Saturday, June 11, 2011

Its 'The Economy' Stupid.

Regular visitors to this blog over the last few years will know that I am no fan of onshore wind farms. My main opposition to them has been based on the damage they do to landscape and natural beauty for minimal benefit - even if my opposition to the project to cover the uplands of Mid Wales with mass turbines and pylons has been based on the sheer lunacy of the idea. But I've realised that no-one cares about landscape, and that there are many otherwise sensible people who have been conned into believing in this lunacy. So - in a moment of mental clarity today, it dawned on me that if we are to defeat this madness we must fight it on economic and financial grounds. We must help people to see the truth. Future posts on this issue will no longer be about the desecration of our uplands and valleys, awful though that is. Because its about a search for truth, I will write in a way that invites those who disagree to inform me, and my readers where they think I'm mistaken.

In this post, I'll look at the misleading nature of claims made by onshore wind developers - and use a local example to demonstrate. In last week's local press, a developer was lauding, with great pride, a new wind farm application which could produce 80 megawatts of power (and power several million homes! ). OK, so I exaggerated the second bit! Well, lets look at this a bit more closely, assuming that the power would be sold to Scottish Power. We know that the most recent production factor for Welsh onshore wind farms is 19% (despite some ill-informed journalists claiming it to be higher). So this new wind farm is actually going to produce an average of just 16 megawatts, at completely random times - sometimes delivering 80 megawatts and sometimes nil. This means that Scottish Power would need some other form of conventional power source (oil, gas or nuclear?) to provide 80 megawatts of rapid back-up whenever the wind doesn't blow. For the wind farm to provide anything at all needs some other form of power generation to be running at reduced power - and reduced inefficiency. A bit like a car idling.

What was being boasted about as delivering 80 megawatts, actually delivers bu**er all. Probably makes the position worse. And that's why the people of mid Wales, who began by opposing a mad project to desecrate their homeland, have become opponents of the whole onshore wind farm sector now that they know a bit more about it.


Anonymous said...

"This means that Scottish Power would need some other form of conventional power source (oil, gas or nuclear?) to provide 80 megawatts of rapid back-up whenever the wind doesn't blow."

Exactly right Glyn.

Chris Wood, PhD etc.

MH said...

Glyn, Even though I think the question of visual intrusion is important, I'd welcome any argument based on facts. So perhaps you could start by substantiating the 19% capacity factor. You claimed in the Westminster Hall debate on 10 May that the REF had "told you" this. I'd like to see the hard figures for Wales.

It certainly is true that 2010 was a bad year compared with others, and these figures show that for the UK as a whole the capacity factor dropped, though it should be noted that three months of this were estimates rather than actual data. As we can all see from the link, the average over the last seven years is about 26%, but 2009 was about 28% and 2010 was about 24%. It remains to be seen if this was an anomaly. Most of the sensationalism (in the circumstances we might even say "s**ing up") in Andrew Gilligan's article came from contrasting one particularly good year with one particularly bad year. But the average of 2009 and 2010 together was about 26% ... the same as the average for the past seven years.

It would also help if you used less emotive language. For example I would be very surprised if anyone had boasted that the windfarm would deliver 80 MW. Certainly no-one who knew what they were talking about would make that claim. Even the most optimistic forecast for an onshore site wouldn't allow for a capacity factor of more than 30%, and a more realistic average would be 25%. You seem to be trying to create a straw man that you can easily knock down rather than deal with the real situation.

As for back up, I would simply say again what I've said before. All electricity generation requires backup. Coal, gas and nuclear stations can unexpectedly go off-line and there needs to be sufficient spare capacity in the network as a whole to allow for this. Wind is not an exception. It is a matter of calculating the risks of blackout against loss of efficiency. However in general terms if the grid is made larger the backup can be spread so that proportionally less overall backup will be needed. This is why it is important for us to improve Britain's interconnectedness with Ireland, Scandinavia and the rest of Europe.

Second part to follow ...

MH said...

Second part

The name of the game is to match supply and demand. The idea of a power station producing a constant level of electricity 24/7 is actually as much of a problem as the intermittency of wind. All producers would like to run at optimum power 24/7, because it is of course more efficient to do this. Each producer would like to do their own thing regardless and leave other producers to have to deal with the variability. But the variation in the pattern of demand means that most producers have to run "at idle" sometimes. You need to be careful not to give the impression that this is something that is required only because of wind generation.

