Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ontario's curtailed wind energy

Ontario's electricity system operator, the IESO, recently released multiple reports including a summary page for 2015's supply now inclusive of "dispatched down" data for industrial wind turbines (in the same format as their 2014 summary). This is the one instance during a year I can compare my estimated curtailment the IESO's reported curtailed wind supply. This year there are similarities, such as the wind curtailments significantly increasing, and there are differences, which I've used to adjust my methodology for estimating hourly curtailments.

The IESO data is not a comprehensive curtailment report. By "curtailment" I mean supply which is rejected by the IESO through any process. My definition includes Ontario Power Generation (OPG) hydro. OPG reports:
During each of 2015 and 2014, OPG lost 3.2 TWh of hydroelectric generation due to SBG [surplus baseload generation] conditions.
For both years, the OPG hydro losses double the amount of curtailment the IESO shows for the combination of "nuclear reductions" and "wind dispatched down."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The cost of ending coal-fired generation, and renewables, in Ontario

Ontario stopped getting electricity from burning coal at the end of 2013. The coal exit is one element of Ontario's electricity system gathering attention from other jurisdictions, along with a very low greenhouse gas emissions intensity, the fastest growing (and possibly now the highest) rates in continental North America, and a high level of resistance to new generation from local residents. It might be logical for outsiders to associate the steep rise in the price of electricity as the cost of getting off coal, but that has not been the major factor pushing up rates.

Bruce Sharp, an energy analyst I greatly admire, recently produced Ontario Electricity - the Cost of Coal Replacement, which put some numbers up against an Ontario government document on The End of Coal. That document is not the proper starting point for evaluating the cost of ending coal, but Sharp's methodology for pricing provides a useful foundation to build an analysis upon.

table from Bruce Sharp's Ontario Electricity - the Cost of Coal Replacement

4,000 megawatts of wind, and 1,500 of solar, were not part of the plan to replace coal. I've previously demonstrated added natural gas and nuclear generators compensated for the removal of the coal-fired power plants.
Graphic from January 2013 post - data in this spreadsheet
Upon reflection, I think the proper starting point to evaluate the cost of exiting coal is June, 2005 - and it can include some wind. The elimination of coal was a 2002 recommendation of  an "all-party Select Committee on Alternative Fuel Sources", carried in the platforms of the three major parties into the 2003 election. That election was won by the party promising to eliminate coal by 2007 (not 2015 as the all party committee had recommended) - but they weren't succeeding in that goal, so in 2005 they released more specific plans described in this press release: