Capacity Factor of Ontario Wind Energy Generating Facilities

July 2009 – November 2009
Capacity factor (efficiency) given as a percentage of the nameplate power output.


The table shows the capacity factor for the Ontario wind farms for the final 6 months of 2009.  The capacity factor is the actual power output divided by the nameplate power; it is given as a percentage.  The nameplate for each wind farm is given in the second row.  As an example, consider the July-09 entry for Amaranth:  The average hourly output for that month was 28 MW.  Dividing by the nameplate power of 200 MW, we get 14%.  The row labeled Average is the 6-month average.  The row labeled Annual Average is the average for the calendar year 2009 for the wind farms that were operating for the full year.  Note again that the Amaranth plant was having difficulties.  In the final column, the numbers in brackets represent the monthly averages without the Amaranth data.

The bottom line is that the Ontario wind energy system is producing an average power output of 290 MW, about one third of one coal plant.  This is enough to power the needs of 210,000 homes.  This output is less than 1% of the electrical energy capacity available to Ontario (31.5 GW on December 30th, 2009) and about 1.5% of the typical demand (19 GW on December 30th, 2009, including 2 GW for export).

John Harrison – Jan. 2010

33 thoughts on “Capacity Factor of Ontario Wind Energy Generating Facilities

  1. So why is our Government so willing to throw money at this expensive, damaging energy source?

    There is only one answer: to generate massive amounts of money for their friends in the Wind Industry and their friends in the Investment Community!

    One last thing: to create an industrial retirement home when they are thrown out of their Office!

  2. Just for fun, I thought I’d take a quick look at the current IESO output figure before commenting on John Harrison’s insightful post: between 6 and 7 p.m. today, all those “geographically diversified” turbines produced a pitiful 39 MW of a possible 1,100 MW capacity province-wide. Wowsers! Good thing wind is only a government/Greenie showboat or we’d all be freezing in the dark.

    What I was going to point out from John’s table is the fact that the summer production figures (July, August, Sept) are the lowest of the year — when the provincial electrical demand is the highest — and production is highest (during the colder months) when demand is the lowest.

    I’d call that a bassackwards system, wouldn’t you?

    And that’s why the Big Wind geniuses over in Denmark sell most of their production at a loss: Too much when they don’t need it and not enough when they do. That’s a worldwide phenomenon.

  3. Is my math correct? Is Underwood producing at 13.7 percent of capacity? Yikes!!

  4. Nice try folks. This article is again misleading and if you would be more critical you would see that the author left out the highest power producing months – Jan – June which exceeded the expectation of 30% capacity.
    Look it up if you don’t believe me.

  5. The highest power producing months are still the lowest demand months…regardless of the output. And it should also be mentioned that the piles of propaganda shovelled out by Big Wind usually allude to a capacity factor of 100 PERCENT! As in, this on-again, off-again wind factory can supply the power needs of a gazillion homes in the vicinity — if the blades are twirling 24/7. Pull my other leg! Most hours of the day, you’d be lucky to have them warm a toaster up. In addition, they actually suck power from the grid in order to operate. Under certain conditions, those industrial monsters are actually sucking more electricity than they’re producing. Look that up!

  6. Hee hee. Look at the graphic to the right. After billions of subsidies handed out, Ontario wind turbines are producing enough to power 21,000 air conditioners. hahaha. How can even defend that, Darin?

  7. Yup, a staggering 81 MW is currently coming from all those 400-foot-high vibrating throbbers — out of a “theoretical” 1,100 MW. And how much power are those throbbers sucking from the grid to operate? And how much are they losing as they transmit that power? And how many rural lives have they destroyed or severely impacted in the process? And what have they done to the local wildlife and scenery? Look that up!

  8. There were periods in September 2009 when the power output from wind energy in Ontario was 3 MW and once I even saw 2MW on sygration. Thats a 0.3% capacity of 1100MW installed capacity. This is not a sign of reliability, and it discredits the theory that if wind farms are dispersed over a wide geographic area there will always be some wind power production, due to “the wind always blowing somewhere”

  9. Again, look at the graphic to the right. 38MW – enough to meet the needs of Tillsonburg – but it’s not coming from Tillsonburg, ’cause these aren’t even turning!

  10. Wait, wait…halved again to 19MW. Yup, what a wonderful, economical, reliable source of electricity. And with all those twirlers spread out around the province, we can all rest assured that the wind will be blowing somewhere — NOT!

  11. How much power are the IWTs taking from the grid? Estimates have been made but it is unknown if they are real as apparently IWTs are not metered. This would be a 24/7 use of electricity which at times would exceed the amount of power produced. If power use is not metered would it mean IWT companies do not pay for the power they use? If not, why not? Wish I knew.

