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Alberta wind: some numbers

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  • Alberta wind: some numbers

    Thanks for Fiat_Currency for pointers to where the data was:

    This is very interesting because it is a 5 year (2004-2009) listing of wind performance in 10 minute intervals.

    The good news:

    Capacity factor overall for the 2004-2009 period was 32.49%. This is well above industry averages and shows Alberta is a better than average location for wind electricity generation.

    This was for wind electricity generation capacity being an overall 4.92% of total load over the entire period; less in the beginning but ramping to over 6% by 2009.

    The bad news:

    Actual percentage of load actually supplied by wind: 1.60%
    This is despite being nearly 5% of load.

    Looking at the breakdown of wind power generation (the data is in 10 minute increments):

    Percent of time in which wind was generating < X percent of capacity:

    <5% 26.01%
    <10% 35.52%
    <20% 47.47%
    <50% 69.89%
    So in nearly half the surveyed 5 years, the wind turbines were generating less than 20% of rated capacity.

    Given that the maximum capacity is around 490 MW, we're talking a full coal or natural gas plant as backup were said wind turbines part of 'core' capacity.

    As it is, since they only contribute 1.6% of total power and less than 5% of total possible capacity, the variability is not a factor.

    The data makes no mention of costs.

    Some notes on methodology: The data also does not actually mention what the installed total wind capacity is. However, I divided the data into yearly increments and used the highest value in any given year as rated capacity. This would make the results pessimistic as capacity is brought on line in a given year, but would be optimistic for breakdowns and outages. Overall likely some pessimism.

    I can send the data file to anyone interested - PM me.

    It is over 10 megabytes so won't fit on the server as is.

  • #2
    Re: Alberta wind: some numbers

    Obviously it doesn't take c1ue very long to crunch data

    For further context ... you can get Alberta generation stats here ...

    ... where you'll see that wind generation is a distant 4th (MW) ...

    Coal - 8185
    Gas - 5218
    Hydro - 900
    Wind - 805

    ... on a total of 13,535 MW making wind ~6% of total generation capacity.

    While most people hate coal - Alberta has about 37 billion tons of reserves, and it accounts for 59% of total generation (2008 data). Ironically, there are some rather large coal operations not very far from all those wind farms.