Transmission Allows Wind Storage in Canada

February 4, 2014

Ironically, in light of the State Department’s seal of approval for tar sands oil:

Wind Energy Update:

A pair of utilities, Minnesota Power and Manitoba Hydro, have inked a Renewable Optimisation Agreement (ROA) under which electricity from excess wind produced in North Dakota can be stored in Manitoba’s hydro reservoir when loads and prices are low, with the potential for selling that power back onto the huge United States Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO) market at times when needs are high.

The deal involves the pair building a new 400 mile 500 kV transmission line, with a capacity of 750 megawatts, connecting northeastern Minnesota with Winnipeg, at a cost of $1bn split between the two utilities.

Manitoba Hydro is already an external participant with MISO, as a large hydroelectric system with some of the lowest electricity prices in North America.

“We can act as a rechargeable battery for the MISO market,” says Manitoba Hydro Division Manager of Power Sales and Operations David Cormie. “The arrangement we have with Minnesota Power is that they are going to invest in new transmission in the US, and Manitoba Hydro will invest in the transmission in Canada, and at the same time Manitoba Hydro is going to build new power dams that create more storage capability.”

Manitoba’s 1,000 feet of hydro-electric potential remains only half developed and two new hydro projects with associated storage planned for the Nelson River has created the opportunity for further interconnecting the Manitoba battery to MISO.
“We are able to able to operate our hydro system in a manner that takes energy out of the market when the prices are low, and returns the energy to the market in periods when the prices are high,” Cormie explains.

“But the new storage capability of our hydro system can only be useful if the transmission line capacity to the market gets bigger. So between the storage that Manitoba Hydro is developing and Minnesota Power’s willingness to build new transmission, we in effect are making the battery bigger, enabling more two-way trade in electricity.”

The ROA will allow for the storage of a million megawatt-hours of wind power annually and address another 133 MW of excess energy. But building additional big transmission is the key.

“We need some more north – south transmission,” says Executive VP of Minnesota Power Dave McMillan. “And it needs to be built with the bigger-in-diameter wire, bigger conductors that can convey more power. The 500 kV line will be able to transfer 750 megawatts.”

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61 Responses to “Transmission Allows Wind Storage in Canada”


  1. Replying to https://climatecrocks.com/2014/02/04/transmission-allows-wind-storage-in-canada/comment-page-2/#comment-51197:

    The fact that coal was exempt has long been a clear sign of corrupt politics.

    I suppose you can call the political strength of established industries “corruption”, but the best form of government you can get that sidesteps that problem is technocracy.  (It’s arguable that the “dirigiste” regime of France in the 70’s and 80’s was highly technocratic.  That regime eliminated the French grid’s dependence on imported oil, and in the same stroke effectively de-carbonized it.  That accomplishment has not received proper recognition.)

    A more specific sign of corruption is legal/regulatory creep to strangle competitors of a favored industry.  Rod Adams has a long list of “smoking gun” posts on this very topic.

    Rather than slacken the leash on nuclear

    Why not slacken it?  How do you know that the regulations don’t cost more than the benefits they yield?  Denying people clean energy for a negligible benefit isn’t doing them any favors, especially if they’re burning fossil carbon for the remainder.  These things should be justified on their own merits.  We should be doing everything we can to quantify those merits, too; using known-faulty models of hazard like the linear-no-threshold hypothesis can cause harm, like getting infected with pertussis to avoid a tiny dose of mercury-based preservative in the vaccine.

    the correct thing is to tighten the rules around coal – something that should have been done in the ’70s.

    I’m hoping that the recurrent stories about leaks and even catastrophic floods at coal-ash dumps will accomplish something.  The beauty of nuclear “dumps” is that even in an earthquake, dry casks barely move.

    Can you imagine a natural disaster that would disperse significant amounts of dry-stored nuclear fuel, except a direct asteroid strike?  Even a major lava flow would probably just bury it.

    The impact on the lives of workers, and the environment, even leaving aside CO2 emissions, is truly a mark of shame for the modern world.

    Hansen et al. calculate that nuclear energy has saved 1.8 million lives, mostly from the fossil fuels not burned.  The problem is that people value electricity and heat so highly, they will accept fossil-fuel pollution unless they have a cleaner alternative that still satisfies the need.  Under-pricing fossil fuels is key to eliminating them.

    As for the floating turbines, while that cost is very high, that will quickly come down if the performance & reliability is there.

    The cost of transmission to shore isn’t, and the capital cost and cost of service far from shore will always be higher than on land.

    for disasters, it has to be about small & distributed.

    I had a blog post some years ago, where people lived in their (trailered) solar-powered boat after a hurricane knocked out power.  It works, to a degree.

    Homes that are well-insulated, that can store or filter water, make some of their own energy will be as good or better than only having big, reliable power plants far away.

    Those homes will need local energy storage to function when the energy supply goes down (whatever it is).  That’s not going to be cheap, generally speakng.

    is there a viable alternative to the gas/diesel generator?

    Good question.


  2. Replying to comment-page-2/#comment-51197:

    The fact that coal was exempt has long been a clear sign of corrupt politics.

