Ontario’s Peak Demand Hour and Industrial Wind Turbines Barely Showed Up

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!

Is Hydrogen the Answer to Reaching Net-zero—Apparently, it’s not!

The following was sent to me by a contact with the “knowledge, skills sets and experience to highlight the fallacies of pushing the green hydrogen agenda” and it’s related to the concepts of my prior articles about “energy storage”. NB: the knowledge he displays in the following are beyond the scope of yours truly!

Text from the contact!

“Hi Parker

Converting “excess” electrical generation by electrolysers (e.g. as built by Hydrogen Optimized in Owen Sound), will permit wind generators (like Enbridge, K2 Wind, etc.) to operate at maximum possible output even when the electrical demand is low (like at night), so that the proponents (like Enbridge at their “Power to Gas” pilot plant in Markham, or Calsun at their proposed plant at the former Bluewater Youth Detention Centre) can make BIG money producing “green” hydrogen, thereby ensuring lots of Government (i.e taxpayer) support.  

The wind generators (like Enbridge) will be able to be paid full price for their power, approximately $135 a MWh or so, instead of the somewhat reduced rate paid for curtailed power. However, they will be able to buy the surplus at about $0 to $10 a MWh, to produce hydrogen, to add to their distribution system, so when electrical demand is high, they can sell it to natural gas generators to produce power to sell at maybe $200 a MWh.  Yes, they certainly win.  

The consumer, well, let’s see. We’ll pay $135 for the bought wind power, sell it for $10, and then buy it again at $200, so the consumer cost is maybe $125 + $ 200 = $325 a MWh.  (About 4 x the price paid for nuclear generated power in Ontario).  The more surplus we create, the more we’ll be able to sell at low price, and buy back at high price, so the cost for us will go up even more.

Winners = Enbridge, Hydrogen Optimized, Carlsun, and the Government policy hacks who want a hydrogen economy.  

Losers = those who live near wind farms (present and future, as there will be more justified), the electrical consumers, and taxpayers.

You can do a google search for Forbes March, 29, 2022 for their article, “Gas Utilities are Promoting Hydrogen, but it could be a dead end for consumers and the climate.”  Admittedly it is a biased article (every writer has their agenda) and in this case the writer’s agenda is that full electrification of the economy is better for the environment than burning natural gas.

Some highlights from the article, and the logical extension from them:

  • 26 projects to add hydrogen to natural gas lines have been proposed across 12 states since 2020  (so, nearly everybody is doing it!).
  • BUT, the blend can only be from 5% to 20% hydrogen in the natural gas lines  (elsewhere I read 7% max) as consumer appliances can only safely burn a blend up to that concentration.
  • It’s not clear what adding hydrogen to the natural gas lines at the Bluewater Detention Centre will mean to % hydrogen in the lines locally, but the amount added will probably not be huge.
  • Burning hydrogen (H2) produces less energy than natural gas (methane, or CH4) so a 20% blend would reduce greenhouse gas emissions only 6% to 7% as you lose energy in electrolysis.
  • price of green hydrogen will raise price of the blended fuel 2 to 4X above standard natural gas (good for Enbridge, bad for the consumer).
  • burning hydrogen produces water vapour (H2O), a more potent green house gas than CO2, but its residency in the atmosphere is less than CO2, so it is considered to have less impact.  Burning methane (CH4) produces CO2, H2O, and nitrous oxide NOX.  The results are complicated by the fact that methane (natural gas) leaks have an effect some 80X higher than CO2, but it has a less residency time in the atmosphere, so the overall result is considered to be only 25X as much.  NOX has a higher impact yet.  Let’s just say the overall impact of burning H2 is not zero, but it’s probably slightly better than burning CH4.

So is it realistic to consider we’ll have much impact on the environment by producing “green hydrogen”?

in 2020 Ontario’s energy usage was: (figures from Canada Energy Regulator – Provincial Energy Profile), converting all data to Peta Joules for equivalency comparison).

  • 1435 Peta Joules from refined petroleum (gasoline and diesel mostly)
  • 935 Peta Joules from natural gas
  • 514 Peta Joules from electricity (58% nuclear, 24% hydro, 9% gas, 8% wind, <1% solar, < 1% biofuel)
  • 37 Peta Joules from biofuels (wood mostly)
  • 127 Peta Joules from other fuels (like coal & coke)

From the above, we see that in 2020, less than 1.5% of Ontario’s total energy consumption came from wind and solar.  It gives a rough idea of the feasibility of moving all of Ontario “off oil and gas” to all “renewable sourced electricity” by 2050.

