Calling William Connelly

[A]s wind rarely produces more than 25% of its faceplate capacity it needs 75% backup – which due to the necessity of fast response times needs OCGT generation (CCGT can respond quickly but the heat-exchanger systems upon which their increased efficiency relies, cannot – so CCGT behaves like OCGT under these circumstances). CCGT produces 0.4 tonnes of CO2 per MWh, OCGT produces 0.6 tonnes. Thus 0.6 tonnes x 75% = 0.45 tonnes. Conclusion: Wind + OCGT backup produces more 0.05 tonnes of CO2 per MWh than continuous CCGT.

What is the response to this argument?

I\’m willing to believe either of the following two positions:

1) Don\’t be silly, of course generating electricity from wind reduces CO2 emissions.

2) The inefficiency of needing to have gas backup for wind power means that wind \’leccie generation doesn\’t reduce CO2 emissions.

As far as 2) goes I am persuaded that having to have gas plants available, spinning but not producing, to take account of wind variability makes such gas plants less efficient than ones that are operating constantly, or spun up over hours rather than seconds.

But is this enough to make a wind/gas system more emittive than a gas system alone?

And the reason I ask? I\’d rather like to have real numbers from disinterested experts. Given that we don\’t actually have that, we\’ve two sides shouting at each other, what is it that the other side says in response to the above argument?

168 comments on “Calling William Connelly

  1. That starts from a false premise imo.

    “[A]s wind rarely produces more than 25% of its faceplate capacity it needs 75% backup”

    That isn’t how (I think) it is being done. The backup is to ensure the expected output or thereabouts is available – the 25% rather than adding enough power to make it up to 100%.

  2. Will “William Connolley” do instead? Normally I flame people mercilessly for this kind of error, but since its you I’ll be kind.

    First off, you’re too kind: I know climate science, but this is about windmills, which is only a side interest.

    Secondly, as Gareth says, the text you’re quoting ([A]s wind rarely produces more than 25% of its faceplate capacity it needs 75% backup) is wrong. If wind, reliably, produced 25% of is faceplate capacity there would be no problem: you just build 4x as much. What I think they are trying to say is that wind power is variable, and therefore you need some other part of your system to take up the slack on still days. Since this is from bishophill its no great surprise that its wrong.

    So the true answer is: its rather more complex than that. If you have one windmill, you need to plan for days with no wind. If you have windmills all across Europe connected by a grid, then the answer is rather different, because you don’t get days with no wind over such a large area. And its windier out to sea. And it depends on what fraction of your power is from windmills. And so on.

    As to the gas backup: but electricity demand is variable anyway. We’re used to having gas plants sitting idle waiting for demand. This is no new thing.

  3. “to take up the slack on still days”: tut, tut, that’s less than frank . There’s also slack on very windy days, unless you want to shake your turbines to bits.

  4. In winter we can get a low pressure area over western Europe for several weeks at a time producing no wind at all.

  5. Consumer demand is variable but that does not make it totally random. There are known times during the day when consumer and industry demand rises and falls. As this is fairly predictable then there is no problem – you spin up your generators at the correct time. Of course, a part of the demand is not predictable so some generators will need to spin on standby. But it is probably a lot less unpredictable than the wind.

  6. If there is no wind in the UK but there is some wind in the south of france then I doubt we will be the ones sold the only wind generating output unless we agree to pay some exorbitant cost for it. It would be cheaper for us to buy some french nuclear power.

  7. “it depends on what fraction of your power is from windmills” (#2)

    So as long as windmills are an irrelevant rich man’s toy, everything is manageable, but once they become a serious part of our energy supply, we’ve got problems?

  8. WC:
    “Since this is from bishophill its no great surprise that its wrong.”

    I was going to say “Isn’t that rather childish”, but I am guessing it was intended to be a facetious response to Tim’s:
    “And the reason I ask? I’d rather like to have real numbers from disinterested experts. Given that we don’t actually have that, we’ve two sides shouting at each other, what is it that the other side says in response to the above argument?” …

  9. PF – take Denmark as an example. Iff the bishop hill comment was correct, then the generation power in Denmark (outside the wind) *must* have increased at 3 times the rate that wind power has increased…. over the timespan that Denmark has relied on wind.

    Since this is not correct – something is significantly wrong about the BH quote … right?

  10. According to the Bish, this was a technical submission to a Select Committee – I think it’s Tim “I am making pots of money from renewables” Yeo’s Committee.

    The relevant document to read is Prof Hughes paper on wind energy available from the GWPF.

    If wind enery is so good, why do we have all thsse antique windmills converted to des res?

    Just wondering.

  11. Kim Petersen

    I have a feeling that Denmark buys an awful lot of electricity from Germany and , possibly, Sweden. Wind Energy is insufficient to keep the country warm!

  12. “MikeG, I suspect you mean high pressure.”

    Never mind that, I suspect the G stands for Giggler.

    Could Mr G/Giggler give us the dates of recent periods when the whole of Western Europe actually was bereft of wind for weeks on end? Whether that be due to high pressure, low pressure, peer (review) pressure, whatever.

  13. Kim:

    I agree, except that it’s not BH’s quote – they are simply referencing one that W Bowie submitted to Parliament. In fairness, Bishop Hill then “asked the question”.

    Re that particular issue, I actually don’t disagree at all with William’s question re 25% / 75%, I think what he says is perfectly valid, and the way the article is written suggests it may be an error rather than coincidence (ie that variability might be 75%), unless I am reading the W Bowie article wrongly.

    Like Tim, I would be really interested to see numbers on this taking into account all of the various issues, and that provides a useful economic analysis.

    FWIW, I was referring more (and “slightly tongue in cheek”) to the “taking sides” point..:)

  14. Steve:

    That article is really interesting. I think I understand better why the 25% / 75% issue is not necessarily the error it might first appear to be. The sheer range of variability indicated in this report appears to be very significant (at least over the period tested for the UK).

    And of course, the answer of simply adding more capacity (to counter) simply trashes the cost exercise.

    Following Kim’s point, I am curious as to how countries with high wind power generation successfully get round this issue. Is there an analysis that provides a good alternative perspective to this?

  15. The evidence can be found on the summary page dealing with the wholesale demand for electricity. This is the link:

    Other than that, EU Referendum, Christopher Booker, GWPF, SPPI – all have good stuff on windmills. Also the Filthy Engineer produces some solid work on the topic.

    And – Squirrel Nutkin – during the extremely cold spell in winter 2010/11 there was something in the order of .01% of the UK electricity demand supplied by wind. You know, those lovely cold, still, frosty days when there isn’t a breath of wind.

  16. Hmmm – the interesting factor here to consider is: What is the variability of wind, when considering meteorological predictions. Ie. to what degree is it necessary to use “emergency” power-generation (spinning capacity) as opposed to putting generators online slowly to meet expected lows.

  17. William Connolley said: If wind, reliably, produced 25% of is faceplate capacity there would be no problem: you just build 4x as much.

    100 windmills with no wind produce the same amount of electricity as 25 windmills with no wind, just at 4 x the cost.

  18. @Dizzy Ringo, You are misinformed. Denmark is (usually) a net exporter of energy. What you are confusing is that Denmark is connected to both the German and the Scandinavian grid, and exchanges peak and trough energy via these. That is actually pretty smart considering that Denmark has no hydro, and Norway/Sweden does.

  19. DocBud, net electricity export. If you can seperate out which electrons that are from coal/oil/gas ….. then you are smarter than average 😉

  20. @PF @KIM
    Yes, but the problem is that Denmark has to buy energy when it has peak demand, usually when it’s suppliers also have peak demand, so pays a correspondingly high price for it. It sells energy when it has a surplus, usually at times of low demand, you get the rest…

    It’s a point that needs to be made continually, there’s nothing wrong with wind itself (assuming it’s offshore), the problem is that until there’s a way of storing the power generated (ideally close to the turbines themselves, and capable of storage for up to 1month), there’s no way that you can have a significant slice of your power generated by it because it’s *too unreliable* and will always require substantial backup.

    Arguments for a Europe wide grid are ok in theory, but the grid has to be built, and even then, there’s still going to be the occasional period when there’s insufficient wind across the whole of the grid for there to be anything close to average capacity being generated.

  21. Kim,

    You said energy which is not the same as electricity. As I understand, Denmark exports oil and gas in their unbeneficiated forms which counts towards energy exports but not electricity. I remember reading sometime ago that Denmark exported excess electricity when the wind blows strongly for free but pays to import electricity when the wind does not blow.

    Obviously the electricity companies can separate fossil fuel electrons (black) from renewable energy electrons (green) otherwise how else could they ensure that customers (mugs) who pay a premium for renewable energy only get renewable electrons?

    PS it’s one in the morning here in paradise (TNQ) so I’m off to bed.

  22. Would think it’s worth taking a leaf out of the environmentalists book on some of this. The page is headed Precautionary Principle.
    Wind power generation is advocated on the basis; increasing atmospheric carbon may cause global warming, although whether it actually has is open to question. It’s also supposed to cause an increase in ‘extreme weather’ events. Mr Connolly, here, is saying the likelihood of a cross Europe loss of wind energy is unlikely. That’s based on past history. But if you accept the environmentalist’s arguments on extreme weather, you can’t then ignore them. There must be a likelihood, one of the effects could be long term static pressure highs over Europe. (Seem to remember reading somewhere that may have been part of the feedback mechanism during the ice ages.) So the precautionary principle would say; basing large portions of the continent’s energy requirements on a source totally outside humanity’s control & which might be undependable, would be very unwise.

  23. DocBud, yes, i did say energy, and i apologize for the confusion – what i meant to say was electricity (although iirc we also are a net-exporter of energy… albeit not for long since our oil in the North sea will run out).

    @Steve Crook, we import and export at various times – but the picture you paint is incorrect. We export most when (high winds, night), and import most at (low winds,early day (industry)). Sweden and Norway “eat” a lot of the production, mainly because they can “sink” it into their hydro system.

    @PF – yes the whole thing is extremely complex, necessarily so, and it is not going to become less so with smart-grids that will have the capability to store and release energy on demand 🙂

  24. @bloke in spain – we already base out livelihood on sources outside humanity’s control: Our entire food production network is dependent upon the fact that bad/good weather doesn’t happen all over the place at the same time 😉

  25. The Europe-wide energy grid is a great idea in theory, but we still have all these pesky things called countries. They do annoying things like falling out with each other, raising prices arbitrarily, or even cutting power off completely.

    I know Global World Govt fantasists dream of getting rid of them, but until we do (not looking good at the moment) we’re stuck with them. And one of the Green’s oft-stated reasons for wind – energy security – is a non-starter.

    Shale gas and Nuke OTOH.

  26. “we already base out livelihood on sources outside humanity’s control:”
    And mitigate by a mixture of stock piling & trade But if we could store wind derived electricity or transmit it over very long distances, we wouldn’t be having this discussion., would we?