    I suppose you can call the political strength of established industries “corruption”, but the best form of government you can get that sidesteps that problem is technocracy.  (It’s arguable that the “dirigiste” regime of France in the 70’s and 80’s was highly technocratic.  That regime eliminated the French grid’s dependence on imported oil, and in the same stroke effectively de-carbonized it.  That accomplishment has not received proper recognition.)

    A more specific sign of corruption is legal/regulatory creep to strangle competitors of a favored industry.  Rod Adams has a long list of “smoking gun” posts on this very topic.

    Rather than slacken the leash on nuclear

    Why not slacken it?  How do you know that the regulations don’t cost more than the benefits they yield?  Denying people clean energy for a negligible benefit isn’t doing them any favors, especially if they’re burning fossil carbon for the remainder.  These things should be justified on their own merits.  We should be doing everything we can to quantify those merits, too; using known-faulty models of hazard like the linear-no-threshold hypothesis can cause harm, like getting infected with pertussis to avoid a tiny dose of mercury-based preservative in the vaccine.

    the correct thing is to tighten the rules around coal – something that should have been done in the ’70s.

    I’m hoping that the recurrent stories about leaks and even catastrophic floods at coal-ash dumps will accomplish something.  The beauty of nuclear “dumps” is that even in an earthquake, dry casks barely move.

    Can you imagine a natural disaster that would disperse significant amounts of dry-stored nuclear fuel, except a direct asteroid strike?  Even a major lava flow would probably just bury it.

    The impact on the lives of workers, and the environment, even leaving aside CO2 emissions, is truly a mark of shame for the modern world.

    Hansen et al. calculate that nuclear energy has saved 1.8 million lives, mostly from the fossil fuels not burned.  The problem is that people value electricity and heat so highly, they will accept fossil-fuel pollution unless they have a cleaner alternative that still satisfies the need.  Under-pricing fossil fuels is key to eliminating them.

    As for the floating turbines, while that cost is very high, that will quickly come down if the performance & reliability is there.

    The cost of transmission to shore isn’t, and the capital cost and cost of service far from shore will always be higher than on land.

    for disasters, it has to be about small & distributed.

    I had a blog post some years ago, where people lived in their (trailered) solar-powered boat after a hurricane knocked out power.  It works, to a degree.

    Homes that are well-insulated, that can store or filter water, make some of their own energy will be as good or better than only having big, reliable power plants far away.

    Those homes will need local energy storage to function when the energy supply goes down (whatever it is).  That’s not going to be cheap, generally speakng.

    is there a viable alternative to the gas/diesel generator?

    Good question.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      I suppose you can call the political strength of established industries “corruption”

      I did point out coal’s track record. Would you be proselytizing nuclear if it had the same human & environmental impact as coal?

      Those homes will need local energy storage to function when the energy supply goes down (whatever it is). That’s not going to be cheap, generally speakng.

      Let’s hope one of the promising developments pans out and is affordable.
      But if you have a fuel cell like the aluminum-based one that Phinergy has demonstrated, you won’t need storage – or a gas-diesel generator.

      But then you have the problem of processing aluminum hydroxide which is energy-intensive, though less so than refining bauxite.


      • Would you be proselytizing nuclear if it had the same human & environmental impact as coal?

        Not just no, but hell no.  Thankfully, the track record so far is about 1/4 the fatality rate per TWH than wind.  The long-term consequences of even large-scale accidents are small because nuclear materials have zero effect on climate, little effect on ecosystems except in very high concentration, and decay away naturally.

        you have the problem of processing aluminum hydroxide which is energy-intensive, though less so than refining bauxite.

        Not just that, but the electrolytic reduction process requires high temperatures and the carbon cathodes react with the fluoride salt to produce CF4.  CF4 is a powerful GHG with an extremely long atmospheric lifespan (50 kyr).

        Delivering energy by truck isn’t a really great model.  Wires and relatively small pipes are far more convenient.

        Let’s hope one of the promising developments pans out and is affordable.

        I’m a fan of the molten salt-air batteries, with the anode being anything from iron on up.  10 kWh per liter would kill the internal combustion engine in light-duty vehicles.


        • Carbon anodes, excuse me.

          • MorinMoss Says:

            Since you stated that 10kWh per liter would be enough to eliminate light-duty ICE vehicles, why not iron anodes, which and achieve that volumetric energy density?
            Because of the weight?

            Your link requires a login so I’m relying on this one instead.

            There’s a considerable gap between 4e carbon & 11e vanadium boride – what other anode options are there?


          • Since you stated that 10kWh per liter would be enough to eliminate light-duty ICE vehicles, why not iron anodes, which and achieve that volumetric energy density? Because of the weight?

            Iron would be fine, both for weight and bulk (the Tesla Model S holds 85 kWh, which is 8.5 liters at 10 kWh/liter:  about 9 quarts).  I calculated that iron-based cells to power a semi-truck would weigh roughly as much as a diesel engine and its fuel.  I’m skeptical that there’s enough vanadium produced to use it widely (even though vanadium is a nuisance contaminant in some heavy crudes).  If the carbon/carbonate chemistry works, that would be awesome.  Make the battery out of the very stuff you’re trying to keep out of the atmosphere.

            what other anode options are there?

            I’m not a chemist, sorry.


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