Worthless and worse wind

My friend Parker Gallant has written on my updated estimates of annual curtailment in Wind waste should worry Ontario ratepayers.  Producing the estimates doesn’t take me nearly the effort Parker puts into writing on them, so I felt compelled to add a new view of the data just to make our contributions a little more equitable.

The French language Radio-Canada has posted AU PAYS DE L’EAU NOIRE
Des résidents en Ontario vivent un cauchemar depuis l’installation d’éoliennes proches de leur domicile. I assume it’s best read in French, but the Google translation to English sufficed for me. As the journalism at Radio-Canada is more focused on the impacts to people of turbine construction of the North Kent wind farm, I decided today’s show of data will be on the performance of individual industrial wind turbine facilities.

Capacity Factor is the output of a generator divided by the theoretical maximum (full output in all hours). To estimate costs I need to estimate curtailment, but just viewing the history of capacity factors has the benefit of allowing the cynical reader (ie. the good ones) to verify my claims just by adding up columns from the IESO’s wind file. I won’t make it easy to do though, because for fairness I limit results to years where a facility was in commercial operation throughout, and to compare 2017 results I’ve made all years’ data the total as of the end of November.


Green cells indicate the year’s top capacity factor site, and red underlined text points out sites where the capacity factor is below 20%. There weren’t any sites with capacity factors below 20% until 2016 – 3 years after Ontario began the curtailment of output from industrial wind turbine sites.

Year-to-date, to the end of November, 6 industrial wind turbine facilities in Ontario have capacity factors below 20% (without adjusting for curtailment), including the first facility contracted at Port Alma. That site was once once Ontario’s best performing.

For six consecutive years the area had the province’s best site as measure by capacity factor. Now it’s among the worst. The big circle on this map might explain why: it’s the South Kent Wind facility (Port Alma is to its left, and Spence to its right.


I can make the case curtailment is the reason the capacity factors have plummeted.

November YTD wind generation figures, measured in megawatt-hours (MWh), are down from 2014’s production in the IESO’s west zone despite the addition of 270 megawatt South Kent (a.k.a. “RAILBEDWF-LT.AG_SR”) and Landon.


The two Port Alma facilities have combined output down over 40% from their average production seen from 2011 through 2014, indicating likely large curtailment. South Kent (a.k.a. Railbed…) has output only 18% greater than the combined Port Alma sites in 2017 despite having 35% more capacity.

My estimate routines do have South Kent as Ontario’s most curtailed generator, with half it’s potential output wasted.

That makes the well contamination in North Kent, described in the Radio-Canada report, particularly unsettling.

The totally unnecessary South Kent facility is only the first of 3 Samsung deal sites in the area (along with North Kent and Belle River). They went there obviously not because that’s where a need for electricity was, but it’s a good wind resource at a site where they could build regardless of need. Since Ontario pays for curtailment the provision of value to ratepayer wasn’t part of the consideration.

That apparently wasn’t wasteful enough for Ontario’s mandarins, because 2016’s Large Renewable Procurement added the Strong Breeze, Otter Creek, and Romney projects to the list of contracted industrial wind facility sites in what is already among the most curtailed sections of any grid on the planet.

GEIA and LRP in West




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