  27. Mr / Dr Connolley…

    As I’m the one who originally posted the paraphrase of the report (which now seems to have reached “Watts Up With That” too) I’d like to clear up your (hopefully tongue-in-cheek) comment that “Since this is from bishophill its no great surprise that its wrong.”…

    The comment is my paraphrase (complete with wrong word-order thanks to my dyslexic fingers) of a paper submitted to the House of Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change by William R B Bowie C.Eng, BSc, MICE, FCIHT who is an engineer with considerable experience of power generation.

    I expect that he’d had to simplify his argument somewhat so that it would stand some chance of being understood by the scientific-illiterates who comprise the majority of both this committe and the House of Commons in general, however, I see nothing wrong in essence with his contentions.

  28. Tim

    You are sound on so much else that it is strange that you still fall for CO2 AGW.

    Wind farms are clearly stupid on the basis that they don’t work for more than 75% of the time. What other investment would be made on this basis alone. Wind is totally intermittent and unreliable. Only really stupid greens like some of your commenters could argue in their favour.

    Denmark’s wind system is bust since as one of your commenters said above, they export electricity at a loss when it is not needed and import it at great expense when they do. The argument that the wind is blowing somewhere in the UK/Europe all the time is flat out stupid since there are plenty of time when it is blowing nowhere. In any event the grid cost is ruinous.

    Germany has poured tens of billions into solar and as a result, aided by it’s decision to abandon nuclear is building coal fired power stations as fast as it can. Its solar industry is bankrupt and it has over 600,000 people unable to afford electricity.

    Offshore wind is unreliable because when the turbines/gearboxes breakdown which they do regularly, the floating cranes to repair them cost $100,000 a day and they have to wait for the right weather. Result, the turbine is disconnected.

    Wind is a scam.

    Can’t wait.



  29. @Kim
    Understand the point you’re making w.r.t export/import, and the Danish may be nett exporters, but that’s not really what I was questioning. My point was, when you buy/sell energy, averaged over (for example) a five year period, do you on balance make money or lose money? My understanding was, at the moment, it’s at a loss…

    Incidentally, can you point me at a site where I can get a reliable breakdown of figures for the spectrum of Danish power generation (ideally not from a UK Wind Power/green group)? Possibly also a map of wind farm sites with numbers of turbines???

  30. How can Kim dabalsten Petersen have forgotten that Denmark had a brown-out when the electricity cable from Sweden’s Nuclear power plants got interrupted? Could it be selective amnesia in a country that exports more windmills than electricity?
    Wind is not reliable and if you want security of supply you have to keep on standby CCGT equal to the amount of power produced by wind *and burn coal instead*. So using windmills as suppliers to the grid *increases* CO2 emissions.
    This is so simple a child could understand it – unless he was selling windmills to a gullible public.
    The Dutch know how to use windmills and do – for pumping water out of polders and other intermittent non-time-sensitive tasks.

  31. Gareth and Connolley are wrong as one has come to expect from people apparently educated in different physics than reality**.

    If you design windmills with a given ‘nameplate capacity’ and connect to a synchronous grid, you must expect at times to have a high proportion of this. To imagine you can have 4 times 25% to give 100% is yet another example of the childlike understanding one has come to expect from these blinkered zealots.

    The Danes found this in 2004 when they learnt that by forcing other plant to cycle to follow changing wind power, the system produced more CO2 that without the windmills >~10% of instantaneous demand. They now dump excess wind energy to hydro.

    Reportedly DECC’s CSO, MacKay, warned windmills can only save CO2 if we install pump storage, flooding most of the Lake District and much of Scotland, pumped by nuclear power [you can’t pump with wind surges]. Apparently Davey has placed hands over his ears saying Nah! Nah! Nah!, expected from a PPE graduate.

    **The key mistake [of 6] is to believe ‘back radiation’ can be measured by ‘pyrgeometers’. Any competent scientist realises these measure a temperature radiation field which can do no work. You prove it by having two, back to back, in which case the net signal in zero temperature gradient is zero:

    The IPCC ‘Energy Budget’ is a fabrication based on faulty experiments, climate science has the forecasting ability of the entrails of a dead skunk and the people trained in false physics. Connolley is a very good example of the kind of kook who inhabits this World!

  32. @John77, only parts of Denmark had a power-out (not brown out – and it was in 2003… frankly i can’t remember that i’ve experienced a brown out *ever* ), and not the part i live in. It is incidentally also the part of the country with the least reliance on wind – so what is your point?

    The trouble wasn’t that Denmark couldn’t generate enough power – but that Sweden was sucking up all of the power that we had – because 3 of their nukes had a failure. That is a problem with an interconnected grid where you aren’t protecting for surges of this kind – which it is now btw.

    And your insistance that wind is not reliable is based on ignorance and assertion, rather than knowledge. As i’ve asked before – when considering meteorological predictions, how unreliable is wind as a power source? (hint: not nearly as much as people (apparently) want to think).

  33. @Steve, i’ve never looked particularly deep into what the monetary part of the equation is, but it is not simple, you’ll get into subsidized vs. non-subsidized power, where in Denmark the export/import is from, at what time was the energi exported/imported etc. etc. The other trouble is: How do you define lose/gain money in this context? Hydro-power is cheaper than wind-power and most other powersources – but we (in Denmark) have no capacity at all to make such power – so are we losing money by generating power ourselves instead of buying everything from Norway/Sweden? 🙂

    An info-graph of average import/export prices can be found here:

    As for info on the energy system – here is a flash animation of the current import/export of the system:

    The next page contains data about all windturbines (current and decommissioned) in Denmark and their historic production over time:

    Here is an interactive map of all turbines in Denmark:

    Hope this helps 🙂

  34. @turnedoutnice:

    No one at all expects 25% of nameplate capacity at all times – in fact *everyone* expects that wind is intermittent. (so i wonder who the “blinkered zealots” you are talking about are?)

    Now i’m very curious about your “2004” claim, since it is not something that i’ve ever heard about, and i generally try to follow energy news here. Despite your claims that our reliance on wind doesn’t reduce CO2, we most certainly *are* reducing our CO2/kWh – just take a look at our annual reports to the UNFCCC.

  35. @Kim Dabelstein Petersen
    “And your insistance that wind is not reliable is based on ignorance and assertion, rather than knowledge. As i’ve asked before – when considering meteorological predictions, how unreliable is wind as a power source? (hint: not nearly as much as people (apparently) want to think).”

    Actually I really want to believe that wind is reliable.
    If some genius can make all energy from wind 100% of the time without too many windmills I would be so happy.

    I don’t want nuclear and I want fossil fuels less.
    However I remember seeing weather maps with no wind anyway in the UK – like today I would guess.
    Please explain to me how it can be reliable bearing in mind that sometimes it doesn’t blow for days.
    I want to believe, I really do.

  36. You can pump zair with wind surges, albeit you need cheap storage to justify the enterprise.

    As to Connelley’s skepticism about Bishop Hill’s place atthe back of the field in the peer review sweepstakes, , good Godwin, man–look to his chorus:

    ” the purpose of the windmills is not to save CO2. it’s to provide carbon trading/offset receipts for the banks and to support the Euro by a non-national taxation. There is also the political narrative: they are like the Easter Island Statures, a symbol of the power of the ruling elite whilst the workers willingly toil at green jobs.

    To that extent, they are the direct descendant of the swastika, the symbol of the domination of the first green religious socialism, Nazism. Basically when they are plastered all over our land and power is rationed to those favoured by the state, we’ll be a subordinate region of the Greater Reich which may then be centred in Turkey,”

  37. Just a comment regarding those that say something along these lines:

    >> Wind is not reliable and if you want security of supply you have to keep on standby CCGT equal to the amount of power produced by wind *and burn coal instead*.

    That comment misunderstands how power-production works. Wind is intermittent – yes. But it doesn’t suddenly vanish it just varies… nor does spinning reserves burn fuel constantly. Spinning reserves (what you call standby power) only use enough energy to be able to spin up fast. [a small fraction of the fuel needed to generate *their* capacity] And they very very very rarely are coal plants.

  38. To keep windmill sales up, the Danish Energy Agency gives a false impression of what really happens in its grid. Look on the internet – there are quite a fee analyses. From 2005 they ran the steam turbines at constant output and dumped wind surges to hydro.

    As for our data, wind energy is such a low proportion of generated capacity, it has not yet got into making the turbines hunt, which is ~10% in a coal fired grid. [I know a retired unit controller from a WA power station who has detailed records of the effect of Perth’s Emu Downs wind farm on their grid.]

    Add in the CO2 cost of the windmills at 12 year life, and the breakeven point has been quoted for Colorado and Texas as 2-3% in a recent US Report.

    Basically,we are now into producing more CO2 than without our windmills because our average O/P of ~1.4 GW is ~3.5% of average demand, hence the need for pump storage before we invest in any more windmills.

  39. @David Sigh! Wind will never be baseload, it cannot be so, and no one is expecting it to. You can get a certain amount of baseload from wind over a large distributed area – but never completely.

    Weather maps with no wind are actually not a problem – which is another thing that people misunderstand. As long as the meteorological forecasts are reasonably accurate, you know the amount of spinning power that you need to get online before they happen. If forecast is for no wind, then you dust off a few generators so that they can be spun up, when the demand is there. If the forecast is for lots of wind, then you can take out a lot of the spinning reserve. Simple as that.

    The trouble here is that people don’t understand how variable and intermittent power sources integrate into the system.

    As a sidenote: personally i’m very fond of nuclear as baseload – but unfortunately people in general are against it. [it is unfortunately also expensive]. And nuclear is unusable as a spinning reserve.

  40. @turnedoutnice, Are you actually able to document even a fraction of the assertions that you make?

    (btw. why would the danish energy agency have an interest in giving “false impressions”?)

  41. Tell me Russell: why do you not think the windmills, which can save no CO2, are favoured by green totalitarians?

    it’s a form of control of the population, the end result of Frankfurt School thinking. Why else are lawyers like Finkelstein in Australis dreaming of official ‘state science’ and anyone who says different [more than 41 hits per day on a blog] can be fined and/or jailed?

    Read the history of the alliance of Blud und Boden with the Nazis and learn what is happening once more to us.

  42. Kim Peterson: do you really imagine I am not clued up about the false statistics from Denmark?

    This report from Danish think tank CEPOS bares it all;

    ‘Denmark manages to keep the electricity systems balanced due to having the benefit of its particular neighbors and their electricity mix. Norway and Sweden provide Denmark, Germany and Netherlands access to significant amounts of fast, short term balancing reserve, viainterconnectors. They effectively act as Denmark’s “electricity storage batteries”.

    Norwegianand Swedish hydropower can be rapidly turned up and down, and Norway’s lakes effectively “store” some portion of Danish wind power.Over the last eight years West Denmark has exported (couldn’t use), on average, 57% of thewind power it generated and East Denmark an average of 45%.The correlation between highwind output and net outflows makes the case that there is a large component of wind energy inthe outflow indisputable.’

    So, they export half the wind power then when they buy it back, claim it”s wind power when it’s really hydro plus nuclear.

