Financial Viability of Ontario Wind Energy Generating System

Data shows a decrease in capacity factor of 2% per year as systems age.
by John Harrison, Director for Research, Association to Protect Amherst Island

7 thoughts on “Financial Viability of Ontario Wind Energy Generating System

  1. I ran some figures based on the most recent IESO data, and I view August 2011 as the lowest capacity factor yet, at just under 11.2% (for industrial wind sites that have operational dates on the OPA site).
    I’ve put the figures in a google doc at

  2. Congratulations and many thanks to all who prepared this report!!! Wonder if WUWT would publish this?

  3. If you don’t read all of this at least go to the last line to see the end result.

    I often have thought this would be a good exercise for a grade 5 math class.

    How will wind turbines be able to produce electricity in the summer when electricity is needed the most?

    This is the simple version but it is all that is needed. And the real life results match very closely as Mr. Luft has shown as well.

    Power available in wind = .5 X swept area X air density X wind speed cubed

    The first two factors are constant so they can be ignored. Swept area is the size of the blades.

    Let’s have a look at air density in summer and winter. Warm air is less dense than cold air but by how much?

    Air density at –10C = .1334kg / cubic meter
    Air density at +30C = .1074kg / cubic meter

    Summer air is around 20% less dense than winter. That means an automatic 20% handicap for the turbine in the summer. But the next part is much worse.

    The last variable is wind speed cubed = wind speed X wind speed X wind speed

    Windsor wind speeds
    Winter about 13mph
    Summer about 9mph

    Goderich, Kingston, all of Ontario is about the same. And the actual number isn’t particularly important. It is the relationship between summer and winter that is important.

    Wind speeds cubed 13x13x13=2197
    9x9x9 = 729

    That is about 3 times less power from summer wind speeds compared to winter and then an additional 20% handicap for the summer’s lower air density as well.

    • The air densities quoted above are low by a factor 10.

  4. It is a very sad situation when our provincial leaders can’t do some simple grade 5 mathematics that would have raised some very serious questions about the viability of all of this.

    But I don’t think that was their concern. Maybe the grade 6 lesson should be how to become a politician so you can create fake industries that rely on government favors so you can get kickbacks from them.

    • John did the vast bulk of the work, and I believe the idea of the report was his to begin with, He certainly deserves all the credit. I understand he had some help with the financial stuff. The insights that led him to uncover the 2% decline in CF per year were pure genius. My name shows up in appendix B, but I just took his ideas, gathered data from Denmark, ran it though a spreadsheet and was quite surprised when I got a similar result. When you’re only at 20% CF to begin with, 2% decrease per year is a lot.

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