2014 Ontario Wind Output Sets Record, Exceeds 5%

Ontario’s build out of wind capacity continues to increase the output of Ontario’s wind farms. The output rose from 5.9 TWh to 7.7 TWh, an increase of 30%. Wind supplied about 5.5% of Ontario’s electricity demand.

The IESO will report a different number than this, if past history repeats. They don’t include output from “embedded” wind, which is basically all the wind farms under 10 MW.

The output of large wind farms (>10 MW) was 6,776,118 MWh, (source: Sygration). The total capacity of large wind farms is 2737 MW, up 27% from 2148 last year. And the total capacity of embedded wind is 391 MW. If the output of smaller wind farms is equal per MW installed (a reasonable assumption), then output from wind increases to 7,745,103 MWh, or 7.7 TWh.

Ontario’s demand for electricity has been fairly flat. While we had a brutally cold Q1, with higher heating load, our summer was moderate. I estimate demand at 141 TWh, so wind produced 5.5% of Ontario demand. The IESO typically compares the output of a resource to total production, which includes net exports, instead of comparing it to demand. We exported a lot this year, so this, combined with not counting the small wind farms, will result in different numbers from them.

The average capacity factor of Ontario’s large wind farms operating for at least 1 year was 34.1%, up from 33% last year. It was likely a slightly windier year, but also today’s newer wind turbines have higher capacity factors, due to bigger blades, and taller tower that catch more wind. The highest capacity factor was Port Alma, at 38.7%.

This year, the IESO added the capability to curtail large wind farms during times when we didn’t need the supply. There is no doubt that this occurred in 2014, but it is difficult to quantify. In Q3 of 2016, the Darlington and Bruce refurbs are scheduled to start, with will remove 1700 MW of nuclear supply, and the incidence of surplus will diminish greatly. The times of surplus will disappear altogether when the 3000 MW Pickering nuclear plant closes in 2020. Of course it is far better to add new supply before it is needed, rather than after.

Much of Ontario’s new wind capacity was added later in the year, and so it only had a partial year of output. This makes it likely that wind output will set new records next year as well.

Wind continues to contribute an increasing supply of power to Ontario.

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