The key to understanding the overall picture is to realize that some forms of generation are more responsive than others. Nuclear is worst of all, as it is very hard (though not quite impossible) for it to be "load following" (to use the jargon). Coal is next worst, then wood, then gas (both methane and hydrogen-rich syngas are about the same), but most responsive of all is hydro. A hydro plant can produce electricity from standstill in about a minute, and in less than ten seconds if already spinning "at idle". With gas we're talking about minutes, and with coal we're probably talking about hours. So although it is true that a coal fired power station might need to be "at idle" all the time, a gas fired one does not always need to be, and hydro hardly ever needs to be "at idle".

This, for example, is why the amount of electricity generated by wind in Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein so high. They rely on the hydro-electric capacity in Sweden and Norway to even things out. We in Wales and Scotland have good hydro resources too which, if used properly, could reduce the need for us to have coal and gas plants running "at idle".

MH @ Syniadau

Glyn Davies said...

MH - Some interesting stuff, which will form part of my ongoing discussion on this issue. Not got time today, but I can assure you that almost every presentation by developers linked to securing permission (or persuading the public) always refers to total capacity of a wind farm. Don't think I've ever seen estimated production figures mentioned, whether they be 19% or 26% - and there's not enough difference to change the principle. I will discuss this with REF again and respond to your challenge next week.

And second point that immediately strikes me is your reference to back-up capacity within the Grid to cope with a power station failure. Of course that's true, but the difference with wind is that its usually the whole sector that closes down when the wind doesn't blow - not just one wind farm, which is entirely different from other sectors.

But thanks for going to the trouble of commenting as you have. I'm interested in the evidence behind this debate, and your comments are very helpful. Glyn

Aled said...

It’s the unpredictable nature of wind power that is the problem. Apart from the cost of production the energy companies cannot rely on wind power to produce a single megawatt to demand, this is a huge problem. Demand can be predicted, energy production from nuclear, coal, gas and hydro can be predicted and controlled. Admittedly Nuclear cannot run at idle but at least the energy is there when needed and at off peak times it can be used to pump water back up the hill.

On another but related issue, MH, you refer to interstate connectors which are vital, without which the German could not take its ridiculous stance on nuclear, if/when they phase out nuclear they will import nuclear generated electricity for France or dirty coal generated electricity from Poland, what good is that to the world, doh!!

On a personal note, I was up early this morning, I had sown some forage rape to fatten lambs yesterday and I wanted to roll the seed bed before the rain came, is was a beautiful morning with a slight frost (in mid-June!) on top of the hill I could see for miles, the sunrise in the west would not be quite the same if the horizon was covered by pylons

Anonymous said...

MH says "All electricity generation requires backup" indeed but wind power requires backup both for calm periods and break-down/maintenance. In this it is unique except perhaps for hydro during severe drought!

Your point about the almost instant availability of hydro is well taken. Topping up hydro reservoirs (likewise for any water grid) seems the only sensible use of wind power.

Another element missing from the wind power equation is that wind farms also consume electricity from the grid. How much is the question - notably it remains unanswered.

Dr Christopher Wood said...

MH: so now you want to build dams and hydroelectric plant in conjunction with hundreds of huge wind-turbines Hoover sized dams all over the Welsh countryside?

Can you believe this 'green logic'? In their madness they don’t care if they destroy the beauty of the Welsh uplands.

In ‘green logic’ soon as the Welsh uplands have been turned into an industrial landscape of mega-size wind-turbines out will go the call to build 80 MW of hydroelectric plant.

But the reality of course would be the need to build much more than 80 MW of hydroelectric plant to make up for the shortfalls of wind-turbine farms located outside Wales, this is beginning to sound like that rhyme…

‘There was an old lady who swallowed a fly
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - perhaps she'll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a spider,
That wriggled and wiggled and tiggled inside her;
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a bird;
How absurd to swallow a bird.
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a cat;
Fancy that to swallow a cat!
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!
There was an old lady that swallowed a dog;
What a hog, to swallow a dog;
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a cow,
I don't know how she swallowed a cow;
She swallowed the cow to catch the dog,
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!

