How Many Wind Turbines?

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Ontario Liberals want 15% of our power to come from wind.    At the height our consumption reaches 27,000mW (Aug 1, 2006 at 4PM) , so

  27,000mW x 15% = 4,050mW

In order to get that ability all year-long one then has to use the lowest Median Capacity Factor, which is the summer at 7%, but for easy calculations we will use the IESO’s 10% they used in this report (see footnote page 9).  That means, for 1.5mW turbines,  50% of the time each turbine producing less than 0.15mW, to produce that 4,050 megaWatts: 

  4,050mW / 0.15mW = 27,000

That’s at least 27,000 1.5mW wind turbines, at 10% Median Capacity Factor. 

If one were to built the larger turbines, with the same Median Capacity Factor, it would be :

4,050mW / 0.2mW = 20,250

4,050mW / 0.3mW = 13,500

for 2 and 3mW turbines respectively.

How many is 27,000?    That’s one every 40 meters from Windsor to Montreal along the 401. 

How big is 27,000?   At one every 500 meters, that’s an area of 13,300 square kilometers.    13,300 square kilometers is 116 kilometers by 116 kilometers and looks like this black box on the left.

Or spread about the Golden Horseshoe like the blue area.    One wonders how the densest part of the province would like to have 27,000 turbines every 500 meters.  How many people in Rosedale would be willing to get rent on a 1.5mW wind turbine in their back yard?

But that is the number of turbines at today’s consumption.  What would the expected consumption be by 2030?

At a modest 1% growth in the Province’s GDP, by 2030 the peak demand could be 33,000 mW.  If the growth is 3% then that peak demand rises to 49,000mW.  So the number of turbines has to be based on one of those two, not today’s consumption.

That means we would need between 33,000 and 49,000 turbines by 2030.

Is it possible to build them fast enough to meet that goal?

To meet the 1% GDP growth rate, the red line is how fast the construction of turbines would have to be.  For 3% growth the graph would have to look like this:

This chart shows the growth rate needed to build them that fast:

Compare this to a nuke reactor.   Nuke reactor produces 95% of 550mW or 520mW,

  520/ 0.15 = 3483 turbines

So to replace a Pickering (4 reactors) we would need 3483 x 4 = 14,000 wind turbines.

So for the price of all those turbines we can build two nuke plants producing  4160mW of power, almost 15% of our needs, 24/7, where as those turbines will produce less than 4160mW 50% of the time, 5% of the time they would produce nothing — $42 billion in turbines sitting idle.


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8 Responses to How Many Wind Turbines?

  1. Alec Carey says:

    Windmills should be an important part of our energy neads.Two thumbs up for Ontarios progress.Alec Carey Burlington

  2. Sophie says:

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that
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    • jrwakefield says:

      Thanks, until more data comes not much will happen. This is more of a report than a blog. I do update the news releases from time to time as they come in.

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