  12. Oh Gee now look Sunday afternoon 779MW and it’s not even that windy outside of my house.
    Another tactic that you are using does really paint a clear picture of the point you are trying to make. Whether wind generates a lot of power during summer or winter, high demand vs low demand doesn’t really matter. Only total output matters.
    One could argue that winter months may be lower demand but its a time when all CO2 emitted into the atomosphere has no place to be absorbed because trees, savannah, crops don’t grow in winter. Therefore they don’t absorb carbon but renewable energy can offset that by reduced high CO2 fuel demand in the winter months.
    BTW Zen2, all wind turbines are self sufficient, they have batteries that run all Nav lights and oil heaters and the batteries are charged by…wind energy.
    If you want to discredit wind, you need to sharpen your pencil folks or the powers that be will just think of you as a bunch of whiney nobodies.
    Has anyone seen the amount of electric cars being built around the world? Electricty is the power medium of the future and that’s why governments are so keen on getting new forms of electricity production running becaue the next decade will be a brave new world if we want to keep this quality of life going with lower CO2 emissions.

  13. Yup, total output does matter. Which is why wind energy is a sham. It is so insignificant (and unreliable) in the overall scheme of things that’s it’s a joke — akin to a cup full of water being added to a bathtub. Or maybe you didn’t notice that either? Better look that up, too.

    And those governments that are keen on getting new forms of electricity production running? Yup, Germany is adding dozens of new coal plants and Ontario will be trading theirs for new gas plants. It’s called reliable power, Darin, which is what industry and most residents need to run on…not green fantasy. As Spain found out, more than 2 jobs were lost for every “green” job added. The wind sham eventually catches up with the bunglers in government — and society pays for it with lost jobs, higher electrical rates, tax subsidies and other negatives.

  14. 1100MW capacity running at 30% equals to 300MW/hr. That’s nothing to sneeze at. That equals to 300MW less carbon based electricity for the next 20 years!! And it was built in less than three years. In the next two years we’ll see another 300MW/hr
    Germany is also investing heavily in Clean Coal technology but what they aren’t telling you is how expensive that is.
    Anyway, its unfortunate that Germany is chosing the coal path over natural gas but the reality is, is that Russia is their main gas supplier. This puts Germany in a very vulnerable geo political position.
    The choice to use coal is due to energy security concerns vs whether wind turbines aren’t producing.
    Canada on the other hand, has a great quantity of natural gas for backup plants (which are cheaper, cleaner and more flexible) than coal or nuclear. This makes wind, solar, biogas the ultimate dance partners of gas thereby lessening our dependence on nuclear and coal… which is a good thing right?

    PS Don’t let the government fool you. Green energy is not about jobs, it’s about green energy and reducing our dependance on carbon based fuels. The jobs are a side benefit. In a few years there will be enough wind and solar and the green job boom will die out. This happens all over the world.

  15. Inefficient, unreliable, expensive, unhealthy to nearby residents and wildlife and eyesores to boot…I’d say that’s something to sneeze at. Current whopping output at this moment? 43MW!

    As for your “less carbon based”, guess what? The coal and gas plants are still running and ramping up and down to meet their clumsy “dance” partner. My point about jobs is that green jobs kill other sector jobs by a factor of two. Wonderful!

    Reducing our dependence on carbon based fuels? Since when? Green energy does no such thing. With population increases — births and excessive immigration — energy use increases and barely keeps up with add-ons.

    There are supposedly two main reasons why wind energy is “goodie two shoes”: 1) it cuts GHGs substantially and 2) it cuts fossil fuel use/dependence. It does neither. In case you haven’t noticed, natural gas is another fossil fuel with a load of GHGs. Less than coal perhaps but still spewing. Hydro and nuclear are the only power heavyweights that are virtually GHG free.

    I think you need to snap out of your fantasy — and do some real research.

  16. Hey Notsogullible. You need to stop working for the “Big oil” and open your mind. Modern wind power is new and your right its not perfect… yet. Does that mean we should just give up? People like you once thought the world was flat.

  17. D-Man, wind power is not new by any means. The fundamental problem with it is the fuel source. That will never change. Snap out of your fairy tale thinking.

    No, you shouldn’t “give up”. But any sane person would see what works and what doesn’t and moves on. This is more about faith and religion than science with you people.

    See item 8 in the Propaganda article . Your arguments are very tired and old.

  18. Yes natural gas is a GHG but it is flexible. It can handle the power demand fluctuations that happens during a 24 hr period and the intermittancy of wind, solar, hydro and…nuclear and coal shutdowns (due to repairs)
    Coal and oil extraction ruins the environment, the NIMBYs prevent nuclear waste being disposed of in their backyards so I’m not dreaming.

    That being said, coal and oil will continue to be used, but who says we have to use it up by 2050? It took millions of years to make these fuels so why not conserve them so they are not such a shock to the earth and future generations can use them?
    It is completely selfish to think that nothing can be done and that any new technology is benign.

