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Alberta Reaches 50% Wind/Solar Generation...Yippee or Yikes


Tony Hladun

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Alberta now has about 4.7 GW of wind and solar generation capacity and our normal Provincial load is about 10  GW.  Yippee, we're at 50% so isn't that wonderful.  Trudeau and his entourage should be here for wind-cutting ceremonies. Well no, half the day the sun doesn't shine and a lot of the time the wind doesn't blow hard enough so the actual generation is way below the capacity.  Well that's no problem, let's just build more capacity.  That's were the problem gets even worse because to give wind and solar preferred access to the grid causes supply and demand to go unstable.  AESO is now issuing load warnings.  You can't start conventional generating plants fast enough and you can't match the changes in wind speed.  We normally used to pay 5 to 10 cents per wholesale KwH but now the price varies and can go up to $1 per KwH (https://www.aeso.ca/)...yikes.  The same thing has happened in Germany with their headlong rush to alternate energy.  Let's line up the innocent consumers because they're going to pay.

P.S. You might say this isn't a Federal issue and the hell with Alberta, but it's the Federal Government that's pushing us headlong into this so that's why I posted it here.

 

Edited by Tony Hladun
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Infidel Dog,

Thanks for looking and your question.  The maximum capacity of the Alberta grid is 18 GW whereas the net generation (Provincial load) averages around 10 GW.  That's where my 50% comes from.  The figure you show on the right is the maximum capacity (18 GW).

So why do we need 8 GW over the average load.  Well first we need 5 GW to cover off wind/solar when they're not producing.  When I was on an AESO Board the wind/solar came on line first (not sure about now) so everything else had to accommodate it.  The remaining 3 GW are partially necessary to provide security in case of shutdowns/failure in the system and also to handle peak demand.  The electrical system needs to work 100% of the time.

Also if you look at the dashboard you can see how wildly the Pool Price swings.   This presents operational strategies because if you can run your plant for a few hours a day at a very high price you can make a good buck.  Don't blame the players because that's the way the game is set.

Now if you look at Total Net Generation on your figure on the left you see how little wind/solar actually contributes.  I'd say money spent on gross overcapacity with little positive and probably negative effects.  But hey, when wind/solar are at max generation we're at 50%. 

Edited by Tony Hladun
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11 hours ago, Tony Hladun said:

P.S. You might say this isn't a Federal issue and the hell with Alberta, but it's the Federal Government that's pushing us headlong into this so that's why I posted it here.

It's not.  That's a provincial issue.  We turfed the Liberals in Ontario (with their botching of the energy file a primary source of discontent) over this sort of nonsense and now they only have 8 seats in a 124 seat provincial legislature.  

Wind and Solar would be wonderful alternatives if we have proper storage capacity for excess power.  As you say, the wind doesn't blow on the hottest days in the summer.  The sun doesn't shine on the coldest days in the winter.  At least Ontario has hydro and nuclear running though.  

I'd be fine if the government wanted to blow $20B on battery storage research to prepare the infrastructure needed.  Unfortunately we have puffball politicians moving money around to lobbyists and grifters to fund non-viable projects that end up costing us fortunes for very little net benefit.  

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12 hours ago, Infidel Dog said:

You appear to be saying that while everybody else is operating at the net generation, wind and solar is operating at maximum capacity.

If that is what you're saying do you have evidence of it? If that's not what you're saying, clarify.

I'm being facetious.  Does this happen?  Almost certainly not...but it can.  Hypothetically on the right day and with wind/solar having preference then theoretically half of Alberta's load could be wind/solar.  I'm trying to point out that much of alternate energy is dreams and hopes.  That would be fine, but in the meantime they're doing harm without benefit.  There's a saying that in theory there's no difference between theory and practise, but in practise there is.  This is a perfect example.

To put some numbers to from the dashboard the 30 day average wholesale price is 21.7 cents per kWh.  Several years ago I signed a 5 year contract at 7 cents per kWh.  So prices have tripled.  Moonbox, haven't your prices shot up as well?  

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Yet just a few days ago we had yet another “crisis” where we were urged to shut off all unnecessary usage. One can only wonder the state of availability very soon with the flood of oncoming E cars.

I can see where casually unplugging such cars while just walking by will be a “thing”.

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On 12/5/2022 at 8:37 AM, Tony Hladun said:

Alberta now has about 4.7 GW of wind and solar generation capacity and our normal Provincial load is about 10  GW. 

What?  Where did you get those figures?  I think you need to check into that further.

According to this website Alberta generates 16,330 megawatts.  Alberta is the third largest producer of electricity in Canada.  You stated 10,000 megawatts which is quite a bit less that the actual amount.  

"Alberta is the third largest producer of electricity in Canada and has an estimated generating capacity of 16 330 megawatts (MW). About 89% of electricity in Alberta is produced from fossil fuels– approximately 36% from coal and 54% from natural gas. The remaining 10% is produced from renewables, such as wind, hydro, and biomass."

This is from the Canada Energy Regulator

CER – Provincial and Territorial Energy Profiles – Alberta (cer-rec.gc.ca)

Wind, solar, hydro and biomass combined generates only about 10% of Alberta's power.  

