Industrial wind turbines limited worth in lowering emissions

On my twitter feed this morning:

“I’d like to hear from on this.

“This” involved something about the value of wind, and what could be done to contain it.


I’ve written a lot on this in the past, and won’t do so again here except to explain the graph that accompanies this post – which explains what can be done to increase the value of the 20-year contracts Ontario’s thug Premier claims will have ongoing value.

It also explains why wind won’t, in the near future, be part of a near-zero emission electricity system anywhere not blessed with large hydro reservoirs.

IWT metrics

The graphic shows:Read More »

Solar’s near nil capacity value in Canada’s north

Alberta is issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for 135,000 MWh of “solar electricity”.  I think that’s a strange thing to buy, and pulled some Ontario data to explain why.

The amount is about 2.4 times the production from the 40 megawatt (MW) “Northland Power Solar Facilities” over the past 12 months, according to the hourly generator output and capability reporting of Ontario’s system operator. Those facilities are located in the area of Cochrane, Ontario. While very north from the perspective of most Ontarians, Cochrane is only slightly north of the 49th parallel which forms Alberta’s southern border.

I’ve pulled data for the Northland facilities and the Grand Renewable Energy Park near Cayuga Ontario, roughly 650 km south of Cochrane. July is usually the peak month for total solar generation, and January can be the least productive. I’ve compared by hour using capacity factor due to the different sizes of the facilities, and will also note Ontario systems can be overbuilt – for instance, Grand Renewable has about 140 megawatts (MW) of DC panel capacity behind a 100 MW (AC) connection point. For my measurement the contracted (connection point) capacity is used in calculating the capacity factor.Read More »

Negative pricing, and other, thoughts

A new post at the Energy Institute at Hass blog, Is the Duck Sinking?, discusses the growing appearance of negative pricing in California:

What do the negative prices tell us? At a fundamental level, they tell us that we have too much of a good and suppliers need to pay people to take it off their hands. Right now, California has too much renewable electricity. Emphasizing this point, a recent briefing from the California Independent System Operator [CAISO] noted that renewable “curtailments” were at record levels in March 2017, amounting to over 80 GWh, which is more than a typical day’s worth of solar production that month.

Is there anything to do about the negative prices? Negative prices certainly highlight the value of storage, where the basic idea is to buy low and sell high. Buying when prices are negative is especially lucrative…

Another solution is to expose more retail consumers to wholesale prices, or find other ways to encourage customers to respond to real-time prices. Economists have bemoaned the disconnect between wholesale and retail pricing for years…

If Catherine Wolfram’s post represents a significant concern for curtailments and negative pricing, it’s worth noting the situation in Ontario with Ontario’s system operator, the IESO.

It’s worth noting both because CAISO is noting the curtailment, and negative pricing, and it is acting on it.

This graphic, from the CAISO presentation noted above, shows monthly curtailment in their system:


Read More »

Rebuttal of Ontario Clean Air Alliance re: Darlington refurbishment

I’m often asked about claims from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, and I usually don’t prioritize acknowledging them publicly.

Privately I have, and because the topic continues to come up, I thought I’ll post based on a quick e-mail I produced regarding this OCAA graphic – which is from a more comprehensive document where they reference the sources of most of the figures:

Read More »

Can this light bulb go off

Here’s a thought: How much should your electricity bill go up because of people employed to save stupid people money?

Respected energy economist Severin Borenstein is advising readers to Trash those incandescent bulbs today!

A standard LED bulb now costs only about $3, less if you buy in bulk or live in an area where they are subsidized by the local utility.  And the LED uses 8.5 watts to produce the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent.  The Department of Energy generally calculates costs based on assuming a light bulb is used 3 hours per day, but let’s be super conservative and assume it’s only used one hour a day. And let’s assume you pay the average residential retail rate for electricity in the U.S., 12.73 cents per kilowatt-hour. If that’s the case, then in the first year you would save $2.39, 80% of the purchase cost.

Better if you live in Ontario (Canada that is) – because the IESO and its couponing:


So the IESO will assure you get a full return on your LED lightbulb – don’t worry if you’ve got specialty bulbs that cost a little more, because the IESO gives you a little more for those.

Except, in the IESO’s world, you’ll likely end up down on the deal anyway.

Borenstein writes:

Replacing all of the incandescents in your house is likely to save you $50 per year or more.

That may be true in California (where he is located), but in Ontario it isn’t enough to guarantee saving you anything.

Because Ontario has committed to purchase far more power than it consumes, there is no collective saving in conservation. What there can be is cost transfers.

Revising Borenstein’s statement above:

Replacing all of the incandescents in your house, and installing them in your neighbour’s house, is likely to save you…

Slide 26 from Bruce Sharp’s presentation 

It seems impossible to convince most people that the IESO’s wasting $400 million a year on conservation can only increase the total charged to consumers by $400 million because of today’s surplus.

Anybody know how to get that light bulb to go off?

Ontario’s soaring hydro bills offset conservation efforts and hurt conservers most: study

Soaring hydro costs are offsetting ratepayer conservation efforts and hurting conservers most, according to a new joint study by the Consumer Policy Institute and Energy Probe.

Brady Yauch has a new study out, and his work is both worth reading and very readable.

I won’t comment too much on the study, which shows it’s very hard to conceive of anybody capable of saving money on electricity; rather, Yauch’s inclusion of a figure illustrating “Regulated Natural Gas Rates in Ontario” inspired me to gather some statistics and  create a chart showing the trend, or lack of one, in natural gas pricing in Ontario along with the very discernible trend in electricity commodity pricing:


Yauch’s work makes an argument that one can’t save money on electricity bills in Ontario by conserving electricity – an argument I probably needed to hear 5 years ago – but how about by substituting electricity with another energy source?

Converting the figures from the above graphic to a common unit (megajoules):Read More »

Ontario is conserving little energy – even less sanity

In the past 48 months Ontario has been a net exporter of enough electricity to power the province’s libraries for 437 years … or so one could claim based on the misleading claims in an official tweet linking to the latest obnoxious irrelevant claim from the Ontario’s government saveonenergy site:

Over the past four years, you, and Ontarians like you, have done something remarkable. You’ve helped to make Ontario a province of energy savers. You’ve saved enough to power:

A city the size of London for almost two years or
Every hospital and social service centre in the province for almost one year or
Ontario’s libraries for 50 years or
Ontario’s community centres and public cultural facilities for more than 18 years
That’s a lot to be proud of.

Thank you for making energy conservation a priority and for doing what you can to save electricity. Whether it’s switching to energy-efficient lighting, purchasing energy-efficient appliances and equipment, or retrofitting your home or business, it all adds up to six terawatt-hours [TWh] in electricity savings.

so where is this “saved” electricity?

Saved isn’t an appropriate term for the reduction in demand accompanying the 1.6 TWh of wind and nuclear supply curtailed in 2014, along with “OPG’s 3.2 TWh of lost [hydro] generation due to SBG [surplus baseload generation] conditions” – a steep increase from the1.7 TWh of potential hydro OPG curtailed in 2013.

The situation is worse than simply having curtailed public hydro supply, and other essentially emissions free supply at a level far exceeding claims of “saving” or “conservation.” A great deal of generation Ontario committed to purchase has been dumped to exporters.Read More »