Y WYLAN said...

HM 2 Glyn 1
There's sense in what HM says. Who is he?

MH said...

To Glyn first, thanks. I'll look forward to continuing the discussion later. I can only say that there is a lot of misinformation about this subject, and even well meaning people can get the technical things wrong. Yes, the "headline" figure that is always reported is installed capacity, and this is usually followed by "enough for x,000 homes" ... something which annoys me intensely. I think it's always better to deal in hard units.

At this stage I'd only pick up on one thing, which is that it's quite rare for the "whole sector" not to be producing any electricity. The chances are that if the wind is not blowing in one place, it will be blowing somewhere else. Each wind turbine generally produces some electricity 80% of the time, it is the average which is 25% (or whatever). Yes, there are well documented occasions when, say, a pocket of high pressure is sitting over this island and virtually no wind farms in Britain are producing anything. But this might only happen a couple or three times a year. It is an inherent problem, but it is not that frequent a problem. We will need to produce that share of our electricity by other means when this happens, but not necessarily by coal, gas or nuclear. One obvious renewable solution is to use fixed hydro differently: instead of using the reserve at a low constant rate over months, we can let it out at a high rate for a few days or a week, and then not use it when the wind starts blowing again.

An alternative is to use methane we've collected from anerobic digestion or landfill gas (though with less landfill there'll be less gas) or hydrogen produced by surplus wind energy. But even if we use ordinary fossil gas for the backup, we'll be using very much less of it, because we will not have to keep modern gas powered plant "at idle".

MH said...

To Aled I would say that an unexpected breakdown cannot be predicted. The grid needs enough standby to cope with a massive failure. A large power station suddenly and unexpectedly going off line is a much bigger problem than a few windfarms suddenly not having any wind. You talk of predictability, but we can fairly accurately forecast the overall wind strength a few days in advance. This gives us plenty of time to prepare for back up in a "no power for days" situation, rather than having to have plant "at idle" all the time.

I think that Germany has made a sensible decision. Switzerland has done the same, Italy is voting this weekend and today (Monday) and I expect (I hope this is not a case of famous last words) them to reimpose their ban on new nuclear. The opinion polls show that the public is against nuclear, the only question is whether they can get the 50% turnout required.

Britain too can generate all the electricity it needs without nuclear, as shown by the report I mentioned here. This isn't just the opinion of Plaid and the Greens. I would remind people that even the Tories, as recently as in their manifesto for the 2011 Senedd election, said that they:

" ... aim to produce 100% of our energy needs from renewable sources by 2025. We will aim to achieve 70% delivery by 2020."

I think it's fair to assume they mean Wales rather than the UK in this context (the whole UK is a much bigger ask) yet it is good to see that they recognize that it is an achievable goal. Put into context, Wales' electricity needs alone are about 20 TWh per year, so they are aiming for at least 14 TWh by 2020. This is in fact double the target set out in TAN 8. At present, as I showed here, we are producing maybe 2 TWh per year. So Tory policy is for a seven-fold increase by the end of the decade. Glyn, as a Tory, should ask himself how he sees that aim being fulfilled if wind really does produce "bu**er all". Apart from talking about the need to develop other renewable sources such as the tide, I think he will say that the emphasis needs to change from onshore to offshore wind ... and on both those points I would completely agree with him. But if he does so he will have switched from attacking wind power per se to discussing where our wind farms should be located.


To Chris. If you want to know what I think, read what I write rather than make silly assumptions.

mike said...

The figures that Glyn quoted from REF are here. scroll down and click on fig 2 "Reduced wind output across all regions of the UK" the graph for Wales is second down. So, Glyn is correct in that his quote was that REf had given him the figures. Whether you believe the figures or not is an entirely different question. As to facts-its a fact that the grid has to estimate for wind production and fill the void when the wind drops, therefore wind can never be baseload electricity and always has to be backed up by coal or more commonly gas. Hydro is used for meeting peak demand in this country. Wind is a con of the highest order and obviously still has some "useful idiots" to support it.

PG said...

