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« A steady trickle | Main | Your future in their hands »
Monday
Oct272014

Wind is not working

The Scientific Alliance and the Adam Smith Institute have a joint report out on windfarms. Martin Livermore, the head of the Scientific Alliance, has a blogpost up summarising the paper here.

The results will be no surprise to anyone who has looked at this topic in any detail: output is highly variable, and the entire fleet would only produce 80% or more of its rated output for about one week a year. The problem is that, however much we hear about wind being a free resource and the cost of equipment coming down, the effect of adding more and more wind turbines to the electricity grid is to push prices up with only a modest impact on carbon dioxide emissions (the whole reason for current policy) and no improvement in energy security.

If there were no arbitrary renewable energy target, governments would be free to focus on what most voters expect: providing a framework in which a secure and affordable energy supply can be delivered. If emissions are also to be reduced, the most effective measures currently would be a move from coal to gas and a programme of nuclear new build. In the meantime, the renewables industry continues to grow on a diet of subsidies, and we all pick up the tab. Getting out of this hole is not going to be easy, but it’s time the government started the process rather than continuing to dig deeper.

The report is here.

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Reader Comments (45)

And it's discussed on the Telegraph here and even on Conservativehome here. It just confirms what we already know about the uselessness of wind power.

Oct 27, 2014 at 9:22 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

A good report, if the summary is typical of the remainder of the work. But will Davey and the warmists at DECC bother even to read it? Our only hope is that the climate sceptic MPs will hammer it home during Energy and Climate Change questions.

Oct 27, 2014 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

climate sceptic MPs ?

List please...I can think of two.

They are all in it up to their greasy necks

Oct 27, 2014 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

You know they'll screw up the Nuke new builds don't you? Delay/Cost and on and on.

Telegraph piece:

“National Grid, who are the people who actually manage the electricity system, have said that they’re managing wind on the system well, they have good forecasts and they’re able to significantly expand it.”

I suppose you can manage wind...switch it out and use running backup/mothballs. Who are these people?

Oct 27, 2014 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

"If there were no arbitrary renewable energy target, governments would be free to focus on what most voters expect ..."

More precise is "If there were no arbitrary renewable energy target, governments would be free to ignore what most voters expect.."

If there are any outages & hourly-paid workers laid off for even ½ day & so losing income this winter, it'll be a gift to UKIP.

Oct 27, 2014 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

why would all these monastery heads high priests and bishops believe in the enlightment when the pope has their next 100 paychecks ready??

Oct 27, 2014 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterptw

Truth will - in the end - out.

Oct 27, 2014 at 10:22 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Wind generated power might not be any good but think of all that renewables money going to our members of both houses of parliament.

Gives you that warm feeling when the political classes line their own pockets while the rest of us slipped into fuel poverty!

Oct 27, 2014 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

UK's current energy policy is monumentally stupid. And therein lies the problem. If it was a tad on the wayward side, it would be a lot easier to get it back on track. But as long as it is rooted in ideological befuddlement, it will take a long time, or a major catastrophe, before the idiocrats are jogged back into reality.

Worst case, 5 more years of non-warming and the jig is up.

In the meantime the only sensible course is to vote UKIP, the only party remotely likely to tackle the green blob. And yes, there is always an element of compromise in political decisions

Oct 27, 2014 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterH2O: the miracle molecule

'The results will be no surprise to anyone who has looked at this topic in any detail...'

Therein lies the problem.

Oct 27, 2014 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

I have this ground breaking theory:

If you install wind farms to power all of the UK - there will still be no power when the wind stops.

Any peer reviewers out there to assist me to get this theory to a research funding stage?


As Ronnie Corbett said on his news bulletin many years ago, "Britain has just installed another wind farm and has now run out of wind."

Oct 27, 2014 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered Commentertoorightmate

B..b.bb..but wind is FREE!

Oct 27, 2014 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

H2o,

I think to best thjng about ukip is that it is full of a lot of normal, everyday people who have not enriched themselves through the political process and hope they can keep it that way if they become a major force in parliament next year.

Mailman

Oct 27, 2014 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered Commentermailman

Mailman
I would like to think you are right but every photo I see (not just of Farage but look at the 'hangers-on' in the background sometime) reminds me of some loudmouth bore down the pub with that stupid open-mouth grin that says "I've had one too many but here, let me get you another."
Occasionally these boozy pals can be good company and have been known to talk a lot of sense (especially after I've had a few!) but I wouildn't want one of them running my country,
By comparison even Balls and Miliband at least look normal.

