Monday, August 1, 2011

Coal is Not Being Replaced By Wind

Wind is not going to replace coal in Ontario.  There are many claims wind generation is yet to replace any fossil fuel generating station in any jurisdiction, but Ontario may be particularly poorly suited for the introduction of industrial wind generation into our supply mix.  Electricity pricing looks to be an important issue destined to occupy much of the discourse in Ontario’s election this fall.  People generally don’t believe the government, but they also don’t believe bills could be rising so quickly, so much new capacity being announced, and yet some forecasts show shortages again by the end of the decade.  All are true, and the key driver of pricing increases in Ontario is a reckless disregard for operational efficiency that is driven by wind proponents.  That could lead to future shortages.


Summer has become the season where Ontario exhibits it’s peak demand period, and 2011 has performed as expected – as did 2010.  Both may be somewhat unique in that the average hourly Ontario consumption, in July, exceeded Ontario’s average hourly demand in January.  The combination of highest peak, and highest overall consumption, is new.  However, since one big argument  for renewable is the need to halt anthropogenic global warming (AGW), it follows that trend, of July being warmer and demand being driven by air conditioning, should continue, and it’s probably worthwhile to review each July since 2003 to see how we’ve done on the battle against burning coal – and what, if anything, is replacing coal’s role in July’s supply mix.   

It's very hard to spot any trend, aside from 2009 indicating demand reduction causes less production from carbon sources.  Compared to 2004, demand in 2011’s July will end up around 1000MW/hour higher, and the production from coal, natural gas, and other fuels (such as Lennox) will also be about 1000MW greater.  We did see an improvement in 2011 over 2010, but not a particularly helpful one, because the main replacement there was hydro generation, and that was entirely due to a wetter first half of 2011 - which is not something we should count on.   

Hydro is most productive during the April and May before starting a decline in output that usually persists through October.  The spring freshet coincides with two of our lowest demand months, in April and May, and, combined with our nuclear output, and existing contracts with non-utility generators (NUGs), we already have trouble reducingproduction of electricity in the spring.  Wind, similarly, was 3 times as productive this April as this July, and twice as productive in May as in July.  That trend is typical.
Wind averages under a 15% capacity factor in Ontario.  Additional generation is likely to lower that figure, assuming the best sites are the first to be built.  There's also some evidence turbines productivity begins to decline very quickly.  Port Alma's older turbines' capacity factors lag the new Port Alma2 installation by about 1.5%, despite Port Alma only being 2 years older.  
Year
Month
Amaranth
Gosfield
Kings-bridge
Port Alma
Port Alma2
Port Burwell
Princefarm
Ripley
Spence
Under-woodwgs
Wolfe Island
Total
2009
07
16.3%

