Curtailment of contracted electricity supply still rising in Ontario

October 1st is here, so the third quarter of 2016 is now history. Seems like a good time to review some things – like Ontario’s move towards world leader status in the curtailment of potential supply from wind turbines – mostly paid whether or not their output can be handled by the grid.

Over the first 3 quarters, I estimate curtailment of supply from industrial wind turbines is three and a half times greater than the same period in 2015 – and 14 times higher than in 2014.

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The kicker here is that the greatest period for curtailment in the past has been the fourth quarter.

Curtailment data is difficult to find (which is why I produce it), but increasingly of interest across the world. China is often noted for high curtailment – one report shows 21% of all potential generation in that country curtailed in the first half of 2016.

It’s difficult to compare jurisdictions, but Ontario seems to be chasing China for lowest utilization of potential wind output. Depending on whether or not calculations included estimated distribution-connected turbines (which we have little reporting on in Ontario, but expect can’t be curtailed), I have the 12-month running average curtailment levels at 16-18.3%, and I expect that to rise rapidly until cold sets in.

A warm December and Ontario could set a record for annual wind curtailment levels.Read More »

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Notes on IESO Supply/Demand outlook to 2035

This post originally appeared on my tumblr account last Friday night.

I’ve flipped through a slide deck Ontario’s electricity system operator, the IESO, has posted prior to insiders meeting March 23rd to discuss how the market should be manipulated in the future.

I’m going to run off some comments on the Preliminary Outlook and Discussion: Ontario Supply/Demand Balance to 2035 slides here.

That first point may sound flip, but if anybody detects a hint of the implication a market signal could trigger economic actors to enter, or exit, the market for electricity generation in the province, please let me know. For me the headline is this is a central planning document which would go nicely with a call to return to a unified public Ontario Hydro model.

After 14 years Ontario neither has a competitive market nor does it demonstrate any learning of what that is and how it might be accomplished.

First, for no particular reason, I’ll note slide 23 – which struck me due to its display of possible emissions, including those from imports. Ontario almost exclusively imports from essentially emissions-free Quebec. In addition to today’s healthy trade, anti-nuclear activists continue to tout Quebec imports as an option to replace the Darlington Nuclear Power Plant. I’ve written Ontario’s electricity future isn’t this Quebec Diversion, and this chart indicates the IESO is open to imports from elsewhere to meet much smaller needs than Darlington’s closure would necessitate.

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Wynne government reveals unintelligent carbon pricing

The press release begins:

To build on the work already underway to fight the effects of climate change, Ontario is laying a foundation to join the biggest carbon market in North America by introducing new legislation today that, if passed, would ensure that proceeds from the province’s cap and trade system are transparently reinvested into green projects and actions that will reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

There’s no shortage of people railing against any tax, but I’m not vehemently opposed to a carbon tax/price. Stéphane Dion launched his appeal for his Green Shift policy during 2008’s election campaign with:

The Liberal Green Shift plan is as powerful as it is simple: We will cut taxes on those things we all want more of such as income, investment and innovation. And we will shift those taxes to what we all want less of: pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and waste. 

I wasn’t opposed to that – I didn’t know it would accomplish much of anything, but a carbon tax instead of a payroll tax, or a beer tax, is not something I would get too worked up about. However, I have written on two objections to a carbon tax: the inability to price externalities, and the funding of thoughtless spending with revenues.

In stating,  “proceeds from the province’s cap and trade system are transparently reinvested into green projects ,” the Wynne government loses my confidence in their scheme.Read More »

This Week: Idiots in Training

The government issued a news release on Thursday, as Hydro One was being sold, about it’s next great idea.

Ontario has appointed the Honourable David Collenette as a special advisor to assist the province in bringing high-speed rail to the Windsor, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Toronto corridor…

High-speed rail will improve travel options, reduce travel times and support economic development throughout the southwest corridor and across the province. It will also provide an opportunity to explore new partnerships between business and government, as well as new technologies.

Serving in the 3 consecutive mandates of the Chretien years, Mr. Collenette has experience in passing Clarity Act.

I can’t think of other definite achievements of those governments, but signing of the Kyoto accord to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, but then increasing them instead, was really quite something.

Presumably this high-speed rail “corridor” goes from Toronto to Windsor.

The last time I was in Toronto’s Undone Station (its main train station) was two years ago. The experience was such that I’m unlikely to return.

I am from Mississauga, so I’ll try to think of the corridor as running from Mississauga to Windsor.

Being from Mississauga, I’m pretty sure not many there are looking to go to Windsor.

and

Being from Mississauga, I’m extremely confident not many from anywhere else in the province want to go to Mississauga.

The extraordinarily ridiculous thing is the belligerent ignorance, and/or outright cowardice, in considering this route a priority.Read More »

Why Wind Farms Can Be Relied On For Almost Zero Power

A good article for those who haven’t been exposed to wind generation requiring redundant, firm, capacity.

I think this makes valuation quite simple: the value of wind generation is the cost of the fuel it displaces – without a real price on the emissions created by utilizing the fuel, that’s a very simple calculation. In Ontario, maybe 3 cents/kWh when it’s anything (often it causes hydro to be spilled, nuclear units curtailed or is exported for nothing).

When Mr. Wilson concludes “The benefits that result from the carbon dioxide emissions saved by wind farms are obvious” he is displaying a talent for perceiving the obvious that eludes me. The value of carbon reduction by building this always redundant supply compared to cleaning up existing plant and/or building newer more efficient plant are not obvious. Generally wind penetration is intended to displace high capital cost baseload plant (usually nuclear and hydro) while requiring twinning with dispatchable units (primarily natural gas and coal).

note: Robert Wilson’s article appeared first at the Energy Collective, where there are a number of comments attached to it.

Carbon Counter

Modern society is fundamentally dependent on a reliable and on-demand supply of electricity. This electricity comes almost entirely from burning coal and natural gas, fissioning uranium or by large hydro-electric dams. On aggregate, these power plants can be relied on to supply electricity around the clock; a reliability that would seem miraculous to people living only a few centuries ago when light availability was completely dependent on whether the sun shone. Wind farms, however, cannot currently provide this reliability. In fact, on the scale of most countries aggregate wind farm output can be assumed to have almost zero reliability. In this sense, every wind farm must have a fossil fuel power plant sitting in wait for when the wind does not blow.

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time-of-use, era-of-sadism: it’s words some in Ontario should conserve

Ontario’s environment commissioner is out with a report on conservation today, and from the press tweets I’ve seen thus far it’s going to cause a brief bonanza of idiocy.

Some realities Ontario reporters should know if they’ve written on the topic for more than a month – particularly if they’re going to write on time-of-use electricity rates.

Canada’s latest National Inventory report submission to the UNFCC showed Ontario with 167,000kt CO2e for 2012 (167 Mt), down 10,000 from 1990. Emissions due to electricity were down more than the total over that time, from 25,500 to 14,500 kt CO2e.

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The emissions from electricity (and Heat) generation in Ontario in 2014 were less than half of 2012’s low level: I’d estimate 6,000 kt, although an Ontario Energy Report produced for 2014’s third quarter shows it may be slightly higher.Read More »