Oct 27, 2014 at 11:47 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Confused.

I admit there are not many who put their heads over the parapet, but there are a few. In addition to Peter Lilley and Andrew Tyrie, John Redwood and Phillip Davies are most vocal, though from Labour, Graham Stringer is on side. From Northern Ireland, Sammy Wilson is a passionate climate change sceptic. But, there will be more, especially from the Eurosceptic backbenchers. Many, of course will not speak out for fear of ruining their careers.

Oct 27, 2014 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Confused.

Sorry I forgot the most effective climate sceptic, Owen Paterson

Oct 27, 2014 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Looks can be so deceiving Mr. Jackson or do you just vote on the colour of the suit.

Oct 27, 2014 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

@ Mike Jackson at 11:47 AM

"By comparison even Balls and Miliband at least look normal...."

The ventriloquist has freedom of choice about the appearance of his dummy.

Oct 27, 2014 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

"2 Data source and windfarm modelling
2.1 Data source
Wind-speed and direction data used for any analysis of wind as a fuel source must be gathered from

i sites scattered across the country,

ii where anemometer accuracy and placement meet known standards, and

iii where data has been taken periodically over a reasonable number of years.

There are numerous sites in the UK producing wind data of this quality, many of
which are operated by the Meteorological Office. Data was requested from them in
2007; access was permitted but at a prohibitive cost of £1,800 per site, per annum. "

No doubt the MO would explain that the data has commercial value, but something does not seem right about data acquired at public expense not being freely available for analysis by a non-profit organisation whose studies will be made available for public consumption.

Oct 27, 2014 at 12:27 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Mike Jackson

I have to admit I do not think Farage is an ideal leader but as I said in my earlier post politics inevitably involves compromise. There is no power on earth could make me vote for Balls and Milliband.

UKIP are the only party with a sensible energy policy. On that basis they get my vote. Their one MP - Douglas Carswell - is a class act.

Oct 27, 2014 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterH2O: the miracle molecule

Mike Jackson

Don't you think that's what the MSM want you to see ?

Oct 27, 2014 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

It is worth looking at the REF report in decline in availability of Wind Turbines:

http://www.ref.org.uk/attachments/article/280/ref.hughes.19.12.12.pdf

The normalised load factor for UK onshore wind farms declines from a peak of about 24% at
age 1 to 15% at age 10 and 11% at age 15. ........for offshore wind farms in Denmark the normalised load factor falls from 39% at age 0 to 15% at age 10. The reasons for the observed declines in normalised load factors
cannot be fully assessed using the data available but outages due to mechanical breakdowns
appear to be a contributory factor.

Oct 27, 2014 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterrogue

Martyn
Looks can be deceiving indeed.
50 years on the fringes of politics and 20 years reporting on the subject is called 'experience'. Enough at least (and at last) to back my own judgment.
Not forgetting that if it walks like a duck ....

Oct 27, 2014 at 1:06 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I find it nothing short of astonishing (I could use another description, but I want to be seen to be using moderate language) that, in 2014 after 50-60 years of secure, uninterrupted mains electricity (give or take the odd miners strike) - our dear Secretary of State for Energy and Cute Puppies (or something) finds it necessary to assure us at every opportunity that 'the lights will stay on' this winter...
Jonathan Leake's article in The Sunday Times (he is normally of a seriously warmist persuasion) includes some scary numbers - such as a survey for the City of London Corporation which suggests that the likelihood of blackouts in the capital has gone from 1 in 3307 years in 2012, to 1 in 12 years in 2015. It also shows a pie chart in which 'renewables' (that's wind and solar to you and me) form 15% of generating capacity - a still afternoon in December or January and that's 15% down the toilet (if the sewage system is still working, that is)...
He also show a bar chart which indicated a peak winter demand of 58GW - against UK generating capacity of 60GW. As we all know, winter demand has been over 60GW in the recent past, so why they suggest 58GW as the winter maximum is just finger-crossing of the highest order...
All of which could wreck our hard-won and fragile recovery - just in time for the General Election. Everything - that's EVERYTHING - now depends on mains power - no more 'hand cranking' petrol pumps, or shop assistants with pocket calculators...
Another nuke going down for repair; an overloaded substation blowing up; another 'Didcot'; some 'biomass' catching fire - any of these (and loads I can't think of right now) and the UK's electricity system will collapse like a pack of cards.

Get the gennys ready, guys...

