The joy of wind

John Constable, research director at the Renewable Energy Foundation, said wind has been generating at a sixth of total capacity for much of the last couple of weeks, dropping to almost zero at times.

"This shows that wind provides very little firm, reliable capacity," he said. "At times of high demand in cold weather there is a tendency for there to be no wind."

Power generator E.On said wind energy supplies have dipped 60 per cent in the last couple of weeks, when compared to the last fortnight in December

Yes, that\’s right, in the middle of a cold snap, at the time of peak demand, wind doesn\’t actuallly produce any (or much) power.

Bit of a bugger really for those advocating that we have even more windmills, eh? We\’ll all be shivering in the dark in the name of Gaia then.

 

15 comments on “The joy of wind

  1. Wind farms have destabilizing influence on the power grid and thus require additional, stable reserve capacity to be build and connected to the grid. For example gas powered power plants are popular where pump-storage facilities are unavailable and you need more of them if you want more windmills.

  2. I love this bit

    “Hazel Thornton, from the climate change adaptation team, said observational evidence has shown a fall in wind over the last 30 years – although further research is needed.”

  3. Shivering in the dark is exactly what the new Puritans want. It’s punishment for our living in comfort.

  4. Remember REF isn’t actually a renewable energy foundation, it’s an anti-wind-turbines lobby group (here).

    That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong, but it’s ropey of the article to quote Constable as if he were a renewables expert rather than an axe-grinding crank…

  5. John B, whoever Constable is and whatever the REF is, Constable has the facts straight irrespective of the names you choose to call him.

    Ad hominem: the last refuge of the fact-challenged.

  6. Cholerose”

    They end up there primarily because that’s where they start: from the premise that their opposition must be corrupt, evil, ooposed to progress, racist, imperialist, etc., you name it.

    Even when the facts are on the side of their opponent (essentially, rendering him more “expert” than a body on their side who happened to get the facts wrong on the same subject), venom is summoned; it’s all in a day’s work.

  7. “wind has been generating at a sixth of total capacity for much of the last couple of weeks”: I’d be surprised if it’s anywhere near as high as one sixth: power varies with the cube of wind speed (until you reach the maximum windspeed you can cope with).

  8. Wind -> Hydrogen
    Hydrogen -> [Power|Transport|Heating]

    Seems to make sense, however all that demand buffering will have a real and massive cost.

    Better to have Nuclear -> [Power|Transport|Heating|Hydrogen!]

  9. from limited empirical viewing of a few windmills and clusters in the last 2 weeks in South England, Northern France and Belgium, there was very little bird-slicing happening – estimated power output, approx zilch. Temperature was minus 2C – if you can’t generate wind-power in Kent, Dunkirk and Flanders, then you don’t really stand a chance with this choice of energy.

  10. Ad hominem: the last refuge of the fact-challenged.

    No, the use of the term ‘ad hominem’ is a good sign that your interlocutor is an ignorant moron.

    In some kind of idealised Platonic world where all discussion is based on syllogisms and indisputable facts, ad-hominem would be a fallacy. In a world where people actually lie about the facts all of the time, knowing whether a person is credible is just as important as the logical consistency of what they say.

    And if someone is a paid shill for a particular viewpoint, you’d be a blithering idiot to *not* let that affect your view of the credibility of their evidence.

  11. @ john b

    “In some kind of idealised Platonic world where all discussion is based on syllogisms and indisputable facts, ad-hominem would be a fallacy. In a world where people actually lie about the facts all of the time, knowing whether a person is credible is just as important as the logical consistency of what they say.”

    No. In a world where people lie about the facts it is even more important to focus on the validity of the argument and not on who is making it. Otherwise all you are left with are ad hominems with no discussion at all as everybody can be found to be a part of some special interest. Your statement is like saying that in a world of imperfect information we should not try to improve on the information itself and focus on convenient name calling instead. Indeed, a good way to avoid being an ignorant moron.

    “And if someone is a paid shill for a particular viewpoint, you’d be a blithering idiot to *not* let that affect your view of the credibility of their evidence.”

    No, to the contrary. If you want to find good criticism of something, go to the very people who are paid for criticizing it. Markets in criticism work like markets in other things.

  12. Pingback: Economics of Plenty » Blog Archive » Ad Hominems and Morons

  13. It was always a bonkers idea since the wind is not blowing continuously, blowing too hard or not at all. The tides always happen predictable but no-one is bothering. Of course a few nuclear stations would be just the ticket but somehow I can’t see ’em being built.

  14. No. In a world where people lie about the facts it is even more important to focus on the validity of the argument and not on who is making it.

    Rubbish. If someone’s a known liar, it’s generally worth ignoring them; if someone’s a known truth-teller and expert in a particular area, it’s generally worth listening to them. Not universally the case, but a far better rule of thumb and way of avoiding wasting your time than following the ‘well, they may not be lying this time’ rule.

    Indeed, assuming that a liar is lying isn’t really ad-hominem in the sense that philosophers use the phrase. The classic kind of example is:
    A: “I have an excellent new theory about physics”
    B: “But you’re a convicted paedophile, so we should ignore your theory”
    In this context, B is a moron.

    However, if the conversation runs:
    A: “I have an excellent new theory about how it’s wrong to repress adolescent sexuality”
    B: “But you’re a convicted paedophile, so we should ignore your theory”
    then B probably has a point.

  15. john b:

    I think that if you go back to the beginning of the argument (and I suggest the same exercise for other parties), quite a good case can be made that you’ve managed (or tried, at least) to change what was an argument about whether statements made by someone in the employ of one side in a controversy are of use in revealing the truth of matters into an argument about whether it’s useful to listen to the arguments made (and the facts cited) by known liars.

    I call that a dishonest argument, in and of itself.

    And, to put it bluntly, you gave the game away straight away by simply dismissing someone (I’ve got no idea who) with a few pejoratives instead of laying out even a single instance illustrative of why the guy’s statements or arguments were incorrect. Further, in the case that you’d want your opponents in the argument to assent in dismissing some (self-proclaimed or actual) expert’s statements, I’d think it incumbent to lay out some detectable pattern of error conducive to said expert’s “side.”

    Entities of all sorts (not just business entities)
    employ propagandists to “get their message out.”
    But propaganda need not consist solely (or even primarily) of untruth; truth is frequently more powerful. I could make the point also that those trying to suppress truth (including those who resort immediately to the demonization and dismissal of their opponents arguments without direct consderation and refutation of any of them) are, themselves, perhaps secretly, convinced of a general weakness or of their own.

    It is all very well to make allusions to “interests” of one or another sort. But, wherever there are interests “pro,” one can safely assume the existence of directly oppositional interests, albeit some of those are likely disguised in some “public-spiritedness” costume.

    Ad, lastly, I’d remind you that your own general side (the left) has a frank committment to the justification of malefaction of many sorts–hardly confined to the telling of lies–in the interest of various ideas of social progress.
    A sucker is born every minute, said Barnum–but that’s no reason why those of us who “weren’t born yesterday” shouldn’t always be suspicious of those who’ve expressed themselves so clearly on the subject.

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