9.9%
17.6%

13.9%
15.4%
11.1%

13.7%
14.5%
14.7%
2010
07
16.3%

12.4%
16.2%

12.4%
15.1%
13.3%

15.8%
17.0%
15.4%
2010
08
17.6%

16.6%
14.3%

12.9%
22.2%
18.4%

18.6%
20.2%
18.3%
2010
09
29.3%
25.5%
33.8%
31.0%

25.8%
36.9%
32.7%

34.6%
32.5%
32.2%
2010
10
29.3%
36.4%
35.2%
36.9%

32.4%
30.7%
29.0%

33.1%
32.4%
32.1%
2010
11
31.9%
38.2%
42.1%
40.2%
62.2%
33.1%
43.7%
39.5%

38.7%
33.0%
37.9%
2010
12
26.2%
41.5%
51.8%
46.8%
50.0%
39.0%
31.0%
53.2%

48.0%
34.5%
39.2%
2011
01
21.1%
30.6%
30.5%
31.9%
35.7%
27.3%
22.1%
32.9%

30.0%
22.0%
26.7%
2011
02
43.2%
54.0%
45.2%
52.3%
56.9%
46.7%
34.0%
49.5%

48.5%
42.1%
45.4%
2011
03
26.8%
33.8%
31.1%
38.0%
39.7%
26.4%
27.9%
31.9%
43.0%
29.2%
29.3%
31.1%
2011
04
37.6%
48.0%
38.1%
49.1%
50.6%
35.5%
31.4%
38.1%
60.2%
38.4%
38.5%
40.5%
2011
05
22.8%
30.9%
25.2%
32.4%
34.0%
19.9%
24.8%
25.5%
37.5%
25.4%
30.1%
27.3%
2011
06
20.1%
22.5%
19.5%
24.9%
27.2%
17.7%
26.4%
16.4%
28.1%
15.5%
18.8%
21.2%
2011
07
12.1%
12.9%
11.1%
13.6%
15.0%
10.2%
13.7%
11.9%
16.9%
13.5%
9.7%
12.6% 
 Update August:  The July figures in the original post were as of July 27th.  Final data saw marginal changes to:
Year
Month
Amaranth
Gosfield
Kings-bridge
Port Alma
Port Alma2
Port Burwell
Princefarm
Ripley
Spence
Under-woodwgs
Wolfe Island
Total
2011
07
13.6
13.4%
11.0%
13.9%
16.0%
12.0%
13.1%
12.0%
17.6%
13.6%
12.3%
13.5%

 
Worse again, while the average approaches a 15% CF, the data history shows over 45% of the time it is under 10%, and nearly a quarter of the time, in July, the CF for wind production is under 5%.  If we accepted that 45% of the time we might need to curtail use during calm periods, and planned on the 55% of time wind will be above a production level of 10% of nameplate capability, in July, we would need about 30,000MW of wind capacity to replace the 3000MW of coal being generated through the hottest portions on July 21st's peak usage period.

30,000MW isn’t planned – so wind replacing coal isn’t planned.  What is planned isn't sufficient to meet July demand, and is far in excess of sufficient to meet demand at other times.

The recent supply mix directive (SMD) stated; “Based on forecast assessments of what the system can accommodate, the OPA shall plan for 10,700MW of renewable energy capacity, excluding hydroelectric, by 2018.”  I have a number of issues with that - the ministerial directives include demands to build the capacity to accommodate renewable which are to be of a volume to fill the capacity, all quite oblivious to consumer cost concerns or matching supply capabilities to demand requirements.  There is an acknowledgement there will be frequent occasions when the grid won’t be able to accept the output of the rabidly multiplying IWTs; it came in the form of ensuring there is a process to pay wind suppliers for the output foregone because the grid can’t accept it.  

I’ve undertaken a data exercise to explore what’s happened to Ontario’s production efficiency, and what is projected to happen in the next 7 or 8 years.    Using a variety of sources, including historical data from the IESO, projected data from industry groups, the supply mix directive, and making some judgement calls on nuclear's future, I built a rough overview of what sources have been added, and what is to come.  The assumptions that differ in my data model,  (first tab here), from recent studies by Pembina and Clearsky, are primarily nuclear, where I assume Pickering has some capacity continuing until refurbishments are completed at Darlington.

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Coal 7,614 7,614 7,614 6,484 6,484 6,484 6,484 6,484 4,484 3,504 3,504 3,289 2,983 0 0 0 0
Gas 2,215 2,215 2,827 2,827 2,944 2,944 4,491 6,457 7,449 7,449 7,842 7,842 8,428 8,428 8,428 8,428 8,428
Hydro 7,686 7,686 7,766 7,766 7,766 7,786 7,810 7,947 7,947 7,947 7,994 8,241 8,288 8,793 8,793 8,793 9,000
Nuclear 8,864 10,149 10,931 11,446 11,446 11,446 11,446 11,446 11,446 11,446 12,000 12,000 12,000 12,000 12,000 12,000 12,000
Other 2,177 2,177 2,177 2,177 2,177 2,177 2,177 2,177 2,224 2,241 2,261 2,565 2,615 3,990 3,990 3,990 3,990
Solar 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 232 513 793 1,074 1,355 1,355 1,355 1,355
Wind 0 0 0 0 396 472 705 1,085 1,186 1,856 2,424 2,889 3,859 4,619 5,509 6,270 6,990
Total 28,556 29,841 31,315 30,700 31,213 31,309 33,113 35,596 34,736 34,675 36,537 37,619 39,247 39,185 40,075 40,836 41,763

With this history, and forecasts for demand, the trend in the overall system utilization, shown as the capacity factor, illustrates how efficiency has deteriorated, and is planned to continue deteriorating 
.
It is difficult to accept efficiency is no longer desirable, but harder still to accept when contracts, specifically the feed-in tariff contracts (FIT), are to pay suppliers regardless of need.  The frequency of oversupply looks certain to rapidly escalate.  It is reasonable to expect the ‘must run’ power to be 10000MW of nuclear, 2500-3000 of hydro and another 1000-1200MW of either gas or “other” must-run contracts (often non-utility generator contracts, or NUGs, which the OPA has been directed, through a directive from the minister, to extend).  The plan is now to have too much supply 20-25% of the time without the output from wind turbines, with the added plan that we pay for another 0-7000MW depending on the wind, (averaging about 2000MW by 2018).  

