Wind power: not reliable

Big Wind lobby group president Robert Hornung: redefining 'reliability'
Big Wind lobby group president Robert Hornung: redefining ‘reliability’

Wind power: unreliable, and costly

Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), frequently uses the word “reliable” when expounding on the purported benefits of generating power from wind.  Here are a couple of them: “Wind energy is meeting Canada’s demand for new electricity in a clean, reliable and cost-competitive way,” says Hornung. And this one: “Wind energy provides reliable power”.
Hornung’s use of the word “reliable” is not the same as Webster’s defines it: “to be relied on” and “giving the same result on repeated trials”.   His use of the term “cost-competitive”  fails the same test!
Some recent events offer contradicting evidence on the issue of wind’s “reliability” as a power source.
On October 5, 2015 wind production for the full 24 hours was 2,636 megawatts (MW) averaging 110 MW per hour—that represented just 0.5% of Ontario’s average demand of 16,394 MW per hour.   Now measured against Ontario’s average hourly demand of October 19, 2015 at 14,997 MW is an interesting contrast.  Ontario’s industrial wind turbines (IWTs), with an IESO1. reported capacity of 3,427 MW, were producing an average of 2,474 MW per hour, and in  24 hours cranked out 59,389 MWh, representing 16.5% of the average hourly demand.  The lower demand day of October 19th  (9.4% less than October 5th) saw those IWTs producing power at very high levels, which coincidentally resulted in average hourly exports 760 MW higher per hour.
The connection to high wind power generation and higher exports is obvious, as is the lower average of the hourly Ontario energy price (HOEP). October 5th that was $30.99 per MWh, but only $21.62 (30% lower) on October 19th.
What does it mean? Ontario’s ratepayers subsidized wind on the higher demand day by picking up the cost of $252K (2,626 X $127/MWh2. = $333K – $81K [2,626 X $30.99/MWh]  = $252K).   Compared to the subsidy picked up by Ontario’s ratepayers on October 19th , however, that was a bargain.  On the latter day the cost was considerably more at $6.2 million (59,389 MWh X $127= $7.5 million – $1.3 million [59,389 MWh X $21.62/MWh] = $6.2 million).
Mr. Hornung and CanWEA may consider “reliable” to mean Ontario’s ability to supply our neighbours in New York, Michigan and elsewhere with power that is “cost-competitive.”  It’s just not in his best interest to express it that way.
CanWEA needs to find new talking points that deal with the facts: power generation from wind is totally unreliable and anything but cost-competitive!
©Parker Gallant,
October 25, 2015

  1. IESO do not report the full capacity until the IWT are commissioned by them, whereas the full capacity may be considerably higher.
  2. The OEB estimates the average cost of wind generation at $127/MWh.

P.S.: Hour 18 on October 24, 2015 saw a new record for wind generation in Ontario with  3,123 MWh meaning IWT were operating at over 91% of capacity, and the HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) was $13.36— subsidies were $350K for just that hour.

What's your reaction?


  • Richard Mann
    Posted October 26, 2015 1:13 pm 0Likes

    Recent report from Ontario’s Engineers:
    “Ontario’s Electricity Dilemma – Achieving Low Emissions at Reasonable Electricity Rates.” Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE), April 2015.
    Page 15 of 23.
    “Why Will Emissions Double as We Add Wind and Solar Plants ?”
    – Wind and Solar require flexible backup generation.
    – Nuclear is too inflexible to backup renewables without expensive engineering changes to the reactors.
    – Flexible electric storage is too expensive at the moment.
    – Consequently natural gas provides the backup for wind and solar in North America.
    – When you add wind and solar you are actually forced to reduce nuclear genera,on to make room for more natural gas generation to provide flexible backup.
    – Ontario currently produces electricity at less than 40 grams of CO2 emissions/kWh.
    – Wind and solar with natural gas backup produces electricity at about 200 grams of CO 2 emissions/kWh. Therefore adding wind and solar to Ontario’s grid drives CO2 emissions higher. From 2016 to 2032 as Ontario phases out nuclear capacity to make room for wind and solar, CO2 emissions will double (2013 LTEP data).
    – In Ontario, with limited economic hydro and expensive storage, it is mathematically impossible to achieve low CO2 emissions at reasonable electricity prices without nuclear generation.

  • Barbara
    Posted October 26, 2015 1:22 pm 0Likes

    Why would CanWEA let the facts get in the way?
    Many, many Ontario urban and town residents use natural gas and are not exposed to the high electricity costs.Time-of-use doesn’t affect them when they want to cook or do laundry for example. And they don’t need to pump water.
    Small businesses are affected and they employ plenty of people.
    Larger businesses may be able to generate their own electricity in the near future?
    By the way, does Wynne use natural gas for her household needs and is not much affected by high electricity prices?

  • Burton
    Posted October 26, 2015 9:15 pm 0Likes

    Climate change is scam and green energy is fraud. We are stupid enough to pay Michigan to take our excess power.

  • Sommer
    Posted October 27, 2015 8:48 am 0Likes

    Thanks Burton for putting it simply. Perhaps this is the best way to get through to people.
    For those who want more details, pay attention to the the conversations at wattsupwiththat, where people with data to prove their comments, engage in rigorous science based discussion, as they tear apart headline stories that make claims that are easily refuted. These stories are meant to keep people in fear and convinced that we must all submit to fear- based decisions being made by our elected and paid ‘leaders’.This alarmism is still happening in Canada and about to get even worse in the lead up to Paris.
    Follow the RICO conversations on wattsupwiththat for details on racketeering.

    • Barbara
      Posted October 27, 2015 11:28 am 0Likes

      It’s sustainability that is and will be pushed at COP21. Climate change doesn’t sell very well now to the public.

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