02 November 2012

Windy #nlpoli

Anyone with half a clue knows that you cannot develop a reliable, efficient electricity system built on type of generation only.

You need a mix so that the advantages of one type offset the weaknesses of another.  All hydro is hard to do if you need steady supply because it tends to vary with the water flow.  Wind is even worse for that.  Oil and coal are good for steady supplies but they tend to be expensive, dirty or both.  Natural gas is very cool, especially these days, because not only is there lots of it but it is very inexpensive and can deliver electricity pretty much on demand. 

Only in Newfoundland and Labrador do we have access to trillions of cubic feet of natural gas already found, trillions more likely to be discovered, and a provincial government that doesn’t want to develop it because the natural gas is not expensive enough to use. 

So then they look at all sorts of other import scenarios and the thing gets farcical.

But that, as they say is another story.

Let’s look at the recent report on wind generation issued by the provincial government as part of its ex post facto rationalization campaign for Muskrat Falls.  They came up with a completely preposterous scenario – 75% of electricity from wind – and only in an isolated island scenario and pronounced the idea silly

Well, of course, something that is silly on the face of it is silly.  Garbage in.  Garbage Out, as they say. Just remember:  Nalcor did not ask any of its consultants to design a generation system or challenge Nalcor’s fundamental assumptions about Muskrat Falls.  

Meanwhile, in Prince Edward Island, they are actually making money from wind generation even though the city of Summerside is losing money on exporting electricity.  It’s an interesting study in contrasts. 



doconnor said...

Manitoba and, I think, Quebec rely almost entirely on hydro.

While hydro can vary with water flow, the variations are year to year because of the large amount of water held by the dams. That gives you plenty of time to make adjustments. In Manitoba's and Quebec's case they can just reduce exports.

Wind varies from hour to hour which means you need backup power at the ready at all times.

Edward Hollett said...

The key point here at the start is that the Nalcor/prov gov scenario was preposterous.



From the start.

Water flows can vary month to month and year to year. It is less variable than wind.

You can also offset wind with other wind if you space the fields far enough apart and balance them off against each other.

doconnor said...

For a large river with a huge reservoir, the Muskrat Falls would have variations from year to year.

You suggested alternative of natural gas causes global warming. Eliminating greenhouse gas emissions for electricity generation should be number one on our list.

Edward Hollett said...

Muskrat Falls doesn't have a reservoir. It's a run of river facility with limited ability to influence water flows.

NG would significantly reduce the GHG emissions from the current status and in a province that is already a huge hydro generator, the relatively small amount of NG involved in replacing Holyrood is good, not bad as you present it.

Besides, the MF plan includes the installation of more thermal from oil than we currently have at Holyrood. MF isn't as green as some people claim.

doconnor said...

Muskrat Falls is on the Churchill river which is headed by the Smallwood Reservoir.

Edward Hollett said...

And the Smallwood reservoir supports Churchill Falls.

Muskrat Falls is a run of river plant with no reservoir of its own.

doconnor said...

Same river, same water, same support.

Edward Hollett said...

Smallwood Reservoir isn't managed to feed Muskrat falls.