Glyn, your quest to search for the truth should be encouraged. Unfortunately there are no easy answers to de-carbonising electricity generation, and in complex situations inevitably there are shades of grey. My advice is not to rely entirely on information from REF or other organisations who have a declared bias.
In your response to MH you say you don't think you have ever seen estimated wind production figures mentioned by developers. They do exist, you need to read the Environmental Statements submitted to planning with proposals since they contain that information, and the environmental benefits quoted are based on that information.

What MH says about back-up is supported by OFGEM, but you should also consider the constant and rapid changes in electricity demand. These have to be dealt with every day by the grid operator, and require high levels of back-up generating capacity. They are normally predictable a few days in advance, in the same way as wind is predictable a few days in advance. The important question is how can we create better ways of matching renewable energy generation with demand and keep the back-up we need carbon free. Use of electric vehicles is one way to help acheive this.

Tony Dunn said...

MH - you are mistaken on Hydro. There is little capacity in the UK to expand hydro power. The Center for Alternative Technology recently published their 'Zero Carbon Britain' 2030 report, a blueprint for the UK to become carbon neutral by 2030. Basically it proposes a 50% reduction in power use and a range of renewable generation sources. But on Hydro it states (I quote) : "The scope for expansion is extremely limited, with most of the accessible sites already in use. Large-scale hydropower can have very disruptive effects on natural habitats, and may actually increase greenhouse gas emissions through the release of methane in flooded areas (Fearnside, 2004). Potential sites for large hydro development in Britain lie either in national parks or other highly-valued areas and landscapes making their development problematic at best."

So you can forget hydro as a potential backup. If anyone was going to suggest an expansion of hydro it would be the Center for Alternative Technology.

The existing grid copes with the variability of the wind generation we have because of its design. It's built to cope with the sudden loss of a station, or for times when a station is taken off line for maintenance or whatever. It is this existing spare capacity that is used to handle the variability in the wind we have now. This is why pro-wind people say 'we do not need backup capacity' - it's true that until now we have not. In fact until we go above 10% of the total we won't. But once we go over 10% we will need additional backup.

As for 2010 being a 'bad year', maybe. But it has also been predicted that the recent harsh, still winters we have had are no coincidence, in fact we can expect more of the same. Climate changes mean the jetstream that usually brings us warm, mild air during the winter will shift south (as has happened in the last two winters) leaving the UK still and cold. The UK's position as the 'wind king of Europe' cannot be guaranteed if this happens. Apparently this is linked to solar activity, and this pattern could persist for 40 years. All guesswork you might say, but at the least it's another reason to pause before we rush headlong for wind.

We need to stop messing with wind, it is distracting us from real alternatives. On the large scale, Waves & Tides are predictable, powerful potential energy sources. These should be harnessed. At the small scale we need to support (financially) the installation of solar & small scale wind, using power storage (via hydrogen I suggest). Forget large scale wind.

Tony Dunn said...

MH - The Zero Carbon Britain report proposes 195GW of additional wind capacity off shore and 27GW on shore. If we just look at the off shore for a moment. I was at CAT a bit ago when they launched this report. Assuming your average wind turbine is 5MW (this is the size the people there suggested), you need 200 to produce 1GW. That means you need 39000 to produce 195GW. Are we saying we will construct 39000 off shore turbines between now & 2030 ? That's 5 or 6 a day, 365 days a year, from now till 2030. Is that realistic ?

I think not. I think we can say now that that is just not going to happen. This illustrates the danger with wind - a time will come, maybe not for 10 years - but a time will come when we suddenly wake up and realise we need a non-CO2 producing means of generating power, because our lovely turbines aren't up to it. Even if they are we just can't build them quick enough. If we continue to bury our heads and perpetuate the myth that wind works then when that day comes the only option will be nuclear. We need to stop wasting our time with wind and take that subsidy money and fund real research into something that can actually work.

Why not push hard for micro generation ?domestic/small community scale wind, solar, bio, etc backed up by storage via hydrogen would mean less pylons, etc, not more, as communities could start to become self sustaining.

Who knows, the UK could even become a leader in this technology. This would benefit us all.

Anonymous said...

MH> "To Chris. If you want to know what I think, read what I write rather than make silly assumptions."