So, if we could convert 5% of the natural gas in the distribution system to hydrogen, that would be about 47 Peta Joules, or if we assume 15% loss in the conversion, needing 54 Peta Joules of electricity (more than 1/3 of the total electricity produced).  Let’s just say that’s unlikely.

In passing, let’s just say the probability of converting all new vehicles bought in Canada by 2035 to electrical vehicles, or vehicles powered by hydrogen, to convert that 1435 Peta Joules that come from petrochemicals of gas and oil as called for by federal law is … well remote.  Does anyone ever consider these things before passing laws?  Does not appear so!

The Globe and Mail published an interesting article (attached below) Nov. 25, 2022, noting,that while 72% of all new cars in Norway are electric vehicles, oil consumption in the country hasn’t changed.”

That should be enough numbers to set your heads spinning.  Apologies, but every now and then a dose of reality is needed.

Let’s conclude that the governments are all “hell bent” on producing hydrogen and keep telling us it will make a BIG difference in climate change.  Unh- unh,  T’ain’t; gonna happen, but what WILL happen is that costs for consumers will go up drastically, the results will be minimal, and certain investors will become VERY rich.”

Ontario’s Perfect Demonstration of Wind’s Intermittent and Unreliable Nature

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!

Hour 1

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!

Hour 4

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! 

Ontario Ratepayers are Back Helping Michigan Keep their Electricity Bills Low

A recent article described how Ontario’s nuclear plants were slowly coming back online after having all of the Pickering units (3,100 MW capacity) out for VBO (vacuum building outage) and two others out for refurbishment!  Yesterday, as an example IESO reported at Hour 1 our baseload nuclear power generated 7,333 MWh and by Hour 24 they had ramped up and generated 8002 MWh.

The good news about the foregoing is, as we approach those cold winter days when Ontario’s daily peak demand is higher than spring and fall days, we will have sufficient capacity to meet the needs of our households and businesses.

The bad news is those IWT (industrial wind turbines) are still humming as yesterday demonstrates even though peak demand at Hour 18 only reached 15,428 MW.  IESO’s forecast over the 24 hours suggested IWT would generate about 71,400 MW (61% of their capacity) but they only accepted 54,700 MW to the grid meaning they curtailed approximately 16,700 MW. As a result, we ratepayers/taxpayers paid $135/MWh for grid accepted generation and $120/MWh for the curtailed generation. The combined cost of what IESO accepted therefore cost us $9,388,500 or $171.64/MWh (17.2 cents/kWh).

If one then examines our net exports (exports minus imports) we see that we were exporting our surplus power to Michigan, NY, and Quebec and for the full day those net exports were almost 42,100 MWh and Michigan were the beneficiary of most of them.  It would be good if that unneeded IWT generation was in demand but that wasn’t the case as the market price or HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) over the 24 hours averaged a piddly $3.94/MWh.

To put the foregoing in context, the average Ontario household consumes 9 MWh annually so if that price was the standard it would amount to $35.46 for a household’s yearly energy costs. Wouldn’t that be welcomed during this period of high inflation!

So, lets look at the benefits to our neighbours in Michigan, NY, and Quebec in respect to the low HOEP price caused by surplus intermittent generation from those IWT!  We ratepayers are required to pay IWT generators under their contracts for both what is grid accepted as well as what is curtailed so the combined cost yesterday for both as noted above was $171.64 MWh.  If all the net exported power (42,100 MWh) came from the grid accepted IWT the cost of that to Ontario ratepayers and taxpayers would amount to $7,226,044 (42,100 MW X $171.64/MWh) and generated only $165,874 (42,100 MWh X $3.94) from their sale meaning; we were forced to absorb over $7 million in costs for just one day! 

While we did import some power from Michigan, NY, and Quebec during the approximately four weeks of the nuclear outage we were paying for it at prices over ten times what we sold our power to them for yesterday.

