Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Minnesota Wind To Be Stored By Manitoba Hydro

This is another terrific cross-post from Glen Estill
January 31, 2012
Glen Estill

An interesting story crossed my screen this morning. Minnesota is going to buy electricity from Manitoba’s hydroelectric system. Part of the agreement allows them to send energy from Minnesota wind north to Manitoba, to allow Manitoba to store that energy behind their power dams.

Minnesota is one of the leading States in supplying their power from wind. Minnesota has over 2700 MW of wind capacity, much of it located on the Buffalo Ridge in the south west corner of the state. They have almost double the installed capacity of Ontario, and their total consumption is a little over 40% of Ontario’s. So they get a lot more of their power from wind than we do – more than 4 times as a percentage of supply. They have been doing it longer, so they have more experience integrating it with other power sources. And that is why this agreement is significant. They realize that one of the least cost ways of storing is to use existing hydro dams.

The agreement calls for the purchase of 250 MW of electricity from water power for 15 years, beginning in 2020. And it allows Minnesota to export power when they have surplus from their wind facilities.

Ontario also borders Manitoba. But Manitoba is a long way from Ontario’s big load centers. It is costly to use Manitoba to store our wind energy during times of surplus, at least if new transmission needs to be built. Ontario has only small connections to Manitoba today. Ontario can use its own hydro resources to store a lot of wind today, but in times of surplus, it would make the most sense for Ontario to use the existing storage available in Quebec. They have multi year storage capability. Even better, the Province of Quebec is a winter peaking jurisdiction, exactly when the wind is strongest. Quebec could use Ontario’s wind when their water flows are lowest, saving energy behind their dams, to sell back to us when Ontario’s summer peaks occur. This would use existing power dams, and existing transmission – we have over 2000 MW of connection to Quebec already. This is enough to transmit all of Ontario’s wind production, should it all be in surplus at any point.

It is time for the government or the IESO to begin the discussion.