The decision how much hydro-electric plant would have to be built in Wales will not be decided by you, but once the green despots finally realize that wind-turbines are not reliable they will want stand-by kit in the form of hydro-electric kit which will further compound the industrialization of the Welsh uplands, and the 80 MW of hydroelectric kit anticipated/quoted will be meaningless and the call will go out for more hydroelectric kit which will mean massive dam building and more flooding of large areas of rural Wales, and we worry about small earth quakes. This will go like the rhyme, a spider to eat the fly, a bird to eat the spider …

Chris Wood, PhD (Computational Chemistry)

Anonymous said...

MH> "But this might only happen a couple or three times a year. It is an inherent problem, but it is not that frequent a problem."

Significant reductions in national electricity generation three times a year is a SERIOUS ISSUE. The Green despots no doubt would be happy with that!

Such national outages will cause havoc and inevitably will lead to more jobs shifting from the UK to S.E. Asia.

Chris Wood, PhD

MH said...

A note to Glyn first. I am very aware that I'm taking up a lot of space on your blog, but as people are now asking me specific questions, I trust you don't mind me continuing. Thank you for providing the space for the discussion and I'm happy to continue it here, but I'd gladly move it to Syniadau if you'd prefer.


To Mike, thank you for the link to the Wales figures. I don't want to say too much about them without seeing exactly how they were calculated, but the figures do seem rather odd. As the REF figures I linked to show, 2009 was a particularly good year, and 2010 a bad one, but taken together, they are the same on average as for the past seven years. But I noted [in this post] that there is one anomaly in the way the DECC figures are presented. The installed capacity figures are the figures for the end of the year, but the production figures are for the whole year. So if you work out the capacity factor based on those two figures, it is lower than it otherwise would be because of new windfarms that were only operational for part of the year.

The DECC figures [table 5.1] show that the total amount of energy generated by wind increased by 7.7% between 2009 and 2010. So if the REF's figures for capacity factor are calculated in the way I've just mentioned it means that there must have been a very considerable increase in capacity in the course of the year, but we don't as yet have the DECC spreadsheet on capacity for 2010 to check against.


Both Mike and Tony Dunn have mentioned hydro. I would ask both to look again at what I wrote, because the thrust of what I was talking about was the way we use hydro. At present, fixed hydro is used in a way that generates a steady but low amount of electricity over a long period. If we changed that by installing additional turbines (not increasing the size of the reservoir) we could use them to provide higher amounts of electricity for shorter periods as one potential way of dealing with the specific problem of the wind not blowing for several days, without having to resort to other forms of back up. This would not involve building new reservoirs, although I am not against that in principle. This is also why better interconnectors to Scotland and Scandinavia are important, because they have more fixed hydro than we do.

Second part to follow

MH said...

Second part

Just to be clear, I am not one of those saying that "we do not need backup capacity" for wind. We do and will, particularly as wind begins to account for a greater proportion of our overall generation. But this does not have to be by nuclear, coal or fossil gas (as others have said) and in particular it does not need plant to be consuming fuel by running "at idle" (a spinning reserve, to be more technical) as Glyn had said in his original post. At least, not more than for any other form of generation. As Tony says, the spinning reserve is necessary for a sudden loss (or sudden surge in demand) not for the sort of gradual reduction over hours that would come about by the wind dying down. In terms of wind, spinning reserve would be necessary if, say, the power connexions linking a large offshore farm like Gwynt y Môr to the grid were to suddenly trip out ... but this will be no more or less likely than the connexions to any other sort of power generator tripping out, or a gas or steam turbine failing, or a pylon being brought down in a storm. The same spinning reserve covers the sudden failure of any part of the system.

Separately, there needs to be sufficient spare backup capacity for longer term outages such as maintenance or a period of no wind. But this does not have to be spinning capacity, and therefore no unnecessary fuel is wasted or CO2 released if this capacity is in the form of fossil fuel plants.

I think Tony might well be wrong to assume that there is a change in the pattern of the jet stream, because if that were so, it would also have affected offshore wind to the same extent. However I do agree with him completely on the urgent need to develop other renewables, particularly the tide (in the form of offshore tidal lagoons) which could produce the bulk of Wales' renewable energy. But doing that does not mean we should "forget" large scale wind. I think wind can provide 30% of our energy ... perhaps more if we do as he suggests and use excess wind energy to produce hydrogen.