    We have to keep pushing and developing new technologies and conservation techniques.
    The fact that we are sitting in our warm homes infont of computers is not a right but a privilege.

    Bring on the fantasy Notsogullible and Admin, I think it’s a worthwhile one.

  19. Sorry I don’t consider myself selfish if I shield my children from health effects/low frequency noise/lower quality of life and 24/7 torture treatment. I never signed up my family to be a martyrs for “the cause”. Don’t place that yoke on me.

    Yes, I agree. We have to keep pushing and developing new technologies and conservation techniques. Problem is, almost all the effort and funding is being scooped up by a known LOSER: wind.

    Case in point: Where I live, they had to abandon plans that were in the works for methane capture from the landfill. Why? The big energy companies scooped up all the available grid access for future wind turbines.

    Now go back to fantasy island.

  20. Sorry about your luck but in a modern society there are always going to “martyrs for the cause”
    If you feel you are being negatively affected by a wind turbine, you’ll have to move. This happened during the interstate construction of the 1950’s, our very own 401, suburb expansions etc Do you think that a city is going halt all suburb expansions because one or two families complain? No! It’s the cost of the greater good of society.
    My relatives fought the power line that runs from Sarnia to St Thomas in the 1980’s. They knew they were fighting a losing battle because in the end, Ontario Hydro wasn’t going to stop building the project just for their sake.
    You are going to have to accept this movement. There may be a few victims but the rest of Ontarios population doesn’t really care…that’s the harsh reality of it.

    Any if your landfill has methane, the OPA will gladly expand the grid by building bigger power lines.

  21. I would gladly accept expropriation which is what you are talking about.

    Am I just supposed to abandon the only nest egg I have worked all my life for and start all over again?

  22. Darin – the harsh reality of it is
    that as more and more Ontarians
    realize what a scam the wind
    industry is, they will care.
    The once ‘well oiled’ wind industry
    propaganda machine is faltering
    day by day. The acceptance of
    this movement -as you call it- is
    no slam dunk in my books.

  23. Re: “Martyrs for the cause”. Using your thinking, Darin, rural residents overrun by hydro dams would simply sink or swim with no other recourse while their properties are submerged. Does that happen? And at least that cause provides lots of power. Wind energy is a lost cause: inefficient, unreliable, expensive and with many severe negatives, especially if looked at on a cumulative basis across the continent. As for accepting “the movement” (sounds like Moonies to me), the only thing rural residents will be accepting is an apology and much larger setbacks. Ditto for wildlife corridors, parks and natural environments.

    Better look that up, too.

  24. And speaking of books, I suggest you read John Etherington’s recent “The Wind Farm Scam” followed by Nina Pierpont’s “Wind Turbine Syndrome”. You obviously need to get educated beyond the glossy Big Wind propaganda you’ve been chewing on.

  25. In response to Darin Petric’s first comment, the table used the final 6 months of 2009 because I was interested in how the Wolfe Island wind development was doing. Wolfe Island was only running fully at the end of June. Note that the bottom row does give the annual average for 2009 which is 27%. Simple math shows that the first 6 months therefore had a average of 31%. Wind energy does relace carbon dioxide production. However, I wonder if many Ontarians realize at what cost. At 13.5 cents per kWh plus a 1 cent per kWh federal subsidy, the cost of carbon dioxide replaced is $80 per tonne. This is 4x the European Emissions Trading System cost. For solar energy, with a feed-in-tariff price of 40 cents per kWh, the carbon cost is almost $300 per tonne. This is not good for the future of manufacturing in Ontario, or for consumers.

  26. Carbon calculations for IWTs are not a straight conversion as one unit of energy produced by IWTs does not directly replace one unit of energy produced by a carbon source. Carbon produced from the inefficiencies caused by ramping up and down of carbon produced energy sources is a carbon source that is part of the equation. At some IWT production rates it has been shown that inefficiencies cause more carbon to be produced than would be saved from the IWT power produced.
    The MW given for IWT power production is unpredictable which causes grid management problems and make curtailment or dumping of electricity necessary to keep the grid stable. When that happens no carbon is saved with IWT production. Power produced does not mean used if it is produced when no one needs it. IWTs are too expensive to build, maintain and replace for a whenever trickle of power. Even with further investment IWTs power output will most likely decline as the IWT ages.

  27. Sounds like you need to be deprogrammed from “the movement”, Darin. Put the Big Wind propaganda away and read The Wind Farm Scam. Reality vs green fantasy.

  28. Ha ha ha! And the Big Wind propaganda is peer-reviewed is it? Pierpont’s book is self-published for a number of reasons, but I’m guessing it’s primarily because the intended audience is (currently) relatively small. Why not send her an email and ask? The Wind Farm Scam is written by a renowned scientist with a broad knowledge base — unlike the sham “studies” slapped together by Big Wind’s biased hired guns. (Big Tobacco, Big Oil, Big Pharmaceutical, Big Chemical etc have been pulling the same stunt for decades.)