Oct 27, 2014 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Oct 27, 2014 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterrogue

Wind capacity/load over the lifetime of the farm should be trivial to calculate from data from the site. Why is this data so hidden away from public view. The National Grid must have a good idea at what the number are.

Oct 27, 2014 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

with only a modest impact on carbon dioxide emissions (the whole reason for current policy) and no improvement in energy security.

What impact? Can the impact of UK's wind turbines on carbon dioxide emissions be measured? If there is in fact a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, at what capital cost and what are the annual maintenance costs?

Oct 27, 2014 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul in Sweden

Hey Guys, this isn't just down to the UK. On the continent we are even, ever more moving toward a future of wind energy and solar panels. Segolene's 7.000.000 power points are going to be supplied by windmills and solar panels. It will be a bugger if your e-vehicule runs out of power on one of those dirty, foggy winter days with no wind or sun. You could be dead before your car will move again.

Oct 27, 2014 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Worst case, 5 more years of non-warming and the jig is up.

In the meantime the only sensible course is to vote UKIP, the only party remotely likely to tackle the green blob. And yes, there is always an element of compromise in political decisions

H2O: the miracle molecule

and NOAA, NASA, UKMET, NCDC will make the necessary adjustments to ensure the money keeps coming.


However, when it all really is up I would not want to be Betts et al or Gavin et al. A baying mob at your familly's door will not be pretty.

Oct 27, 2014 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

I suppose you can manage wind...switch it out and use running backup/mothballs. Who are these people?

Ex-expat Colin

Yeh, do what the grid did when hurricane gonzalez reached the UK. Tell the windmill operators to shut down and pay them £5.000.000 a day. That'll work.

Oct 27, 2014 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

I read somewhere that when the percentage of wind energy exceeds about 15%, then there is a problem of controlling the grid.

Does anyone know if this is true? Any literature on this subject?

Oct 27, 2014 at 2:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn de Melle

However, when it all really is up I would not want to be Betts et al or Gavin et al. A baying mob at your familly's door will not be pretty.
Oct 27, 2014 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

SR - Please be careful. Whatever your intentions, what you wrote could be interpreted as along the lines of 'we know where you live' (© greenpeace)

Oct 27, 2014 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

By comparison even Balls and Miliband at least look normal.

Oct 27, 2014 at 11:47 AM | Mike Jackson
=====================================================

Miliband? You cannot be serious. Look normal? You didn't see the bacon sarnie photo, clearly. Or the one of him drooling?

http://static.squarespace.com/static/5126bbb4e4b08c2e6d1cb6e4/t/537e3ee2e4b060e469408eca/1400782563156/schneidertwitter.jpg?format=750w

http://40.media.tumblr.com/ffc3f1ea1cc84bf95f07098eb8fe4206/tumblr_mxunt6KuJL1qfqz3ao1_500.jpg

http://36.media.tumblr.com/85bf0067943ac3400b291b5e0218fa60/tumblr_mxung9pA5c1qfqz3ao1_500.jpg

http://41.media.tumblr.com/60283b5b4aef8fed3592a184ffb4e2b1/tumblr_mxumzkVdf41qfqz3ao1_500.jpg

http://images.dailystar-uk.co.uk/dynamic/1/photos/107000/620x/ed_miliband_weird_vote-371218.jpg

and on and on. Jeez, I'm worried for you if you think Miliband looks more normal than Farage.

Oct 27, 2014 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

John de Melle, Clive Best has just written a blog post on exactly this - wind power never goes above abut 6GW, which he describes as 'fishy'. He says he thinks that the cables connected up to all the windfarms just can't handle the energy produced on windy days. What happens is that windfarms are paid millions (by us bill-payers of course) to not produce electricity. Yesterday for example we paid them £3M.

Oct 27, 2014 at 4:31 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

It's not about the CO2 it's about the subsidy £££
In any other field you have a COST/BENFIT analysis
- Where is the analysis which says we had £X extra costs due to wind inefficiencies/subsidies & we have reduced CO2 by Zppm as a benefit ?
..it suspicious there is none, and that they wantus to hand over the £££ without ever showing us the product

similar indication that It's not about the CO2 it's about the subsidy £££
is that in a discussion about fusion power many posters say we should not ever do this CO2 free solution & we should do MORE solarPV & wind

"A mix of renewables would be better at evening out the generation"
discussion 1 ..discussion 2

Oct 27, 2014 at 4:32 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Here's news of OFGEM spending £1.1bn on our behalf to connect Scottish windfarms:

http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/ofgem-to-help-fund-moray-firth-subsea-link-1-3585185

1.2GW capacity connected, so perhaps 0.3GW of supply.