As for the expansion of wind energy in the ZCB report mentioned by Tony, I do think that it at least has a much better balance between onshore and offshore wind. The problem with TAN 8 is that it got the proportions of onshore and offshore wind exactly the wrong way round. That is why Wales is in danger of being overdeveloped in terms of large onshore windfarms.

I must admit that I haven't looked at the offshore wind picture for the whole of the UK as closely as I've looked at Wales, but the Round 3 development includes two large zone within which separate windfarms are envisaged, one in the Irish Sea and one in the Severn Estuary. The first is mostly in Welsh waters, the second is half in Welsh waters, even though the electricity will be brought ashore in England.

As I mentioned in this post it is planned to bring 3.7GW of power from the Irish Sea zone ashore in Wales. I can't be sure of the construction timetable, but I don't think it's out of the question for this to be operational by 2020. But it will involve require a big increase in our manufacturing capacity at a time when many other countries will be doing the same. That's why it's imperative that governments do all they can to set up manufacturing facilities here.

Finally, as for your point about a multiplicity of smaller power generating solutions, coupled with hydrogen storage, I think you might well enjoy watching the video of an interview with Jeremy Rifkin on Bella Caledonia.

Glyn Davies said...

MH - Of course I don't mind you using my blog to comment. I have not yet had time to read all you have written - but there are two points I'd like to make.

Firstly, the 19%/25% issue. It jsust does not make much difference which figure we use - even though it makes a big difference to turbine owners. I used 19% because that was what I ws told by a reputable source. I wish now I'd said 25% to avoid distraction.

And secondly, the claims made by developers. This morning I've received an invitation from Scottish Power Rnewables to attend a 'Public Information Day' about their proposal to build 35 turbines, 606' high in the Dyfnant Forest. It makes reference to the generating capacity of up to 120 Mw - no reference whatever to likely production, which will be an averageof 30 Mw.

Tony Dunn said...

Glyn, if you want to attack windfarms on economic grounds, you could do much worse than read this article in the Mail by Nigel Lawson :-

Glyn Davies said...

Tony - Problem with associating too closely with Lord Lawson/Lord Turnbull is that I would be partrayed as a 'climate change denier' - which our opponents would be very keen to do. But Lord Lawson is a hugely respected man, and has been puting forward a cogent case for a long time now.

Tony Dunn said...

Glyn - agree with you on the climate change denial thing, I don't think he needed to mention that. Personally I don't think it matters whether it's real or not, fossils will run out eventually and that fact, coupled with security of supply from the middle east, Russia, etc are sufficient reason for us to be acting as we are - we need to start now so we are ready when the day comes when these things do eventually run dry. Imagine also the benefits of having an economy that is not at the mercy of the oil price.

There is an opportunity now for the UK, given the governments green ambitions, to invest and become a world leader in real, functional renewable technologies. Maybe some hydrogen based technology, research into nuclear fusion as is happening in France, or something none of us have ever considered. The benefits to the UK economy that would flow from leadership in this field would be massive, and it is just the type of high tech business the government likes to see.

But those clever minds out there that could do this will never get their chance unless we have the courage to admit we were wrong with large scale wind and start to call for research into alternatives. As it stands now, reports such as the CAT report - which calls for 60% of power from wind - continue to are continuing to sell the idea that there is no problem, wind can do what we need. It can't and never will.

MH - the bit about the jetstream, I may well be wrong. I'm no weatherman, but the people who made the prediction are. But then again, they don;t always get the forecast right for the next day ! The point was that it's a risky business pinning our energy needs, be that 30%, 60% or whatever on the weather, if (for example) this prediction is correct that capacity could disappear for days, weeks at a time just when you need it most.

The only possible saviour for wind that I see is some large scale storage technology, which is an area we should research.

Anonymous said...

These figures are something of nonsense because the real situation will likely be quite different by 2020 or whatever. That is, we don't live in a 'closed system' with known boundary conditions so predictions based on such figures will likely turn out to be widely off the mark.

Also, this reference to hydrocarbons running out (in our lifetime) is a nonsense given that there are great strides currently being made in biotechnology to utilize natural cellulose as a feedstock to make an array of hydrocarbons for industry (there was a big article on this new technology/R&D in Chemical Engineering News published by the American Chemical Society, alternative hydrocarbon deposits such as methane, coal (still plenty of coal even if we poo poo open cast mining such as that ‘going on’ near Merthyr Tydfil, ‘liberal’ Canada has massive oil reserves but in the form of tar sands which Canada is only just beginning to exploit.

