Parker Gallant: IESO’s windy forecasts: more will produce less

(March 26, 2015) The Independent Electricity System Operator’s quarterly “18 Month Outlook: An Assessment of the Reliability and Operability of the Ontario Electricity System” has this writer a bit rattled.

The “Outlook” for the 18 months of April 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016 has just been posted and it is full of information which has this writer a bit rattled. In particular, under  “Resource Heading,” you find this:

About 2,300 MW of grid-connected generation is expected to be added throughout this Outlook period, which includes 1,700 MW of wind, 10 MW of hydroelectric, 300 MW of gas, 240 MW of solar and 40 MW of biofuel resources.

In an effort to clarify if they consider the 1,700 MW of wind additional to the 3,490 MW reported by CanWEA as of December 31, 2014, a representative of IESO advised me:

The 1,700 MW of new grid-connected wind generation expected to come online during the next 18 months is comprised of 695 MW of wind generation that is in commercial operation/commissioning and 1,005 MW that has not yet reached the commissioning stage.

Currently, installed capacity for grid-connected wind is 2,543 MW, rising to an expected 4,243 MW at the end of the 18-month period.

With that understanding the “Outlook” forecasts; expected generation from all fuel sources. The forecast for wind over the 18 months is 9.807 terawatts (TWh) or an average of .5448 TWh per month. The generation from wind in 2014 was reported as 6.8 TWh which averaged .5666 TWh per month.

The fact they are saying 1,005 MW will be added to the electricity grid over the next 18 months would not suggest lower monthly production but it does! Adding the 695 MW (in progress of commissioning) to the 2,543 MW and than to the 1,005 MW and averaged out, over 18 months, it should be about 3,740 MW of capacity. Calculating the IESO forecast of 9.087 TWh leaves one with the impression that over 18 months, production would be less than 20% of installed capacity versus the 30% one would expect. Using “the grid-connected wind” of 2,543 MW the electricity generated in 2014 was 30.5% of its capacity (less if some of the 695 MW is included).

So what will cause the decline in generation, related to capacity over the next 18 months?

Well, the latest IESO quarterly report of Oct-Dec 2014 provides some of the answers where it speaks to “dispatch capability”. That report said wind dispatch “helped to avoid 18 nuclear shutdowns” in 2014.

Dispatch capability allows for more efficient management of base-load resources that traditionally have had less flexibility than other forms of generation, and helps to avoid costly nuclear shutdowns. In 2014, wind dispatch helped to avoid 18 nuclear shutdowns – only one nuclear shutdown occurred due to surplus base-load conditions during the year, compared to six in 2013.” Wind was also the likely cause that put generation into the danger zone of grid margins when Ontario demand was low.

This report also discloses that in the final quarter of 2014 wind produced 2.2 TWh or .7333 TWh per month, meaning the 18 Month Forecast may be suggesting even greater dispatches than experienced in 2014! Dispatches we will pay for in our electricity bills! That doesn’t seem to be anticipated in the chart in the “Outlook” on page 24. This chart indicates wind is the last generation source to be curtailed and follows nuclear rather than what is suggested in the Quarterly Report. The chart suggests exports will be the principal way of discarding surplus base-load with nuclear in second place.

After examining the information in the 18 Month Outlook I was still no farther ahead in determining why the installed capacity of wind should be such a low percent of capacity until stumbling on a footnote on one of the charts which states:

Figures 4.4 to 4.6 show the percentage production by fuel type for each calendar year of the 18-Month period under conditions of zero net exports.

So IESO can produce simulated production for all fuel types and anticipated Ontario demand, but are seemingly unable to forecast exports which in 2014 were 19.1 TWh and represented 13.7% of Ontario’s demand. Those exports were more than twice what wind, solar and biomass together generated!

In the first two months of 2015 Ontario exported 17.1% of demand (4.4 TWh-up 71%) so with the additional capacity of 2,300 MW added to the grid in the next 18 months we should expect to see exports soar as will the cost to Ontario Ratepayers. My personal forecast (in the absence of IESO’s) is exports will be close to 25 TWh in 2015 and cost ratepayers almost $2 billion or $450 each.

How’s that for a gloomy forecast!

Parker Gallant is a retired bank executive and a former director of Energy Probe Research Foundation. As with all independent bloggers on this site, Parker’s views do not necessarily reflect those of Energy Probe.

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3 Responses to Parker Gallant: IESO’s windy forecasts: more will produce less

  1. Sommer says:

    Parker, again…thank you!

    How does that compare with the rosy picture that Judith Lipp painted for wind on ‘The Agenda’ last evening?

  2. John Vincent says:

    I find it laughable that IESO syas they can “dispatch” wind and solar. Regardless of need or actual output, we are compelled to purchase all they do , or are capable, of putting out. This is hardly a correct way to run any powere system, or other prodcution company, but the green enrgy companies have been given a golden contract complete with a blank cheque.
    As a side note, they say they are going to bring 240 MW of solar on line. That’s power production with out put that follows a bell curve on a good day, and doesn’t produce after the sun goes down. In addition, the 240MW will account for 2,400 acres of farm land. that part hasn’t dawned on people yet either.

  3. Bob Lyman says:

    “In 2014, wind dispatch helped to avoid 14 nuclear shutdowns…”. What an utterly perverse and dishonest way to report to the public. First, there is a difference between shutdowns and curtailments, even though the cost of and scope for nuclear curtailments is relatively small. Second, It would not be necessary to have any nuclear curtailments at all if it were not for Ontario’s electricity policy, which adds more and more intermittent wind and solar energy generation capacity in the face of continuing declines in overall demand and also (perversely) gives wind and solar generation “first to the grid” rights. The more accurate statement would have been “Unceasing addition of unneeded green energy barely avoids 14 expensive nuclear plant curtailments”.

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