Saturday, November 26, 2011

Perspective on Ontario's Electric System Operator 18-Month Outlook

On our American neighbour's Day of Thanksgiving, the Ontario's Independent Electric System Operator (IESO) released it's latest 18-Month Outlook, to May 2013.  The headline summary from the press release 
was that "Over the next 18 months Ontario will continue to have an adequate supply of electricity to meet consumers' needs."
That hasn't been an issue for years, and the present's premier problem was emphasized as the calendar changed over to the US Black Friday, the day American retailers allegedly move from the losses of the previous portion of the year to the profits of the holiday season. Ontario was paying $31.80/MWh to any market that would accept our exports, and, finding limited takers, Bruce Power was being forced to reduce output from it's nuclear units.  Between the 1100MW we found export markets for, and the 300MW we would pay Bruce to prevent the production of, the IESO managed to compensate for the inconveniently high wind output of  1413MW.

The report notes that 2 nuclear units at Bruce Power will be ready to provide power to the grid within the first 2 quarters of 2012, while the grid will be ready for Bruce Power to supply more power, maybe by the end of the fourth quarter of 2012.

The report notes concerns in the 'southwestern GTA.'  The southwestern GTA has shown to be totally unconcerned about that in driving away contracted supply - twice.  The IESO might be able to alleviate their concerns about supply in the southwestern GTA simply by moving their office out of the southwestern GTA.

Nobody outside of that area could care less.

Screen Capture from IESO 18-Month Outlook, Page 5
The supply changes for the next 18 months, shown in Table 4.2, are simply idiotic.  1000MW of generation capacity that can be varied to meet demand will be removed, and 1500MW of production that is most economical producing all the time will come online (although it is questionable when due to transmission issues), as will 450MW of wind generation that puts out for money, but only when it's in the mood to.
To be clear, the IESO doesn't plan the generation mix.  Politicians do.

Screen Capture from IESO 18-Month Outlook, Page 7
Table 4.4 shows the impact of wind on planning, as summer wind capacity factors (the percentage of capacity expected during the peak hours of the day), is around 13%, and in the winter its 33%.  Under the long-term energy plan's whimsical 7-8000MW of wind capacity, this equates to adding about 910MW of capacity for summer peaking, and 2310MW of winter capacity.  We are, of course, a summer peaking jurisdiction.

A couple of quick queries of data from 2009 on indicates to me that 25% of the time wind is under a 10% capacity factor during the peak demand hour of a January day, and 42% of the time during the peak demand hour of a July day.    I'm skeptical of the wisdom of planning on any wind capacity to be there when needed - unless you are planning on a cull during a cold spell.  Regardless... the plan is to add far more capacity in winter.

There is some concern about the impact, on the grid, of dropping demand in some sections.  For instance:
"The reduction in the load in the Northeast, and in particular at the Kidd Creek Metsite, has resulted in higher than acceptable voltages in the Timmins area. While the new SVC at Porcupine TS will help, additional reactive compensation is required to reduce the increasing dependence on the generating facilities in the Northeast to maintain voltages within acceptable ranges."
More money being spent due to the Xstrata's fleeing of Ontario's rising costs, on electricity and compliance with 'environmental' regulations, for the more business-friendly confines of Quebec.

Screen Capture from IESO 18-Month Outlook, Page 16
Figure 7.2.1 shows the contribution of wind generation at peak.
Oh look ...
It was almost always contributing more than the forecast planned.
The exceptions being the coldest period (peak winter demand came on January 24th) and hottest (peak on July 21st) periods of the year.

Not that it isn't doing precisely what it was intended to do.  The very last paragraph of the IESO outlook includes:
The other large variation seen from the previous year was the frequency by which a nuclear unit had to be either maneuvered or shut down. So far in 2011, nuclear units have been maneuvered 113 times for a total of 364 hours. Compared to 2010 which had nuclear units maneuvered 14 times for a total duration of 64 hours, this represents a significant increase. This rise in manual action is a result of a lower minimum demands as well as a growing portfolio of inflexible generation. The ability to dispatch renewable resources may help to mitigate the need for these actions moving forward,
The only thing wind can do is dislodge baseload supply:  the 10-fold increase in hours of bypassing supply from nuclear is precisely the intent.

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