Stop the Bleeding

It seems hard to understand why the Premier Ford Ontario led Government hasn’t passed legislation to stop the bleeding of ratepayer dollars going to the owners of those unreliable and intermittent IWT generators.  At the very least he should work to obtain “carbon credits” for those “emissions free” cheap generation we sell to our neighbours.  We could then sell the “carbon credits” in the market to help reduce the costs of electricity to Ontario’s ratepayers.

PS: Today (November 7, 2022, looks to be even more costly based on the first 13 hours of IESO Data.

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!

Looking Ahead

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.

Conclusion

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. 

Blackouts on the Horizon for Ontario?

The OCAA (Ontario Clean Air Alliance) joined with Environmental Defence and 23 other eco-warriors to sign a letter dated October 26, 2022 addressed to PM Trudeau and copied to Ministers Guibeault and Wilkinson. Needless to say, the letter is full of claptrap claiming: “Ontario can avoid the need for new gas plants and lower its electricity costs by up to $290 billion by investing in zero-carbon options to keep our lights on, including solar power, energy storage and smart efficiency programs.”

It is obvious those who claim those “lower electricity costs” fail to recognize the intermittent and unreliable nature of wind and solar “zero-carbon options” that can easily lead to rolling blackouts.

The foregoing was demonstrated via IESO data yesterday (October 27, 2022) as at Hour 1 those IWT (industrial wind turbines) were busy and generated 2,766 MWh (56% of their capacity) when Ontario’s  demand was very low at only 12,021 MW. By Hour 15 with demand at 14,210 MW those IWT generated a miserly 45 MWh or less than 1% of their capacity.  If we were in mid July or August demand at Hour 15 would have been in the 18,000/20,000 MW range so without gas plants or the 3,000 MW of Pickering Nuclear; currently offline for a VBO (vacuum building outage) we would have experienced blackouts throughout the province.

 Ontario’s peak Hour for October 27th came at Hour 19 reaching 16,592 MW and while IWT had ramped up a little they only managed to generate 279 MWh or 5.7% of their capacity and 1.7% of demand.  As one would surmise, solar was absent at Hour 1 and absent at Hour 19. At Hour 15 Ontario’s natural gas plants were generating 1,910 MW, hydro 4,007 MW and nuclear 6,628 MW and at Hour 19 they were respectively generating 2,604 MW, 4,983 MW and 6,642 MW.  Hour 15 also had IESO importing 1,703 MW, principally from Quebec but by Hour 19 we were importing 2,763 MW (16.7% of demand) from Michigan, NY and Quebec and even a little from Manitoba.  Thankfully those imports, coupled with gas and hydro generation saved us from rolling blackouts but as Quebec is a winter peaking province, we shouldn’t anticipate they can supply us during high demand winter days so hopefully the 3,000 MW of Pickering nuclear will be available on the upcoming cold winter days!

As an aside hydro has been a major source of generation during the Pickering VBO and perhaps is the reason Lake Ontario is currently 23 centimetres below it’s average level as noted by the US Army Corps of Engineers despite recent heavy rainfalls.  This heavy hydro generation could well mean it will be less available during the coming winter so we should pray for Pickering’s return to action and for those gas plants to be at the ready.  Also, as noted above, Quebec is a winter peaking province and Hydro Quebec encourages all their customers to be mindful of that, telling them: “In very cold weather, it’s best to reduce your electricity use during peak periods to avoid putting more pressure on the grid.“

IWT and solar cannot be counted on to deliver power when it is needed due to it’s intermittent and unreliable nature.  At the same time those politicians, et al, should become cognizant of the fact our neighbouring sources of imported power cannot be counted on to deliver what we may need to keep the lights on and our businesses operating during cold winter days or hot summer ones.

In summary, yesterday should be recognized by our politicians as a fortunate occurrence as we avoided a blackout. They should ignore the cultists such as those charities like the OCAA or Environmental Defence who continually fail to conduct proper research and push their net-zero” emissions are bad agenda!

Many well accredited scientists have shown conclusively that mankind’s emissions have little effect on Mother Nature’s climate events!

Wind Peeks at Peak Hour on October 16th

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.

IESO, Great Weather Forecasting or Simply History Repeating Itself

We ratepayers and taxpayers must assume IESO, who control the Ontario electricity grid, look at weather forecasts daily as they post data with hourly forecasted generation we will get from wind and solar over the 24 hours. They don’t do that for baseload generation such as nuclear and hydro or even natural gas but do for the two intermittent and unreliable sources of electricity.

