Lessons from the UK’s August 9 blackouts

An interim report is out from National Grid on the “Low Frequency Demand Disconnection” (LFDD) experienced in the UK on August 8th. There were a number of contributors to the LFDD. Instead of looking for a single culprit it would be better to list the contributors, because it’s the interaction that resulted in the event. I’ll review the failures in the UK to highlight a recent report from Ontario’s system operator (IESO) that has received too little attention.

Many suspected wind as the primary factor on August 9th, and the Hornsea offshore wind facility was heavily involved. So far that involvement has simply been identified as its failure to ride through a voltage dip caused by a lightening strike to transmission wires elsewhere.

From a useful infographic accompanying the report:

  • “There was a lightning strike on a transmission circuit north of London …”
  • “There was a small loss of embedded generation (c.500MW) due to the lightning strike. This is normal …”
  • Little Barford gas power station and Hornsea wind reduced supply to the grid by 1,378 MW

The last bullet point grabs the most attention, the first triggered the event despite being a common occurrence which was typically handled; but it is the middle point that should instigate changes in the operations of the grid.

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Litterbug: selling and ERoEI

I was surprised to read something nonsensical onTwitter yesterday morning only as it was put there by a fairly well respected renewables slogger, and (after a day of sanity away from social media) annoyed to see the poster claiming the nonsense was to illustrate some financial point.

“an ERoEI of 60 over 60 years and 25 over 25 years are identical!”

ERoEI is Energy Returned on Energy Invested. It’s an important metric in places. According to twittering huckster’s thread he was thought riffing on it as a public service:

“So next time some armchair nuclear power hero hails #ERoEI as the reason only nuclear can power the world, you can straighten them out. 

I haven’t seen many nuclear proponents hammering away on ERoEI. I did know the World Nuclear Association published an exploration of nuclear’s ERoEI, but I had interpreted that as defending itself from frivolous claims – which has long been made by travellers of the soft path. The first link I checked on when googling “ERoEI of nuclear was a 2013 article at the currently reputable Carbon Brief – which is apparently a huge change over just half a decade:

…the range of estimates for nuclear’s EROI is very large indeed, ranging from an estimated 40 to 60 – from the World Nuclear Association – to less than one. Inman tells us he used a paper that reviewed many studies, which puts nuclear’s EROI at five.

My own little thought experiment will revisit this 1970’s approach, using Germany’s history with renewables to explore the impact of Germany’s renewables surge on systemic ERoEI:

Many energy analysis studies done in the 1970s seem to have assumed that a rapid expansion of nuclear generating capacity would lead to a temporary net energy deficit in an overall system sense. However, this requires dynamic analysis of whole systems…

I won’t discuss the half-a-century of hammering nuclear on ginned-up claims, or the current carnival barker’s petty use of “60 over 60 years” – when the WNA essentially has 60 (59) over 40 years as a claim (and 79 over 60 years), but this idea of systemic ERoEI to demonstrate a far more relevant metric for value.

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Lower Mattagami could become a $10 billion boondoggle

Today the government of Canada approved a pipeline, which some see as contrasting with it declaring a climate emergency yesterday. To assuage the concern the government has promised to do blindingly good things with profits from the pipeline, including promising “every dollar the federal government earns from this project will be invested in Canada’s clean energy transition,” and launching, “the next phase of engagement with Indigenous groups on ways they could share in the benefits of the expansion, including through equity ownership or revenue sharing.”

When the Prime Minister was elected he brought two veterans of Ontario’s Liberal government to Ottawa as his top advisors, so this seems an opportune time to examine one “clean energy” initiative geared to invest in Aboriginal communities.

The $2.6 billion expansion on hydroelectric generating stations on the Lower Mattagami river.

Ontario’s nominally public generator says of a hydro project completed for 2015:

The $2.6 billion Lower Mattagami Project has allowed Ontario Power Generation [OPG] to produce more clean, renewable electricity from new generating units.

I checked – all the way back to the construction of the first of 3 generating stations OPG built on the Lower Mattagami. A fourth site, Smoky, already existed but it was a private generator until 1991, so I had to estimate that data. If the completed project has allowed OPG to to more, OPG has found other reasons not to do so.

view graphic in Google Sheets

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Monthly Ontario Electricity data – presented with Tableau

I saw an opportunity for presenting Ontario electricity data in trying out the free public version of the Tab|eau business intelligence tool.

I’m not sure I have the patience, or the smarts, to learn how to do all I’ve learned with Microsoft’s Power BI, but maybe I should. I’m astonished with the power of this map in filtering the data table!

(afraid the attempt at embedding on wordpress was a failure – but the link works!)

 

Large Parry Sound 33 is not the first fire started on Henvy Inlet industrial work site

8 days ago I posted on the Henvey Inlet fire that continues to burn with an unchanged status of “Not Under Control”, as indicated on the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s GIS application (shown below)- but following my post the “Cause” status was changed, from “HUMAN” to nothing at all.

I was alerted that the MNR’s GIS tool also has an “Out” option, and that reveals a fire identified as Parry Sound 7, started May 17, 2018. As I post this, that fire remains identified as having a “HUMAN” cause.


Parry Sound 7 is listed as only 0.2 hectares in size (Parry Sound 33 is nearing 9000 ha), but it was reported and that begs the questions about the Ministry’s, and the wind farm developer’s, investigation and response. This is particularly true as fire intensity codes for industrial operations exist.

Were fire intensity codes applicable to Pattern’s wind project, and were the “several small fires” the CBC was told, by “a number of workers”, preceded Parry Sound 33 reported to the appropriate authority – presumably the MNR?

1 last question: will the MNR scrub the “HUMAN” from the Cause field of Parry Sound 7 too?Read More »

New Ontario Government cancels renewable energy contracts

The official news release includes:

TORONTO — Ontario ratepayers will benefit from $790 million in savings thanks to the Government of Ontario’s decision to cancel and wind down 758 renewable energy contracts, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines Greg Rickford announced today…

All of the cancelled projects have not reached project development milestones. Terminating the projects at this early stage will maximize benefits for ratepayers.

Rickford also confirmed that the government intends to introduce a legislative amendment that, if passed, will protect hydro consumers from any costs incurred from the cancellation. Even after all costs are accounted for, ratepayers can expect to benefit from $790 million in savings from this one decision.

I thought a short post is in order as the incoming mainstream media reports are not informative or in any way helpful.

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Niagara Fails

A quick post with commentary on a graphic.

NY_ON_comparable hydro gen YTD

I’ve been writing little but learning more recently. I’ve written multiple times on the inability of Ontario to fully utilize its water rights on the Niagara river, so that’s some data that I looked to learn some new data connections and summary techniques. Having advanced to where I can easily update to the latest available data I thought I’d share this view summarizing it – and offer some brief comments explaining the significance.

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