters in the media who message us with the propaganda perpetrated by those who want us to freeze in the dark!
According to the eco-warriors using 7,400 acres (0.37%) of the 2 million acres of the Greenbelt land for the creation of “affordable housing” is something that should never be allowed so about 200 of them joined together to sign a letter making their views known. While they have expressed some legitimate concerns with Bill 23 and its negative effects on “conservation authorities” they have failed to recognize the unaffordable nature of housing affecting so many Ontario families. The CBC reported that a request by the leader of the Ontario Green Party has gone to the Government of Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner asking for an investigation as to whether the plan has broken ethics rules. Those 7,400 acres could easily accommodate well over 74,000 homes or more in local municipalities and somewhat contain climbing house prices in the province but that goes against the wishes of those out to save the planet from “climate change” or what used to be referred to by them as “global warming”!
Many of those same eco-warriors back in the days of the McGuinty/Wynne led government(s) pushed for the creation of the Greenbelt. They were rewarded by the allocation of those 2 million acres as protected land even though large portions of it were close to communities where housing needs were growing. At the same time the “charitable” Greenbelt Foundation was created and supplied with Ontario taxpayer dollars which continues to this day.
The Greenbelt Foundation is a registered charity and their March 31, 2021 report indicates 89.4% ($4.079 million) of their gross revenue came from the Province ($3.828 million) and the Federal government ($251K). Only $12K came via receipted charitable donations despite their spending $479K on advertising and promotion and $1,677K on compensation.
Somewhat related to the foregoing pushback by the eco-warriors saw the Minister of Energy Todd Smith, recently receive a response from IESO (independent electricity system operator) in respect to his prior directive(s) to request a plan on how the province could achieve a full “decarbonization” of the electricity system. The minister had issued those directives even though the current electricity system in Ontario is already slightly over 92% emissions free.
The IESO responded with their December 15, 2022 Pathways to Decarbonization a 39 page report that predicts by 2050 Ontario’s capacity will be 88,000 MW (megawatts) versus what the report claims is now 42,000 MW. We assume the latter includes all DER (distributed energy resources) such as about 2,200 MW of solar, 600 MW of IWT (industrial wind turbines) small hydro, combined heat and power plants, battery storage, electric vehicles, and consumers who reduce electricity use on demand.
The ”Pathways” to get to that 88,000 MW include some interesting turnarounds by the Premier Ford led government who killed the GEA (Green Energy Act) enacted by former Premier McGuinty but now appears determined to make life for Ontarians much worse and more expensive. The plan put forward by IESO will mean by 2050 Ontario will be reputedly powered by the generation sources in the following chart!
IESO’s estimate of the costs are as low as $375 billion to a high of $425 billion including substantial expenditures on transmission systems. The report estimates electricity costs would rise to $200/$215/MWh. It is important to note IESO don’t hypothesize on the individual costs of the additional 68,793 MW by source such as the 15,000 MW of hydrogen or nuclear, but they do suggest the province had better start working soon as timelines for new transmission lines and the additional 17,800 MW of nuclear will be a long-drawn-out process. We should also be pretty sure their estimate on the cost of those 15,000 MW of hydrogen is more like a guess rather then a fact based estimate.
It is also interesting IESO includes an addition of 6,000 MW of solar capacity and 17,600 MW of IWT (industrial wind turbines) capacity as part of the “decarbonization” process as both are intermittent and frequently unreliable. IWT also have the bad habit of causing harm to humans as well as decimating birds and bats. It is likely those new planned IWT will receive considerable pushback by many municipalities throughout the province. The latter is a factor as municipalities now have the power to deny access. One should wonder if the Ford government will legislate; the power to deny access for IWT, is no longer an option for municipalities in their move to decarbonize the electricity sector?
Looking further at the planned addition of IWT and solar throughout the province will also mean the loss of considerable land for both farming and nature as both energy sources require either (or both) land clearing and/or farmland reductions.