The question becomes did IESO look at longer term weather forecasts confident IWT (industrial wind turbines) would replace the baseload of the 3,000 MW capacity of Pickering Nuclear (related to the VBO [Vacuum Building Outage])?  Then again, on October 13th, did IESO bless Bruce Nuclear closure of their G8 unit with a capacity of 800 MW for maintenance (?) confident we ratepayers would have sufficient power? 

Suddenly Ontario is without baseload capacity of about 3,800 MW (about what 3 million average Ontario households consume daily) but no problems or worries about rolling blackouts or smart meter control to reduce consumption. IWT have apparently stepped in to fill the gap. 

Looking at the past three days clearly demonstrates how IWT are intermittent but not just hourly, as has been obvious from reviewing their generation since the first of them were planted in rural communities in the province.  Their proven habits in the past decade have shown their generation is skewed with lots of generation in the Spring and Fall when demand is low but come hot summer days or very cold winter days when peak demand is often well over 20,000 MW they hardly show up.

October 12th IWT generated over 74,000 MWh and had another 5,000 MWh curtailed meaning they could have operated at over 67% of capacity. Peak demand reached 16,290 MW at hour 19.  October  13th they generated about 42,500 MWh and had only about 500 MWh curtailed so combined; operated at over 36% of capacity.  Peak demand again occurred at hour 19 reaching 16,277 MW. On October 14th those IWT were still humming generating 55,500 MWh and had another 7,900 MWh curtailed so combined they operated at 53.9% of rated capacity. Ontario’s peak hour once again struck at hour 19 reaching only 15,444 MW.  Over those three days IWT operated at an average of 52.6% of capacity whereas over a full year they average in the range of 29/30%.

The positive outcome from the missing 3,800 MW of baseload was the HOEP remained at reasonable market levels whereas if one looks at past HOEP averages it was $13.90/MWh in 2020 and $28.50/MWh in 2021.  What that suggests is Class B ratepayers/taxpayers reduced their subsidization of our surplus exports and Class A customers.  This current lack of the 3,800 MW of baseload power will help to drive up the HOEP continuing the drop in our subsidies.  The negative is our manufacturing sector will experience higher costs for their electricity consumption.

In summary we should be confident IESO, by allowing the nuclear shutdowns, were not forecasting weather events over the next month or more.  IESO were simply looking at data from the past which consistently shows the large drop in demand during our Spring and Fall seasons and based on past bad habits were confident those IWT would do as they have done for most years. They also knew those natural gas plants were at the ready when the wind isn’t blowing.

We will need that baseload power back operating when the cold weather is upon us in the coming winter as those IWT will once again show us how they are missing in action when needed.

It sure appears IESO has looked back and is confident history will repeat itself!

NB:  The first 13 hours of October 15th indicate IWT generation plus curtailed power has them operating at 77.9% of capacity collectively showing 49,614 MWh.

Pickering Nuclear Vacuum Building Outage (VBO), a Look at the Future, or a Demonstration of Ontario’s Energy Vulnerability?

Many around Ontario are probably unaware all the units at the Pickering Nuclear plant have been shut down to perform an VBO.  A VBO is usually conducted on a periodic basis for the purpose of confirming the integrity of the equipment and infrastructure of the vacuum buildings.  In the past, VBOs have been cycled with one or two units out for three to four weeks in the Spring or Fall when Ontario’s “peak demand” is generally low, but the wind is frequently blowing.  On this occasion OPG has apparently shut down all the Pickering Nuclear* units for the VBO. 

The question becomes: is it the intention to demonstrate the viability of extending their life or to show the vulnerability of the energy system without the approximately 3,000 MW capacity of Pickering or both?

Since all the units have been fully shut down (the last units were shut early on October 6th), IESO data clearly shows even though Ontario peak hourly demand on October 6th was only 16,375 MW and 16,303 MW on the 7th we were importing significant power from Quebec. We imported the power despite the fact IWT (industrial wind turbines) eventually ran well above their annual average of about 30% of capacity and natural gas peaked at Hour 11 on the 6th at 3,147 MW while wind was on an upward move and generated 925 MW.

