Questions & Answers

David A. Johnson, Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, at the University of Waterloo

Is wind-generated power cost competitive with oil-generated power in Moosonee, ON?

Answer 1: Hello, I’m Dr. David A. Johnson (pictured), Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, at the University of Waterloo. I will provide an answer to the question: “Is wind generated power cost competitive with oil generated power in Moosonee, ON?

I have two responses for this question. Moosonee itself is connected to the electrical grid like the rest of more southern parts of Ontario and, therefore, has similar opportunities for wind generated power where the amount of wind (the wind resource) and the costs of turbine installation will drive the installation of wind turbines in that area. Since turbine installation costs and transportation would be high in Moosonee it may be more economical to place the turbines in other locations. The more challenging and unique opportunities for Ontario would be in providing wind generated power to the numerous communities across northern Ontario that are not connected to the “Grid” and do depend on diesel oil generated electricity.

Our Wind Energy Group at the University of Waterloo has a wind turbine at a remote fly-in community of Kasabonika Lake First Nation, Ontario. Kasabonika Lake FN, like many remote communities in northern Ontario, is not connected to the “grid” and depends solely on diesel fuel based generators that require significant quantities of diesel fuel transported to them on winter roads or flown in. In these locations the real cost of energy is many times more than in more southern parts of Ontario. Here, using wind generated electricity is currently very competitive with diesel-based electrical generation and will not subject the community to future increases in the costs of diesel fuel and transportation as well as preserving a sensitive environment from diesel fuel exhaust.

Our project in Kasabonika Lake FN, and its twin turbine at the University of Waterloo are being used to lead the way in demonstrating the advantages and opportunities of wind energy research in these remote locations.

Answer 2: My name is Dean Millar from Laurentian University, and I'll be answering the question. "Is wind generated power cost competitive with oil generated power in Moosonee, ON?"

Wind resource at shorelines of James Bay and Hudson Bay are the top ranked in Ontario.

Current diesel prices at $1.30 means that the cost of generating from diesel is $360/MWh or greater in remote areas where diesel has to be trucked in during winter and this makes wind look really good. However Moosonee is grid connected, so the cost of power should be down around $120/MWh. But for the straight trade off between diesel and wind, wind will win there. The most sensible thing to do is to run the two systems together for resilience.

Answer 3: My name is Henry Schriemer from the University of Ottawa, and I'll be answering the question. "Is wind generated power cost competitive with oil generated power in Moosonee, ON?"

Mean wind speeds (at 50 m elevation) in the Moosonee region are very high, about 7 to 8 m/s on land (a bit higher in the bay). This is very good, higher than in the Dakotas (USA), so in principal wind power would be MORE THAN cost competitive with oil (diesel), especially as the latter has to be shipped in by rail. However, the local electricity grid is probably not capable of accommodating the variability in power generation without other forms of backup power or storage. One would need the input of the Ontario Power Authority, but a combined wind/diesel/storage system would appear to make economic sense.

Solar also appears quite good - but not in the winter! Definitely could be part of the mix.

Answer 4: My name is Rupp Carriveau from the University of Windsor, and I'll be answering the question. "Is wind generated power cost competitive with oil generated power in Moosonee, ON?"

That's a really tough one to answer without more information. Are they really using Oil directly to generate power? - this is very uncommon - and subsequently, there will be very little data on its cost. A more typical comparison is Wind VS Natural Gas. Circa 2012 numbers Natural Gas Levelized Cost for a Conventional Gas Fired Facility is about $120USD/MWh and about $66USD/MWh for Combined Cycle Gas (more advanced). Wind was sitting at about $80USD/MWh in 2012 - more recently people have this number down to $60USD/MWh.

Answer 5: My name is Jose Etcheverry from York University, and I'll be answering the question, "Is wind generated power cost competitive with oil generated power in Moosonee, ON?"

This is a very tricky question to answer briefly particularly without having detailed multi-year data about wind patterns in and around Moosonee.

Here is a simple explanation...

If you burn two barrels of oil to generate electricity that will provide you about 1,000 kWh.

Two barrels of oil will cost you about $200, which means each kWh will cost 20 cents per kWh.

At the moment in Ontario the FIT program pays for wind projects 11.5 cents per kWH.

Therefore wind power generation can be very cost effective in areas with good wind regimes in Ontario.

Please note that the above price of kWh for diesel does not include fuel transportation costs nor the price of paying for a diesel generator.

Of course this is a simple calculation to illustrate the potential competitiveness of wind power.

However, a more precise calculation can be obtained by using RETScreen which is available free of charge at www.retscreen.net<http://www.retscreen.net/>

To keep this brief...burning diesel is already an expensive (and dirty) proposition that will only continue to increase in cost as time passes and therefore analyzing the wind regime in our around Moosonee is a crucial first step to determine if wind generation is possible there.

There are many other technological considerations but I am trying to keep this brief.

So my answer is yes, wind power can be very competitive versus diesel --if-- the local wind regime is favourable.

Answer 6: Hi, my name is Daniel Hoornweg,  Associate Professor and Jeff Boyce Research Chair, Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science, UOIT. I'll be answering the question, "Is wind generated power cost competitive with oil generated power in Moosonee, ON?"

The short answer is yes, very cost competitive. When the wind blows.

The longer answer is what to do when the wind doesn't blow, or doesn't blow hard enough. There are a few environmental impacts associated with wind that need to be looked at; mainly birds, bats and butterflies, but generally in Moosonee, environmental preference would likely go to wind (over oil). There's also the question of how many wind turbines would be needed for a community of 3500 and social acceptance of these, and cost - which would, for now, be in addition to a fully functioning system needed for when the wind doesn't blow. The 'holy grail' of energy is now storage, which would make wind highly attractive (environmentally and economically). In the meantime oil/diesel is the fuel of choice since generators are straight forward and power demands in Moosonee relatively modest.

I would also add a post script as an 'energy systems' school in that engineers tend to get in trouble when we say one technology is better than the other. What's needed is an integrated approach where a bit of wind, oil/diesel (and/or maybe natural gas), solar and biofuels are used together. 'Horses for courses' with as many horses as possible. With the first priority on conservation. A small wind turbine hooked up to a battery would be a great place to start today in Moosonee. Moosonee is a unique community in that it's energy system needs to be redundant (available when there's no wind or sun) and fully independent (no large scale grid available). These are all important attributes that make Moosonee's energy system important for lessons of replicability in other isolated communities in Canada and around the world.

 

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