Chapter 4.12 Zero Capacity Factor

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Zero Capacity Factor is the amount of time wind turbines, either each farm or collectively for the entire fleet, have no output.  This can either be due to insufficient wind, or down time for other reasons. 

On all the graphs plotting the number of hours, the zero bar dominated every one of them.  This is a summary of all those Zero Capacity Factors for each location, for each month of each year:

Yr Mth AM KB P A P B PF R S UW W I
2006 3 13.3% 28.1%            
4 10.4% 18.2%            
5 9.1% 26.1%   23.6%        
6 14.9% 30.0%   14.7%        
7 19.2% 31.5%   15.7%        
8 21.5% 32.4%   31.7%        
9 13.8% 22.4%   11.1%        
10 6.6% 13.2%   6.9% 18.1%      
11 16.9% 21.5%   18.8% 11.9%      
12 39.7% 8.2%   6.5% 11.8%      
2007 1 22.4% 12.5%   12.5% 11.8%      
2 7.9% 9.4%   9.1% 7.0%      
3 5.9% 13.7%   8.1% 5.2%      
4 8.6% 22.4%   12.8% 12.2%      
5 15.3% 26.2%   20.7% 6.2%      
6 13.5% 33.6%   22.1% 18.3%      
7 20.3% 37.8%   25.9% 20.6%      
8 20.7% 31.0%   23.3% 16.0%      
9 14.4% 18.9%   36.9% 7.8%      
10 5.1% 12.1%   12.4% 4.6%      
11 8.1% 11.7%   10.1% 4.6%      
12 22.2% 16.1%   16.7% 9.0% 6.4%    
2008 1 9.7% 9.0%   8.2% 9.5% 3.4%    
2 12.9% 12.8%   22.3% 13.5% 4.6%    
3 7.7% 13.7%   10.2% 12.0% 5.5%    
4 4.0% 15.4%   11.8% 6.9% 3.9%    
5 5.8% 15.5%   8.9% 8.7% 6.7%    
6 94.3% 29.4%   9.2% 9.9% 9.0%    
7 14.5% 35.2% 51.9% 18.0% 14.7% 14.4%    
8 12.2% 31.9% 20.4% 19.5% 16.0% 9.1%    
9 22.1% 31.7% 10.0% 20.8% 7.5% 11.1%    
10 8.3% 13.3% 6.3% 8.6% 5.9% 5.2%    
11 9.7% 4.9% 1.4% 5.7% 6.7% 1.7% 2.1%  
12 4.8% 8.3% 7.1% 6.6% 5.5% 2.2% 7.1%  
2009 1 15.6% 11.4% 6.0% 8.7% 15.7% 1.7% 11.8%  
2 6.8% 18.8% 6.0% 11.0% 9.7% 6.7% 30.1%  
3 9.8% 17.3% 9.8% 21.5% 9.8% 5.9% 13.0%  
4 3.1% 8.1% 2.9% 6.4% 6.0% 2.9% 8.1%  
5 9.5% 21.4% 7.3% 13.3% 7.3% 7.7% 17.7% 14.3%
6 25.0% 42.6% 12.2% 17.6% 13.2% 20.4% 38.9% 28.1%
7 10.5% 40.9% 15.6% 20.8% 13.4% 14.1% 26.2% 13.6%
8 15.1% 29.6% 16.1% 23.4% 13.3% 9.8% 22.8% 14.9%
9 18.3% 37.2% 15.1% 21.4% 21.4% 15.3% 31.8% 15.3%
10 11.2% 17.2% 5.6% 7.9% 13.4% 11.0% 17.7% 8.6%
11 9.7% 16.4% 7.8% 16.7% 11.1% 8.6% 16.8% 11.1%
12 7.4% 12.0% 5.0% 6.9% 7.9% 3.1% 8.5% 9.1%
2010 1 16.0% 16.3% 5.6% 12.6% 7.4% 11.0% 11.3% 10.3%
2 13.4% 23.4% 11.2% 18.8% 9.7% 6.7% 16.2% 11.3%
3 10.3% 20.2% 5.4% 9.8% 10.3% 6.5% 16.1% 8.6%
4 1.9% 10.0% 2.9% 7.9% 5.3% 1.5% 9.3% 9.4%
5 1.9% 18.1% 7.1% 12.6% 9.0% 5.2% 24.6% 13.3%
6 3.9% 26.7% 9.3% 14.2% 12.9% 9.0% 28.6% 14.6%
7 5.5% 27.2% 9.3% 18.1% 16.1% 9.5% 28.6% 10.5%
8 3.7% 18.6% 16.5% 13.5% 13.3% 5.1% 19.2% 13.1%

These are the graphs for that data:

What is the Zero Capacity Factor for the entire Province?  To do that you have to count up the number of hours in each day that all locations are at zero at the same time.  So if one location is producing, the rest are not, it is not included in this.  All farms have to not be producing at the same hour to qualify.  Each of those hours of no collective output were added up for each month of each year and divided by the number of hours in each month to give the percent of those months there was nothing being produced by all wind turbines.

