Opponents of wind generation in southern Ontario may feel they got a shot in the arm as they sweltered in the record-setting heat wave earlier this week.
The province’s four wind farms have a combined nameplate capacity of 396 megawatts.
However, actual output as the wind subsided ranged from a high of 106 megawatts at midnight Monday to a low generally in the teens or slightly above throughout Tuesday.
It was back to 106 megawatts at midnight Tuesday, and down to just 58 early Wednesday.
In the mean time, electrical consumption was approaching the records that had been set during the summer of 2006 – and the traditionally hottest summer season is still a few weeks away.
A spokesman for Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator was quoted in the Toronto Star as saying consumption rose to as much as 25,700 megawatts Tuesday, almost as much as the record 27,005 that was set last August.
To meet the demand, Ontario imported 1,300 megawatts from Quebec, Michigan and New York State at peak periods Tuesday, The Star quoted the IESO spokesman as saying.
The low output from the wind farms was not entirely unexpected, as winds are traditionally stronger in the winter than in the summer, but the extent of the decline might still have been a surprise.
Operators of wind turbines say they expect something around 20-25 per cent of capacity in the summer, and beyond 40 per cent in the winter.
Those operators, along with utility managers internationally, say wind should be a part of the energy mix. They do not suggest that wind generation is a total answer.
Opponents of wind energy argue that the electricity is in more demand in the summer than in the winter, ergo the turbines are in operation at the wrong time. Others say we should be looking to conservation rather than additional generation.
Meantime, Economic Development Officer Henry Micek in Southgate says there are two green energy proposals more or less in limbo at Dundalk because there appears to be no place to send the power they could generate.
Those proposals are for a thermal (energy from waste) facility and a 10-megawatt wind farm.
Mr. Micek said they could both become reality – “but we can’t get access to the Hydro One grid.”
(The thermal garbage recycling facility is a pilot project proposed by David Greey. The small wind farm would be built by Helix Synergy.)
Mr. Micek said if the province is serious about achieving its renewable energy goals, it would make more transmission lines available.
By Wes Keller
28 June 2007
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