John's Corner

Alberta power generation and market insights from Dr. John MacCormack Ph.D, P.Eng.

Solar Generation and Snow?

February 2019 was a cold month in Alberta. It was also a snowy month in many areas. It was also the month when the single transmission connected solar generation site in Alberta stopped generating for an extended period.

The PSTI website shows that on February 10, 2019 the Brooks solar generation reached a peak output of 2 MW and on February 11, the peak output dropped to 1 MW. On February 11, 2019 at 16:00 hours solar generation dropped to zero until March 7, 2019. During this period periodic price spikes caused the average electricity price to be almost $86/MWh!

Solar Generation February 6 to 13

Solar Generation March 2 to Mar 9

While the exact cause of the extended outage is not known – it might have been related snow cover on the solar panels. Snow began accumulating in Brooks around the same time the solar generation dropped to zero.

Brooks Precipitation February 5 to March 10

If accumulated snow cover was a factor it is reasonable to forecast this in the short term. This may become a useful local factor in anticipating solar generation output in the short term during the winter months in Alberta.

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