Industrial wind turbine industry found dead in Ontario

North American Windpower has Mark Del Franco Eulogizing Ontario’s Wind Industry

Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to pay our respects to Ontario’s utility-scale wind industry, which has passed away from unnatural causes (a lack of government support).
Those of you knew who knew Ontario will recall it was a place of great passion for renewable energy. In just a short time, Ontario grew to become Canada’s leading wind province. And with the passage of its Green Energy and Green Economy Act of 2009 – which introduced North America’s first feed-in tariff – the province became a leader on the global stage. Those were good times. Soon after the act’s unveiling, global energy players, such as Samsung Renewable Energy and turbine manufacturer REpower Systems (now Senvion), as well as U.S. developers, such as Invenergy and Pattern Energy Group, set up shop north of the border. And Ontario was also an early pioneer of climate change. In 2014, the place rid itself of coal-fired generation.

You could continue reading at the wind site, but at this point let me remind you the industry did remarkably well considering it was born with neither a brain nor a heart.

It’s survivors seem to be similarly lacking in intelligence and empathy.

Parker Gallant has posted an article trying to tally up the full costs of wind, drawing on estimates I’ve posted and regularly updated. I couldn’t work up the energy to write on this again – like Tom Adams and Ross McKitrick in their 2014 paper Parker finds the costs far higher than payments to suppliers, and I’m sure I’d agree with some of Parker’s points and not others – but if you’re looking for my opinion on the topic, I gave in 2014.

I did pull some numbers grouping industrial wind turbines by contract type. This is pretty basic work financially – I estimated cost/MWh by site treating Renewable Energy Supply (RES) contracts at $110/MWh [1] and feed-in-tariff (FIT) and Korean Consortium (GEIA) contracts at standard rates plus known adders.

The rates I show include payments at the full contract rate for the curtailed supply I estimate.

Throughout the industry’s life industrial wind turbine showed steady increases in real costs with each round of procurement.  It became more expensive to acquire and more poorly sited – with curtailment seeming to abound in newer sites.
Every year it sucked more life from its hosts (ratepayers), without ever attempting to provide any value in return. Beckoned, in its proponents’ dreams, to replace coal, it mostly arrived late – with 49% of current turbines entering service after coal’s death at the end of 2013.
A post mortem may be performed to see how Ontario was so uniquely inept as to avoid discovering the lower costs foreign wind industries report.
The industry leaves behind a gaggle of unproductive nitwits last seen headed to Alberta.

Addendum: Alberta

I was shown a recent column on Top 10 Issues in Alberta’s Renewable Electricity Support Agreement for Developers and Lenders, which contained an indication the contracts to be offered there won’t pay for curtailment:

Significantly, the RESA does not provide Generators with a right to seek compensatory payments if they are directed by the AESO to dispatch off, irrespective of generating ability. This is a position unlike that of developers currently under LRP contracts in Ontario and similar agreements in British Columbia, where a risk-sharing approach to economic curtailment has been implemented in order to assure the financial viability of projects

My response:
Alberta’s entire policy seems to be they’ll do what Ontario did but not be so stupid about it. It reminds me of a scene from my favourite West Wing episode:

Josh: Leo,the democrats aren’t going to nominate another liberal academic former governor from New England. I mean we’re dumb, but we’re not that dumb
Leo: Nah. I think we’re exactly that dumb.

On the television show things worked out very well, but with wind, I suspect Alberta will be exactly as dumb as Ontario -eventually.
The RES contracts Ontario signed prior to the feed-in tariffs didn’t specifically guarantee payment during curtailment either. The companies went to the Ontario Energy Board when the system operator became capable of curtailing their turbines, claiming the Green Energy Act gave them priority.
Before the lawsuits were heard the new Premier, Kathleen Wynne, agreed they’d be paid for curtailed supply.
By my estimates that has subsequently cost ratepayers upwards of $140 million.
Ontario got dumber the more the parasite industry infiltrated Toronto.
I don’t know that Alberta is capable of being exactly as dumb as Ontario – but I’m confident Edmonton can be as dumb as Toronto.


[1] Finding pricing is difficult, and tracking price changes through the years harder again, as a portion of whatever the contracted price is will likely be indexed to inflation. This 2005 document posted on the Canadian Wind Energy Association website cited the average project as being paid 8 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

I’ve generously inflated it to 11 cents/kWh based on a seeing that rate in a paper by Leah Stokes.

2 thoughts on “Industrial wind turbine industry found dead in Ontario

  1. You’re not a comedian by any chance? Dribbled with a dry sense of irony. Hey I’m with you … it’s either laugh or cry. Might as well laugh at the insanity.

    Anyway you ask if Albert can be as dumb. Based on what Ontario experienced, they will have to be in order to get any wind traction. Ontario tried lower contract pricing but no one bit. What would make anyone think that Alberta will be any different? I mean everyone has to make a buck right?


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