The reality of wind power

When we need it most - wind fails

By Don Butler, Ottawa Citizen

One of the inherent limitations of wind power is its unreliability. It produces electricity only when the wind blows. And how much it produces depends on how much oomph nature provides at any given time.

Ontario has wind power with an installed capacity of 1,636 megawatts, an amount expected to rise to 2,200 megawatts by early next year.

But in fact, it produces far less than that. Friday morning between 8 and 9 a.m., for example, wind was generating just 31 megawatts of electricity. Between 11 a.m. and noon on Wednesday, when winds were blowing more lustily, it was cranking out 669 megawatts.

In a recent study, Aegent Energy Advisors evaluated wind data for 2009 and 2010 from the Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), which measures the output of wind turbines connected to the high voltage distribution grid.

It found that the average “capacity factor” over that time was 27.8 per cent, meaning that for every 1,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity, the average annual output would be 278 megawatts. But that doesn’t account for wind’s variability. That same 1,000 megawatts would produce no electricity at all at if there’s no wind, or as much as 949 megawatts in a stiff gale.

By comparison, nuclear power has an average capacity factor of about 90 per cent. Last year, nuclear reactors produced the equivalent of a continuous, around-the-clock output of 9,452 megawatts.

To replace that nuclear output with wind power, Ontario would require 34,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity, Aegent calculated. The turbines needed for that, it said, would consume 14,200 square kilometres of land — equivalent to a band 14 kilometres wide and 1,000 kilometres long.

Ontario would also need 10,000 megawatts of natural gas generation as a backup for periods when wind power was producing little or nothing, Aegent said.

10 thoughts on “The reality of wind power

  1. Ontario needs to be shown that everyone loses when it comes to many of the renewable energy initiatives. It’s not all about a handful of residents who are deeply affected by adverse health effects. That said, it is always discouraging to hear and read how many are willing to sacrifice others for the sake of making money. People are no longer the focus of the environmental movement, infact they are being portrayed as the contaminants poisoning mother nature. When starving people in Africa are being withheld from using their large reserves of coal for the sake of reducing a miniscule amount of C02, something has got to change.

  2. Forget Green Energy – It’s FAKE

    and the greatest Boondoggle in Ontario’s history…

  3. You got it, “Rural Grubby”! It’s all about money. Darn shame what some people are willing to do–to the neighbours and their community—for money!

  4. This whole IWT nonsense is not based on reality or logic but on IDEOLOGY. This can be clearly seen in the above energy production plot.

    In this case of IWTs neither the wise use of money nor logic/reason count. Health,safety and loss of property values don’t count either.

    IDEOLOGY and BIG MONEY are what counts in this situation!

  5. Replacing traditional reliable power generators with industrial wind turbines is unrealistic as industrial wind capacity will produce anywhere from 0 to near maximum MW capacity. It is unsure how 10,000 MW gas as stated in the article would meet demand when output from wind is 0. Industrial wind turbines would provide too much electricity, not enough or none at all. That could happen within an hour. The erratic and unreliable electricity from industrial wind turbines does not support the grid so no matter how many square kilometres covered in industrial wind turbines there would still be a requirement for other reliable sources of more or equal MW capacity to avoid blackouts. The other reliable sources would be running more often than not. A replacement plan would have to be in place to replace inoperable turbines as they age. IWTs are not a plan to produce power or to have anything long term. It is a plan to put into place the never ending economic drain for as long as wind companies and some politicians can maintain the illusion.

  6. The more unreliable wind power is installed, the more reliable alternative backup power is required. That is why Denmark with all of its wind power has not been able to shut down any coal plants but rather has had to build new ones in the last few years. Wake up McGuinty and smell the roses.

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