Chapter 4.11.3: Is Natural Gas backing up Wind?

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No this isn’t about the Chilli you had last night.   Those who promote wind power claim that they need natural gas to back up wind when it’s not blowing.  Easy enough to check, same as we did with coal.

July 2010 NG and Wind Hourly Capacity Factors (NG in black, wind in blue):

Aug 2010:

Well, very interesting.  Just like coal.  In fact, the natural gas profile looks very close to the coal profile.  If NG was being used to back up wind, then when those spikes in wind happens, there should be a drop in NG.    But it’s not there.  Natural gas does not have the startup problems that coal does, it can be shut off and on quickly.  But there is no evidence of this happening at all.  It looks very much the same as coal. 

So let’s look at coal and NG together:

Coal is black, NG is blue.  They sure look like they are dancing together don’t they.  There is a way to find out.  You plot the two relative to each other in a scatter plot.

Very nicely correlated.  There is a statistical calculation, the Correlation Coefficient, that measures how well the fit is.  A perfect fit is 100%, where as a 0% fit means the two values are not correlated.  This scatter plot is 81%.  In stats that’s considered highly correlated.

Well, maybe there is just one or two Natural Gas generators that are compensating for wind, and with wind’s low output would not show up including all NG generators together.  That’s possible, so the only way to check that, since there are 41 gas generation plants in the province, is to check the Correlation Coefficient of wind to each of those plants.  If one or two is indeed doing the compensation lost in the over all gas generation, then that CC would show up as a very high negative number (opposite correlated), that is, close to minus 1.    But none come close.  The range of CC for each natural gas generator compared to wind ranges from 14% to -16%.    All too low to have any correlation to compensating for wind.

Thus, there is no evidence at all that natural gas is being used when wind is not blowing.  Natural gas and coal together are cycling in mutual dance to keep up with daily demand.  The premise that natural gas is helping wind has thus been proven false.

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One Response to Chapter 4.11.3: Is Natural Gas backing up Wind?

  1. […] and, while you’re at it – Is Natural Gas backing up Wind? […]

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