    And why guess at The Wind Farm Scam’s contents when you can read them? Speaking of deceit, you’ll find that Big Wind uses it in it’s highest form. Especially amusing is their refusal to acknowledge the negative human health effects brought about by inadequate setbacks which are documented worldwide (and compiled in Pierpont’s book). I’ll leave it at that, Darin. I’d hate to disturb your green fantasy world any further.

  29. The only thing uncomfortable about
    your ramblings (and I am not a religious
    man) is that you place IWT’s parallel to
    the second coming of Christ. Believe me
    if the wagon your on is hinged to the
    premise that wind technology somehow
    plays any role in ultimately saving this
    planet, we are in deep shit.

  30. It may be true that a small amount of wind power can be integrated into the grid without too much backstopping and balancing from existing reserve capacity, but, by definition, it also does only a small amount of good in terms of greenhouse gas abatement…and at terrible cost to the landscape, environment, peoples’ health and well-being, to say nothing of consumers’ and taxpayers’ pocketbooks. Larger amounts are an enormous challenge to the grid and all experts agree that GHGs are reduced with decreasing efficiency, owing to the increasing need for backup generation. In other words, the law of diminishing returns comes into effect very quickly, on most grids when wind reaches about 10% of total generation. It is also one of the most expensive ways to avoid GHG emissions, next only to solar. The reality is that, in the current state of technology, there are only two sources of emission-free electricity in the amount needed to power our civilization and meet the growing energy needs of the planet: hydro and nuclear. Since there isn’t enough hydro to go around, that leaves nuclear fission until something better comes around. People who are seriously concerned about the environment and global warming, as well as the negative impact of ugly windfarms, should read up on nuclear power…. there is tons of info available on the web. Although not without its challenges (like all other sources of energy), it is the best option open to us today, and there is no reason to be more afraid of it than of continuing on the present path to possible catastrophe.

  31. Darin Petrics: Where did you get the idea that the major components of an industrial wind turbine are run on batteries charged by the wind? More than just the navigation lights need energy. I have talked directly to industrial wind representatives and they talked about using energy from the grid and spoke nothing about batteries to make the turbine self sufficient. Even if batteries could be considered they would add a technical layer and cost. The links below are two articles that support what I was told; that industrial wind turbines use power off of the grid. Why would any company spend money on batteries when they can get all the electricity they need for free? Think it through.
    You should try to understand submissions like W. Eugene Goodrich’s which show a depth of knowledge in the topic. It is hard to believe, but when investigated, industrial wind turbines are a waste of a lot money.

  32. Interesting discussion. What I don’t understand about those that are opposed to wind power is what alternative they prefer?

    Is it coal? Is that less of an eye sore? Is that less of a health impact?

    Is it nuclear? Sure that sounds risk free.

    It is very easy to be against something – especially something you have to look at every day outside your window (of both your car and house). But you turn your lights on right? So where do you want to get that electricity from that is not going to be an eye sore to someone, not going to be a health concern to somebody, that is not going to be an expensive proposition?

    I’m a proponent of a mixed power generation portfolio. That includes wind, solar, natural gas, nuclear, and, yes, even coal (its cheap and cheap can be good).

  33. Wind is not much of an alternative if a source of energy for the grid is expected. Around 20% of the energy produced in Ontario is considered lost to the system through transmission line loss and dumping of excess production when there is no market elsewhere (even if a market is found it would most likely be sold at prices well below wind rates and at times less than 0 cents). Dumping and electricity losses are paid for but not used by consumers. Power loss increases and decreases depending on how efficient the electricity on the grid is managed. Adding wind to our system creates the type of erratic production that decreases efficient management and increases losses. Losses and no gain to consumers. Wind production will never amount to much and there is a high probability it is a component of the lost energy. When that happens, the small bursts of power produced by industrial wind turbines are for no benefits to the consumer. Additional transmission lines with the associated line losses are required to support industrial wind. There will be times when more electricity will be used to support industrial wind turbines than they generate.
    If solutions are needed than someone who is promoting industrial wind turbines better identify what the problem is. If it is to guarantee future energy supplies; wind turbines do not last that long, even if they could produce some useable power. We will be spending additional money to replace aging turbines with dismal returns so not quite the free ride most envisioned. Turbines are more dependent on oil and fuel than most would think. So fossil fuels are still a requirement to make wind turbines operate. If it is to reduce carbon, for whatever reason; wind has not been shown to do that. If it is to shut down coal stations; wind has not been shown to do that. If it is to increase energy prices for virtually no electricity gains; wind is a winner.

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