Based on estimates of what land will be required for the additional wind and solar generation should make the eco-warriors very upset. Land required per MW of IWT varies from 2 acres/MW to 40 acres/MW of capacity so the 17,600 MW would need 35,200 acres on the low side to as much as 704,000 acres on the high side. The additional 6,000 MW of solar could require as little as 5 acres/MW on the low side or up to 10 acres/MW on the high side meaning as little as 30,000 acres or as much as 60,000 acres. What the foregoing suggests is both the additional IWT and solar could easily be accommodated on the Greenbelt’s 2 million acres.
We should wonder how those 200 eco-warriors, who signed the letter to stop “affordable housing” on the Greenbelt, would feel, if the foregoing is the eventual conclusion as to where those wind turbines and solar panels in IESO’s “decarbonization” plan are destined for?
Wouldn’t that make the Greenbelt even greener with all those carbon free generating sources?
As frequently happens during the Spring and Fall those IWT (industrial wind turbines) were spinning, decimating migrating birds and bats, and causing Ontario’s households and businesses to dig into their pockets to pay for their intermittent and unreliable power over the past few days.
Looking at IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) Data for December 2nd and 3rd one should be shocked at how much power those IWT generated and why it wasn’t needed. If one also includes the 2,000 MW, they curtailed, they operated at about 76%* of their capacity burdening the ratepayers and taxpayers of the province. In total 176,330 MWh were grid accepted by IESO and 55% of that was exported to our neighbours in Michigan, New York, and Quebec over those two days.
To put the IWT generation in perspective their grid accepted generation was approximately what 2.9 million Ontario households (56% of all households) would consume over two days!
If one reviews the electricity sectors of Michigan and New York, you note, for both states; carbon emissions from their electricity generation greatly exceed those of Ontario. That being the case, why are Ontario’s ratepayers burdened with absorbing the costs of those IWT producing unneeded power for export. Handing New York and Michigan our clean power for pennies of their costs is an expense passed on to all residential households and businesses in Ontario, yet New York and Michigan reap the benefits!
In the case of Quebec their electricity system is relatively emissions free, but they export much of their clean hydro power to New England states under lucrative long-term contracts! Oddly enough Hydro Quebec ask their residential customers to reduce their electricity usage during winter months because 60% of their households heat their homes with electricity. Because Hydro Quebec are committed to supply power to US states under the contract terms they ask their households to use less.
Using less in Ontario when those IWT are spinning works to the benefit of our neighbours and simply raises the costs for Ontarians. Strange outcomes: but seemingly we are told we must endure the costly pain reputedly (?) due to the contracts the McGuinty/Wynne led government(s) blessed under the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA).
The market price or HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) for December 2nd averaged only $29.73/MWh (3.0 cents/kWh) over 24 hours and for December 3rd over 24 hours averaged $26.04/MWh (2.6 cents/kWh), yet Ontario ratepayers were burdened with the contracted “first-to-the-grid” payments embedded in those long-term contracts. Those 176,330 MWh plus the 2,000 MWh curtailed collectively cost Ontarians about $23.8 million over the two days before accounting for what we were paid by Michigan, New York, and Quebec for their purchases.
The exported power of 96,989 MWh (net of cost recoveries from the HOEP sale price) came to $10.559 million. The latter represented a cost for each household of over $2.00 for just those two days.
The cost of the exported power coupled with the IESO grid accepted 79,441 MWh and the 2,000 MWh of curtailed generation, adds an additional $10.960 million ratepayer cost to what IWT owners received for those two days. What that reflects is the total cost to Ontario ratepayers/taxpayers for the two days of IWT generation was $21.279 million or $266.60 per MWh (26.6 cents/kWh) and a multiple of all other generation sources costs with the exception of solar power.
The time to stop the continued bleeding of Ontario ratepayers should be recognized by the Ford government and regulations enacted by them to end the largesse being passed on to those IWT owners!
*IWT in Ontario and elsewhere consistently operate at an average of 29/30% of capacity annually but fall far short of that average on a consistent basis during Ontario’s peak demand days on the hot summer and cold winter days
November 28th, 2022, saw Ontario’s peak demand for electricity reach a fairly high level of 19,360 MW at Hour 18 (hour ending at 6 PM) and those IWT with their “first-to-the-grid” rights were almost absent at that hour. As we approach the winter season peak demand will reach those levels frequently and will often be over 20,000 MW and occasionally close to summer peak demand hours.
