According to the Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator, reducing wind power output during now common surplus supply conditions will save megatonnes of CO2 emissions. Not only will cutting wind power cut emissions but consumers will save millions of dollars too. Consumers save despite Ontario wind generators getting paid for power they could have produced when consumers can’t use their power.
The root cause for these counter intuitive results is that wind power’s production characteristics are mostly out of sync with consumer needs. Given the production and demand characteristics of the rest of Ontario’s power system, wind power has grown to the point where it has become toxic to the system.
According to the IESO’s analysis, new rules that would allow the IESO to order wind generators to cut production during surplus power conditions would save $180-225 M and 1.6-2.0 Mt of CO2 per year in 2014 alone.
The context for this analysis is that the IESO is studying how to fix dispatch problems now becoming common on Ontario’s grid as the amount of baseload, must-run, and intermittent generation increases while electricity demand falls. Excess generation like Ontario is developing is widely recognized as a threat to power grid reliability and has been a factor in major grid failures and close calls in several jurisdictions.
While the IESO is studying how to mitigate problems caused by excess wind power, the Ontario government continues to make the situation worse every day through irresponsible procurement of even more wind power.
The compound ramp problem with wind power highlighted in the IESO’s most recent analysis was a prominent feature of technical presentations I made to the IESO in 2008 and 2009.
The most recent Auditor General’s report highlighted the fact that although the Ontario government undertook its green power initiatives for environmental reasons, the government has produced no analysis addressing the effectiveness of the measures taken in achieving emission reductions.