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Calling Wind Power Supporters

OK, so there\’s ths paper come out about the actual effects of having lots of windpower on the UK grid. Yes, I\’ve read the paper and yes, this article gives a fair enough summary.

Now, could someone who really understands the science here (and preferably someone who supports the installation of wind power, if there actually be any people who are both) please explain something to me.

Why in buggery are we going ahead with wind? It doesn\’t seem to solve any problems at great cost.

It\’s even (in theory at least) possible that it will raise carbon emissions.

14 thoughts on “Calling Wind Power Supporters”

  1. I would tend to give Oswald’s opinions a high degree of weight. The remarks by the representative of the windpower industry are probably true-wind will “nver” go to zero, but it is equally true that at many times it will approach zero. The running average for windpower output as a % of rated capacity continues to converge to about 30% on an annual basis regardless of added installations. Back-up in the form of efficient base-load plants cannot be “turned-off” to await their need as any attempt to bring them on-line from cold or shtting them down quickly will cause thermal stress and will seriously damage them . So, less efficient peaking units, gas or diesel will be used to stablize the grid variances induced by wind turbines. Similiar studies in the USA by NERC have all concluded that while wind power can reduce the total use of, e.g., coal and natural gas, you cannot (should not) assign ANY capacity capital cost savings to them as they will require almost 100% back-up capacity. Worse (IMO), when the wind turbines ARE on-line, the larger capacity units (150 Mw+) tend to vary their output by some 10-20% in as little as 5 minute spans, thus the base-load units are constantly “hunting” to maintain total grid input which lowers their efficiency and will have long-trerm effects on the turbine sharts and blade life. Wind will reduce total CO2 output and when combined with, say, pumped-storage, to-be-developed energy storage devices, hydrogen production, etc. will increase in load factor above their present 30%. But a system with more than about 10% of peak-serving Wind capacity will put severe spinning reserve requirements on such a grid.

  2. I saw an article in yesterday’s paper about smoking and bingo halls. It happened to remark that bingo players used to like to gamble on slot machines during their smoking breaks. It also said that the government had lately reduced the number of slot machines that the halls could instal. My first reaction was “By Bernie, the buggers have been bribed”. Windmills too?

  3. “But a spokesman for the British Wind Energy Association said: “All the research we are aware of shows wind farms produce electricity for something like 80 to 95 per cent of the time.””

    You see Tim the report is plain wrong unless you doubt the word of British Wind Energy Association. 😉

  4. Because of your apostasy, you do not have the Roman Catholic Church standing up as a bulwark defending the concept that truth is good.
    “The (wind)mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine.”
    If you don’t get back to The Church, the Devil is going to utterly destroy you.

  5. “Why in buggery are we going ahead with wind?”

    Two words:

    European Union


    The answer is “a catastrophic failure of leadership in the face of junk science and a reconstituted Marxism hiding behind environmentalism”

    The failure of leadership starts in Parliament, not Brussels

  6. The point that your Telegraph article fails to understand is that back-up for volatile windpower has also got to become non-fossil-fuel bascd. We have to find renewable batteries to hold the surplus power created when it’s windy. Relying on coal powered power stations is just a stop gap measure.

    Two possible technologies are electric cars, which take a charge from the mains when surplus is available, and pumped hydroelectric reservoirs (there’s one already operating in Wales) which pump water up hill in times of surplus.

  7. Back in January, Burning Our Money posted a link to a review of “How wind power works in Denmark” (Denmark having the sort of proportion of wind power we are aiming for). In summary:
    -Average load factor is about 20%; so for every 5 megawatts of installed capacity, only 1 megawatt is delivered on average through the year.
    -Power availability is utterly unrelated to power requirements, so ALL the wind power must also be available, on demand from existing conventional power stations.
    -Denmark actually gets by because it has power grid links to the huge German grid, and to the Norweigan grid which has a lot of fast responding hydroelectric capacity. Without these links the scheme wouldn’t work.

  8. 1. 20% – 30% load factor is pretty much standard: that’s how windpower works.

    2. Power availability is bound to be unrelated to power requirements. That again isn’t surprising. It only works when the wind blows.

    3. I don’t think windpower supporters (of which I am one) disagree with this. Windpower doesn’t make any sense on its own. For windpower to become anything more than a green toy, it needs lots of other infrastructural spending. Bring it on.

    Tim adds: So it’s going to cost much, much more than the £100 billion quoted then?

  9. John A – you may be right, but you are wrong in detail.

    As things stand, the renewables committment is dictated by Brussels and there is not a damn thing anyone in our provincial parliament at Westminster can do about it.

    The failure of leadership in our Parliament was the handing over of those powers in the first place, but I do not think that is what you meant.

  10. >>So it’s going to cost much, much more than the £100 billion quoted then?

    The figure quoted in the article is £100m, not billion. But that sounds ridiculously low for the scale of the project. What does the government know about numbers anyway? The point is that it will be private sector investment that pays for this, which means it will be us consumers paying so much extra per kWh. But with fossil fuelled electricity set to rocket in price, it’s fast getting to the point where renewables will be cheaper than fossil fuels in any event which must be an outcome everyone would be happy with.

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