    You can’t have UK wind energy >~4% of demand AND save CO2 without having lots of hydro. We have to build massive pump storage before we invest in any more windmills, and that’s an indisputable fact being proved experimentally by engineers in 6 grids now.

  43. @KDP: so supposing we build a 1GW gas-fired power station. This delivers, say, 1GW of power normally and we can expect (figure plucked out of the air) 5% of downtime (defined as being when less than 50% of rated power is generated) of which 3% is planned in advance and 2% is random. There’s no real seasonal variation in power output.
    How much faceplate windpower would we need to deliver an average of at least 1GW over an entire year, with, say 10% of random downtime? The article implies maybe 4GW, but what’s the fraction of random downtime that we get in that average year?

  44. “wind rarely produces more than 25% of its faceplate capacity it needs 75% backup ”

    Because fossil fuel systems produce 100% of their faceplate capacity, never fail, and are available 24×7, right? And if by some miracle they should fail, they are restored almost instantly, rather than unavailable for protracted periods, correct?

    Thus the engineering problem which wind generation poses is entirely new, rather than a problem of the sort we already have. And because current systems require no backup at all in order to be available 24×7 , the comparison being made is like with like.

  45. I will happily quote Chris Booker

    At one point last week, Britain’s 3,500 turbines were contributing 12 MW of the 38,000 MW that we were using – the NETA website which Carries official electricity statistics registered this as 0%.

    Our mad government still wants to pour money into rich landowners and rent seeking utilities to generate even more renewable power LOL

    Denmark winds up with too much electricity if the wind blows at the wrong time which it does all the time. This is a fact and it does not matter what hokie stats the promoters of wind power use. It only barely works because Norway and Sweden can store the power in their hydro systems but at a profit to them and a loss to Denmark.

    Try running a hospital with wind power and see what you get.



  46. William M. Conolley is talking out of his hat when he says that the statement that wind rarely produces more electricity than 25% of its nameplate capacity is wrong.
    He should have read the IEA Wind 2010 Annual Report, done some elementary calculations on the figures in table 3 and he would have found out that INDEED, wind generated electricity is rarely more than 25% of the installed wind energy capacity of a country, taken over the year.
    His lack of understanding becomes even more clear when he states that the European grid can solve the wind variability issue, because there is always wind blowing somewhere. Apparently he assumes – out of his hat again – that all countries are interconnected without fail-safe switches and that power will be transmitted from all over Europe to the large high pressure areas where there is not enough wind. That is not the case. In any case, even in a sible country like Germany there are big grid stability problems to get the offshore wind energy via the grid down south to the power using customers.
    To get an idea of the contribution of wind energy in the UK over the year check out the real-time UK grid status on or

    Of course, since William M. Conolley is a climate scientist, it is no surprise that he does not understand engineering issues. But then he should keep his mouth – or pen or whatever he uses – shut.

  47. My Dear Albert, you took the words out of my keyboard. Climate science is based on 6 physics’ mistakes and one, heat transfer at the Earth’s surface, is so bad every professional engineer [I’m one] sees it’s wrong.

    They all state ‘How could these people be so stupid?’ They assume IR emitted from the Earth’s surface is the black body level in a vacuum. This gives 40% extra energy, increasing IR absorbed in the lower atmosphere by a factor of 5. They offset this by up to 70 W/m^2 imaginary ‘cloud forcing’ to give the impression of correct temperature.

    So, the sunlit oceans in the models evaporate like mad and Hansen et. al. tell Congress and Uncle Tom Cobley and all there’s a Venusian runaway. This is scientific bollocks and these creeps must know it.

  48. @ Kim Dabelstein Petersen
    Sweden has NEVER had a failure with three nukes – in 2006 they voluntarily shut down three nukes because of a problem with one. This has NOTHING to do with a brown-out (as it was reported in the press) or regional power-out (as you remember it in 2003. Normally reliable news sources (BBC and FT) reported that this was due to break in the Sweden-Denmark interconnector after which a lot of people learned that “Green” Denmark relied on Swedish nuclear reactors.
    Wind Power is unreliable for three reasons – firstly the power companies have no control over when the wind will blow; secondly even if they have reliable weather forecasts and they know roughly when the wind will blow they cannot translate that into an accurate power generation forecast because to do that you need forecasts of windspeed in each particular location not a rough estimate of wind speed in an area of a dozen square miles and weather forecasts just are not that precise; thirdly there is a worryingly high frequency of windmills breaking down – I have driven past farms where half the windmills were turning and the other half were stationary.
    For wind power to be reliable in the normal English meaning of that word, power companies would need to be able to use it whenever they want to do so. That just is not the case.
    You say “Sigh wind power will never be baseload” but New Labour’s plans which the Coalition have failed to change involve using windpower for baseload in order to reach the EU target of power generated from renewables.
    Please stop refuting stuff I haven’t said. I did *not* say that power generators use coal for standby. I said, more succintly than the following, that because they *have* to use CCGT for standby, they cannot use that much of it for baseload and hence substitute coal for CCGT in baseload.
    In England wind varies but that variation includes Zero. Anyone who says otherwise just does not know what they are talking about and should not talk condescendingly to other commentators. Especially a dozen or two comments after Dizzy Ringo’s!!. So we need the same amount of nuclear plus hydro plus fossil fuel capacity as we should if there were no windmills.

  49. @John77,

    “Sweden has NEVER had a failure with three nukes”

    Bullshit – sorry. They had it on Sep 23 2003.

    Reactor 3 in Oscarshamn was planned to be taken offline for maintainance – this resulted in a power failure in the couplingstation at Horred, taking offline not only Oscarshamn but also Ringhals block 3+4. (total of 3 reactors) Resulting in blacking out all of the southern part of Sweden. This lack of 1.8GW generating capacity took down the Sjælland grid as well – since the Danish part of the grid couldn’t handle the demand from Sweden, and in turn damaging the power-plants in Denmark – most notably taking offline Aasnæsværkets block 5. Whole thing took roughly 90 seconds – but had long term implications – and the closest you get to it, is the similar (but larger) example in

    Do please read the official report of the failure – which in Danish can be found here:

    You might be able to coax google translate into helping you here.

  50. @Kim
    Many thanks for the links.

    I think a point made by yourself and another commenter is interesting, that much of the electricity generated in Denmark is exported into pumped storage in Norway & Sweden.

    This *is* neat and is what I feel would be missing from any large scale wind generation in the UK. We simply don’t have the space to be able to create sufficient pumped storage for the UKs purpose unless we sacrifice places like the Lake District 🙂 and I don’t know of anything else that’s available now that could be used instead.

    Do you know how much of a turbines output is lost if it’s put into pumped storage?

  51. john77 // Aug 18, 2012 at 9:19 pm
    So we need the same amount of nuclear plus hydro plus fossil fuel capacity as we should if there were no windmills.


  52. @Steve, it is actually not pumped storage in Norway/Sweden…. if there is cheap energy from Denmark, the Norway/Sweden stop using the hydro, which is a pretty fast operation – thus the loss is close to zero. They might use pumped storage in dry years (not sure) though.

    It actually doesn’t work this way any more – since the interconnect now between (Norway/Sweden)-Denmark-Germany is now is bigger – now power is exchanged according to the spot-market prices, and according to who current has demand. Ie. larger grid, less dependence on storage/hydro.

  53. For many businesses grid instability caused by renewables is becoming a big issue.
    For example, Spiegel reports 2 days ago on a millisecond (!) power dip destroying part of an aluminium rolling mill. Plus other blood curdling examples.
    So there’s another cost of these bloody windy things: everybody with a power intensive business has to install UPS.

  54. @Thomas Gibbon, what the article fails to mention is that the German transition will require a very high level of “smart grid” – which is capable of generating the power that the “miscalculations of even a few percent” would cause.

    Not really the forum to talk about what a smart grid is or how it can generate these fast fluctuation – but i’ll say though that you freezer and refrigerator in the future will be strategic assets to the powergrid 🙂

  55. “Secondly to trust a report put out by an advocacy organization, with no expertise on the subject, is …. well ….. not very smart.”

    What, like Connolley?

  56. Hi Kim Petersen, are you saying that no Danish wind energy peaks are dumped into Nordic hydro?

    Prove it……….

  57. ” but i’ll say though that you freezer and refrigerator in the future will be strategic assets to the powergrid”

    How would that work? If I returned to the UK I’d be seriously thinking of swapping to gas. The grid people going to pay for several hundred pounds worth of spoilt food?

  58. @ Kim Dabelstein Petersen #55
    I don’t read Danish so I cannot comment on the contents of that report BUT I can read English and the English language versions do NOT agree with your version.
    *The* scholarly report
    says that Sweden had a failure in ONE nuclear power station and subsequently an electricity substation (the things that just relay power from one set of cables to another. The substation failure cut off supply from two nuclear power stations. The nuclear power stations did NOT fail: the connection failed. This was at a time when Southern Sweden and Eastern Denmark were drawing power from northern Sweden. At the time power officials and newscasters blamed the power failure in Copenhagen on the failure of the Bornholm cable – it appears that I should have been wrong if I had said that: the failure was in that part of the interconnector linking Northern to Southern Sweden. BUT I was right – the failure was not in the Swedish nuclear plants but in the cables linking them to Denmark.

  59. @bloke in spain,

    Your food is not going to thaw, just because it turned off for a few minutes to make time for a reserve generator to get online. The whole idea is that quite a lot of equipment can be turned off for short periods of time, without any detrimental effects. (in effect delaying the energy use for short periods of time).

  60. Stop this drivel Petersen: a reliable synchronous grid is what differentiates the 1st World industrial economy from the 3rd World.

    The alternative is to kill 30 million UK citizens. I won’t let it happen.

  61. @john77 You are now arguing sematics. If you want me to correct it from “3 reactors failed” to “3 reactors dropped out”. Then i’d be glad to do so…. The effect is exactly the same.

  62. @turnedoutnice, I have no idea what you are talking about, a smart grid does not influence whether the grid is synchroneous or not.

  63. turnedoutnice @ 68
    Hence why I’d go gas. Wouldn’t trust them to feed the cat let alone run a smart grid.

  64. @turnedoutnice

    Please explain to me how it influences whether a grid is synchroneous or not, that an internet connection capable of turning off your freezer for a short period of time?

    Do tell – i’m rather curious 🙂

    @bloke in spain

    Why not drop technology entirely then. – since you do not trust it. There is a lot of technology involved in the grid already – it could fail at any moment (insert sinister music here)…..

  65. @ Kim Dabelstein Petersen #69
    You can start by apologising for accusing me of bullshit when I stated the embarrassing facts as nearly correctly as was possible. You can then retract you statement that Denmark’s power failed because it was sucked by Sweden at a time when Sweden was supplying Denmark with power. You can drop your condescending tone to anyone who disagrees with you (as far as I can see I. not you have been right in every dispute except my misidentifying the breakdown in the power grid).

  66. My Dear Kim. I have never disagreed with the smart meter idea. However, real engineering data show windmills connected to a synchronous fossil-fuelled grid are parasitic so have to be limited to <<10% of instantaneous power consumption.