MH places such reliance on 'figures' that will inevitably turn out to be wild guesses. So MH's predictions are just that and based on his ‘figures’ we are to be convinced that the Welsh uplands should be turned into an industrial landscape and any downtime will magically coincide with the “Irish Sea zone ashore in Wales” never mind the cost to water life and local ecology.

Chris Wood, MSc (Masters project completed at the Theory and Computational Science Division, Daresbury Laboratory (then run under the SERC moniker), PhD (expert in parallel programming to solve complex numerical problems, wrote code to perform Fourier analysis of multiple sequence alignments to help solve the secondary structure of a group of human brain proteins.

Anonymous said...

MH writes: "The only possible savior for wind that I see is some large scale storage technology, which is an area we should research."

Really, so we are left with what you think makes sense - I guess what is actually going on to use natural compounds in abundance as hydrocarbon feed stocks has past you buy. It amazes me that you can be so arrogant when you know so little about such developments which are going to do their part in reducing our reliance on foreign oil.
Chris Wood

Anonymous said...

^please substitute “by” for “buy”.

Gary Swaine said...

Tan8 has no mention of the cost of onshore wind, through the renewable obligation certificate it is entitled to 4.8p/kwh extra on top of the normal charge per unit for electricity. Current projections from the governments own figures for the whole renewable project suggest a cost to the bill payer in the region of £6.5bn a year by 2020.This obviously would increase fuel poverty and put businesses at a competitive disadvantage as well as providing inflationary pressures which would lead to job losses.
There are various claims on the efficiency of on-shore wind turbines and their effectiveness to generate when demand is most needed, even taking some of the higher claims of efficiency, the wind-turbines are not suitable for the flexible power demands of the national grid, as they will not generate in low or no wind conditions or high wind conditions. Back up supplies will need to be kept running to able to fill in for the intermittency of turbines. If a car manufacturer claimed a fuel efficiency of 50mpg but only actually did 30mpg then said manufacturer would be in trouble. Why can a turbine manufacturer claim installed capacity of 3Mw but only actually achieve 19% of this figure ? (Using latest available data) surely then the installed capacity is 570Mw.In Norway on occasion the turbine fleet has had a net loss on the grid as they consume electricity when idle. These factors would have profound implications for the CO2 that turbines are supposed to save. The whole project if it was to meet the installed capacity predicted by Tan8-800Mw in mid Wales would produce less than 0.4% of the UK national energy requirements.
CO2 emission claims for wind turbines, from manufacture to construction taking into account steel manufacture and shipping, concrete manufacture, conductor windings (the majority of magnets required for the generator are imported from China where they are vast pools of heavy metal laden liquid poisoning the earth left over from the manufacture of these magnets) gearbox and blade construction and access road construction, mean that over their life cycle they will be responsible for generating more CO2 than they can save. The upland peat will be disturbed, and damage to any kind of vegetation and soil will release carbon dioxide
The recent publication by the Committee on Climate Change ‘The Renewable Energy Review’ (May 2011) ‘It is also important to consider opportunities for reducing energy bills through energy efficiency improvement:
In the residential sector, we estimate that there is scope for a 14% reduction in heat consumption to 2020 through buildings fabric measures, boiler replacement and behavioral measures.
'Our analysis also suggests that there is scope for a 14% reduction in electricity consumption through the purchase and use of more efficient appliances.’
The two policies above if implemented have the potential to boost the economy provide long-term employment and provide energy savings, we would reap the benefits for many years.
We have environmental and energy issues. We should have a full and open debate about these issues considering all the facts Nationally we have already achieved 19% CO2 reduction (DECC 2009) and implementing the above measures would ensure we could still meet our CO2 reduction commitments whilst being able to take a more considered approach to renewable energy.
How can the destruction of our local envirnment be saving the planet??

Tony Dunn said...

Chris, I think you may have attributed one of my comments - that the only chance for wind is if some sort of storage is developed - to MH.

