There's a lot of talk about wind power being the 'future' of Ontario. Which gives us the opportunity, fortunately or unfortunately, to see wind power in action and gauge its true usefulness in generating electricity.
An extremely good resource is the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) website, which documents the price of electricity in Ontario, the spot prices, Provincial Benefit, and sources for the electricity. It also gives us the fact that there is almost 1100 MW of installed capacity of wind power and tells us at any point of time, what amount of electricity is actually generated by wind power.
I've been watching it for a few days and am relatively surprised by a couple of things on a broad overview. One thing is the remarkable predictability that I've seen in the wind power. Predictability is a very good thing when it comes to electricity generation. The other thing is the fact that it never exceeds about 30% of its maximum at any point in time. Which means that its true 'capacity factor' is lower than what I've been estimating and what is estimated by wind advocates.
If this is true, then things are likely to only get worse. I'd wager that cheapest and most reliable wind energy locations are already occupied and from here on out the locations will either cost more or be less reliable than the ones we already have.
So Dalton McGuinty has put us at the leading edge of wind technology, but unfortunately for him and for us, it looks like that edge is heading over a cliff.
UPDATE: I am doing some downloading and analyzing of the data and have found some times above 30% capacity factor believe it or not. I'm going to try to do a comprehensive look at the data later.