Ontario Wind Production 2015

The IESO has released their year end 2015 numbers about Ontario electricity generation mix.

The remarkable thing that is happening in Ontario is that we continue to decrease demand for electricity. Last year, demand fell by 2%. We are 12% below what we consumed in 2005. And I don’t think that decrease is all weather related. If you recall, the winter of 2015 was one of the coldest on record, so heating load would have been high. Summer was cool, but winter heating demand tends to be more sustained, rather than just a sharp several hour peak for summer cooling.

The result of this decrease in demand is that we increased our exports. Last year we exported 12% of our production, up from 10% the year earlier.

As in the past, the IESO numbers do not include any generation that is connected to the distribution instead of the high voltage transmission system. Since wind and solar are often connected to the distribution system, but gas and nuclear never are, the IESO data consistently understates the contribution of renewable energy to Ontario’s electricity supply. I heard a report on CP24 that reference the IESO news release, and they said that wind contributed “only 6% to supply”. The IESO also reports their percentages on total generation, rather than Ontario demand.

There are 484 MW of wind in Ontario’s distribution system. CanWEA says that Ontario has 4,361 MW installed. So the IESO is missing 12% of Ontario’s wind production. If you add 12% to their number, wind contributed 10.08 TWh, which is 7.4% of Ontario demand of 136.9 TWh. This is up 31% over last year.

By way of comparison, gas contributed 15.4 TWh, or about 11% of demand. Ontario has a very low emission grid.

Canada’s nuclear fleet contributes 15% of Canada’s supply. But you never hear the media say “only 15%” of Canada’s supply. So 7.4%, which is half of nuclear’s contribution to the whole country, is indeed significant.

Most of Ontario’s solar is connected to distribution, and so is not reported by the IESO. As of Q3, there was 1766 MW of solar connected to distribution. Based on the production from my own panels, I would estimate these produced 3 TWh, or 2.2% of demand. The IESO recognizes the contribution of distribution connected wind and solar as lower demand, so a significant part – around 3% – of the 12% reduction in demand that they have seen in the past 10 years is actually generation.

So total contribution to demand made by the new renewables is 9.6%. 2016 will surely be better, as much of the wind and solar installed in 2015 contributed only for a partial year, and there are some additions that will be built this year.

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