    The only way out is to limit the windmills to secondary generation in competition with tidal and solar. This Marxist takeover of our society was always to be a failure.

  67. Of course I don’t trust technology. No sensible person does. More complicated it is, more can go wrong. Switching fridges off & on via the net? Hell, I can’t get Tim’s webpages to load half the time. I wouldn’t let an intelligent grid anywhere near my freezer. Like I said. They ain’t gonna pay when they fuck up.

  68. Hmmm – if 2 posts suddenly appear with similar content – then it is because the system ate them and i couldn’t see if they were posted or not.

  69. Energy provision shouldn’t be a matter of public policy. And were that the case in fact, then those in favour of windmills would be free to fulfill their energy requirements from the said windmills. And if it didn’t work, I suppose they’d move on. No one else would pay for the failure.

  70. “Kim Dabelstein Petersen // Aug 18, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    @David Sigh! Wind will never be baseload, it cannot be so, and no one is expecting it to. You can get a certain amount of baseload from wind over a large distributed area – but never completely”
    So what in your opinion is the maximum percentage we can get from wind? And more importantly in some ways what would it replace? I guess gas which of course is the greenest fossil fuel.

    “As long as the meteorological forecasts are reasonably accurate, you know the amount of spinning power that you need to get online before they happen.”
    Are they really that accurate?

  71. David; the lesson from Denmark, Germany, Holland, Western Australia, Colorado and Texas is that once windmill power exceeds ~10% of instantaneous grid demand, the steam turbine part of the standby starts to ‘hunt’, an engineering term meaning ‘out of control’.

    The Danes reportedly measured an increase in CO2 emissions of ~5% when this happened so they stopped trying to control the system by their coal fired plant and started dumping the excess wind energy to Nordic hydro. But they apparently didn’t tell anybody. The claim by Hedegaard that Denmark produces ~20% of its electricity directly from wind is not true.

    Holland is already dumping excess wind power to Norway [700 MW interconnect]. Germany is planning to do the same [2 GW?] and so are we. However, the 1 GW interconnect we are planning is too small to cope with the surges we’ll get. Thus 30 GW nameplate capacity could easily see output rising by 10 GW in few minutes as the wind rushes through the offshore arrays at 100 mph.

    One way to cope with this is to predict the weather and be prepared to feather the turbines. That could cut out ~5 GW. However, only 1 GW could go to Norway so we’d either have to have 4 GW of CCGT slamming down to zero output in ~60 s or have 4 GW hydro doing the same. The latter does not ruin the plant, it just reduces its lifetime depending on how much cavitation damages the tunnels.

    This kind of engineering is mind bogglingly expensive because you need to have plant which can fill the reservoirs and the reservoirs are truly enormous to get 300-700 feet fall. What’s more, pre-emptive throttling of the output of the wind turbines reduces capacity factor dramatically [power output is proportional to the cube of the wind speed]. This is why I estimate 18% real capacity factor.

    So far, the politicians who obey the Marxist/Fabian EU whip and the windmill manufacturers have hoodwinked the Public. However the truth is emerging as sensible commentators and politicians ask professional engineers for the facts.

  72. Nice bit of real life engineering knowhow from turnedoutnice, there. Something so rare in debates like this. And worth looking at smart grids from the same perspective. Great in theory but…
    A smart grid gives the producers control of our appliances. Give them control & they will use it. To make their live easier they’ll shut down appliances when that’s the easier option than generating a bit more electricity. Doesn’t matter to them. They sell the same amount of electricity in the long run but produce it at a time to suit them. And this is exactly the same as those long queues at airport border control & hospital A&E, discussed here before. The supplier’s got the whiphand because the customer’s got nowhere else to go. They can shift their supply through time to suit their own purposes, letting the customer suffer the inconvenience.
    Give them a smart grid & you will come home to a defrosting freezer & a washing machine full of cold, sudsy water. The aircon will shut down on the hottest days or the heating fail on the coldest nights. Because dumping the problem on the consumer will always be the easier option than solving it.

  73. bloke in spain: The solution is to install 10 million CHP fuel cells in homes and businesses. This will produce double the output of 30 GW nameplate capacity windmills thereby making small load power independent of the grid.

    It will also supply, with solar, standby for the windmills during the day allowing householders substantial earnings. The saving in methane will be >30%.

    The Big Problem is that the politicians will not be able to use smart meters to control the population, the real reason they want State control over energy.

    We have a choice; reduce CO2 emissions and maintain freedom, using the gas grid to bypass the electricity grid OR allow politicians to build windmills, increasing CO2 emissions and giving them totalitarian control.

  74. BIS, you have spotted a free market opportunity. You keep your current system. Fire up the central heating on cold nights etc. You pay for that privilege. Kim and William sign up for their smart grid. They shiver on cold days, risk losing deep freeze contents, but pay less.

    Think of them as Ryanair passengers – choosing a crap cheap service can be perfectly rational.

  75. @David, with a sufficiently interconnected grid, or a large distributed area, you can, according to the experts, have wind deliver roughly 30% on average. The more you rely on a smart grid the better of course the results will be.

    As for the meteorological forecasts .. yes, they are. You need to think in how far ahead you will need the projection, and how accurate you’ll need it. Lets say you need 4 hour ahead prediction with a good accuracy … which isn’t that much of a problem [most farmers can do this reasonably well]

  76. @turnedoutnice Your “explanation” of wind is just about as confused and wrong as it is possible to be. But gathering from your previous comments, no amount of asking will make you document your assertions – or for that matter change your mind.

    But lets try again, this time with a real example – considering this:

    You have a modern powerplant such as Avedøre værket (810MW), with the capability of going from low to high output within 15 minutes, and having a fuel efficiency of 94% – using a mixture of bio, gas, oil and coal…..

    Combine this with a wind carpet with a nameplate capacity of 1GW…

    You need to supply a grid with on average 600MW, energy can be bought/sold on the spot market via a 40MW interconnection.

    Over a month – is it – or isn’t it possible to:

    A) Utilize wind to produce an average of 30% of the energy.
    B) Have a CO2 reduction on the 400MW of at least 20% compared to Avedøre værket running alone.

    Do please rationalize why it either isn’t or is possible.

    [Now i’m not saying that the above scenario is a best or worst case – it is neither, since we need it to be simple]

  77. In the days when coal fired power stations were more numerous in the UK, it was economically efficient to move coal 100 miles, in 2000 ton trainloads hauled by steam powered locomotives, to a power station close to where the electricity generated would be used, rather than by generating electricity close to the coal field and distributing said power 100 miles over the wires, which incurred the attendant high transmission losses. Those numbers have not changed. They have been ignored for political reasons.

    W. M. Connelley’s suggestion of the Europe wide grid system would cost billions to construct and would still be insufficient to cope with demand. Thorium fuel cycle reactors OTOH, offer a future solution, but personally, locally sited CHPDH coal fired power stations using the surplus heat to heat homes, warm greenhouses and recycling the CO2 in the greenhouses as plant food, are eminently fit for purpose. CO2 is not a pollutant. WMC produces it the same way as every air breathing animal on the planet. It is a byproduct of life.

    I suspect however, that WMC produces more CO2 than most of us, with his home brewed beers etc. Sacc. Cerevisiae converts carbohydrates into alcohols (waste products which eventually kill the yeast) and CO2. Perhaps he should purchase Carbon Dioxide credits to assuage his conscience

  78. @ Kim Dabelstein Petersen #86
    If in order to supply the grid with 600MW you need a 1GW nameplate capacity of wind as well as a 810MW gas-fired station you need your head examining. The 810MW station will do more than that on its own.

  79. @Luke, i agree that it is a free-market thing… But why do you assume that anyone would shiver on cold nights? Do explain why a smart grid would do this?

    Yep, there is a risk that a freezer won’t restart again – but then that would be covered by insurance, and if it happened too often – then such a system wouldn’t work, and couldn’t be sold.

    Basis here is that contrary to what many people think [proponents as well as opponents], an green (or energy efficient) future is significantly dependent on hi-tech… as opposed to the contrary view that green would mean back to nature. 🙂

  80. @John77,

    You failed to understand the reason for the question, and the whole rationale for this discussion. Please read the OP again – then consider the question carefully again.

  81. @Abiogenesis,

    Do read up on the carbon-cycle will you? Two assertions of yours fail to take into account how this works – and thus fail completely.

    Brewing beer doesn’t create CO2 that isn’t already in the carbon cycle => does not impact CO2 levels.

    Using CO2 from a coal plant to feed greenhouses, creates CO2 => impacts the CO2 levels. [it doesn’t even “delay” things… think about it :-)]

  82. @ KDP #90
    No. I don’t think I fail to understand the reason for the question – I think I understand very well that you want to ask “turnedoutnice” when he stopped beating his wife.

  83. If you take a 810MW CCGT plant off baseload and combine it with a 1GW nameplate capacity wind turbine to produce 600 MW of electricity then you have to (i) use an extra 210MW of coal-fired generation and (ii) you have to spend umpteen GWH to smelt the aluminium and other metals for the 1 GW turbine. That would obviously increase CO2 emissions in total.

  84. @ KDP #89
    You are assuming that (i) there is no loss of utility to a householder if he/she suffers from food poisoning from food that has gone bad when he/she was unaware of it (ii) that food in freezers will remain an insurable loss after “smartgrids” take over.
    As you said earlier “prove it”

  85. @John77,

    The claim is that using wind turbines by necessity releases as much CO2 as it would by not using wind turbined …. ie. that net CO2 reduction is 0. That is the claim by the OP and by turnedoutnice (who does hedge it with hydro having an effect though). No beating of wife’s involved. 😀

    The example is set up specifically to ask the question as to whether this would or wouldn’t reduce CO2 – if the question is “it will” then the OP and turnedoutnices premise fail.

    As for your “smelting of aluminium” – sorry but that is an entirely different discussion, and doesn’t affect either the OP claim or turnedoutnice’s – since both are considering operating emissions. Nice attempt at a Gish gallop though.

    As for foodpoisoning … you fail here, not by playing devils advocate – but by failing to play devils advocate effectively. A freezer that can be turned off/on by command is a new technology, and it doesn’t take more than just a few micro-Watts of extra processing time to ensure that it *will* tell you if the freezer ever came above a certain threashold. [if software fails – then insurance would kick in automagically].

    As for your last sentence… I have *never* said “prove it”. Sorry.

  86. KDP said “Your food is not going to thaw, just because it turned off for a few minutes to make time for a reserve generator to get online.”

    Getting a spinning turbine connected to a generator with some sort of clutch mechanism would probably take a minute or a few minutes. Getting a turbine spinning from zero to a few thousand RPM might also take a few minutes given a stream from a boiler

    But to get a boiler from cold to hot will take at least hours if not days. A hot boiler produces CO2 whether it is directed at a turbine or not.

  87. @Eric Correct, the smart grid concept is primarily to “smooth” out the need for spinning reserves. [although you certainly could extend the freezer concept to a few hours without detrimental effects] – the base here is that there is quite a lot of heat-sink capability just idly lying around at the moment without being used for anything.

