Modest impact on Ontario system

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The integration of 2000 MW of new wind energy capacity on Ontario's power grid will require only modest increases in the system's load following requirements, says a new study funded by a group of wind developers in the province.

The study, conducted by AWS Truewind of New York, used a year's worth of wind data from 17 project sites being developed by six different wind power companies and compares it with load data supplied by Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) for the same time period. The resulting analysis, says the Canadian Wind Energy Association, "Clearly suggests that the addition of 2000 MW of new wind energy capacity in Ontario is manageable."

The study found that wind energy production in Ontario is well matched with winter peak loads, giving wind a capacity value of about 47% during the winter months. That value drops to about 19% in summer, when wind output is less well matched with load. But overall, the study says, the capacity value of wind on the Ontario system is an estimated 37-40%.

The study also found the variability of wind's output would not require a significant increase in the amount of generation that is held in reserve to follow fluctuations in customer demand. With 2000 MW of wind, it says, the additional load following capability required ranges from about 20 MW to 146 MW, depending on the time frame under which the system must respond and on the season. Requirements are higher in the summer, when there is a greater tendency for loads to increase and winds to drop off at the same time.

Having production facilities spread out geographically, the study adds, moderates the impact of wind's variability. It found that the combination of output from all 17 sites is about 60-70% less variable, on a ten-minute or one-hour time frame, than the output from a single site. "Since the diversity benefit increases with greater distance between projects, it is in the IESO's interest to encourage the development of wind in different areas of the province," the researchers conclude.

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