April 11th, 2011, had a lot of wind.  The capacity factor (CF) over the day was above 83%.  4 days prior to that Ontario had the only day since last August when it was a net importer of electricity over the entire 24 hours; that day the CF was under 4% for the IWT fleet.    I charted the week (starting Wed., April 6).  Where a space exists (the first 2 days of the week, with little wind), we are importing.  Usually we are exporters:


And to jump forward to 2017, we get a nice picture of what the impact of 5 times the wind capacity, and therefore the output will do.  Even in the mild demand of April, the import period remains an import period.  The export period becomes impossible to manage, as we only have about 4000MW of intertie capacity, so we couldn't dump this much excess.


It isn't particularly difficult to see what source wind proponents need to be eliminated here (although they attack public hydroelectric supply too!).  It's readily apparent why wind industry projections urge the quickest possible reduction of nuclear capacity.  Should Pickering be shuttered by 2016, we will be left with 10000MW of nuclear capacity, but up to 1700 MW could be undergoing refurbishments.  With only a little over 8000MW of nuclear available, 5500MW, optimistically, of hydro, 7000MW, optimistically, of natural gas, 1500MW of solar and maybe 3000MW from other sources (including Lennox), only the most optimistic scenario could allow Ontario to meet a hot, hot, July day's demand given wind's low performance level in hot months.
Far from replacing coal, wind makes it requisite to have alternative generation to fill in the frequent, and often lengthy, lapses in output.  
Natural gas is replacing coal. And if there was no natural gas ...
Wind would be enabling coal.




14 comments:

  1. Good analysis. The phrase "Clean renewables replace dirty coal" is just as ridiculous/maddening/(insert your own angst-ridden reaction) as a certain Minister gushing about "export opportunities".

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  2. See also http://Ontariowindperformance.wordpress.com, confirms what is presented here.

    ReplyDelete
  3. We can't afford Wind Dreams. When market pricing is well below Wind Farm generation pricing Wind Farms shouldn't be selling into the market a commodity which the public consumers can't afford. But political interference into the energy markets makes the Grid Operator use wind generation and dump other affordable energy sources to make room. That's massively stupid and bad for the total business of Ontario. The to make it worse, give guarantees to the Alternative Energy producers a fix minimum price! So if you check market pricing, last spring Water power was spilling water away and Nuclear generation was giving away for FREE energy from the Ontario Grid system to make way for guess who, Wind Power! This past summer, we had an expected warm summer. And guess who couldn't be counted on to support the demands of Ontario, Wind Power. They couldn't even produce enough energy between all of them combined to run their "Turning Gear 600 volt motors to keep their rotors turning! So when the need is necessary, Wind Power picks and chooses when or if they will meet the public demands of power generation.
    Look at this way, when you shop at your local grocery store, which do you choose, an affordable priced item off the shelf, or do you go to Specialty Shop where the store shelves are loaded with Super Priced Organically grown goods. If a can of tomatoes in my local grocery store is $1.00 per can and the Specialty Shop Organically Grown can of tomatoes is $80.00, its pretty easy for this person to choose which can I can afford. Why can't our liberal governments figure it out.
    When market prices were so low, at less than 10 cents per kilowatt hr, our liberal government has an agreement where wind power can jump into the market with 80 cents minimum pricing obligated to you consumers.
    Now, if you are a small industrial producer and your products are costing a lot more to produce. Do you remain in Ontario? Our liberals at least to me are saying good by industrials and hello to government paycheck employees.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The investment into alternative power generating technologies such as nuclear energy may need to be measured against the potential cost when things turn against you as unfortunately happened this year in Japan. The use of thermal coal (steam coal) that is mostly burnt for power generation may be valid for other countries who may not be able to allocate resources and funds to alternative and more greener sources of power. Coal newsletters and coal statistics show developing economies are more likely to increase their investment into & their use of thermal coal & metallurgical coal in coming years because of coal's affordability and ability to quickly meet increasing demands for electricity and steel. www.coalportal.com

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