Turns out when you do that there are very few hours where the entire province has no wind output.   This table shows the number of farms that had zero output at the same time for the period July 2009 to July 2010, when all farms were operational:

# Farms @ ZCF Hours Percent
1 1892 19.9%
2 970 10.2%
3 688 7.2%
4 436 4.6%
5 267 2.8%
6 153 1.6%
7 43 0.5%
8 4 0.0%

In that time frame there were 436 hours where 4 of the farms were producing nothing.  So there is negligible time that all farms produce nothing at the same hours. Some place is producing a little something. 

Now before one starts to cheer too much, that little something is little indeed.    What we need to look at is what is the Hourly Capacity Factors for the rest of the fleet when one is at Zero?

Plotted looks like this:

This graph is saying that when one hour at one farm is at zero, all accumulated, what is the number of each HCF for the rest of the fleet?  This is saying that 45% of the time, somewhere else another hour at least one another farm is also zero.  75% of the time that one farm is at zero the rest of the feet is under 10% name plate.  This is what we saw when comparing Amaranth with Wolfe Island in the chapter on comparing locations.  Thus it is confirming that the myth of different locations compensating when the wind doesn’t blow is just that, a myth.  The evidence is the exact opposite.

Bottom line to this is there are a large number of hours in the year when the farms are not producing anything at all.   The Zero Capacity Factor for the province then could be 45%.  Not that 45% of the time there is no output at all, but 45% of the time one location is not producing, one or more other locations are also not producing.  Individual locations’ Zero Capacity Factor would be the number of hours of no production, which is seasonal dependant.

One can look on the bright side of this.  When they are not producing anything anywhere, that’s power we don’t pay to export to the US.  So the more of them there are not producing the better.  The second bright side to this is when these turbines are not producing, their owners don’t get paid.  Again, the more of these that come the better.


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4 Responses to Chapter 4.12 Zero Capacity Factor

  1. Sean Holt says:

    “One can look on the bright side of this. When they are not producing anything anywhere, that’s power we don’t pay to export to the US. So the more of them there are not producing the better. The second bright side to this is when these turbines are not producing, their owners don’t get paid. Again, the more of these that come the better.”

    Although this is absolutely true, we still have to pay for all the non-turbine infrastructure and expensive grid connections to these useless things! I bet we’ll have to pay to tear the damn things down as well!

    Excellent research by the way…
    Keep it comming!

    Sean Holt.

    • jrwakefield says:

      Since George’s observation is that they consume power when not producing power, then we are indeed paying for wind turbines to be idle.

      George: #1 was suspected, but it’s not easy to prove. There have been times when the power is not needed, there is already enough exported, and the wind starts up. That power is not connected to the system and the turbines owners get paid as if it was put to the grid. But there is no way, at the moment, to prove that.

      #2 relates also to #1, again not being privy, at the moment, to that data we cannot know what it going on. It’s likely not good. I say at the moment because come the next election expect major changes.

    • True, my point 1 is merely hearsay, but credible in my opinion. However you are correct, there are a number of currently unproveable issues and even without them wind power is a really bad investment.

      As to my second point, we don’t know how much they consume from the grid, but we know they do consume electricity from the grid, which they get for free. Please read http://www.aweo.org/windconsumption.html for a list of items which require power from the grid. This is not speculation, it is engineering. The question is not do they consume power for free, but how much do they consume and how much does that consumption reduce their already paltry and overpriced output? The only way to know is to meter the power they draw, just like any other company which produces a good or service.

      One can only hope that the next Provincial election will not only bring major changes but also an investigation into the wind scam. This is beyond stupidity or uninformed decision making…

  2. Indeed, excellent research, thank you! A couple of things, which I’m sure you are aware of:

    1) There is a rumor up here (spoken by some people who worked for a Consulting Engineering Co that worked on the project at one time) that some of the earlier Wind Farms, such as Prince, get paid whether they produce or not….

    2) Your figures are pretty damning, but it is even worse than what you describe, these turbines draw power from the grid inmorder to operate. This power is used to energize the stator, power the pressurized lubrication system, heaters, de-icers etc… This power is free to the Wind Farms, they don’t have an incoming meter. The power requirements of these IWTs is a trade secret apparently but it is estimated that it could amount to 35% or more of the nameplate capacity at times. So how much real, net power do these installations actually produce?

    3). Surely the Tea Party in Ohio must object to us unscrupulous, dumb, Ontarions dumping all that free power in Ohio and thereby depriving hard working middle class Americans of well paying jobs in American power generating plants :-). Maybe we can get them to ban the import of electricity from Canada!

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