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Glowious Efficiency

Enough wind power to supply 1.2m homes a day was wasted over winter because there is no capacity to store extra energy generated on gusty days, according to new research.

National Grid’s electricity system operator asked wind turbines which were expected to generate about 1.35 terawatt-hours of electricity between October and January to switch off instead because they were not needed to meet demand at the time, according to the consultancy Stonehaven.

Meanwhile, gas-fired power turbines burned an estimated 65 terawatt-hours of gas over the period when wind speeds were lower – costing an estimated £60bn.

So lovely and cheap that windpower, isn’t it?

16 thoughts on “Glowious Efficiency”

  1. So the only problem with unreliables is the need for something we currently have no practical ideas how to provide? (any nerds reading this who want to be clever, I stress the word practical)

    We need more of them obviously!

  2. The failure of the wind to blow evenly 24 hours every day is a symptom of the white-supremacist hetero-normative fascist TERF patriarchy.

    Or something.

    Join us in protesting this unfair wind on Wednesday . . . .

  3. Harry Haddock's Ghost

    Rupert Pearce, chief executive of electricity storage business Highview Power, which commissioned the Stonehaven analysis, said more storage capacity was needed to prevent wind power being wasted.

    Shock horror. Man who sells something commissions report that says we need to buy more of his stuff.

  4. “Enough wind power to supply 1.2m homes a day”
    That’s a measure of energy.
    The ancients who needed say 2 horse power to get a plough moving understood this better. The energy is what you need to feed the horses to then spend all day ploughing. Must be better analogies but these mistakes are getting silly.

  5. So if we stored that 1.35TWh of wind generation 100% efficiently, we could replace 2% of the output of gas power stations. AIUI, the issue with wind is that the Scottish gov granted permission for wind farms over the objections of the grid who couldn’t economically wire them up because they’re in the middle of nowhere (i.e. Scotland). Somehow this is the grid’s problem, not the wind farm owners’ problem because politics.

    Pedantically, the grid isn’t paying the wind farms for not generating, they’re compensating them for the loss of renewables obligation certificates that they can’t sell because there isn’t enough capacity to take all their electricity.

    Summary: Central government policy designed to make punters pay over the odds for “green” energy ends up with punters paying even more over the odds while not even getting that “green energy” because while planning permission has been devolved to Scotgov, responsibility for the consequences hasn’t. If government could just leave stuff the hell alone, this situation would never arise.

  6. The thing that irritates me is that, apparently, the grid guys just meekly accept this shit rather than pushing back on the stupidity of the politicians. If they were able to charge a credible connection fee and ongoing carriage fees then a lot of these schemes would never get off the ground.

  7. ” If they were able to charge a credible connection fee and ongoing carriage fees then a lot of these schemes would never get off the ground.”

    I think they’ve already argued and lost, as this has been going on for years. The subsidies are enormous.

  8. There’s a chap on the TV news just now saying: we need at least another 56 pumped storage systems, “all” that is stopping them is the planning system.

    Yeah, no mention of the lack of supply of 56 nice high mountains with valleys to damn.

  9. Permits to build pumped storage or erect turbines in National Parks where all the half decent drops are is not a bad idea.
    On condition of no subsidies.
    The National Parks authorities do insist there’s an emergency.

  10. @ jgh
    The expert’s view is that there are 13 locations in the UK suitable for pumped storage, of which four or five (Wiki says that work on the Sloy project started in 2012 …) are in use.

  11. The whole article is basically a puff for grid-scale storage, but without troubling to work out exactly what that means in terms of quantity of batteries, years-worth of the whole world’s supply of Lithium, etc etc etc.

    The calculations are not hard – simple arithmetic really – so they must be aware of this. The reason for hand-waving it away is, of course, that the results of those simple calculations are truly awe-inspiring, and prove that the whole thing is for the birds.

    As for pumped storage, well it’s ok for half an hour here and there, while the real generators get spun up (that was its original purpose), but the useful sites in UK have all been used, if there are 13 more they’ll be on a diminishing returns basis.

    I suppose eventually it’ll be seen that this emperor has no clothes, but by God it’s taking a while.

  12. There’s a chap on the TV news just now saying: we need at least another 56 pumped storage systems, “all” that is stopping them is the planning system.

    Dinorwig, the biggest and bestest pumped storage system in the UK, is 9GWh. So 56 identical* plants would be 0.5TWh, rather less than the 1.35TWh being demanded. For comparison, if the UK grid (40-50GW) were powered solely by unreliables, keeping the lights on during a two week long dunkelflaute requires 15+TWh (and that’s ignoring efficiency losses).

    * and Dinorwig was chosen after careful study as the best possible site – anywhere else is likely to be significantly smaller.

  13. Praise be we are saved,
    “ the prime minister said the new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero would ensure the UK had “cheaper, cleaner, more secure sources of energy” and cut the country’s dependence on international energy supplies.”.
    We’re truly fucked, aren’t we?

  14. @ Chris Miller
    Yes. All the other punped storage plant *are* much smaller: available data indicates each is less than one-quarter of the size of Dinorwig. So building on all the 13 possible sites would get us to about 4 times Dinorwig’s capacity less than 3% of that demanded.
    Building hundreds (perhaps thousands) of small hydro-electric plants with each switched off/on depending on whether the wind was blowing would be a possible – but incredibly expensive and stupid – solution.

  15. Dinorwig is just outside the National Park boundary.
    I’m guessing it wasn’t possible to look for better locations actually inside the Snowdonia NP, or Lake District for example. ‘Cos the National Parks Authorities who insist on there being a climate emergency also forbid hydro, pumped storage, wind turbines, nukes, fracking and anything else that might ameliorate it. Bastards.

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