Wynne’s wind 88% waste

Today column is on the Premier of Ontario’s negligence.

I’m on CPP disability as I’m in remission from cancer. In the winter we use our wood burning stove because we shut our breakers off as we have baseboard heaters. Next week we’ll pay our bill and buy maybe $50 worth of food to hopefully survive. – Andre Richards, Sutton

Three of my previous four posts at my Cold Air blog dealt with difficult topics that included capacity factor and capacity value/credit.  The fourth post discussed statistics for the first half of the year. This post uses a small set of IESO statistics and first half-year generation with industrial wind turbines to display the economic damage of a collapse in value of incremental wind turbines.

Most data for this post is directly from Ontario’s system operator (IESO) 1. The one small change to the data is I’ve omitted records for facilities prior to the first day an hour produced at 85% of nameplate capacity. This chart illustrates the changes between years for the first half of the year (January 1 – June 30, inclusive):

The first half of 2016 saw the second largest annual increase in wind. With average generating capacity up 711 megawatts (MW) over the first of 2015, the increase in output was only higher than in 2013 (which had only a 39 MW increase), and  2008, which had just a 70 MW increase.

In the winter we huddle by the fireplace with heavy clothes and blankets and barely switch on the furnace. On most days, it seems like I am living in a third world country. Satpal Channa, Dufferin

This type of analysis can be misleading for any individual year, because wind speeds do vary, so wind output does to. That explains why anomalies exist, but the trend is clear, which is apparent graphing the trend as a capacity factor – the increase in output as a percentage of the theoretical output from the added capacity generating at full nameplate capacity at all times:

This chart makes perfect sense up to 2010, as initially 30% was the expected capacity factor of wind turbines. Weather muddies the picture after 2009. I’ll posit 2010 was not windy (reducing performance of existing turbines), and that explains the bump the following year. The spike in 2013 is likely because the small increase in wind capacity coupled with slightly higher wind speeds. However, the overall trend is not as it should be – which is sloping upward as the capacity factor of new generation increased from the original 30% values of 2007 era turbines to the 40% offered by some of today’s models.

The value for 2016 is 4%, not 40%.

We have three kids and struggle to buy food. I make a good income so we don’t qualify for subsidies. Yet we are struggling. –Jason Ladouceur, Parry Sound

Since April 2015 Ontario has add: Goulais (25 MW), then K2 (270), then Cedar Point (100), then Bow Lake (60) and Grand Valley 3 (40) and Armow (180) and Zurich (100).

For what?

Well, for 4 % of nameplate capacity on average.

I had an organ transplant. I know I have to eat properly, but it’s come down to eating and having my lights on now. Scared. I’d appreciate you not use my full name. Not being able to keep my hydro is embarrassing! – from Bobcaygeon

Of course modern turbines are far more productive – as could be seen by going to my speculative, but necessary, estimates of curtailed generation, and recalculating the capacity factor of incremental turbine capacity.

Curtailment of wind turbines only began is September 2013, sot the graphic is the same up until then, but in adding in changes to estimated curtailment we see more anticipated values since that time.

Wind turbines added since April 2015 have expected capacity values, it’s just hidden in the composite wind statistics by 88% of the new generation resulting in curtailment.

88 percent!


I cannot conceive of a less responsible government action than continuing to contract industrial wind turbines while 88% of new supply is wasted, serving only to harm ratepayers.


I can only think of one instance I found innumeracy funny: Chevy Chase channeling Ontario’s type of politician:




1. The file is HourlyWindFarmGen_20160708.csv which was downloaded by selecting the “Hourly Wind Generator Output, 2006-present” link on the IESO’s power data page.


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