From the National Post:
In May, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) announced that the province's grid could not safely accommodate more than 900 megawatts of wind-power generation, a target that will be met late next year. Proposals for 3,000 more MW of production have been thrown into indefinite limbo at an estimated cost to producers of $6-billion; meanwhile, the province is already spending $1-billion to strengthen the transmission system so that even the 900-MW cap can be reached. In Ontario, meanwhile, the grid operator warned late last month that 5,000 MW -- about one-fifth of the province's current peak consumption -- is probably the absolute technological limit. (A total of 1,280 MW of wind capacity is already in operation or being built.)Now that last part is a surprise. Then again, the overarching problem is something California apparently shares with Canada.
It is starting to look as though wind cannot meet more than a fraction of our energy demand even if other issues with the technology, like esthetics and wildlife impacts, are ignored. The problem, as engineers skeptical of wind power have been yelping for decades, is that power usage and production constantly have to be balanced in an electrical grid. Adding too much unstable, unpredictable power to the system creates a risk of failure and cascading blackouts. In fact, the EU is investigating the possible role of Germany's heavy wind-dependence in causing a Nov. 6 blackout that hit 10 million Europeans.
JANUARY 4, 2007 UPDATE: Greetings to readers of GlobalSpec, we're glad you're here.
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