Werl, gotta larf, aint yer?
New figures published by The Sunday Telegraph show that 2010 was, by one authoritative measure, the least windy year since 1824.
It appears that as we pout up ever more windmills we have ever less wind to power them. This number is well known among those who have been staying awake:
At 5.30pm on December 7, which National Grid says was the moment of the fourth-highest demand ever recorded in British history, wind contributed just 0.4 per cent of the country\’s electricity needs.
And as those figures from a couple of years ago showed, it\’s entirely possible for there to be so little wind on a cold winters\’ day that the wind turbines would actually be a drain on the grid (they require some stand by power apparently).
I have to admit to being terribly, terribly, confused over this whole wind power thing. I can see the published numbers for generation and costs and see that they\’re respectively low and high. I can see the fact that we can\’t store the energy so that we do indeed need back up.
But I\’ve never really been quite able to unpack the costs of such back up, the essential inefficiency of such back up (it needs to be gas turbines, as they are the only things that can crank up sufficiently swiftly. But cranking up such a turbine is itself inefficient, in both money and emissions terms) and what the overall effect is.
I have indeed read the various North/Booker pieces where they claim that the net saving of emissions is zero: or worse is in fact negative. But I have a really, really, hard time getting my head around the idea that the political system has in fact been so overtaken by loons as to be that massively and entirely stupid.
I\’m also entirely aware that all of the various Greenpeace, FoE etc reports that say we can power the country largely by renewables all start with \”first, we reduce demand by 50%\” or some such.
I suspect, and I emphasise suspect, that a very large section of the cheerleaders for such renewables (specifically wind: I\’m a great deal more optimistic about solar PV, but not this generation of it. But solar PV isn\’t that far away from actually being desirable purely on cost grounds, one or two more iterations of the technology I think) have got as far as \”look, it\’s free, no fuel and no emissions!\” and then cranked all the other figures to suit this thought.
What I\’m really not sure about is how far this attitude has infected those compiling the official figures, the figures which we use to build the cost benefit analyses of what we should actually be installing.
That some official figures are so infected is undoubtedly true: the whole rooftop windmills thing, they\’ll never, in anything close to an urban environment, generate even the energy which is embedded in them by dint of their manufacture.
But what I want to know, and would be very grateful if anyone could point me to an authoritative source, is how badly the larger wind argument, the argument over these larger windmills, has become so infected?
I would be especially grateful if people could point me to debunkings of, from the pro-wind side, such claims that wind doesn\’t work. As a purely personal quirk I\’m much better at spotting errors in an argument against another than I am in judging the veracity of the original. When someone is failing to rebut an argument there\’s usually holes in such a rebuttal that I can see.