How did Alberta wind up going through blackouts within the excessive chilly? • Watts Up With That?

Essay by Eric Worrall

h/t cedarsand: “… at this time of year, we don’t have any solar power … Over the last couple of days, the wind has dropped off dramatically. …”

How did Alberta wind up facing blackouts in the extreme cold? A Q and A with AESO

Author of the article:
Jonny Wakefield
Published Jan 14, 2024 

We hit the demand peak on Thursday and it looked like we were going to be fine, there was no indication that we were going to be in a situation where we might have to shed load like we did last night. Suddenly 48 hours later, there’s warnings of potential brownouts and blackouts. I’m wondering how we got from a fairly stable situation on Thursday to what we experienced last night and might experience again this evening? 

With the extreme cold, we are seeing very, very high demand. We set an all-time record Thursday night, 12,384 megawatts. The key difference — and there’s never one single factor that puts us into a grid alert — it’s the extreme cold, we’ve had reduced imports and very little wind. And of course, when we get into the peak period from 4-7 p.m., at this time of year, we don’t have any solar power. So on Thursday, we were in a bit better situation, because we had strong wind, we had 1,200 megawatts approximately throughout the peak period from four to seven. So that really made a difference. Over the last couple of days, the wind has dropped off dramatically. We’ve also had a couple of natural gas plants, one is offline, and one is operating at reduced capacity.

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State politicians were quick to point the main weak link was renewable energy.

Premiers pan green-energy plans as cold weather strains Alberta’s electricity grid

Rob Drinkwater
Published Jan. 15, 2024 3:47 p.m. AEST


“Right now, wind is generating almost no power. When renewables are unreliable, as they are now, natural gas plants must increase capacity to keep Albertans safe,” Alberta Premier Danielle Smith posted on social media Friday, shortly after the province’s grid operator issued an appeal for consumers to conserve electricity to protect the system.

A day later, following a second grid alert that warned of potential rotating blackouts, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe posted that surplus power it was sending Alberta’s way was coming from natural gas and coal-fired power plants.

The ones the Trudeau government is telling us to shut down (which we won’t),” Moe said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

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Wake up Canada. No amount of renewable capacity can save you, when wind and solar both fail at the same time. The only reason the Alberta grid clung to life during the wind fail is coal and gas power, from Alberta and Saskatchewan – power plants which the Federal Government is pressuring Saskatchewan to close.

Those who continue to support Prime Minister Trudeau’s reckless crusade against reliable energy, the blood of your friends and neighbours will be on your hands.

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