    Yes, it does take a long time to get a cold boiler online, but we’re not talking about cold->hot here.

    As for a hot boiler producing CO2 – of course it does. But a boiler generating power produces more CO2, than a boiler not generating power. 🙂 We’re not talking about removing CO2 emissions entirely, but about reducing CO2 emissions.

  88. Regarding a discussion of the smart-grid concept, and its benefits- look up

    Ramchurn et al(2011) “Agent-Based Control for Decentralised Demand Side Management in the Smart Grid” Proc. of 10th Int. Conf. on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems – Innovative Applications Track

  89. KDP @ 89 and 95. I have no idea of the effectiveness or otherwise of smart grids.

    My point is that if you are prepared to be hooked up to one, you should be rewarded for your willingness to reduce peak demand – I don’t know risks you would run.

    And if BIS wants guaranteed power at all time for every appliance in unlimited quantities, then he should pay for that. He might decide that the £100 he paid for 10 mins of his deep freeze at some peak demand in November was a reasonable price. He might not. You might decide that massively reduced fuel bills wiped out the cost and inconvenience of a thawed freezer (if indeed that ever happened). Not sure we’re really disagreeing.

  90. Kim, thanks for the prompt reply. No doubt adding some wind power to the grid reduces the power created by other sources. But the grid must always produce extra power due to fluctuating demand. The wind may be part of the extra power. A smart grid will help smooth the demand but it won’t substantially reduce major peaks (e.g. demand during the hottest part of the day in a heat wave).

    There is an obvious limit to unreliable sources like wind before they become detrimental instead of beneficial. I’m not sure if that limit is the single or double digits.

  91. OTOH, an argument for smart grid would say that turning off lots of people’s water heaters in a heat wave may be inconvenient, but it is not detrimental. Essentially we would use wind power to heat people’s water and they would get hot water if there was plenty of wind and/or less demand for other uses like A/C. In other cases they would get lukewarm water.

    Repeat the above scenario for all other less life critical power uses and that is essentially the limit for wind. I do not think that thawing a freezer for a few hours is acceptable. One of the reasons I have a lot of batteries in the crawl space (charged by solar on the roof) is so I can switch my fridge/freezer to battery power within an hour or two without opening the doors (that is key).

    With your concept of turning off power to people’s freezers for a few hours, your smart grid would have to extend to “smart” door locks on the fridge and freezer preventing them from being opened for those few hours.

  92. @ KDP #95
    Sorry, confusion over two similar quotes – you didn’t say “prove it” you said: “Do tell – i’m rather curious :-)”.
    You haven’t answered my question about food poisoning. You have ignored or mis-stated it. I was asking not about the monetary value of the food in the freezer but the much more important side-effects of eating food that has gone “off”. You claim that if the software fails the insurance will kick in automatically – how do you know. What will the insurance cover? A lifetime loss of earnings? My school suffered an outbreak of dysentry thanks to the municipally-owned water company while I was taking ‘A’ levels so I got a B in my best subject (but As in my worst subject and the General Paper which were on different days). Under today’s rules that would have barred me from Oxbridge and most of Russell Group universities. I have actually read the insurance policy and it would pay out the £20-£100 cost of the contents of the freezer not £0.5million or so loss of earnings.
    You have mis-stated the OP – maybe *you* should read it. He didn’t claim anything except that he would be willing to buy either of two opposing views if presented with evidence supported by *real* numbers.
    The energy used in constructing a windmill *has* to be taken into account by any *honest* commentator. The non-wind capacity needed is unchanged since the back-up needed is equal to the power produced because we have already witnessed wind variability that includes drops to 0.01% of power usage. So if you want to claim that wind-power reduces CO2 emissions you either have to be intelligent like the Dutch and use it for intermittent power or include the CO2 produced by constructing windmills.
    Your example of “refuting” CEPOS is spattered with errors and/or misleading comments. The claim that the existence of windpower reduced the Nordel price is thoroughly plausible but claiming to be able to precisely measure it is just plain wrong since in the total absence of windpower more conventional stations would have been built and no-one actually *knows* what the effect would have been. It is semantically correct that a levy on electricity users to support existing windmills is not a tax but try the duck test and to say there is no tax subsidy to windpower because the tax only subsidises the most expensive part (building the windmill) verges on terminological inexactitudes.

  93. Kim Petersen: Avedøre værket

    You are using a CHP plant efficiency of 91% [your 94% is high] when you should really be using the electrical efficiency of that plant in estimating the electrical efficiency of the windmill/standby combination.

    Please don’t try this on us. We are not daft.

    The real issue is the CO2 cost of the windmills using a typical 12 year lifetime and the decrease of fuel efficiency of the standby plant when used intermittently. This problem is alleviated by hydro but if you have to make it yourself using pump storage, you lose 30% of that pumping energy.

    The best approach is to use mass decentralised CHP to retain the heat in dwellings. Modern metal/ceramic systems [UK and US] give up to 57% conversion of methane to electrical power. The total efficiency [E + H] is 90% and you save >30% of the methane compared with windmills + CCGT standby.

    Additionally, if you compare windmills + CCGT standby powering heat pumps, being foisted on us by the EU, the decentralised fuel cell + heat pump would save >50% of the methane.

    As for smart grids, yes it helps particularly if you use water heaters to provide extra load on the grid. You could get away with less pump storage.

    Assuming 3 kW immersion heaters, to absorb 4 GW needs 1,3 million homes. This experiment is being tried out by the BPA. However, look at the cost. including maintenance, plus the transformer costs to cope with the decentralised surges in the grid. I don’t know if it is feasible in engineering terms.

    The fact is, since the Poles stopped the Germans dumping excess wind energy into their grid, last December, the German grid has failed over 900 times. Merkel sacked her environment minister. The overseeing committee has warned of imminent disaster not just for Germany, but also neighbouring countries where vast currents are recirculating in uncontrolled ways.

    The Germans are building 23 new coal fired power stations, lower than the 29 they had planned, but 4 are based on lignite and Germany is emitting 4% more CO2/annum.

    We can’t compete industrially unless we cease pouring good money into a bottomless renewables’ pit. Only nuclear has the long term potential for grid power with windmills off grid powering such plant as brine electrolysis.

    The windmills in a large industrialised country are basically a serious SNAFU with the emphasis on the ‘F’.

  94. This concentration of whether or not a freezer gets switched off is actually a red herring. Fridges, freezers use minimal power anyway. Whether they’re on or off means bugger all. Once you get a smart grid, it’s the heavy drain appliances they’ll want to control.
    And it’s all so predictable. The campaigns to change over to electric storage heating & water heating to benefit from that cheap, smart, off-peak generation. Little more tax on gas as encouragement. Then a lot more, because gas is so yesterday. That’s when you’ll find their load managing leaves you with no hot water & a freezing house because they’ve time moved your supply to when suits them.
    There’s too much talk here as if it’ll be an individual choice matter. It won’t be. A smart grid would require total participation. Even if it didn’t. To justify itself.
    Look, they do have form on this. Look at current generating policy. Between governments & the relevant industries we’re headed to a energy shortfall pretty soon. As long as their getting elected/ making dosh they don’t give a monkey’s. If it hits they’ll make careers clearing up the mess. These people aren’t our friends. They’re not in it for what they can do for us. When the blackouts come, their homes & offices will be the last to go dark.
    Smart grids are another word for rationing. And we know through bitter experience where that leads. Joe Shmoe goes without whilst the big cheese’s are never bothered by it. Zil lanes, anyone?
    Yep. Nice, technical idea until it hits the real world.

  95. @Eric – accrording to the experts the obvious limit to wind is roughly 30%.

    As for the smart grid, you need to think it a bit more through 🙂 Using only minute interuptions in freezer power, and a sufficient number of these, you can handle most peaks in power usage – without having to spin up your reserve. The other issue i’d ask you to think about is that a smart freezer will be capable of storing energy as well. We are *not* talking about a regular freezer attached to some power on/off interface – you need an agent-driven interface .. ie. the freezer can (and will) deny or allow according to local conditions (just been open? don’t allow! etc.).

    Neither lukewarm water in your water heater or significant drops in aircondition or heating are acceptable to customers – so they won’t happen (imho)… do remember that the power-companies here are entirely dependent on the customer’s acceptance of this technology – if it doesn’t work, or if it works inconveniently … then the customer will disconnect the smart grid interface. And even without any inconveniences to the customer, the power-companies will gain significant advantages 🙂

  96. @john77 I have answered your question about food-poisoning – by explaining that food-poisoning only is a possibility if the freezer was “dumb”… and it wouldn’t be…. In fact your chance of getting food-poisoning from food having thawed and refrozen would be higher with what you have today – as opposed to what you’d get in a smart freezer.

    And as for reading the OP – i think you should read it again – since the OP specifically states that wind+ reserve releases more CO2 than having the reserve generate the electricity alone.

    I’m not in disagreement that cradle to grave emissions should be considered – but this discussion is not about cradle to grave – but purely about operating conditions. Moving the goalposts is not an option.

    As for your comment on the reply to the CEPOS “study” – well that may be your opinion… I was relating what the experts say. And not even the CEPOS study makes as ridiculous claims as the OP.

    The whole tax vs. subsidies vs. customer prices is another move of the goal-posts here – it has nothing to do with the OP claim – or anything else. We’re not discussing economics or whether wind is more expensive than other power sources. [which btw. would’ve disqualified current nuclear – since it is too expensive]

  97. @turnedoutnice …. please look up Gish gallop.

    I was asking a simple question – which you, for all the abundance of writing in your comment, completely failed to answer.

  98. @bloke in spain….

    Sorry but even while freezers and refridgerators seem to use very little electricity – the total potential for the grid is high – and very much economical. The sum of power that all of the fridges and refridgerators use is sufficiently to offset peaks in the grid – and that is the whole point. (and it is more economical than alternatives).

  99. Kim Petersen: the arguments about smart metering are a convenience for windmill manufacturers and people who intend to get rich from carbon trading.

    The fact is, Fred Udo has found for the Irish grid which has some hydro, at 10% windmill power, you save 4% of the CO2. Above 10%, there is no further saving of CO2.

    Take account of the CO2 cost of the windmills and that 4% becomes much less, depending on the expected windmill lifetime. I have seen the threshold for greater CO2 at 2-3% penetration for non hydro grids. Smart metering will help but you’ll never save more than ~10% of the CO2.

    The answer is decentralised generation, mass fuel cells and Stirling engines which save at least 30% of the methane compared with large scale CGTs with cooling towers. You can use CHP standby systems but there is great resistance to this in the UK and governments find it easier to promote windmills.

    Add in biogas plus gradual introduction of CHP, and the saving of CO2 and maintenance cost compared with offshore windmills is tremendous. The only group which profits from the latter is government which gets the rent from the sea bed, an extra taxation stream.