Don't take this wrongly, I'm not a supporter of large scale wind as my previous comments will have shown. All I was trying to say that for it to be any use at all we would need to be able to store what it produces at the times we can't use it, to avoid the scandalous practice of paying people to turn them off.

We can't do this at present and any further large scale wind projects should not be allowed until we can.

There's more to the environment than CO2, the pro wind people seem to think any amount of environmental damage is justified if a scheme saves a bit of CO2. For the paltry amount of power, and hence CO2 saving, that these things create they cannot be justified.

Anonymous said...

Tony> "There's more to the environment than CO2, the pro wind people seem to think any amount of environmental damage is justified if a scheme saves a bit of CO2. For the paltry amount of power, and hence CO2 saving, that these things create they cannot be justified."

I totally agree Tony. Wales is but a very small country. India and China are each bringing coal fired power stations on stream at a very aggressive rate making whatever Wales does in terms of industrializing its beautiful Welsh uplands redundant.

There's a weird mentality among the green despots, which you also hint at, this mania about saving locally a paltry amount of CO2 while saying very little about the stupidity of importing huge amounts of goods from, e.g., China instead of manufacturing them locally.

One can't help but notice the idiots still with their "British Empire" hat on - that if they stopped and moment and really thought rationally about what they want to impose on the Welsh uplands they would realize that for all their "PC thinking" they are in fact 'reverting to type', operating as many of them do on the hidden premise that 'they know best' and everyone else should fall in line like in the good old days of the 'British Empire'.

That is why, in part, it is so easy to drive 'cart and horses' through their silly PC/Green ‘logic’. They quote figures and hardly understand them. They rely on predictions not realizing or bothering to really understand the basis of computer simulations of open boundary systems are suspect from the get go. How such predictions are at best wild guesses (look at how often traffic predictions prove to be very wide of the mark (Severn Bridge being but one example) and most of them have a very low understanding of basic science, and because of that promulgate the daftest ‘green’ policies. Like using ‘natural fertilizer’ on growing vegetables that are later ate in their raw state ignoring or not appreciating basic microbiology, that it is a risky thing to do with respect to farm products that are ate raw (tomatoes, lettuces, bean shoots, etc.) Many so called ‘greens’ drive around in diesel powered cars which produce more human-harmful pollution than regular lead free petrol powered cars. Their past push on getting power stations to run on methane because it produces a cleaner burn (many Greens don’t even know the combustion equation for methane) and now methane is another great evil.

I’m really keen on developing a hydrogen based economy, but even I know this will take time and we should not ram it down the throats of industry or we will just see manufacturing jobs shift to S.E. Asia for the goods to come back to us aboard huge mobile pollution carriers (ships) some of which burn ‘dirty fuels’ to get them across the high seas to ports in the Europe/UK. Iceland is gearing up to generate a hydrogen economy based on converting geothermal energy into chemical energy (hydrogen). Hydrogen burns a lot cleaner than diesel or methane or ‘lead free’ – here’s the equation (in words):
Hydrogen + oxygen -> Water plus energy.

Chris Wood

Anonymous said...

^"that if they stopped and moment..." should have read: "that if they stopped for a moment..."

But hey, it's not in the nature of a Green remouthing what some other Green told them to actually stop and think for a moment... as evidenced by their irrational drive to turn the beautiful Welsh uplands into an industrial landscape.


Tony Dunn said...

Chris, I agree with every word you have just written. The biggest issue with wind is that it appears those at the top still believe the pro wind propaganda. They think we have the answer to our future needs. So there is no push to either conduct research into alternatives, or start work on building (for example) a hydrogen based energy network. I personally believe hydrogen has huge potential, as it can be used in so many ways . As you say this will take time, and so we need to stop messing about with wind now and start this process. Either find a replacement for our existing generation facilities (fusion maybe ?) or start to construct a long term alternative (eg hydrogen). It is the policy makers that need to wake up to this.

Also, your point about importing stuff from China. I read recently that a good deal of the UK's CO2 reduction has come about because we have 'exported' a lot of the manufacturing industries that used to create a lot of the CO2. So the emissions produced on our shores may be less, but instead these goods are now produced, probably using less regulated, dirtier processes, in places like China and India. And then shipped half way around the world to us. I'd like to see some figures that shed some light on this.

Anonymous said...

Tony Dunn> we are of one mind!

Chris Wood