Ontario to add Solar Power Plant to Electric Grid that will Power up to 180 Homes

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 1st, 2012

Week in Review

Ontario is going green.  They’re shutting down parts of one of the largest coal-fired power plants in North America.  Nanticoke Generating Station.  Refitting this plant to burn natural gas and biomass.  But the ‘feeling good’ doesn’t end there.  They are also installing solar power plants.  To feel even better about their part in saving the planet (see Canadian Solar sells solar power plant for $48 million posted 8/27/2012 on EDI).

Canadian Solar Inc. has sold a utility-scale solar power plant to Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners for approximately $48 million. Canadian Solar was the developer, EPC and construction financier for the project. The solar power plant can provide enough renewable energy to power more than 1,200 homes in eastern Ontario near the town of Napanee.

Assuming each house has an electric service of 100 amps at 240 volts that comes to about 28.8 megawatts.  With a capacity factor (actual power output divided by nameplate rating over a period of time) of 15% for solar power that plant will produce only about 4.32 megawatts of useable power.  Which reduces the number of homes it will be able to power from 1,200 to 180.  For no matter how many solar modules you install in a power plant none of them will produce power when the sun doesn’t shine.  Such as during the night.  On cloudy days.  Rainy days.  Snowy days.  Or days with lots of birds pooping on the solar modules.

Now compare that to the Nanticoke Generating Station in Nanticoke, Ontario.  A coal-fired power plant that could produce 3,964 megawatts with all of its units fired.  With a capacity factor of about 90% for coal (they only shut down for periodic maintenance) that comes to 3,324.6 megawatts of useful, dependable power.  Power that will always be there to light your home.  Cook your food.  Run your air conditioner.  And power any of your home medical devices.

The 4.32 megawatts of solar power is but 0.13% of what the Nanticoke Generating Station can provide.  To match the useable output of the Nanticoke Generating Station you would need to build an additional 769 of these solar power plants.  Costing another $36.9 billion.  To equal the output of three Nanticoke Generating Stations would cost over $1 trillion.  Making solar power not an alternative to coal but a deep hole to throw money into.  Which is a strange thing to do just to feel good.

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People don’t want Costly, Inefficient and Noisy Wind-Generated Power forced on them in Ontario

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 22nd, 2012

Week in Review

Ontario is putting up wind farms in rural communities.  And the people in those communities are very unhappy about it (see Ontario farm group urges halt to wind power development by Richard Blackwell posted 1/20/2012 on The Globe and Mail).

Ontario’s largest farm organization has called for a moratorium on wind power development in the province, saying there are too many unanswered questions about its value, and that the debate over turbines is polarizing rural communities.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, which represents more than 38,000 farmers in the province, said Friday that no more wind turbines should be built until a number of issues are dealt with.

First, some of the planning for wind farms should be returned to municipalities, the OFA said. Under the province’s Green Energy Act, municipalities have very little say in the decisions where turbines will be built.

Health and noise complaints also need to be addressed, the OFA said, and more study has to be done to ensure that the current minimum 550 metre “setback” from houses is sufficient.

People living close to these turbines complain about the noise and vibrations.  Can’t sleep.  Some even getting sick.  And when they sell their houses they have to disclose these health problems lest they be sued by the new owners.  When they can sell, that is.  It’s so good to be green.  People feel good about going green.  That they’re doing their part for the environment.  As long as they do their part in someone else’s backyard.  Because the people who are unlucky enough to live by these turbines are seeing their property values plummet.  Because people don’t want to live by these windmills.  Because they’re big and noisy.  And won’t let you sleep.

There needs to be more work done to allow the electricity generated from turbines to be stored, the federation said, because the power is currently often sold at a loss on export markets when it is not being generated at times of peak usage…

Ontario has installed about 2,000 megawatts of wind power capacity, by far the most of any Canadian province. Development has been accelerated by the Green Energy Act, under which the province pays premium rates for electricity produced by renewable power projects.

And if the health problems and declining property values weren’t enough these windmills are also inefficient.  Producing electricity during off-peak times.  So to make them efficient will require a massive investment in energy storage facilities.  Consisting of electrical rectifiers, batteries and inverters.  To convert the AC generated power to DC so it can be stored in batteries.  And then converted back into AC when sold on the grid during peak demand.

It sure is a lot of trouble for some 2,000 megawatts of wind-generated electricity.  But the wind doesn’t blow all of the time.  And it isn’t constant when it does blow.  Which is why we rate wind-generation with a capacity factor.  A percentage of the nameplate value.  These factors range from 20-40%.  Which means this 2,000 megawatts of wind-generated electricity is more like 400-800 megawatts.  Not a lot, is it?  By contrast the Nanticoke Generating Station in southern Ontario has a rated capacity of 3,964 MW.  And all you need to get that capacity is to turn the plant on and feed it fossil fuels.

The Nanticoke Generating Station is one facility.  Where it can be managed.  And its emissions can be scrubbed.  Wind turbines, on the other hand, come in small sizes.  They can’t be too big because they sit on top of a pole.  The turbines at the 181.5 MW Enbridge Ontario Wind Farm in Bruce County, Ontario, have a nameplate rating of 1,650 kilowatts each.  Which is why they need 110 of them for that 181.5 MW rating.  Which is more like 36-73 megawatts when factoring in the capacity factor.  Again, not a lot for all of the trouble they cause.  Which begs the question are they worth it?  From an economic standpoint the answer couldn’t be more ‘no’.  They’re very bad economics.  And people hate living by them.  So are they worth it?  It sure doesn’t look like it.

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