  100. What’s indisputable is that wind (or any uncontrollable power source supplying a grid)
    costs more due to the need for 100% backup.
    That backup capacity costs money to operate, even during periods when it produces no power at all. And even if the current conventional generation has enough capacity to backup all your wind power, any displacement of its contribution by wind means that it will be operating at a lower rate, meaning any power it produces will cost more. And while a new nuclear plant can displace a large coal plant, no amount of wind will ever allow for the closure of a single conventional plant. Uncontrollable power has much less value that controllable power.

  101. KDP
    You’re living in cloud cuckoo land. What’s the replacement cycle on a freezer? Last one I bought was 20 years ago & is still going strong. OK, it’s not as energy efficient as the newer ones. But not so that I’d want to shell out several hundred pounds to replace it. How much are we hitting the punter for a smart freezer?
    This isn’t going to work without a level of compulsion. The investment needed won’t be justifiable. And if we’re talking smart appliances who pays for that investment? That’s the poor old consumer isn’t it? The industries will point out the benefits but they’ll also point out the economies of scale. More people who sign up, the better it’ll be. Next you know we’ll be having grants to early adopters. Funded, of course, by those who don’t. Home photovoltaic ring a bell? How long before it’s compulsory or failure to adopt is penalised? Seen the price of car tax on non-economic cars?

  102. @ KDP #106
    NO. You have ignored the point, again. And told lies, again. There is no option on my current freezer to be switched off at will and no warning light. ANY WARNING LIGHT CAN FAIL.
    The only way a smart freezer could avoid problems is by draining off power from other freezers when its temperature rose because a child opened it to take an ice-cream out of it. Which just transfers the problem to the next freezer in a Ponzi scheme. Do you know what a Ponzi scheme is? And that implies a absolute zero failure rate on the smart freezer.

  103. @ KDP #’106
    Part 2
    “I’m willing to believe either of the following two positions:

    1) Don’t be silly, of course generating electricity from wind reduces CO2 emissions.

    2) The inefficiency of needing to have gas backup for wind power means that wind ‘leccie generation doesn’t reduce CO2 emissions.”

    Can you read what is actually there?

  104. @ KDP #106
    Part 3
    NO the discussion is about whether using windmills reduces CO2 emissions overall NOT whether it reduces C2 emissions *ignoring the CO2″ emissions involved in construction”.
    If moving the goalposts is not an option, please *put them back where you found them*

  105. Kim Petersen: Gish gallop?

    Udo’s analysis of the Irish data shows that because windmills make the steam cycle part of standby plant operate with lower fuel efficiency, and that reduction of efficiency is roughly proportional to penetration, they don’t save any CO2 above a low penetration.

    The details will change with hydro and smart metering. However, I still stand by my comment that you can’t save more than ~10% CO2 when you add windmills to a synchronised grid with mainly fossil fuelled standby plant.

    You may be interested to know that much of the UK’s windmill system actually produces no power to the customers: this unmetered part is used by the central generators to produce ‘reactive power’ for grid conditioning so they save on having to generate it centrally, and they’re subsidised to do it.

    It’s a scam, pure and simple. Best to keep this failed technology, a failure dating back 40 + years, to <~5% penetration and get the fossil fuel savings from other techniques which can really work.

  106. @turnedoutnice 109

    Re: Fred Udo – please google “Fact Check: Fred Udo’s Bogus Numbers on Wind and Emissions Savings”

    Re CO2 cost of a windmill (production) – both the energy and CO2 cost is repayed/balanced within a few months of operation. Raising this as if it is a major factor – is either silly or deliberate misinformation.

    Try with figures that are accepted by both camps in this debate – or figure out what a median of the figures are. As it is right now, you are running on the assumption that wind-opposers numbers _must_ be correct, while all other figures are incorrect. Not a very sceptical approach to anything. (by the way – i will be very conservative and claim that the CO2 savings per kWh of wind derived energy is 300g – which is sufficient).

    But basis here is that you yourself is admitting that the figures from Bishop Hill (or rather the thing that BH quoted, and which was requoted here) is wrong. And that was the reason for my question.

    Thank you for agreeing.

  107. @Ramon Leigh,

    Here is a thought: Do you think that other power sources do not need backup? (hint backup power is a strawman – spinning (and cold) reserves are needed for all energy sources). This argument only makes sense if you consider a limited wind carpet, and a power-grid that isn’t interconnected.

  108. @ KDP #116
    The energy involved in the *construction* of a windmill may be repaid within a few months BUT not that involved in smelting the metal.

  109. @John77 112,

    Sorry but i have told no lies so far….

    As for your “warning light” – sorry – doesn’t work, since you have it reversed. A smart freezer always has a status display, if the display fails – then you *know* something is wrong – and you can’t fail to notice.

    And No. I neither suppose a 100% failure-free freezer – nor that the freezer can’t be opened. You simply fail to grasp the concept.

    As for your Ponzi scheme … no such is needed. It is the freezer that turns off – not the power. You seem to have it reversed in your head.

    #113 – do read the last line in the OP, we’re discussing the quote that was grabbed from BH. You really want to find some error here … don’t you … no matter what it is, you appear to need it to justify yourself 😉

    #114 – Sorry but the discussion is about operative savings – not cradle to grave savings. But if it really irks you so much – lets just add that no turbine will have *any* savings in the first 6 months of their operation. That way, we’ve eliminated both the CO2+energy required to build and dismantle the turbine … considering that a turbine runs for (sceptics 9 years, proponents: 20+ years) it is a pittance in the calculations. Sorry.

  110. My Dear KDP. I also have other, unpublished evidence from my son’s father in law who ran a coal fired power station for 29 years.

    When the Emu Downs windmill array near Perth opened, he noticed that on cool nights in spring and autumn when there was no heating or air conditioning, the 100 MW from the wind farm in 1 GW demand led to the steam turbines hunting about the set point and the fuel consumption rose.

    This has reportedly been seen in Colorado, Texas and Denmark. I have also worked in such a power plant, at Lynemouth, Northumberland.

    Sorry, but my steam plant experience and that of others tells me that Udo was generally right except for his Figure 3.

    It’s a fundamental property of steam turbines that their slew rate cannot cope with the demand variation you get with >~10% wind penetration. And even at lower penetration, their efficiency is compromised.

  111. “The whole tax vs. subsidies vs. customer prices is another move of the goal-posts here – it has nothing to do with the OP claim – or anything else. We’re not discussing economics or whether wind is more expensive than other power sources.”
    But we have to don’t we? because if we’re comparing the different efficiencies of two systems we do have to make sure we’re comparing them achieving the same ends. If your going to change the goalposts by including in system ‘B’ a smart grid requiring changing the whole use of electricity , then you aren’t achieving the same ends. If we’re not going to let you have your smart grid because you’re not trusted not to misuse it, then you can’t include it in your system. If you’re going to increase the cost of power, to deter use or to pay for the system, then you’re definitely not achieving the same ends. In both, your solution is part engineering, part economics, part politics.

  112. My Dear KDP again.

    The CO2 cost of a wind turbine is much more than that of its structure. It is also increased maintenance, particularly offshore, and the cabling. Indeed, that offshore is expected to be a major drawback because the lines will be trawled.

    As an engineer it is my duty to refuse to accept any data the renewables people tell me until they are proved experimentally.

  113. @ KDP
    i) That three Swedish nuclear power stations failed
    ii) “And as for reading the OP – i think you should read it again – since the OP specifically states that wind+ reserve releases more CO2 than having the reserve generate the electricity alone.”
    The OP does NOT say that
    iii) And not even the CEPOS study makes as ridiculous claims as the OP.
    The OP makes no claims except his willingness to believe an argument supported by facts
    iv) “The claim is that using wind turbines by necessity releases as much CO2 as it would by not using wind turbined …. ie. that net CO2 reduction is 0. That is the claim by the OP and by turnedoutnice (who does hedge it with hydro having an effect though). No beating of wife’s involved. :-D”
    v) “This lack of 1.8GW generating capacity took down the Sjælland grid as well – since the Danish part of the grid couldn’t handle the demand from Sweden, ”
    vi) “And your insistance that wind is not reliable is based on ignorance and assertion, rather than knowledge. ”
    Half-a-dozen for start: perhaps I could find more if I had “turnedoutnice”‘s level of technical knowledge.
    You continue to use insults instead of argument. I am still waiting for your apology over “Bullshit” 63 comments after you have admitted that I was right.
    You clearly do NOT know what a Ponzi scheme is. So don’t try telling *me* that I got it wrong.
    Your suggestion that a turbine will generate in six months enough power to balance the CO2 used in its manufacture is utterly ludicrous. If that was true then there would be no need for any subsidy.

  114. @John77 118

    The CO2/energy i was talking about was the whole shebang – which included whatever smelting, digging etc that was needed to create the turbine. Cradle to grave data would have informed you of that.

  115. John77; you must understand that in this post-normal World it is considered acceptable for proponents of ‘the cause’ to make incorrect statements. These will then be peer reviewed by fellow travellers to purport these statements have authority.

    What happens then is that they are quoted incessantly and any counter argument of a technical nature is shouted down as not peer reviewed so of no relevance.

    You identify such individuals by the peer-review catch phrase, also the reference to debunking sites which pick a hole in an argument and purport this is the end to the whole discussion.

    My tactic has been to establish the absolute truth. Thus there are 6 basic physics’ mistakes in climate science and the models are rigged to prove positive feedback by vast exaggeration of input energy and cooling to accentuate imaginary evaporation.

    The plan is a least 25 years’ old. it may date back to Hansen et als 1981 paper in which they exaggerated present GHG warming by 3.7 times by excluding lapse rate warming, totally unprofessional.

    When they got away with that, the next moves were to create new fake physics. The Mann hockey-stick was one. The 2004 claim that small droplet size cools the earth because of surface reflection was the latest and on this they claim now there is no warming because it’s exactly offset by this cooling!

    This claimed physics does not exist.

  116. “With your concept of turning off power to people’s freezers for a few hours, your smart grid would have to extend to “smart” door locks on the fridge and freezer preventing them from being opened for those few hours.”

    That sounds hoofing. Go to grab a beer when you get in from work, and find your own fridge is locked by the electricity company. Where do I sign up?

  117. @John77 #123

    i) Semantics again! Fail = nuclear power that didn’t enter the grid. 3 turbines were offline. I’ve already commented on this in #69 – if you want to only define “fail” as reactor failure – then so be it…. but it doesn’t change a thing. [your failure btw was in not reading the reference you yourself gave (and the refs within that) which would have told you that at the time of the failure Denmark was delivering 400MW to Sweden, and this caused the Danish powergrid to collapse when Sweden all of a sudden was “eating” the whole thing.
    Hint: Check google scholar Larsson & Ek “The black-out in southern Sweden and eastern Denmark, September 23, 2003.” IEEE

    ii) The OP asks us to discuss the quote from BH. You are simply being disingenious here.

    iii) Again the BH quote in the OP is what we’re discussing. It appears that you demand that if we do not specify every single possible miscomprehension – then you by default are right – lmao! CEPOS is not even remotely close to that claim – entirely correct from my side *g*

    iv) And you continue. Do you think that making 3 different roman numerals for the same thing makes it 3 different issues?

    v) See (i) – you simply failed to actually get to the bottom of the information. Sorry.

    vi) was entirely correct.

