Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weekly Wind Report

So, I have one question for wind advocates. In Ontario, with a total installed 'theoretical' capacity of 1085 MW, for a one hour period, you couldn't scrap together more than 2 MW of output. That's pathetic.

A nuclear reactor or a coal fired power plant may shut off for repairs but its generally predictable when it will occur and for how long. When they are operating, they can operate consistently (if desired) until they need to be shut down for repairs again. A wind turbine also needs to be shut down for repairs sometimes, but in addition to that, it cannot provide electricity when you want it to.

Would increasing the number of wind turbines solve this problem? I doubt it. The problem is twofold, sure the wind might always be blowing somewhere in Ontario, but if it is blowing far up north in the James Bay area the transmission costs to get the electricity down to where it is useful are tremendous and reduce their usefulness (and increase the costs). Beyond that, just because it might be blowing, doesn't mean its blowing fast enough or slow enough to be used, there is a limited range of wind speeds in which windpower can be useful.

Capacity Factor: 20.29%
Minimum Output: 2 MW
Maximum Output: 489 MW

Figure 1: March 2nd - 9th, Actual Wind Power (source: www.ieso.ca)

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