Alberta wind farms nearly ground to halt... again

According to Alberta's energy grid data, wind and solar power production fell sharply Monday to 29 megawatts (MW) — less than 1% of the province's total energy capacity.

Alberta wind farms nearly ground to halt... again
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Pipeline Online reported Alberta's energy output from wind plummeted to 0.8% capacity, with 29 MW generated just after midnight.

Alberta wind farms can produce 3,618 megawatts at total capacity and have dwindled as of late. 

On the evening of February 23, extreme cold weather nearly slowed wind farms across the province, tanking to between 11 and 20 megawatts (0.3%) with 31 turbines not operational.

"At this point, the business case behind using solar and wind power is often very weak because these two sources of power are often unreliable — the sun doesn't always shine, and the wind doesn't always blow," Colin Craig, president of, told True North

In late February, energy production declined partly due to the frigid weather that swept across Alberta, forcing the province's electrical grid to rely on fossil fuels, with 91.3% of the energy produced from that source. Below -30° C temperatures, wind turbines hibernate and are susceptible to breaking.

"Wind is at 0.4% of capacity and produces 0.1% of total generation, while solar is at 33.2% of capacity and 3.61% of total generation. At the same time, we are importing 811 MW or 7%," tweeted Reliable AB Energy, which tracks Alberta's energy grid. 

Despite the unreliability of wind farms to sustain Alberta's energy crunch, TransAlta Corporation intends to build another wind power plant in Cardston County with up to 50 operational turbines.

Saskatchewan's energy regulator SaskPower also seeks to expand its solar and wind energy capacity by 3,000 MW. However, Craig recommended the province observe its Prairie neighbour Manitoba, which has abundant hydroelectricity. 

"If the Saskatchewan government is looking at solar and wind power to reduce emissions, then building more ties with Manitoba might make sense as the latter has access to relatively clean hydropower," said Craig. 

"Alternatively, small modular nuclear reactors are another exciting clean energy source coming on stream. There may be ways the Sask. government could cut red tape to help speed development of the latter up."

In Alberta, the proposed Riplinger Wind Power Project ruffled some feathers, with residents citing poor planning and communication from the company. They lament that the project would disrupt local businesses and wildlife.

"There is inherent value in wild spaces, and we have far too few intact landscapes left, and this is one of them," said resident Julia Palmer, who adds there is value in wind power, but not at the suggested location.

"There is inherent value in wild spaces, and we have far too few intact landscapes left, and this is one of them," she said.

"TransAlta has secured all the lands necessary for the project, completed the suite of environmental studies required by Alberta Environment and Protected Areas, preliminary geotechnical surveys, preliminary engineering, and is on track for applying for Permit & License to the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) in Q2 or Q3 2023," reads a statement from TransAlta.

The company expects AUC approval sometime in 2024, with the facility coming online in late 2025. TransAlta is currently in the "mid-stage" of the project.

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