    More assertions about Ponzi schemes and mock indignation of my calling your bullshit comment “bullshit” (it still is – read your own bloody reference). Sigh.

    As for your last sentence – please learn to differentiate between CO2 and actual monetary cost. These are not the same. Subsidies exists as incentive and to offset that coal is *cheap*. Nuclear pays off its CO2 budget rather fast as well – but it also needs subsidies because coal is cheap. Sigh!

  118. @bloke in spain 121

    Nuclear, Solar, Wind, etc. are all more expensive sources of energy than coal. This has never been under discussion.

    Cost is not what this discussion is about – it is about CO2 reductions by utilizing wind.

  119. “Last one I bought was 20 years ago & is still going strong. OK, it’s not as energy efficient as the newer ones. But not so that I’d want to shell out several hundred pounds to replace it. How much are we hitting the punter for a smart freezer?”

    Exactly. Everyone is going to be forced to pay hundreds of pounds for new appliances, no doubt manufactured by European companies lobbying hard on an EU-wide basis as they did with lightbulbs. And they will shite and over complex compared to conventional freezers, will have to be replaced every few years, and will cost a fucking fortune.

  120. @Tim Newman 129

    Has the concept of power companies paying a premium (or even a good payment plan) for you to exchange your electrical appliances such as freezers not hit over there?

  121. @ KDP
    You lied.
    ““Sweden has NEVER had a failure with three nukes”

    Bullshit – sorry. They had it on Sep 23 2003.”

    There was NOT a failure with the nuclear power station. There was a failure in an electricity substation.

    There gets to be a point that people my age get fed up with people like you.
    So it has got the point where I am calling you a deliberate liar.

  122. Kim, you said “As for the smart grid, you need to think it a bit more through Using only minute interuptions in freezer power, and a sufficient number of these, you can handle most peaks in power usage – without having to spin up your reserve.”

    I have thought about the smart grid and I am in favor of it within reason. But remember that we are talking about the worst case demand: a heat wave. People have already turned up the thermostat so the house is warm. To keep the freezer at the proper temperature requires a certain amount of energy, more than usual. “Minute” interruptions in the power do not lower the amount needed. The peak load will not decrease unless you let people’s freezers get warmer which is unacceptable as you point out.

    Looking at these power curves I see that there is a very steady peak demand. Turning off freezers “minute” amounts will not change that curve because the freezer will need to be turned on shortly thereafter.

    The most that a very smart grid will accomplish is to enable a reduction in the gap between the supply and the demand which will reduce peak generation costs. It will not change the shape of the curve. The shape can’t change because we can’t turn off freezers for those peak hours.

  123. > Albert Stienstra: William M. Conolley is talking out of his hat when he says that the statement that wind rarely produces more electricity than 25% of its nameplate capacity is wrong.

    I didn’t say that. You have a basic comprehension problem. What I said was

    “the text you’re quoting ([A]s wind rarely produces more than 25% of its faceplate capacity it needs 75% backup) is wrong.”

    Notice the subtle difference? Its important. I’m saying that what is wrong is:

    > “[A]s wind rarely produces more than 25% of its faceplate capacity it needs 75% backup”

    or, to break it down a bit more, that

    > “wind rarely produces more than 25% of its faceplate capacity” implies “it needs 75% backup”.

    Its quite possible that wind does, indeed, rarely produce more than 25% of its faceplate capacity. I wouldn’t find that at all surprising, though I haven’t checked myself. But that, of itself, tells you nothing useful about how much back up it requires – as other comments here, mine but particularly KDP’s, will tell you.

  124. @Eric

    A heat wave is not something that you would handle this way – heat waves demand that you put in the reserve power. Heat waves are only a problem if your total system is underdimensioned… not that this can’t happen – but you won’t solve it by using from the smart grid.

    The smart grid is there to “smooth out” the peaks/troughs, that happen all of the time during regular operations, in a cheap and efficient fashion.

  125. Why are so many people taking this “Kim”DP seriously? He obviously knows nothing about power generation, including wind energy.

  126. @John77 131

    You really keep harping up about this – don’t you.

    Sweden *has* had a failure with 3 nukes.

    But, you apparently hedge your “lie claim” in that i should indicate with this that the 3 nukes were burning, gone china syndrom, choked, or what ever else ones imagination can dredge up.

    They haven’t had 3 china-syndromes – correct. But then i never claimed that they had.

    I claim that Sweden has had a failure in their power system involving 3 reactors. Which is 100% correct. In fact it took all 3 reactors completely off the grid, which caused the whole of southern Sweden, and East Denmark to go black.

    As i’ve already stated in #69 – if you want to have it as “3 reactors dropped out” – then read it that way. It changes nothing about the facts.


  127. The grid has to expect there will be at times surges from the windmills to a high proportion of their theoretical capacity. It’s because the power O/P is proportional to the cube of the wind speed.

    So, you must design most of the power to be from standby plant most of the time. The MGC expected level is 80% but at 20% wind penetration you can save very little CO2 emissions because the standby plant is hunting, out of control.

    The Danes lie when they claim 20% wind energy in their grid. It’s just 10% direct use, the rest coming back from hydro used to absorb surges.

  128. @Pogo:

    > The comment is my paraphrase… of a paper submitted to the House of Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change by William R B Bowie C.Eng, BSc, MICE, FCIHT who is an engineer with considerable experience of power generation.

    OK, so it was probably careless of Timmy to post your paraphrase without checking the original (, I think). However, in this case it looks like you have correctly paraphrased an incorrect argument.

    Despite a long string of letters, I’m doubtful that WRBB is a reliable source. But he quotes some other folk:

    > Whilst they are agreed ‘back-up is needed, there is some latitude in the estimates of the minimum ‘back-up’ needed. Dr Paul Golby CEO of E.On UK, says 90% whilst Mr Rupert Steele of Scottish Power says, “Thirty Gigawatts of wind maybe requires twenty-five GW of backup”

    So that isn’t really much latitude: the people from the actual power companies are claiming that wind needs 80-90% backup.

    But you have to be careful with what that means. It doesn’t mean what WRBB thinks it means (which destroys his credibility). He adopts (for unclear reasons) a 75% “backup” value, and then assumes that power generated is: 25% * wind + 75% backup (from fossil fuels). But that isn’t what the power people are saying at all (I assert). By “backup”, they mean “capacity in reserve” needed to back up the wind power. Which means that, given only the figures he quotes, you can’t tell how often the fossil plants were run.

    I.e., his “Since the wind turbines only operate at about 25% of their rated or name-plate capacity* the ‘back-up’ has to supply the remainder, of 75%.” is completely wrong.

  129. In practice, to allow for plant failures, a non windmill system will have ~110 – 120% of maximum demand.

    The rule of thumb by the power companies is that as they retire older plant, they will have to install 90% of new windmill capacity as standby plant.

  130. If one is looking for facts about the spinning reserved needed to back up wind power and the reduced reliability, I suggest documents posted by National Grid (supplier of electricity to Britain) when planning to implement the government’s Gone Green scenario: 30% of electricity from wind power in 2020. Their plans were sent to power suppliers for review and comment and then revised. As a highly regulated monopoly, National Grid is not going to make any politically incorrect statements about the national objectives set by the British government. Therefore, they don’t calculate how much CO2 emissions will actually be reduced under the Gone Green scenario or how much more electricity will cost. Instead, you need someone who understands their business. It is clear however, that they plan to double their reserve and are incapable of predicting 4 hours ahead of time (the time needed to bring additional fossil fuel on line?) high reliability how much wind power will actually be available. The uncertainty is roughly the average wind power output, about 30% of name-plate capacity. The also provide data showing that peak demand, which falls in the coldest days of winter, is frequently associated with negligible wind.

  131. “Cost is not what this discussion is about – it is about CO2 reductions by utilizing wind”

    No, but you can’t compare CO2 reduction strategies without requiring competing systems provide similar outcomes. A gas generating system provides a flexible, on demand, electricity supply. Wind alone, doesn’t. To get it to do so, you’re having to strap on back up capability from other sources, imposing a smart grid & requiring a complete appliance change. Are you factoring in the carbon resulting from manufacturing several hundred million domestic & commercial appliances? Because that’s what you’re going to need. Without them your smart grid doesn’t work, does it?

  132. Kim, without a heat wave, can the smart grid smooth the daily peak and trough that are shown in my link? If so, how is that accomplished? My comment about the uselessness of “minute” changes in power allocated to freezers still applies. How do you power the freezer during the daily peak other than not powering it and powering it only during the daily trough?

    My answer is that you can’t. A freezer simply cannot be underpowered for hours at a time, even “minutely”. Things that can be shut down for hours include water heaters. That may cause some inconvenience. With my power company (Virginia) there is no ongoing payment for that inconvenience, but there is free installation of the switch and free repairs on the water heater for as long as you are in the program. They have a similar program for A/C which pays $25 (once) but only cycles off the A/C a few minutes each hour to balance local loads.

    Note that these programs do almost nothing to change the power curve. The reason that the daily curve is so smooth (no peaks/troughs at all other than diurnal) is that the depicted load is average over thousands of diverse users. However those programs do help a lot with local load balancing which reduces the current through feeders and thereby cuts costs.

  133. Kim Dabelstein Petersen: ‘The smart grid is there to “smooth out” the peaks/troughs, that happen all of the time during regular operations, in a cheap and efficient fashion.’

    Would I be correct in understanding it more-or-less as follows: the smart grid idea of (e.g. turning off freezers temporarily when safe to do so) is not really to save power, but more to “buy time”? Time that can be used to bring other sources online, or even for a temporary peak to pass?

  134. There are two unjustified assumptions in the submission to parliament:

    1) that all the variability in wind power output has to be compensated for by OCGT. In reality, both wind and demand are somewhat predictable, so some of the shortfall can be made up using more efficient plant.

    2) that the variability of wind power across the whole network is that same as the variability in a single wind turbine. In reality, correlation is less than one.

    So the answer to Tim’s question is; that depends. It is certainly worth looking at empirical data from the grid rather than just assuming that the more windmills the better.

    Looking forward, the usefulness of wind power can be increased by the use of smartgrid technology, as KDP has suggested. Contrary to what many commentators have assumed, this doesn’t have to work by the generator forcibly turning off consumer devices. Rather, electricity prices can vary continuously, and consumer units can decide for themselves what to do, based on their owners’ instructions. Personally, I would be happy to run my freezer a degree cooler when electricity is cheap, and a degree warmer when it’s expensive.

    The idea of the smartgrid would be to smooth out shout-term fluctuations of demand and supply, leaving medium-term fluctuations to be accommodated using relatively efficient generating plant.

    Also, as KDP suggests, wind power is more useful in combination with hydroelectricity, which can quickly be turned on and off. That’s barely relevant to the UK.