At the present time with a few nuclear plants undergoing refurbishment IWT represent over 16% of current Ontario grid connected capacity but at Hour 18 they were only able to deliver 1% (200 MW) of peak demand ie; 4% of their capacity! During the early morning hours from 1 AM to 7 AM when demand was as low as 12,990 MW, IWT managed to generate 13,524 MW (39.4% of their capacity) over those seven hours. For the balance of the day (17 hours) they generated a total of 6,862 MW, an average of only 8.2% of their rated capacity with Hour 19 the low point, at 194 MW or 4% of capacity.
For those first seven hours of the day when the IWT were running at 39.4% of their capacity, IESO were selling their surplus power off to our neighbours in Michigan, New York, and Quebec for as low a price as $5.84/MWh. For the 17 hours following however, IESO were buying power from New York and Quebec for prices that reached $86.31/MWh at Hour 18, once again demonstrating the intermittent and unreliable nature of IWT and their cost to us ratepayers.
If the owners of those IWT also had a BESS (battery energy storage system), which several are currently seeking; at Hour 2 they would have been paid $135/MWh for the 2,636 MW of wind generation delivered to the grid. If they then purchased those 2,638 MW at the princely sum of $5.84/MWh, used their BESS to store them, and then resold the stored power (less the 20% loss of battery storage) at the peak hour for $86.31/MWh they would wind up getting about $200/MWh or over twice the cost of clean nuclear and more than three times the price of clean hydro.
We should all be at a loss at trying to discern, exactly how the above would reduce emissions on the dubious path chosen to achieve that net-zero target? Ontario’s electricity sector is already over 92% emissions free!
We should all worry; the foregoing will be allowed here in Ontario based on the Ministry of Energy’s plan to add 1,500 MW of energy storage. As it implies; the 1,500 MW of storage will do nothing more than increase electricity prices in Ontario as they have done in other locales including California, Southern Australia, the UK and many European countries.
More “energy poverty” appears to be what our politicians are seeking!
Yesterday, November 26th, 2022, demonstrated why Ontario’s numerous contracted wind and solar owners are so excited about the Ontario Minister of Energy’s objective to secure 1,500 MW of storage capacity be it pumped hydro or BESS (battery energy storage systems)!
Both IWT (industrial wind turbines) and solar panels generated lots of unneeded electricity over the day based on IESO daily generation report and it was more than they tell us: the reason why, is there are approximately 600 MW of IWT capacity and 2,200 MW of solar capacity that are DER (distributed energy resources) so those are not reported by IESO as their minimum reported capacity per generation source is 20 MW and DER’s generation is used by local distribution companies to supply power to communities they serve. They also include other generation sources such as small, hydro, natural gas, and biomass!
The day was atypical of Ontario’s spring and fall demand as reflected by the fact Ontario’s peak demand was a relatively low 16,345 MW and it occurred at Hour 18 (hour ending at 6 PM). Throughout the day the wind was blowing and resulted in IESO forecasting IWT would generate almost 76,600 MW but they only reported about 70,500 were accepted into the grid suggesting 6,100 MW were curtailed. The foregoing translates to a cost of $732,000 for curtailed generation and $9,518,000 for the grid accepted generation. This resulted in an average cost per MWh (megawatt hour) of $145.39 for IWT generation.
Over the day the HOEP averaged only $7.84/MWh and for hours 12 to 15 was $0.00/MW. In those 4 hours we saw our neighbours in Michigan, NY and Quebec receive 7,314 MW at zero cost which is about what 813 average Ontario households would annually consume and what 243,000 households would consume daily. If those MW we gave away were generated by ground mounted solar (contracts pay them $440/MWh) the cost would have been $3.2 million and if IWT generation the cost would be about $987,000!
Now, it is worth reflecting on how IWT and solar owners could further benefit from those low HOEP market prices.
