Skip to content

Just all so mindbogglingly efficient, isn’t it?

Wind farms backed by government subsidies could be paid more to switch off than to generate power, The Telegraph has learnt.

A lack of grid storage and transmission infrastructure means that the UK is regularly producing more electricity from wind than it can use.

It also tells us that wind isn’t as cheap as we’re told – because it requires that more grid which isn’t included in the calcs now, is it?

19 thoughts on “Just all so mindbogglingly efficient, isn’t it?”

  1. As we want reliable power, it also requires the whole system of coal,oil, gas and uranium burners and the grid needed to deliver their power.

    Since such generators are less efficient when they are being erratically turned on and off, the wasted fuel, the wear on the generators and the staff needed to handle the erratic flow of power are also additional costs of wind.

  2. A lack of grid storage and transmission infrastructure means that the UK is regularly producing more electricity from wind than it can use.

    We should be told when this is and instead of paying bird choppers not to produce, we should have free electricity so we can run heaters or whatever.
    Do our bit for grid stability.

  3. What exactly is meant by “switch off” here?

    The wind blows or it doesn’t. If it’s too strong, the blades can be feathered (or it can collapse or catch fire – more frequent than is admitted), so presumably it means this. Storage of unreliables in the real world is basically a fantasy, so excess – beyond the immediate local demand – can go nowhere.

    All I see is “paid” and another excuse to give money. As more of these white elephants appear, it is becoming harder and harder to pretend. The ONLY answer is more subsidy. The permanent back up required can be denied, but it has to be paid for

  4. Its part of the devilish contract the windfarmers got. They still get paid if they have to feather their blades. Economics of the madhouse just to meet the political desires of that supreme idiot Miliband.

    What is more unfathomable is why all the idiot pols who succeeded him have continued with this nonsense. Its not helped by engineers at the National Grid pandering to this. They seem to understand the issues, especially reducing inertia, but look for magical solutions rather than pushing back.

  5. @Chernyy Drakon

    We should be told when this is and instead of paying bird choppers not to produce

    Typically this will occur in the dead of night when demand is low, often but not necessarily in summer.

    In time I expect “demand based” tariffs to become available that “could” take advantage of it however even with lots of home automation and smart devices it’s very difficult to set what should come on during a glut of power on a warm summers night. Heating water is about it. The norm will be to turn things off when demand is high and the wind isn’t blowing.

  6. Some of this is the size of the cables. Even if there is loads of ‘free’ wind and we all want to use it there will be some operators who are paid to switch off as the grid can’t move that much power around on the infrastructure we have.
    The good news is there is a plan to resolve this issue. The bad news is that it will cost £1,000,000,000,000.

  7. Thing here is… While it’d be technically possible to build grid “superhighways” to distribute electrons over 100’s of miles to where the big sinks are..

    The peeps that are most adamant about us Going Green, are also the NIMBY-est ( or Not Anywhere-est..) when it comes to putting up the towers and stuff needed to accomplish this…
    If they think at all, given that for most of them electricity is something that comes naturally from a wall socket. They have no idea of the technical challenges of actually getting it there.

  8. Surely the best use of night-time cheap wind leccy is for charging EVs?

    Let’s just hope the Net Zero delusion collapses before society does. I am in South Africa at the moment and constant power cuts are driving the nation even further into decline, despite its legacy of first world infrastructure. Lack of reliable power is crippling small businesses, increasing crime and boosting already-vast inequality. Power cuts are also a pain in the hole.

    Still, the Cape Winelands are still beautiful, cheap and the wine is magnificent.

  9. ‘ A lack of grid storage and transmission infrastructure means that the UK is regularly producing more electricity from wind than it can use.’

    So just wait until that lack of transmission infrastructure has to deal with treble the demand to charge EVs and replace gas.

  10. BB

    “Since such generators are less efficient when they are being erratically turned on and off, the wasted fuel, the wear on the generators and the staff needed to handle the erratic flow of power are also additional costs of wind.”

    It’s not just the wasted fuel/wear etc. If wind is your source of energy (rather than nuclear or fossil or whatever), then the entire cost of that other (as necessary back up), including its capital, disposal and all the rest, is all part of the real additional cost of wind.

  11. A lack of grid storage and transmission infrastructure means that the UK is regularly producing more electricity from wind than it can use

    The overwhelming surplus is produced from Scottish wind farms. So no need to expand the grid South of the border (or maybe even 50-80 miles further south), just whatever is needed to funnel excess wind-generated energy across the North Sea to what we are constantly being told is a desperate Europe.

    We get leverage over the eu plus additional overseas earnings plus a badly needed boost for the jock economy with only minimal net carbon cost which should keep Greta happy (as far as that is ever possible).

    So what’s the problem?

  12. @Andrew again

    Worldwide I imagine rather more than £1000,000,000,000 has already been spunked away on this fantasy. Cliff knows how much more will be before reality finally reasserts itself

  13. Tractor Gent,
    If I were a National Grid engineer being told that the government have a plan to make my job very secure for the next forty years, I’d be tempted to keep my mouth shut.

  14. @ Tractor Gent
    The National Grid engineers have NIL power to direct where windfarms shall or shall not be built. So they are built wherever (the expected income from government subsidies minus the amount contracted to be paid to the landowner) divided by capital cost is greatest. This usually means relatively infertile patches of the Scottish or Welsh Highlands. Any local demand has already been met by hydroelectric power schemes so any power generated has to be transmitted to some remote location (Glasgow, Liverpool, London …).
    The windfarmers are not required to contribute anything towards the cost of transmission past the point where they link to the Grid (oh, of course not – National Grid is a private sector company so we don’t have to worry about any additional costs imposed on it!) but the hand-waving does not manage to wave into existence a high-voltage transmission line and all the planning permissions needed.
    Gordon Brown’s “joined-up” plans …
    Did no-one ever tell them that the “Harry Potter” books were fiction?

  15. john77: I wonder why it works that way? The extra grid has to be paid for, so the National Grid ought to be charging them humongous ongoing connection fees. Of course that would torpedo the business case for most of them.

  16. @AndyF – “it’s very difficult to set what should come on during a glut of power on a warm summers night”

    Dishwasher, washing machine, vehicle charger. But note that the first two cannot start and stop arbitrarily, they need to know that the power will be available until their cycle finishes.

  17. The extra grid has to be paid for, so the National Grid ought to be charging them humongous ongoing connection fees. Of course that would torpedo the business case for most of them.

    That’s true every stop of the way though. The original contracts, subsidies and Feed-in Tariffs were required because otherwise none of the bird choppers would ever get built because the risk adjusted return on capital was too low and nobody was interested.

    So the bird choppers and solar farms get excused costs that others would not have been excused on the basis of “Muh Warble Gloaming” and the whole foolishness got the ball rolling.

    HM Gov should have known they’d screwed up when companies were falling over themselves to put up bird choppers here there and everywhere. Put simply, the assistance package to get an industry started should have been limited by time and capital and subject to review. The fact that there are people still benefiting from these overly generous FIT’s a decade or more later proves how foolish they were in the first place.

    “But, but, but…without the subsidies nothing would have been built!”, to which the answer is “Good”. Then we’d have built the bird choppers and solar farms when it was economic to do so without subsidies.

    Personally, I’d have installed a solar panel roof, a wind turbine and a Tesla Home storage unit if I had the land and the money to do so, not because of the economics, but rather to insulate myself from the political and economic idiocy of UK government power policies, which go from being erratic to moronic at the flick of a switch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *