Posted Oct 20, 2016
The summer of 2016 was a hot one. 25 days of temperatures above 30C. That meant a lot of A/C units running. That, in turn, meant more demand on the system.
In Sept our Premier Kathleen Wynne claimed that if it wasn’t for the power contribution from wind turbines to the grid we would not have been able to keep Ontarians cool. Of course, it was a claim with no hard evidence. That’s what will be presented here.
I downloaded the entire hourly output data for all of 2016 to the present from the IESO website. I then downloaded Environment Canada’s hourly temperature data for months of May through September for Toronto Pearson Airport. Once in Access I just linked by month, day and hour to the data from the IESO to see what the output of wind, and other sources, was for every hour the temperature was above 30C.
Did the wind support the grid during those hot hours? Nope.
This is the hourly wind output as a percent of the total demand for the entire summer.
Looks pretty chaotic. But what is important is the output from wind matching the hot temps of the day. The best way to see that is a scatter plot of temperature vs. wind output.
Each dot is an hour of one day. That’s a lot of dots. Essentially, the higher the temps at the top should be matching with higher wind output at the right, if Wynne was correct. But it’s not looking too good. The vast majority of the hours are when wind is not contributing much to the grid.
Let’s zoom in to get a better view of what’s going on and see what wind was doing only when the temps were 30C or more.
Most of the hours where the temp was more than 29.9C wind contributed less than 10% of the demand. In fact, in the entire summer, only 7 hours did wind produce more than 15% of the grid power. So out of 176 hours in the summer when the temps were scorching, wind did its job only 7 of those hours.
Now why would that be? Simple enough to see when you look at the over all picture. In the section on spikes here, you will recall that wind comes in a series of spikes, then drops off after 36 to 48 hours. To best see that, we will look at a three day period from August 10 to 12th.
The top graph is the hourly temperatures. The middle graph is the contribution to the grid by all the power sources. The bottom graph is wind output.
Notice wind produces virtually nothing the first day and a half, hence did not help with the power for our A/Cs. Only on the third day did the wind spike, from a warm front that moved across the province.
Let’s tease out just the wind and temps across a sever day period, August 10 to 17th.
Clearly we see that on August 10th when the temps went over 30C wind didn’t perform hardly at all. Then on the 12th, wind produced 10% of our demand, but it was nighttime when we didn’t need it. On the 13th, when it didn’t go over 30C wind added to the grid of 10% of the demand. But on the two next days nothing from wind. Then on the 16th wind picked up to 13% of the demand only to drop off as soon as it got hot in the afternoon and demand would have reached the highest for the day.
This is the same seven day period showing the demand with wind’s contribution.
So what source provided the demand on those hot days since wind couldn’t? Natural gas did.
So, clearly Wynne didn’t know what she was talking about, and lives in this dream world of wind providing all the power we need.
There is also a serious concern here about the pattern of wind output. As more turbines are added to the grid, the more they contribute as a percent when the wind does blow. But when the wind doesn’t, the entire fleet contributes next to nothing.
What this means is the spikes go up very quickly to a high peak, but then fall off the cliff when the wind goes down. This puts the entire grid system at risk of crashing, as happened in Australia recently.
It’s only a matter of time before we also experience a collapse of the grid for several days all because of the unpredictable and unreliable wind power. And your power bills are through the roof to pay for this.