If the BESS or pumped hydro storage units are owned by the same companies who generated that surplus power for which they were paid either $440/MWh or $135/MWh (sold for 0.00/MWh) turned around and simply scooped that power up via a licensed electricity trader and stored them they could simply hold them until the price jumped the next day or two.
All those “storage owners” would need to do is check the weather forecasts to see if the sun will shine or the wind will be blowing in the next day or two.
As it turns out today (November 27th, 2022) is a perfect example of how they could increase their revenue at the expense of Ontario’s ratepayers. Today the wind is not blowing much, and the sun isn’t shining throughout the province. At Hour 7 AM today the HOEP jumped to $69.25/MWh and since then, has averaged $62.25/MWh meaning those 7,314 MWh at zero cost if sold back would have generated $455,297. The foregoing would simply add to the revenue those solar panels and IWT generated yesterday at the expense of Ontario’s ratepayers.
It should be recognized yesterday could have allowed them to generate a lot more revenue via storage as the example above only reflected the four hours of $0.00/MWh whereas the overall average for the full 24 hours was a paltry $7.84/MWh or 0.078 cents/kWh.
It seems obvious the IWT and solar generators recognize the unique ability to reach even deeper into Ontario ratepayers’ pockets but what is not obvious is if our Minister of Energy, Todd Smith and the IESO will prevent them from doing so.
Based on the directive to obtain “a minimum of1,500 MW of storage” it appears the politicians and bureaucrats may well allow them to do exactly what those IWT and solar owners are hoping for and planning to do!
A Short History about wind’s electricity generation arrival
“Scottish engineer and physicist James Blyth (1839-1906) was credited as the first to generate electricity by constructing a windmill attached to a dynamo to light his cottage in his home village of Marykirk, Scotland in 1887. He offered to allow his current to be used to light the main street of the village, but superstitious residents reportedly considered the mysterious electric light to be “the work of the devil“!
The Ups and Downs of Industrial Wind Generation
A day in the life of industrial wind turbines in Ontario
On November 11th Ontarians were treated to the up and down vagaries of IWT (industrial wind turbines) spread throughout the province. They did a great job exhibiting their spasms and inability to generate power when needed but cranked it out when unneeded. A few examples over the day follow!
At Hour 1, IESO forecast IWT would generate 3,936 MW but only accepted 3,253 MWh on the grid so we should assume the difference (683 MW) was curtailed at a cost of $120/MWh allocated to ratepayers. The market price (HOEP) was 0.00/MWh over the hour as we supplied Michigan, New York, and Quebec with 2,428 MWh. The 2,428 MWh represented 74.6% of the above noted grid accepted IWT generation so clearly wasn’t needed but, we ratepayers picked up their costs of over $327,000. To drive the point home IWT frequently generate power when its unneeded! Ontario’s peak demand in Hour 1 was only 12,591 MW and could have been easily supplied by nuclear and hydro alone but the “first-to -the-grid rights allotted to IWT companies usurps our other generation sources! Hydro at that hour generated only 3,307 MWh, their lowest hourly generation for the day!
Moving on to Hour 4 (hour ending at 4 AM) IESO reported it as the lowest Ontario peak demand hour (12,095 MW) for the day and those IWT were still humming and forecast to generate 2,938 MW. IESO accepted 2,718 MW (22.5% of demand) and sold off 2,497 MW (91.9% of accepted IWT generation) to the same Hour 1 buyers for the princely sum of $3.49/MWh generating $8,714.53 of revenue but it cost (assuming it was all IWT generation) us Ontarians $337,095.00 without including curtailed costs.
Hours 1 to 7
Hours 1 to 7 saw IESO forecast IWT generation of 19,866 MW (58% of their capacity) and 17,884 MW was accepted while exporting 16,422 MW (91.8% of IWT grid accepted generation). The HOEP average was $8.90/MWh for those 7 hours meaning if those exports were either all IWT generated power (very likely) or caused by them the net cost to Ontario ratepayers was: $1,963,000 (16,422 MW X $135 plus 1,982 MW [curtailed] X $120 minus 16,422 MW X $8.90) for those 7 hours!
