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« Parsing the report on the draft Energy Bill | Main | Helmer wants answers »
Thursday
Aug162012

Young report on wind

The Young Report into wind power has been around for over a year, but a link was posted the other day and it's well worth flagging up to readers here. It was commissioned by environmental NGO the John Muir Trust and aimed to answer some key questions about the viability of wind power. Here are the main conclusions:

1. Average output from wind was 27.18% of metered capacity in 2009, 21.14% in 2010, and 24.08% between November 2008 and December 2010 inclusive.
2. There were 124 separate occasions from November 2008 till December 2010 when total generation from the windfarms metered by National Grid was less than 20MW. (Average capacity over the period was in excess of 1600MW).
3. The average frequency and duration of a low wind event of 20MW or less between November 2008 and December 2010 was once every 6.38 days for a period of 4.93 hours.
4. At each of the four highest peak demands of 2010 wind output was low being respectively 4.72%, 5.51%, 2.59% and 2.51% of capacity at peak demand.
5. The entire pumped storage hydro capacity in the UK can provide up to 2788MW for only 5 hours then it drops to 1060MW, and finally runs out of water after 22 hours.

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Reader Comments (23)

Therefore, as we all knew, wind is not a viable source of electricity. Flooding every glen in Scotland won't really help.

Aug 16, 2012 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

I think even the most ardent turbophiles are aware that wind doesn't blow all the time. So what? The more statistics we have and the better forecasting becomes the more efficiently we will be able to integrate wind into the grid.

Aug 16, 2012 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterScotsRenewables

Not only does it not blow all the time, quite often it blows far too much. Reliance on wind power is an extraordinarily stupid notion.

Aug 16, 2012 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

Those profiting from the wind farm scam, such no doubt as ScotsRenewables, have no idea how the grid works. Wind power is not despatchable, it won't do baseload, load follow or peak load. In other words, wind power is detrimental to safe and reliable operation of the grid.

Aug 16, 2012 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

It seems grossly inefficient to use surplus electrical generation from wind to fill pump storage reservoirs. It makes more sense to me to use the wind energy directly to fill the reservoirs.

Aug 16, 2012 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Norman

ScotsRenewables:

"and the better forecasting becomes ....."

It doesn't seem to be getting better.

Aug 16, 2012 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

I recall a public inquiry in the 1980's regarding a proposed sewage outflow expected to deliver raw sewage onto Blackpool beaches about [from memory] 8 days a year. Not surprisingly, some people thought this was a bit off.

Do sewage treatment plants not require constant electricity? Why do some people think life without electricity will be more acceptable in the future than it is now?

Aug 16, 2012 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I remember that public enquiry: as far as I recall, they were just going through the motions......

As for ScotsRenewables, stop fooling us and yourself. The only way Salmond's plan can work is to dump excess wind energy to England and to use out fossil and nuclear investment as standby at 1/3rd the price. Well, there will be phase switches on the border just like the Poles have done to the Germans.

Pay for the pump storage and export steady power, or at least a guaranteed peak to average ratio.

Aug 16, 2012 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterspartacusisfree

.if these proposals are implemented, the process for awarding contracts to supply electricity will, for much of the time between now and the end of the decade, be largely at ministerial discretion.

Just like Railway fanchises.

Branson getting into Windfarms next.

Aug 16, 2012 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterjAMSPID

A small point, but I don't think the John Muir Trust 'commissioned' this report. Stuart Young did this work off his own bat and his work is on-going. I think the John Muir Trust assisted Stuart with publication on their web-site.

It's a very competent report. The wind energy lobby/scam group has, of course, claimed that Stuart's analysis is flawed but then, since all the data is in the public domain and has been out there for the last year, they're being a little slow preparing a detailed rebuttal.

We can, I hope, look forward to more gems from Stuart in the future . . .

Aug 16, 2012 at 5:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Capell - as far as I know it was very much a joint report. I think you are right in that Stuart did most of the analysis of the Neta data, but the JMT's Helen McDade was very much involved in the production of the report.

Aug 16, 2012 at 6:04 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

A new report on wind energy in the Netherlands has just come out:
http://www.clepair.net/statlineanalyse201208.html. A detailed analysis is made using output of Statline, from the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).

From the conclusions:
"Adding it all up, one must conclude that under the present conditions [i.e. 3.8% net yearly contribution from wind to Dutch electricity] in the Netherlands a 100 MW 'name plate' capacity wind development produces on average 23 MW. 4,6 MW (20%) of this has to be subtracted from the final net result because of initial energy investments. From the actual Statline production figures we know that 38% of this 23 MW = 8,74 MW represents the actual fossil fuel and CO2 savings. But from this figure we need to subtract the amount of energy invested in the construction works: 4,6 MW. The net total of fuel saving electricity provided by our windturbines therefor is 8,74 - 4,6 = 4,14 MW on average over the year. That is ~4% of the installed capacity. It makes wind developments a Mega money pit with virtually no merit in terms of the intended goal of CO2 emission reduction or fossil fuel saving."

