Paul Kuster — Special to Quixotes – July 17, 2013
I’ve been reading over and over again the story out of India where they require the wind power suppliers to supply next-day forecasts to grid operators. The idea of course is to give the grid operators a chance to balance the power generators outputs to better match demand requirements. This helps to prevent power overloads and black-outs. The wind and solar generators have a 30% plus or minus range every 15 minutes in predicting their outputs or face fines. Read the story here — http://quixoteslaststand.com/2013/07/16/india-nails-the-wind-industry-to-the-wall-brilliant-this-is-absolutely-brilliant/
So let’s have a look and see how this policy might work in Ontario.
For sake of argument and numbers let’s look at the Melancthon development that comes in at 200mw of installed nameplate capacity. So what will wind power bring tomorrow? Remember, the India model requires estimates on output every 15 minutes. The IESO site reports hourly so lets go with that.
Here’s the actual reported values for April 6/13
So how would you predict output given the volatility as shown?
Remember , you’ve got a 30% range plus or minus to get it right. The data shows at hour 9 you’ve got 9mw. At hour 10, 22mw which puts you well outside of your 30% range. Still keep in mind, India requires you predict, even with your 30% grace, every 15 minutes.
Again, look at hour 20 to hour 21. Instead of looking at jumps in output, look at falls in output. Consider hour 4 to hour 5 which would be a worse scenario for wind turbine operators. Feel like predicting all this the day before? Even a seasoned meteorologist would balk at this job. Lets look at another time of year that is historically less volatile.
Here’s the actual reported values for June 28/13
Again , even at the most least volatile time of year the variations hour to hour can still be beyond the 30% range. These variations, if not predicted somewhat accurately can result in fines as mandated by the India model. Could, or more importantly would Ontario adopt such a policy?
What would this all mean for a wind turbine operator in Ontario? Instead of the IESO having to jump through hoops in order to deal with this ” nuisance” power, wind companies would have to be made more accountable for their product and more honest as well.
Take a prediction of 50mw. Not unreasonable given the data from Melancthon. If an installation was verging on generating beyond their 30% range (65mw), they’d have to shut down some turbines to stay within their predicted range and lose money. If generation falls below the 30% range (35mw) with no way to stop it from falling further, the fines start to kick in, cutting into the bottom line. This gets trickier as the output prediction lowers (10mw prediction gives you a range of 7mw to 13mw). This alone illustrates how fickle wind can be.
But why pick on wind. Let’s apply this standard to all forms of generation. Let’s look at Bruce nuclear and let’s see if they too would be quaking in their “Wellies” at such a policy. When asked to predict their output, nuclear has the added benefit of asking back , “How much would you like?”
Well, lets say Ontario demand necessitates the IESO asking for whatever Unit 1 at Bruce A can give. The capability is 765mw. Keeping in mind the Melancthon project is just 200mw nameplate. Bruce Power could predict an output of say, 750mw. As I write this, Unit 1 is producing – get this – 765mw. Looking at the other units, they’re running as close to full capability as a reasonable margin of error would allow.
Let’s look at the other forms of generation. It’s essentially the same for gas, hydro, and when necessary coal. The added benefit to these more flexible forms, is not only how much could be asked of them, but when would it be desired! Predictions would be redundant as requests for power would be based on capability and these requests only a require a reasonable (hours) lead-time.
It’s interesting to note that wind power could never match these benefits of conventional generation. The squealing from the wind industry would prove to be fairly telling as those who operate the other forms of generation would have no problem with the policy India is implementing.
I’ve just pointed out a few of the consequences that jump to mind of this Indian policy to wind and compare it to the other forms of generation. I invite all those who can think of more consequences that this policy would generate to post those thoughts.