Wind power fails the test in Ontario—again

On July 7, 2022, wind, solar and biofuels delivered only 3.3% of the province’s electricity needs

By Parker Gallant, National Post, July 12, 2022

Older readers will remember Frank Sinatra’s 1966 hit Summer Wind, with English lyrics by Johnny Mercer from the German original (Der Sommerwind). The song was about changeability and time passing. In the end, Sinatra/mercer concluded, the summer wind was a “fickle friend.”

It’s a tune Ontario power generators may be humming these days as they try to meet electricity demands with — an annual seasonal occurrence — wind falling off in the province.

Wind’s summer sag was evident on July 7, as Ontario’s industrial wind turbines (IWT), which have a total generating capacity of about 15.6 per cent of Ontario’s total supply when all sources of energy are operating flat-out, were at the bottom of the heap in respect to generation.

Ontario’s peak demand that day occurred during a five-minute interval at Hour 17 (5 p.m.), reaching 19,741 MW. At that hour, wind generated only 332 MW, representing just 6.7 per cent of its theoretical maximum output of 4,900 MW and only 1.7 per cent of total provincial demand.

What sources did the work at this peak-demand hour? Here’s the breakdown: Nuclear: 9,529 MW Hydro: 5,222 MW Natural Gas: 4,336 MW IWT: 332 MW Solar: 207 MW

Biofuel: 115 MW Bottom line? The three “new” and “renewable” sources (IWT, solar and biofuel) collectively delivered 654 MW or just 3.3 per cent of Ontario’s demand. Without generation from nuclear, hydro or natural gas, Ontario’s households and businesses would have experienced rolling blackouts — at the very least — throughout the day.

That day, wind’s peak generation, the province’s energy system operator reported, occurred at Sinatra time, i.e., in the wee small hours of the morning, at Hour 1, the hour ending at 1 a.m. At that time, wind produced 462 MW of its capacity (9.4 per cent), though it wasn’t needed since demand at that hour was below 13,000 MW. When morning arrived, however, and at 9 a.m. demand was increasing, the industrial wind turbines were producing a miserly 57 MW, or just 1.2 per cent of their capacity.

As the province’s Doug Ford-led government embarks on its second majority term, Ontarians should hope and pray the premier and his minions will actually do something to alleviate the mess in the energy sector the Ontario Liberal Party created during their 15 years ruling the province. That should not be too much to ask or even expect during these times of rising inflation caused in large part by rising energy costs.

Parker Gal­lant is a for­mer bank ex­ec­u­tive who looked at his power bill and didn’t like what he saw.

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