According to a 2020  CBC news article, Alberta produced about 1.9 GW of power with wind and solar and was expected to rise: 

"According to the data that Rystad tracks, Alberta's current renewable capacity includes 0.1 gigawatt (GW) of solar and 1.8 GW of wind. By 2025, it expects that to grow to 1.8 GW of solar and 6.5 GW of wind. "  Or 8.3 GW.

Now 1.9 GW is equal to 1,900 MW.  Alberta generates 16,330 MW (megawatts) mainly from fossil fuels. 

The amount of wind and solar electricity generated would appear to be 12% of what Alberta generates which is mainly from fossil fuels.  This 12% figure may be at the peak time of wind and solar power.  We know it varies greatly depending on sunshine and how much wind is blowing.  It would not be consistent.

It would appear Alberta is nowhere near 50% with wind and solar.  More like 12% and perhaps only at peak times when the sun is shining, and the wind is blowing.

 

 

Edited by blackbird
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"What?  Where did you get those figures?  I think you need to check into that further."

You need to read my posts carefully, understand the difference between capacity and demand and you need to look at the AESO website.  You'll then see what I say is true and why it's actually a problem. 

Edited by Tony Hladun
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blackbird,

Just a comment on something more specific, the CBC article you quote is out of date and the figures are therefore wrong for today.  What it does show if you look at today's numbers is that while everyone talks Alberta has actually done something.  Those damn Alberta rednecks, they keep doing things.

Edited by Tony Hladun
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By the end of 2023, the last of Alberta's coal-fired power plants will either be shut down or converted to natural gas (which by itself is a big improvement). The problem with wind/solar is they are intermittent sources of power generation.  It has been suggested that the use of clean burning hydrogen (produced by electrolysis) be considered.  The problem with electrolysis is that it uses up a lot of power.  But if excess power from wind/solar, hydro-electric, or nuclear is available, it can be used for exactly that (electrolysis). Modular nuclear reactors is also another consideration for certain areas.  Whatever works best for each geographic location.

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42 minutes ago, suds said:

By the end of 2023, the last of Alberta's coal-fired power plants will either be shut down or converted to natural gas (which by itself is a big improvement). The problem with wind/solar is they are intermittent sources of power generation.  It has been suggested that the use of clean burning hydrogen (produced by electrolysis) be considered.  The problem with electrolysis is that it uses up a lot of power.  But if excess power from wind/solar, hydro-electric, or nuclear is available, it can be used for exactly that (electrolysis). Modular nuclear reactors is also another consideration for certain areas.  Whatever works best for each geographic location.

Ah...hopes and dreams...hopes and dreams.  I'm talking about what we've done already.  Let's just talk about something that's available today...small scale nuclear.  It's been used since the 1950's to power large warships and submarines; as I recall about 170.  So far though it's all talk as if it was something new but no action.  

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2 hours ago, Tony Hladun said:

blackbird,

Just a comment on something more specific, the CBC article you quote is out of date and the figures are therefore wrong for today.  What it does show if you look at today's numbers is that while everyone talks Alberta has actually done something.  Those damn Alberta rednecks, they keep doing things.

The government website which would have up-to-date figures says:

"About 89% of electricity in Alberta is produced from fossil fuels– approximately 36% from coal and 54% from natural gas. The remaining 10% is produced from renewables, such as wind, hydro, and biomass."

CER – Provincial and Territorial Energy Profiles – Alberta (cer-rec.gc.ca)

Edited by blackbird
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2 hours ago, Tony Hladun said:

Alberta has actually done something.

Yeah couldn't miss all the windfarms around the Pass when we visited friends. Seems more practical than just letting the wind blow trucks off the road.

Converting all those remaining coal plants over to gas would be a huge step in the right direction.

BTW isn't just trucks - we drove down southern Hwy22 in a 2dr Wrangler - what a wild ride!

Edited by herbie
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17 hours ago, herbie said:

Yeah couldn't miss all the windfarms around the Pass when we visited friends. Seems more practical than just letting the wind blow trucks off the road.

Converting all those remaining coal plants over to gas would be a huge step in the right direction.

BTW isn't just trucks - we drove down southern Hwy22 in a 2dr Wrangler - what a wild ride!

How about sticking to natural gas or oil to produce power instead of windmills?  I saw those windmills in southern Alberta and they are ugly and ruin the appearance of the landscape.  

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1 hour ago, blackbird said:

How about sticking to natural gas or oil to produce power instead of windmills?  I saw those windmills in southern Alberta and they are ugly and ruin the appearance of the landscape.  

You prefer ruining the air you can’t see with fossil fuels to ruining the landscape because you can see it?  
 

 

 

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6 hours ago, blackbird said:

How about sticking to natural gas or oil to produce power instead of windmills?  I saw those windmills in southern Alberta and they are ugly and ruin the appearance of the landscape.

Oh FFS and giant cooling towers look so much prettier? What a lame excuse.

While converting coal plants to LNG will reduce carbon output, building more LNG plants sure as hell won't will it?

Reducing carbon emissions is the goal, regardless if YOU like it or not.

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