When the contribution from wind is increased, the situaton becomes even worse, with negative net electricity savings and more CO2 output.

It is better to just use the CCGT plants and switch off the wind generators. Much cheaper and less CO2 for the same electricity output.

Aug 16, 2012 at 6:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlbert Stienstra

I think 'joint' report is too strong. I'm sure Helen did a lot of work on publication (and she's a formidable advocate on this issue), but the data gathering and analysis is all down to Stuart.

What is striking about this is that Stuart has no background whatsover in the power industry but seems to have briefed himself on the issues salient to wind generation weaknesses. And done it very well indeed. All the more reason, then, to wonder why the people at DECC can't understand these as well.

Aug 16, 2012 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Stienstra:

Do you have a link to that report please?

Aug 16, 2012 at 6:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

@ Albert Stienstra

"But from this figure we need to subtract the amount of energy invested in the construction works: 4,6 MW."

Construction Works energy is a one-off, to be subtracted from the 1st-year's generation only.

Aug 16, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

The entire pumped storage hydro capacity in the UK can provide up to 2788MW for only 5 hours then it drops to 1060MW, and finally runs out of water after 22 hours.

The 1728MW load for 5 hours comes from Dinorwig in Snowdonia. It has been used at full capacity only once this century.

The situation will become much worse if the 1000MW to 1390MW North Atlantic Array gets approval off North Devon. Final objections need to be in by 5pm 31st August.

Aug 16, 2012 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

Joe Public,

The report states that the Construction Works energy cost is spread over 15 years, that being the (generous) estimation of the average lifetime of a windmill. So the 4.6MW figure is the annual increment, not just a one-off.

Aug 16, 2012 at 7:50 PM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

Capell,

The link is in his comment :)

Aug 16, 2012 at 7:52 PM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

@ LC

"The report states that the Construction Works energy cost is spread over 15 years, that being the (generous) estimation of the average lifetime of a windmill. So the 4.6MW figure is the annual increment, not just a one-off."

Thanks for that.

However...............if 69MW was expended during construction of the Dutch project, and the turbines generate only 8.74MW pa, this means that it'll be nearly 8 years before there's any benefit whatsoever. And during those first 8 years, less-efficient standby plant has to operate.

I wonder what the 'Break-Even' age will be?

In fact, will the project ever usefully generate?

Aug 16, 2012 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

The basic economics of wind power are worth noting.
On the cost side there is a huge upfront capital cost, and very low operating costs.
There are two principle sources of revenue.
First is the Feed In Tariffs. For large wind farms this is 4.9p kwh, index-linked for (I believe) 20 years.
Second is the market price of electricity. Wholesale, it was 4.7p kwh at the end of July.
Assuming a 25% average output, each gigawatt gives over £200m in annual revenue.

Now imagine if the wind farms colluded together and lobbied Parliament to prevent potentially alternative cheaper sources of electricity being developed (like shale gas), or lobbied to hasten the closure of aged coal or nuclear power stations. A 0.1p kwh long term change in the wholesale price would generate £2.2m a year in extra revenue per gigawatt. With 10 gigawatts of wind capacity to be achieved before the end of the decade, and a strong possibility of affecting the price by greater than 1p, there are potential huge profits to be made from corrupting the political process.
What is more, most of that lobbying is already happening, financed by taxpayers, to financial detriment of every householder. That is the problem I have with Tim Yeo's conflicts of interest, not with his £170k income from outside bodies.

As with any conflicts of interest, there does not have to be any actual or suspicion of corruption, only for the potential for corruption. As with expense claim procedures, conflicts of interest should be eliminated before they are exploited, rather than wait for the small minority that would exploit them.

Aug 16, 2012 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

SR
"The more statistics we have and the better forecasting becomes the more efficiently we will be able to integrate wind into the grid."

You're a very optimistic wee pessimist laddie.

Aug 17, 2012 at 6:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

LC.

"The link is in his comment :)"

Ah yes, Alzheimer's strikes again.

That's quite a damning report now that I've looked at it. Well worth a read.

Aug 17, 2012 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Not quite to the point of this report, but can anyone tell me or point me to information about the power factor neodymium alloy wind turbines generate at, and how much the power factor of a wind farm varies with output. One hears very little about generating VARs to support wind generation, but I suspect it is a problem.
Thanks.

Aug 17, 2012 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered Commenternewzealander

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