The past few days presented a couple of conflicting news events that made you want to scratch your head in wonderment.
First was a CTV news item June 5 headlined “Wasted green power tests China’s energy leadership”. The article stated: “In western China’s Gansu province, 43 per cent of energy from wind went unused in 2016, a phenomenon known in the energy industry as ‘curtailment.’ In the neighbouring Xinjiang region, the curtailment figure was 38 per cent and in northeast China’s Jilin province it was 30 per cent. The nationwide figure, 17 per cent, was described by Qiao’s organization as ‘shockingly high’ after increasing for several years in a row.” It went on to say: “The problem threatens to slow China’s progress in clearing its air and controlling the greenhouse gas emissions that make it the top contributor to climate change.”
A CanWEA blog (Canadian Wind Energy Association) by Brandy Giannetta, also on June 5, was headlined: “Adding more wind to the Ontario grid: no problem!”
Ms. Giannetta made these claims:
“Ontario could reliably integrate about 16,000 megawatts of wind energy (which would be able to meet more than a third of electricity demand in the scenario studied).
The additional amount of electricity generation reserves required to back up that 16,000 MW of wind (beyond the reserve capacity already in the system) would be as small as 196 megawatts, or 1.2 per cent of the wind energy capacity.
Wind energy, which is now the least-cost option for new electricity generation available in Ontario, would avoid about $49 per megawatt-hour of production costs within the electricity system if it supplied 35 per cent of Ontario’s electricity demand.”
The claims made on the blog supposedly used information from a partially taxpayer-funded, three-year study released in July 2016 co-sponsored by CanWEA and Natural Resources Canada and carried out by GE Energy Consulting, a subsidiary of General Electric. (GE’s website claims “Our portfolio of turbines feature rated capacities from 1.7 MW to 3.8 MW (Onshore) and 6MW (Offshore), we are uniquely suited to meet the needs of a broad range of wind regimes.”) As one would expect there is a “legal notice” (disclaimer) at the start of the report which names CanWEA as their client.
Needless to say, the report is extensive but looking at the 62-page Section 1, Summary Report, I noted the following, suggesting CanWEA suggest the small “reserve capacity” of only 196 MW is required to back up the 11,000 MW of new wind capacity and could be integrated:
“1.11.9 Reduced Reserves from Conventional Generation — This sensitivity examined the impact of reducing the level of spinning reserves obtained from conventional generation resources (thermal and hydro). Instead the reserves could be obtained from demand response, storage devices, or other nonconventional resources. This approach could reduce curtailment during periods where conventional generation resources are dispatched to their minimum output limits.”
The suggested CanWEA small 196-MW “reserves” being all that would be needed is a huge “stretch goal” (to use a phrase once favoured by the ruling Ontario government) and highly improbable! It suggests dispatching existing “conventional generation resources” will allow wind to contribute a lot more of its intermittent and unreliable generation.
The same section contained a stumbling block in respect to containing further cost increases as it notes: “Production simulation results show no significant reduction in curtailment. This indicates that the system is not constrained by the commitment of conventional generation units for reserve services.”
What that means is, curtailment will remain as is, as long as ratepayers pick up the costs of constraining conventional generation. It infers industrial wind generation be treated as “base-load” with “first to the grid” rights! Somehow, CanWEA view the expensive: “demand response, storage devices or other nonconventional resources” along with dispatch of conventional generation as an unrelated cost ratepayers must pay for unreliable and intermittent generation from industrial wind turbines, yet they claim “wind is now the least-cost option”. This appears to be CanWEA’s contribution to the “Fair Hydro Plan” kicking wind’s integration costs to the ratepayers bills!
Now with two conflicting perspectives about IWT curtailment from China and CanWEA, let’s look at recent Ontario history sourced from IESO and Scott Luft’s Monthly Wind data.
IESO reported in their 2016 Year-End Data they dispatched 2,244,230 MWh “representing 19 per cent of the total amount of wind energy produced in the province.” So, 2% more than China’s “shockingly high” amount garnered no attention in Ontario! Dispatched wind in 2016 added approximately $270 million to the GA for undelivered power, and no doubt caused nuclear steam-off and spilled hydro adding additional costs to the GA pot.
Scott’s files contain TX (transmission connected) and DX (distributor connected) wind generation as well as what has proven to be relatively conservative estimates of “curtailed” generation. For the first five months of the current year, curtailed wind was 1,580,629 MWh, which represented 22.3% of grid delivered and curtailed wind. It looks like the current year will easily surpass the record amount dispatched in 2016 in MWh and percentage terms.
Combining the average costs of wind generated MWh along with dispatched MWh suggests an average cost of a kWh from industrial wind turbines for the first five months of 2017 was 17.5 cents /kWh and for May 2017 was 23.4 cents /kWh.
Those costs to Ontario ratepayers makes it relatively easy to understand Ms. Giannetta’s closing paragraph on her blog where the “we” in the following sentence suggests she is clearly speaking for the members of CanWEA!
“It’s increasingly obvious that we are only beginning to reap the benefits of wind energy in Ontario.”
© Parker Gallant