Our Hour of Greatest Need

green energy light bulb

By:  Catherine Mitchell-
A Concerned Citizen

Opinions expressed are of the author

 

September 25th, 2017

In times of greatest need it is always wise to know whom you can call on. The same applies to the electricity system and it is rather telling what was produced by each generator type in our hour of greatest need. The ‘Peak Demand’ for electricity in 2017 in Ontario occurred on September 25, 2017 at 5:00 PM.

Ontario can produce power from nuclear, natural gas, hydro, wind, solar and biofuel energy generators and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is responsible for the management of the resources in the system. The following chart looks at production from each fuel type during the peak demand at 5:00 PM Sept 25, 2017 to determine the adequacy of resources to meet the demand.

Generation Capacity (MW/hr) / Capability @ Peak / Output/Sept 25, 2017

Fuel Type A   Total Installed

Capacity (MW/hr)

B  Forecast Capability      @Peak

(MW/hr)

C    OutPut

Jan – Aug 31

2017

(MW/hr)

D Sept 25,2017

5:00 PM

(MW/hr)

Sept 25,  2017

Contribution

as %

Nuclear 13,009 MW  11,537 MW   7548  MW    9690  MW       48%
Hydro      8480       5786        3207    5135       25%
Natural Gas    10,277       8371          417    5268       26%
Wind       4213        533          764        67        0.3%
Solar         380          38            50        85        0.4%
Biofuel         495        439            37      100       0.4%
Total    36,853  MW/hr   26,704     MW/hr     12,023

MW/hr

 20,345 MW/hr

IESO  report – 18 Month Outlook: An Assessment of the Reliability and Operability of the Ontario Electricity System from October 2017 to March 2019:   http://www.ieso.ca/en/sector-participants/planning-and-forecasting/18-month-outlook       Page 17 -Table 4.1 provides (A) total installed capacity and the (B) forecast capability @ outlook peak.

To keep the lights on, refrigerators running and industry rolling in our hour of greatest need on September 25, 2017 at 5:00 PM we needed 21,786 MW of power. The Ontario power generators produced 20,345 MW of power and we imported 1,441 MW from Manitoba and Quebec. (It seems like natural gas generators could have been ramped up an additional 1,500 MW per hour without exceeding the IESO forecast capability at peak, but we imported power instead.)

Nuclear, one of the baseload generators for Ontario, did most of the heavy lifting and came through producing 9690 MW of power or 48% of the power produced in Ontario. This is higher than the average yearly production of 7548 MW/hr but less than the maximum capability of the nuclear plants.

Hydro – our baseload renewable energy source – produced 5135 MW of power from a potential of 5786 MW. So we were using 89% of the potential production from our cleanest, greenest, cheapest energy source. The average hourly demand from hydro is 3207 MW/hr and generally we spill water over the dams and waste that renewable energy resource. But in our hour of greatest need hydro provided 25% of the power produced in Ontario.

Natural gas, another baseload power generator that can be quickly ramped up or down, provided 5268 MW of power in our hour of greatest need. Natural gas is definitely our BFF (best friend forever). According to the IESO gas plants are capable of producing 8,371 MW of power each hour, yet on average the natural gas plants produce 417 MW of power each hour. From January – August 2017 the gas plants operated at 4.9 % of their potential!! This means that they are being underutilized and sit idle the majority of the time. But on September 25 at 5:00 PM the gas plants provided 26% of the power produced in Ontario.

And then we get to the contribution of the energy of the future – wind and solar!

The total installed nameplate capacity of all the industrial wind turbines in Ontario is 4213 MW. So the IWT’s should have made a significant contribution. But in our hour of greatest need the total power produced from all the IWT’s installed in Ontario was 67 MW!!! This represents a total contribution of 0.3% of the power produced in Ontario. Power that was required to keep the lights on, the refrigerators running and the industry rolling. Solar made a bigger contribution of 85 MW or 0.4% of the power produced in Ontario.

To understand the limits of wind power, the late Glenn R. Schleede, formerly Vice President of New England Electric System, Executive Associate Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Senior VP of the National Coal Association in Washington and Associate Director (Energy and Science) of the White House Domestic Council says it best: “Wind turbines have little or no ‘capacity value’ because they are unlikely to be producing electricity at the time of peak electricity demand. Therefore, wind turbines cannot substitute for conventional generating capacity responsible for providing reliable electricity to customers.”

According to Schleede, the true capacity value of a wind turbine or ‘wind farm’ is generally less than 10% of nameplate capacity and often 0% or slightly above — simply because, at the time of peak electricity demand, the wind isn’t blowing at a speed that will permit the turbine to produce any or much electricity. Claims of wind turbine capacity value have been exaggerated by wind industry officials and lobbyists, and by regulatory agencies. As we are finding out in Ontario – industrial wind turbines generate a minimal amount of electricity.

Wind and solar are both intermittent so we can not ramp them up or even depend on them for power because they only produce power when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining.

Wind and solar certainly let us down in our hour of greatest need!

3 thoughts on “Our Hour of Greatest Need”

  1. Knowing this deepens the despair for people being harmed by industrial scale wind turbines. All of the harm they’ve experienced from noise, low frequency noise modulations and infrasound radiation could have been spared if a cost/benefit analysis had been done before this experiment was inflicted on rural residents of Ontario.
    Now, some are still being harmed. Some have been forced to abandon their beloved homes. Some have sold their homes at a loss. This government still refuses to admit that they made a huge mistake. What a mess!

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