September Production Update

Fall winds came early this year. The original V80 in Ferndale had its most productive September since it was erected in 2002, at 394,616 kWh. The new turbines our performed the original coming in at 412,000 kWh apeice. The wind farm produced some power 82% of the time.
The capacity factor came in at a respectable 33%. The turbines performed flawlessly, with 100% availability. There is quite a bit of scheduled maintenance coming in October. It will be good to get that done before the snow flies.

The productivity of northern wind farms was much greater than southern wind farms. Prince, near Sault Ste. Marie had the highest capacity factor at 36%, followed by Ferndale’s 33%, Kingsbridge 28%, Amaranth 25%, and Port Burwell’s 11%. I suspect that Port Burwell had some major outages, as there were times it was not producing even when winds in Port Burwell seemed to be good. Or perhaps the metering data is wrong.
Another way of measuring the productivity of a wind farm is output per square meter of swept area. This is probably a better way of measuring than capacity factor, as it neutralizes the differences in hardware (different models of wind turbines will have different production in the same wind regime, and capacity factor is a function of the generator’s capacity). The wind turbines at Prince, Amaranth, and Port Burwell are all the same – GE 1.5 MW machines, which have a rotor diameter of 77m. Kingsbridge uses 1.8 MW V80’s, with an 80 m rotor diameter. And Ferndale uses 1 1.8 MW V80, and 2 1.65 MW V82’s. Based on this measure, Prince produced 83 KWh/m2, Ferndale produced 78, Kingsbridge was 72, Amaranth was 57, and Port Burwell was 26.

Another way of looking at it is what was the average spot price for the wind farm when it was producing, and was this below, equal, or above the average spot price for the market. If it is below average, then the wind farm is producing when the power is less needed. If it is above average, then the wind farm is producing when the power is needed. There are two average spot prices published by the IESO – the average hourly spot price, and the weighted average spot price. The weighted average gives greater weight to hours of high consumption in the province.

In September, the average spot price was 4.463 cents/kWh. The average weighted spot price is always higher, as higher demand drives higher prices. In September, the average weighted spot price was a very low 4.757 cents/kWh – the nukes were working, and demand light. The average spot price for Ferndale was 4.5887 cents/kWh – roughly between the average spot price, and the weighted average spot price. This pattern has been consistent with Ferndale since it started. It means that Ferndale’s winds tend to produce a bit more when prices are higher, but it doesn’t quite match the load. It would also mean that the energy from Ferndale is worth more than energy from baseload plants like nuclear that run at the same output all the time. This matching of winds with power prices is important, and should be considered by the OPA and the IESO when assessing the value of a particular wind farm to the electricity system. I haven’t done this calculation for the rest of Ontario’s wind farms, but I hope somebody at the OPA has done so.

If you want to do the calculations, Sygration has the production and price data for the 4 large wind farms in the province. Have fun!

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