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Forecast returns on turbine investments challenged  

Frank Entwistle, a selfproclaimed expert in wind generation, is using summertime turbine results to illustrate, in his words, that “investors may be disappointed.”

In a news release from his Windwatch Conservation, Mr. Entwistle cites figures from Independent Electrical System Operator (IESO) as demonstrating a difference between the claims of turbine proponents and results recorded by IESO as a percentage of nameplate capacity.

According to the averages outlined, the average percentages of capacity for the Melancthon I, Port Burwell and Kingsbridge wind farms were 23.61, 20.47 and 22.32, respectively.

Mr. Entwistle quotes Geoff Carnegie, Ontario project manager for Canadian Hydro Developers, as saying there is “no such thing as a perfect wind year, so assume 30 per cent of the year the plant will operate. This is considered a good capacity factor for wind farms, 40 per cent being extremely exceptional.”

But IESO, which operates a publicly accessible website www.ieso.ca that includes hour-by-hour output of all Ontario electrical generators, is displaying an October 2006 study indicating that the averages cited by Mr. Entwistle actually exceeded expectations for southern Ontario.

“The study also found that the average capacity level for wind during the summer peak is approximately 17 per cent, with values ranging from 16 to 19 per cent between June and August and 38 to 42 per cent between the months of November and February,” reads the report in part.

The study, a joint undertaking of IESO, GE Energy and Canadian Wind Energy Association, is consistent with statements Mr. Carnegie made about four months after Melancthon I went online in March.

At that time, he said production was exceeding expectations for the summer season, even though it was well below nameplate capacity.

Because winds are stronger and more consistent in the winter, Mr. Carnegie and other green energy proponents envision a supply mix that would include hydroelectric, wind and solar. Solar production would be up in the summer and down in the winter; the opposite of wind results.

Mr. Entwistle doesn’t pretend to have a scientific background in any discipline related to wind turbines. But he does say he has spent “2,500-2,600 hours researching” the performances and experiences of wind generation worldwide.

His interest began in 2004 when John Pennie of Windrush was planning a threeturbine installation in the Hockley hills, at which time, he says, he spent 800 hours boning up on the devices, such that he could advise his neighbours.

Since then, he says, he has acted as a consultant to other groups of landowners where turbines are being proposed. He was a keynote speaker at an anti-turbine meeting of an ad hoc group, Amaranth Citizens Coalition, last summer.

But he says he is “dedicated to turbines in the proper place,'” and his aim “is not to oppose but to uncover the truth.” He said he agrees with the global objective of eliminating reliances on fossil fuels.

His “proper place” would be “the shores of Lake Huron,” where the prevailing wind would render the turbines “20 per cent more efficient.” But he said there are restrictions on the grid, such that proponents might not be able to get the energy to market.

Mr. Entwistle cites an “Ontario Wind Power Task Force” study as saying that wind speeds of “less than seven feet per second are not viable.” He said turbines in this area would be inefficient because the wind, in the Hockley hills, for example, is only 5.5.

Maurice Hickey, Canadian Hydro’s local wind specialist, says, however, that it is necessary to know both the height of the turbine and the temperature of the air before generalizing on speed.

During a tour of the Melancthon I wind plant on July 6, the Weather Network was reporting a wind speed of 10 km/h at Shelburne but the CHD computers were recording speeds of upwards of 6.3 metres per second, or better than 22 km/h at the height of the turbines a few miles away.

With the wind at 6.3 mps, the computers showed the electrical production at about one-third of the nameplate capacity.

With respect to lakeshore installations, Mr. Entwistle’s own calculations show that the Melancthon turbines last summer were producing on average about 15 per cent more than the ones at Port Burwell – 23.61% in Melancthon to 20.47% in Port Burwell.

By Wes Keller
Freelance Reporter

citizen.on.ca

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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