Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bad Data: A Government Story. The Wind Example

A little change of direction for this Cold Air Currents blog
A lot of this blog was citing articles of interest, particularly in the energy field.  After a couple of years of curiousity, I'm finding less articles of interest - so I'll try to post some more entries with pieces developed writing original content for my Cold Air Blog

The press dutifully reported recent figures for 2012 presented by Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).  I was struck by the fact that some of the figures are wrong (postscript here)... and then, less so, by the fact nobody much cared.

I shouldn't have been surprised by the second instance because I've encountered evidence that data integrity hasn't been a huge issue at a number of levels.  One early source I found for historical data on Ontario's electricity sector was The National Inventory Reports filed under the Kyoto protocol.  The past turns out to be extremely pliable under reporting - even in a relatively simply thing like MWh generated.

Statistics Canada would later make it's CANSIM database available online - providing a wealth of data.  CANSIM Table 127-0002 has many fields, but I've chose to look at the monthly data for "Total all classes of electricity producer" for "wind power turbine."

I've graphed monthly figures from that table, along with 12-month running totals, to corresponding data derived from the IESO's hourly wind generator output .csv file.

The CANSIM data reports about half the wind output reported by the IESO.

Neither figure reflects the actual the wind generator output that Ontario will pay for.  Many smaller industrial wind projects are not in the IESO reporting - but the projects hold contracts which presumably are tallied and paid on a regular basis.  

All solar projects currently producing electricity in Ontario are also unreported by the IESO - only CANSIM provides any figures on solar productivity (they are about 50% of my estimates).

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