Alberta’s 4,481 Megawatts of Wind Power Produced Only 3 MW Monday Night, 2 Tuesday Morning

Alberta’s 4,481 Megawatts of Wind Power Produced Only 3 MW Monday Night, 2 Tuesday Morning


Where are we going? Lower! That was the trend for wind power production in Alberta on Monday, Feb. 5, as the 4,481 megawatts of nameplate wind power generation capacity fell to just three megawatts output. That’s less than 0.1 percent, or less than 1 one-thousandth of nameplate capacity. If you want to get really technical, it’s actually 0.07 percent, or 7 ten-thousandths of nameplate capacity.

That’s according to minute-by-minute data from the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO).
Effectively, it was just about zero. Or put another way, the hundreds of turbines across Alberta’s 45 wind farms costing billions of dollars collectively were producing less power than a singular Caterpillar 3612 diesel generator is capable of.

And it stayed around that level for at least half an hour, bouncing between three and eight megawatts.

Since the sun had gone down hours earlier, the 1,650 megawatts of solar was producing zero. That means Alberta’s total 6,131 megawatts of wind and solar produced three megawatts, or 0.05 percent of nameplate capacity.

It hit that level at 10:10 p.m., after having stayed at rock-bottom levels since late morning. According to hourly records posted by X bot account @ReliableAB, wind power fell below 100 megawatts around that time, hitting 90 megawatts at 10:39 a.m. Over the next several hours it fell to 62, 45, 25, 12, 26, 29, 42, 43, 24, and 16 megawatts—consistently flat at minimal to non-existent levels compared to the theoretical nameplate capacity.

A quick check of showed sustained windspeeds of zero to two knots at locations throughout southern Alberta that are home to the province’s 45 wind farms.
And by Tuesday morning, wind power production in Alberta had remained less than 2 percent for roughly 24 hours, most of that less than half a percent of capacity. At 3:38 a.m. on Tuesday, wind power fell to two megawatts out of 4,481, according to @ReliableAB. That’s 0.04 percent, or 4 ten-thousandths of capacity. But by that point, the reduced demand at night meant Alberta was able to export 48 megawatts to British Columbia.
The AESO did not issue a “grid alert” as it had four days in a row in mid-January, when similar minimal wind and solar conditions hit Alberta. That was in the middle of a -35°C cold snap (and colder). Monday was much more mild, with temperatures late in the night between -6°C and -9°C across nearly the entire province. As such, demand for power wasn’t nearly as intense, and the AESO was able to maintain a sufficient contingency reserve.

Saskatchewan, Montana, and British Columbia were all shipping power to Alberta, totalling around 500 megawatts much of the evening. According to SaskPower, the Saskatchewan-Alberta intertie had just been restored that day to full 153 megawatts capacity, and it was utilized to the maximum, sending power from Saskatchewan to Alberta.

The previous day, Alberta also saw minimal wind power production, falling to 15 megawatts at suppertime on Sunday, Feb. 4.

Similar Conditions in Saskatchewan

Just as wind power generation in Alberta flatlined twice in as many days, Saskatchewan has seen similar conditions.

“On Feb. 4 we had about an hour of less than 10 megawatts of wind from 12 a.m. to 1 a.m.,” SaskPower spokesperson Joel Cherry said by email on Feb. 6.

“Yesterday [Feb. 5] we had less than 10 megawatts from 1:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., from 8:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. and then from 9:45 to midnight. We were at zero for much of the afternoon and then from 10:45 to midnight. We did have wind production in the 100-150 megawatt range throughout much of the morning up to 10 a.m. before winds died off for the day.”

Alberta’s flatlined wind power production meant the province was importing power from its neighbours, a frequent occurrence of back-and-forth trade. The intertie between Alberta and Saskatchewan had been downrated several months ago to 90 megawatts until some maintenance was completed. During the mid-January electrical crisis in Alberta, the capacity of the line was temporarily pushed back to 153 megawatts to help the province get through its critical shortage, before returning back to 90 megawatts.

Those repairs are now done, Mr. Cherry said. “We did start exporting full tie of 153 once the tie-line with Alberta was back to full capacity, which occurred yesterday. It was not an emergency exception.”

As part of those regular electrical market exchanges, SaskPower also imported power from Manitoba Hydro.

“We imported between 290 megawatts and 148 megawatts from Manitoba during that time period, with our total net imports ranging from 132 megawatts at 7:45 p.m. to four megawatts at midnight,” Mr. Cherry said.

On Feb. 4, Saskatchewan’s 30 megawatts of grid-scale solar showed negligible power generation. So on that day, not only were periods of next to no wind power, but also no solar, at the same time.

What do you think?

Written by colinnew

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