The Independent Electricity System Operator is the organization that runs the electrical power system in Ontario. They have in past provided a small amount of data on the reliability of wind power through a publication titled “The Ontario Reliability Outlook.” In particular, in their 2008 and 2009 reports (the latest available) they give a “capacity factor” which for 2009, was 28 per cent. This means that averaged over the year for 1,000 MW of installed generation capacity they got about 280 MW on average.
The 2008 report notes “The intermittent nature of wind power makes it difficult to forecast generation with certainty. For example, wind output on Dec. 2, 2008 reached 617 MW. By contrast, wind production reached a low of just 2 MW on July 19, 2008, a hot and windless day.” One might ask if a hot summer day isn’t precisely the day you want the maximum amount of power output from your generation system. Fire up the coal plants!
To clear up another misconception about power availability, that of importing all the extra power we may need, it can’t be done.
There are a very limited number of transmission line connections to other systems such as New York State and Michigan. Called tie lines, these lines have limited current or power carrying capacity.
Whatever spin the Liberal government would wish to put on renewable energy and wind in particular, experience shows it is the most unreliable and inefficient source of energy in use at the moment.
Increased reliance on it will lead to an increasingly unreliable and unstable electrical system in Ontario.
IAN NUNN, Ottawa
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