On the 6th, Quebec supplied 22,354 MWh and on the 7th we imported 26,731 MWh from them. As a matter of interest, the latter is about what 1,000,000 average Ontario households consume daily.  It is worth pointing out Quebec is a “winter peaking” province principally due to the fact most households in the province heat with electric powered furnaces or baseboard heaters. Hydro Quebec therefore asks their customers to reduce demand during cold winter periods. For that reason, Ontario may well find its neighbour unable to supply any power during the winter so it would be expected Ontario might experience rolling blackouts without the Pickering units up and running.

The other interesting fact is; the HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) market price over the two days has averaged over $60/MWh which will presumably affect the ICI (Industrial Conservation Initiative) ie: even picking some or all the top five peak hours over the year may not generate the same savings as in the past for those companies using a minimum of 500 KW per hour or as much or more then 5 MW per hour should the HOEP climb further.

From all appearances it seems the intention of the Pickering Nuclear shutdown for VBO purposes is clearly to signal the necessity of retaining the 3,000 MW of their capacity or subject the province to potential rolling blackouts as California has experienced.

The full “electrification” of the province as advocated by the Ford led Ontario Conservative Party may not be looking like the shining star to make the eco-warriors happy while bringing grief to the rest of us Ontarians.  The Ford led government should remember we Ontario voters went through a similar experience under the Ontario Liberal Party and turned them into the “minivan” party and it was related to the “energy” file!

We should hope Ford and his Minister of Energy, Todd Smith have seen the light about the “net-zero” push and realize it may be the train in the tunnel heading for us Ontarians and will wipe out their current majority come the next election! 

*I was informed by two knowledgeable engineers the Pickering Units must all go through the VBO process at the same time.

Industrial Wind Turbines Obvious Fail September 29, 2022

Yesterday was another example of a low peak demand day in Ontario which frequently occurs in the Spring and Fall. The Ontario peak hour occurred at Hour 19 (hour ending at 5 PM) and only reached 16,083 MW.

Wind at that hour generated 167 MWh which was 4.4% of their (approximate) grid connected capacity (4,900 MW) and 3.4% of peak demand.  Thankfully Ontario’s natural gas generators were at the ready and produced 10.5% (1,701 MWh) of peak demand while nuclear and hydro delivered the rest.

Had Ontario eliminated natural gas generation as the OCAA (Ontario Clean Air Alliance) has convinced 34 municipalities, one should wonder; where would the 1,701 MWh of electricity natural gas plants produced have come from or, in its absence, what might have happened?

Looking at the foregoing and assuming Ontario was without variable natural gas generation which can be ramped up or down; how much IWT capacity would we have needed to avoid a blackout at that hour?  Based on how those IWT performed at that hour we would need almost 50,000 MW of their capacity (10.2 times current levels) just to have avoided a blackout.  The 50,000 MW capacity would represent the 167 MWh existing IWT provided along with the generation (1,701 MWh) we received from those natural gas plants at the 4.4% level the IWT generated at hour 19.

Currently Ontario has around 2,500 IWT (average of about 2 MW capacity per turbine) sprinkled throughout the province and the additional 45,000 MW capacity would add another 20/25,000 of them just to replace the power our natural gas plants provided during that peak hour yesterday.

Now try to imagine how many birds and bats those additional 20/25,000 IWT would kill and how much harm they would cause us humans when they are spinning and generating high decibel and infrasound?

As if the foregoing wasn’t bad enough start imagining how many of them would be needed during our summer and winter peak hours which frequently reach 20K MWh or more! With the push for electrification of our transportation and heating sources by our politicians and the eco-warriors we should see those peak hours at much higher levels in the future meaning more dependence on IWT, and an incredible cost for battery storage. The result would bring the cost of a kWh (kilowatt hour) to levels the UK, Europe are now experiencing or higher and bring widespread “energy poverty”! It would also bring blackouts or restrictions on our use of electricity as is currently happening in Europe.

The time has come for politicians of all stripes to recognize the damage their push is causing and will continue to cause! 

As elections for our municipal politicians loom next month, we much ask them (emphasis on the 34 municipalities) if they understand and appreciate the harm intermittent and unreliable electricity generation from IWT and solar panels will cause in their push to reputedly save the world from “climate change” by advocating and supporting the harmful “net-zero” UN target!

Tell them it is a fallacy as mankind is not the control knob for climate change!