Hours 8 to 19
As the day progressed Ontario peak hourly demand increased while generation from IWT fell and at Hour 18 they only supplied 267 MW or 1.5% of Ontario’s daily peak demand of 17,237 MW! IWT failure at that hour to provide generation meant “net imports” were 1,004 MW as we purchased power from Quebec and even some from Michigan. We paid an average of $46.93/MWh for that imported power greatly exceeding the cost of our sales to them in the middle of the night when those IWT were generating power we didn’t need. As IWT generation fell the HOEP market price climbed and from hours 8 to 19 averaged $50.12/MWh a vast improvement from the early morning prices.
Hour 17 and hours 20 to 24
IWT generation at Hour 17 was at its lowest for the day generating only 240 MW but it started to ramp up slowly and by hour 20 was generating five times what it generated at hour 17. For hours 20 to 24 IESO accepted 10,357 MW as peak demand fell and exports climbed. Needless to say, as demand fell over the final five hours IWT generation increased while the HOEP fell from $34.40/MWh during Hour 20 to $2.11/MWh in Hour 24 as our unneeded generation from those IWT climbed!
The “first-to-the-grid” rights granted to the IWT owners by the Ontario McGuinty/Wynne led government(s) continue to burden us ratepayers with costs as the foregoing clearly demonstrates! As it turned out November 11th, 2022, captured the intermittency and unreliable nature of IWT over a 24 hour period clearly demonstrating how they operate not just daily but, weekly, monthly and annually!
Based on what Ontarians and many others around the world are currently experiencing, due to the unreliable and intermittent nature of those “windmills”, we should, perhaps reconsider the events from 135 years ago! Eco-warriors around the world have pushed to have IWT replace reliable electricity generation from fossil fuels in their push for “net-zero” so perhaps the label by the residents of Marykirk, Scotland in 1887 should be resurrected and applied to IWT but not the electric light.
Perhaps it really is the “work of the devil” posing as an eco-warrior out to save the world from “climate change” that brought on the push for those intermittent and unreliable IWT!
Avoided Blackouts! Is IESO a Great Weather Forecaster or Simply Using Historical Climate Cycles?
In case you missed it, Ontario was without almost 5,000 MW of “baseload” power over the past month and to the best of my knowledge we didn’t suffer from even one blackout, nor did we receive appeals from our local distribution company to reduce our use of electricity!
As the headline implies; IESO (Independent Electricity Supply Operator) is either a superlative weather forecaster OR they examined Ontario’s climate cycles to determine when Ontario’s electricity demand is at its lowest levels over the year? Did they also examine when those “intermittent and unreliable” renewable energy sources such as IWT (industrial wind turbines) generate power at higher levels than they commonly do on hot summer days?
Coincidently, IWT grid connected capacity is about 4,900 MW so very close to what the nuclear capacity shut down was. The shutdown included the capacity of all of Pickering Nuclear (3,100 MW) plus a Bruce unit (830 MW) and a Darlington unit (870 MW).
Reviewing the Past Four Weeks
It has now been 28 days since Pickering Nuclear was shut down for the VBO (vacuum building outage); a process done every 12 years and requiring approximately four weeks to complete. The Pickering units have commenced coming back online and most should be up and running by the start of next week. The Bruce unit has also restarted and is ramping up as I write this article.
Looking back over the 28 days (October 6th to November 2nd) at data is an interesting exercise and demonstrates IESO chose an excellent time to allow the nuclear shutdowns as Ontario’s peak demand only occasionally was more than 16,500 MW and far below (5,000 MW) what we often see during summer months. As examples; the 10th highest Ontario peak demand day in 2022 (so far) was 21,379 MW at Hour 17 on July 21st and the highest was Hour 18 on July 19th at 22,607 MW!
The other interesting fact about IESO’s choice of when to bless the shutdown is related to when IWT mainly generate their intermittent power and in Ontario it is during the spring and fall months. A quick review of the power generated over the 28 days demonstrates their highs and lows. As examples IWT generation on October 10th and November 1st was only about 10,000 MWh representing a meagre 8.5% of their capacity but on October 12th they generated 80,000 MWh (68% of capacity) and on the 21st they produced 82,000 MWh or 70% of their capacity. Over the entire 28 days they generated approximately 1.2 TWh (terawatt hours) which represented about 37% of their capacity and 7% higher than their average annual capacity normally in the 29/30% range.