    KDP and john77 have had a long discussion about the 2003 power outage in Denmark. john77’s point was that

    Normally reliable news sources (BBC and FT) reported that this was due to break in the Sweden-Denmark interconnector after which a lot of people learned that “Green” Denmark relied on Swedish nuclear reactors.

    which he later corrected to

    the failure was in that part of the interconnector linking Northern to Southern Sweden.

    There’s no important difference between him and KDP on what caused the problem. But his contention that the outage showed that Denmark was relying on power from Swedish nuclear reactors is not borne out by the official report, which says

    Imidlertid var produktionen på de sjællandske kraftværker langt fra tilstrækkelig til at opretholde forsyningen i hele det sydsvenske/østdanske område

    which, roughly, means

    However, the production of the Zealand plants was far from sufficient to maintain supplies throughout the southern Swedish / East Danish area

    i..e that once the area was isolated, the Danish generating plants were insufficient to supply southern Sweden.

    Another commentator, turnedoutnice, has made some apposite comments on the unattractiveness of wind generation to electricity grid engineers. It’s a pity he spoils it by ranting about climate science, which is not the subject of this discussion.

  135. Hi Paul: climate science is the core of the discussion for it is the fake heat transfer assumptions within it, as every process engineer who sees the heat transfer in the Trenberth Energy Budget immediately perceives, which justifies carbon trading and the windmills.

    The response has to be two-fold: establish absolute data about the windmills [and solar], also show the IPCC consensus is junk science.

    This is not to say there are no problem with CO2 nor that there has been no climate change.

  136. The Royal Academy of Engineering reckons that maximum allowable wind contribution to the grid is limited to about 20%.

    “We applaud any initiative to boost the contribution of renewable energy sources within a balanced energy portfolio,” says Academy Vice President Dr Sue Ion. “However, wind power cannot provide all our electricity – 20 per cent is about the limit to preserve grid stability.”

    Where will the other 80% come from?

  137. KDB
    If wind were to be brought in (at up to 30%).
    A) What would it replace? (Whatever we want?)
    B) How much space would it need?

  138. @Paul B
    I went to bed so I did not see KDP’s latest lies. There is a *massive* difference between our views. Mine are supported by facts/facts as reported by international experts.
    The power failure in Copenhagen was due to a transmission system failure. See the official report. He admits it in #69. He *keeps* trying to blame the failure on the nuclear plants, when it was down to (i) Denmark’s shortage of production versus demand and (ii) failure in the transmission system. The argument that windpower is reliable depends on the assumption that the transmission syastem across the whole of Eurasia is 100% efficient and reliable. So he lyingly trashes the Swedish nuclear power system to pretend that there is no problem with transmissions. I have said that I don’t read Danish but I have no reason to doubt the IEEE report. KDP claims that 400KW was being supplied from western Denmark before the crash, which – if you read the IEEE report, was less than one-quarter of the usage in eastern Denmark so the power loss in Copenhagen was *as I said in the first place* due to the loss of power from Sweden’s nuclear reactors on which it relied: it was receiving 400KW from western Denmark and 1450KW from Sweden. He LIES when he calls my comment “bullshit”. This is easily demonstrated by looking at the sources and actually thinking rather than just assuming the “leftie” must be right.
    If you look at the combination of the slur on the very high reliability of “nukes” and the denial of failures in the transmission systems and the claim that weather forecasting was so reliable that it could predict the energy generated by a scattered thousand of windmills (while it could not, according to today’s Telegraph say whether it was going to be sunny or pouring) and his claim that my views *must* be ignorant when he did not know them or me, and his claim that Tim was promoting one view when he asked for comments, and his insistence that my views were based on ignorance, even when he does not even know who I am or that I have observed many failing windmills, you need to wash out your mouth with soap after comparing me with
    Kim Dabelstein Petersen.
    A host, maybe all, of his lies that I have identified make windmills (a major export for Denmark) look better than the truth. He ignores most of the posts that he cannot refute and lies about mine. It is no wonder that I have lost patience.

  139. @ William M. Conolley Aug 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    There is no need to be verbose about your unclear text, it does not change anything. And with regard to your explanation about backup, you should teach your grandmother to suck eggs.

    In any case, I note there is no more mention of some “European grid” taking care of wind power deficits.

  140. @John77

    I’m getting rather tired of your claims when they have been debunked several times!

    Let me quote directly from the IEEE paper
    (Since this blog doesn’t allow the direct IEEE link, google: “The black-out in southern Sweden and eastern Denmark, September 23, 2003.”)

    I’ve never claimed that western Denmark was delivering anything to Zealand, and i never said that Sweden delivered 1450kW … not even remotely… [you got the figure wrong 1850kW, which was the capacity of the Zealand powerstations that was lost – not the Swedish power – rather typical though].

    Pre-fault conditions: “The generation in Zealand was scheduled according to the spotmarket trade on NordPool to an export of 400 MW to Sweden.”

    System impacts: “The inertia of the remaining generators in Denmark was immediately drained from trying to feed the demand. Within seconds, the frequency and voltage had dropped to levels where generator and other grid protections reacted and this entire subsystem collapsed”

    Either you are incapable of re-reading the paper, and correcting your own mistakes – or you are deliberately misleading.

  141. @John77

    We can even continue – i finally found the English version of the Elkraft document ( [The official report]

    Let me quote:

    Just before the power failure, the power stations in Eastern Denmark were producing about 1,800 MW, while wind turbine production was about 450 MW. This covered a consumption of about 1,850 MW in Eastern Denmark and a market-determined export to
    Sweden of about 400 MW.

    In Eastern Denmark, the total capacity ready to go into operation at that time was around 3,300 MW, which covered reserves of 775 MW besides consumption and export.There was thus plenty of production capacity in Eastern Denmark to cope with a random design trip.

    Now do you think you should consider a retraction John77?


  142. @David 144

    A) you’d probably phase it in, while you mothball the ones that are already scheduled for it, while of course balancing appropriately between the various loads.

    B) With old technology you can take a look at Denmark to see how much our windcarpet fills (there is a link to a interactive map in #38. A 30% modern windcarpet would fill significantly less – since the Danish carpet contains both old and new turbines.

  143. john77: no, you and KDP have long since agreed what failures caused the problem. It doesn’t make sense for you to say that he admits the truth and to say that he’s still denying it.

    The important difference is that you say that power failed in [East] Denmark because it was relying on imported electricity from Sweden to compensate for the low load factor of its windmills. All the evidence I have seen says that you are wrong. What happened was:

    1) A nuclear power station in Southern Sweden failed, causing Southern Sweden to need more electricity from other regions

    2) A few minutes later, an unrelated substation failure on the West of Sweden disconnected two nuclear units and the west coast transmission line to Southern Sweden

    3) The increased load on the remaining transmission line to Southern Sweden from Central Sweden caused it to be disconnected by safety systems. This left Southern Sweden and East Denmark (which is mainly Zealand) connected to each other but otherwise isolated.

    4) The generators in East Denmark – I suppose these would be the Kalundborg and Avedøre power stations, which have a combined capacity of 1867MW, together with whatever wind power was being generated – were incapable of meeting the demand from Southern Sweden, and the whole system failed.

    Now, you wrote, addressing KDP

    …retract you statement that Denmark’s power failed because it was sucked by Sweden at a time when Sweden was supplying Denmark with power.

    All the evidence is that KDP’s statement was correct and your contention that Sweden was supplying Denmark with power at the time was incorrect. Unless you’ve got something to back up your claims about this, you should withdraw.

    Note that at the time only about 16% of Denmark’s electricity generation was by windmills.

  144. @ Paul B
    Thank you for the information, which contradicts the English version of the IEEE report that I previously assumed (in the absence of learning modern languages) to give me a correct view. I was wrong on that point.

  145. @ Kim Dabelstein Petersen
    I was wrong to rely on the press reports and the English language version of the analysis of the failure in 2003 so I apologise for that. I was simply reading, not “re-reading” (what does that mean?) the paper.
    The fact remains that the fault was not with Sweden’s nuclear power stations but with the transmission systems upon whose perfection you rely for your claims for the reliability of windpower.

  146. Kim,

    Thanks for that.
    I am still not 100% convinced – particularly since Denmark is a lot less denesly populated than us.

  147. It looks to me as if the back end costs of a “smart grid” might just be enormous.

    Constant wear and tear on the household grid and appliances would have the affect of lowering (probably quite significantly) the life of appliances and grid. It would in effect be reintroducing ‘dirty electricity’ to households.

    The only way I see around this scenario is for each household to have an inverter and/or battery backup. Not a cheap, or cost-effective scenario by any means.

    So yes, you *MAY* save on the front end. But the back end costs are going to kill you. More especially if a household is wired with aluminum (even AL with a copper core).

  148. Doesn’t the idea that it’s always blowing somewhere so we are okay with wind imply that you have to over build capacity every where?

    i.e. if the wind is only blowing in the Isles of Scotland then the spare capacity in those isles has to be enough to cover the whole of the UK, or the whole of Europe?

    Even ignoring transmission loses that just isn’t feasible.

  149. @cdc and Steve T,

    Perhaps you may both consider that *all* powerstations are backed up. Thats nothing new – if a generator crashes or a transmission line fails – you don’t experience power-outs, because backup power is always online.

    A data such as the 7th Dec 2010 (or even a few days ago) where wind doesn’t blow – is not a surprise – most of these are predictable, and you bring other generators online.

    Re: Steve T’s “obvious” line of reasoning – which is wrong …. Power generally isn’t consumed linearly either – the power demand constantly fluctuates. Handling fluctuating power sources (and sinks) are all in a regular days work for power-grids … Wind is nothing special here.

  150. @Frumious,

    Again you are mixing up the direction that the power offs/on’s lie in the smart-grid.

    It is not the grid that turns off and on…. It is the electronics in the appliance that regulate its power-consumption.

    The grid power is just as “clean” as it always has been (for a given value of always 😉 )

  151. @ Anyone who will listen to reason instead of a sales pitch from Vestas and other sellers of windmills
    There is no 1 for 1 back-up of conventional power stations. For Pete’s sake when has any sane operator had nameplate capacity amounting to twice peak capacity?
    This would be ROFL if it was funny, but isn’t – just utterly stupid.

  152. @ Steve T #161
    The idea is that the 30%+ loss of energy in transmission from the North of Scotland to Central England does not matter because it is generation, not use, that is measure by Tony Blair’s pledge. One of these proposed power lines passes within less than a mile of a disused hydro-electricity generating plant. Any sane person would have restarted the hydro plant but not Blair and Brown

  153. @john77

    There isn’t a 1 for 1 backup for wind turbines either – if your supposition is that there isn’t one for other power-sources.

    You have a certain amount of variability in both consumption and in generation + what is needed to handle sudden “outs” => spinning reserves. There is no difference here between wind and other power-sources.

    Besides this you have a reserve of “cold” power-sources that you can attach to the system, given time, in case you expect outages, and you have transmission lines to other grids to both dump and leach.

    When you build 100MW of wind, you do not build 100MW of backup at the same time… What you do build is the capacity to handle variability to the extent that it is needed – which is far less.

    And no sane person who has any knowledge of wind turbines consider the nameplate capacity as other than potential.

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