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Windpower Case Study (Why wind energy is unnecessary in resource rich Ontario)

by William Palmer — Master Resource — February 29, 2012

(Note: This case study of Ontario, Canada (one of the least emissions-producing electricity systems in the world), by a veteran energy engineer uses available data to shed light on unfounded claims about industrial wind turbines. Some aspects of the Ontario situation are unique, but many considerations are applicable to all countries/states/provinces.)

“Even while wind was at peak operation, the coal generators served as backup (at low load) to be able to respond rapidly to the anticipated, and actual, drop in wind output that occurred just hours later.”

It has been claimed that industrial wind turbines allow Ontario to shut down coal-fired electrical generating stations. But the facts reveal this to be a myth.

The following graph shows how Ontario has generated its electricity from 1988 to 2011. It presents a pretty clear picture of what happened from an energy point of view, showing the generation sources for each year. Energy is measured in Terra (1012) Watt hours.

In 1988, Ontario was using coal (about 35 TWh per year), hydro (also about 35 TWh per year), and nuclear (about 65 TWh per year). Those sources met the load of about 135 TWh.

In the early 1990s (1992 and 1994, and 1995), Darlington Nuclear generating station came into service. As nuclear output increased to about 92 TWh, the coal generation dropped to about 15 TWh in 1994. Also, a slight recession was causing the Ontario electrical load to drop a bit.

In the latter 1990s, as the economy recovered some, a decision was made to lay up Bruce A and Pickering A nuclear stations, and focus limited resources on bringing the newer “B” stations at Bruce B, Pickering B, and Darlington up to a higher operational level. Nuclear generation dropped to about 60 TWh. Coal picked up the slack, rising back over 40 TWh.

By 2003, nuclear performance was improving, and in 2003 and 2004, 2 nuclear units at Pickering A and 2 more at Bruce A were brought back into service. Nuclear output started to rise, and coal usage fell correspondingly.

Full article including corresponding graphs

William Palmer, an Ontario Licensed Professional Engineer, has been responsible for Operations Performance Assurance at the Ontario Bruce B Nuclear Station and was authorized by the federal regulator as a Nuclear Shift Supervisor.

He is a member of the Canadian Acoustical Association, and the Acoustical Society of America. He has applied his professional experience in the energy industry, as well as education in engineering and risk assessment to a study of the safety of wind turbines.

Palmer has written a number of papers dealing with the subject of wind turbine noise and setbacks; has presented to international conferences, and has been a witness before tribunals, regulators, and legislators regarding wind turbines in Ontario. He has also written on the adverse economic impacts of integrating renewable energy supply into the bulk electrical system.

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