During those 28 days our natural gas generation sources ramped up and down as required to ensure we avoided blackouts. As just two examples; related to those very low IWT generation days, of October 10th and November 1st, gas plants generated 42,000 MWh and 76,000 MWh respectively! At the same time IESO also appeared to ramp up hydro generation and that may well be the reason the US Army Corp of Engineers report, as of yesterday stated; “Lake Ontario is below its long-term November monthly average level by 7 inches”. As noted in the preceding paragraph when those IWT were only generating 8.5% of their capacity on the two days hydro delivered 97,000 MWh on October 10th and 112,000 MWh on November 1st! Additionally, IESO were also importing power from Quebec, Michigan and New York and on November 2nd IWT only generated 11,000 MWh and for 23 of those 24 hours we imported more than we exported due to Ontario peak demand reaching 16,636 MW at Hour 19!
As I pen this article my inclination is to visit IESO data and in doing so one discovers today (November 5, 2022) is apparently a great day for the IWT owners as they are reaping the benefits of lots of wind together with the fact over 2300 MW of nuclear base load power is back and generating at levels we haven’t seen for a month. With the wind blowing hard those IWT could have delivered about 65,000 MWh (including the 8,500 MW curtailed) in the first 18 hours of today, but they clearly weren’t needed. That fact reflected itself in the HOEP (hourly Ontario electricity price) market price which averaged only $6/MWh in those 18 hours. Over those hours net exports were 33,500 MWh (51% of IWT curtailed and accepted generation) so income from the sale of those was a piddly $201K but if we assume the exports were all IWT generated we paid the operators $5.1 million so it cost us ratepayers/taxpayers $4.9 million!
The foregoing suggests the good news evident from the nuclear baseload outage is the HOEP was generally in the $40/$50 range so by IESO scheduling the VBO for Pickering and the refurbishment for the other two units it appeared to save us ratepayers and taxpayers tens of millions of dollars over the 28 days. Had they been scheduled for the summer or the winter when demand is higher, and IWT generation is frequently absent we would surely have had numerous blackouts or requests to stop or reduce our consumption from our local distribution company.
It seems obvious IESO simply looked back at their data and determined IWT have habitually generated unneeded power in the fall due to what are apparently normal repetitive climate characteristics in Ontario.
Should anyone still believe IWT (industrial wind turbines) are both reliable and will generate power when it’s needed they should have a look at IESO data from the 16th of October when Ontario’s “peak demand” occurred at Hour 19 reaching a very low 15,329 MW.
The peak hour of IWT generation occurred at Hour 8 reaching 1,855 MWh but in Hour 19 it had fallen considerably from Hour 8 and only generated 348 MWh (2.3% of demand) meaning it didn’t show up when it was needed. As it happened, at that hour Ontario had net imports of 1,203 MWh that came from Michigan and Quebec (principally). We should know and anticipate IWT will demonstrate the same attitude during those cold winter day when peak demand is in the 20,000 MW range. Imports from Quebec will likely be unavailable as its peak demand period is winter based as most Quebec households heat with electricity. Hydro Quebec during winter days asks ratepayers to reduce their consumption.
It is also worth noting solar generation at Hour 19 was zero as one should suspect and will continue to produce less power generation in the coming winter months. Thankfully last Sunday at the peak hour hydro generated 5,075 MWh (close to its peak of 5,121 MWh in hour 20) and natural gas provided 2,801 MWh, down from its peak generation of 3,440 MWh during Hour 17.
What Hour 19 on October 16th demonstrates is wind is clearly unreliable and very intermittent and without nuclear, hydro and natural gas we Ontario ratepayers would have experienced blackouts even though peak demand was very low.
The time has come to recognize IWT and Solar will not produce anything close to what is needed if the push for full “electrification” continues.
The road to “net-zero” is paved with bad outcomes and it’s time for our elected politicians to recognize that fact.