Interesting thought

Louise Hutchins, climate campaigner for Greenpeace, said: \”At the moment it [renewable energy] is a very small share in electricity and small fluctuations in weather can have an impact on the percentage of supply. When we have a lot more renewable energy there will be a lot more stability.\”

If we had many different types of renewable energy and their efficiency or output were uncorrelated, this would be true.

However, we don\’t: solar PV is not going to be a significant part of the mix anytime soon, we\’re not building any more large scale hydro (and small scale won\’t make much difference because it\’s, umm, small scale) and so pretty much everything is going into wind.

And yet we do know that it is possible for, in mid winter, on a cold day (our cold mid winter days being caused by the sort of weather formation that does this) for there to be nowhere in the British Isles at all where there is sufficient wind to generate electricity.

So as far as I can tell (and please do correct me if I\’m wrong) Greenpeace here is (surprise!) wrong. Greater reliance upon renewables will increase instability of supply.

5 thoughts on “Interesting thought”

  1. The key then is to cease referring to it as ‘renewable’ and just as ‘wind’. It is the renewable energy our Government has bet the farm on and it is plainly potty when you make the point you just have.

    There are two other strands to this as well. The european energy interconnector thingy for sharing wind power around the continent and to act as a massive pumped storage facility, and the introduction of smart meters which can throttle energy consumption if required.

    The pumped storage thing will reduce but not eliminate instability and if energy companies are finding ways to reduce and restrict our consumption rather than provide us with power we are prepared to pay for their incentives are wrong.

  2. Greenpeace does indeed have this wrong. The one thing we can be certain about adding a large capacity of coincidentally intermittent wind into the generation mix is that electricity supplies will become LESS stable. This is after all a matter of physics, not quasi-religious opinion.

    Mind you, Greenpeace’s comments appear almost rational compared with those of Alex Salmond, who according to the Guardian Environment blog recently claimed the opportunity presented by offshore wind and marine energy is “a pivotal turning point in human history, on a par with the move from hunter-gathering to settled agricultural communities or the discovery of the New World in 1492”

  3. The potential instability is bad enough, but add to that the simple requirement that all “renewable” (with the exception I suppose of tidal) sources need 90+% of conventional hot-standby, it doesn’t even save anything measurable in the output of “greenhouse gasses” – unless the standby is nuke, which the greenies hate.

    Cretins, the lot of ’em (if that’s not beeing too harsh on cretins).

  4. Well, I guess if we were talking “globally” she would also be correct. But since there isn’t a global grid to transfer excess from one are areas without, talking globally is pointless, indeed rather silly.

    Still, when did the silliness of an idea ever stop people like those who inhabit Greenpeace?

  5. I am not an economist but there appears to be another point here as well. We consumers can either use our money to buy inefficiently produced electricity or to buy goods and services. The money used to erect stationary turbines could be better used. Adam Smith, I feel, would have had a field day.

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