Oct 27, 2014 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

The climate obsessed do not realize that if wind could ever work, we would not have had to develop steam, internal combustion, etc. to the extent we have. Wind was a clear loser long before the first rudimentary baby steps into steam in the late 17th century. The intermittent nature of wind is a deal breaker except for slick salesmen. The poorly scaleable nature of wind is a deal killer in any real world analysis.

Oct 27, 2014 at 5:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Oct 27, 2014 at 4:31 PM Paul Matthews

Thanks, Paul, for the info. I will have a read of Clive's blog now.

Oct 27, 2014 at 6:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn de Melle

"why would all these monastery heads high priests and bishops believe in the enlightment when the pope has their next 100 paychecks ready??"
Oct 27, 2014 at 10:11 AM | ptw

Here is one of the quotations which stays on my notice board (from Samuel Butler (1612-1680)):

What makes all doctrines plain and clear?
About two hundred pounds a year.
And that which was proved true before,
Prove false again? Two hundred more. (Hudibras pt.3)

Nothing new under the sun then! Not even inflation.

Oct 27, 2014 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

22 October 2014 Last updated at 00:07 Share this pageEmail Print Share this page

Wind farms outstrip nuclear power By Roger Harrabin

BBC environment analyst

The UK's wind farms generated more power than its nuclear power stations on Tuesday, the National Grid says.

The energy network operator said it was caused by a combination of high winds and faults in nuclear plants.

Wind farms are causing controversy in rural areas and the government is choking off planning permission for new sites.

But for a 24-hour period yesterday, spinning blades produced more energy than splitting atoms.

Wind made up 14.2% of all generation and nuclear offered 13.2%.

It follows another milestone on Saturday, when wind generated a record amount of power - 6,372 MW, according to National Grid.

This formed nearly 20% of the the UK's electricity, albeit at a time at the weekend when demand is relatively low.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-29715796

Oct 27, 2014 at 7:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

From the summary for policymakers of above document:

Wind is, by its nature, intermittent and so the extent to which this affects the output of the fleet of wind turbines in a typical year is crucial in determining how much conventional generating capacity is needed by way of backup and thus what the overall system costs are. This study provides a rigorous quantitative assessment of wind variability and intermittency based on nine years of hourly measurements of wind speed on 22 sites across the country. The analysis is based on a model UK wind fleet of 10 GW nominal capacity.
The model reveals that power output has the following pattern over a year:
i Power exceeds 90 % of available power for only 17 hours
ii Power exceeds 80 % of available power for 163 hours
iii Power is below 20 % of available power for 3,448 hours (20 weeks)
iv Power is below 10 % of available power for 1,519 hours (9 weeks)

9 weeks out of the year below 10%....what a crazy scheme.

Oct 27, 2014 at 7:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterWijnand

Oct 27, 2014 at 7:12 PM | Martyn

What a glorious caveatorama from our old friend Roger.

If "ifs" and "ands" were pots and pans, there'd be no work for tinkers' hands. - Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) (and a few old proverbs)

Oct 27, 2014 at 7:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

It would be very interesting to see how that analysis quoted by Wijnand matches up against the demand pattern.

Did those periods of lowest wind output tend to occur on still, cold winters' nights when demand was high?

Oct 27, 2014 at 10:14 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

@Wijnand quotes from Martin Livermore of Scientific Alliance

The analysis is based on a model UK wind fleet of 10 GW nominal capacity.
The model reveals that power output has the following pattern over a year:
i Power exceeds 90 % of available power for only 17 hours
ii Power exceeds 80 % of available power for 163 hours
iii Power is below 20 % of available power for 3,448 hours (20 weeks)
iv Power is below 10 % of available power for 1,519 hours (9 weeks)

Unfortunately even this analysis is wrong. The current installed Wind capacity in the UK is 11.5 GW. The Grid infrastructure simply cannot handle more than 6GW from widely dispersed wind farms across the country. All Scottish wind farms summed together are not able to supply more than 3 GW to the National Grid. The excess is discarded yet the operators are then perversely paid a surcharge (constraint payments) to compensate them anyway. The dice are loaded against the consumer in order to give a guaranteed return of up to 20% on rich (foreign) investors and landowners.

This is the real stupidity. Any further expansion of Wind energy should be halted now by the Office for budget responsibility. It cannot increase total power capacity at all. It simply enriches foreign investors and the 'Green Blob' while achieving essentially nothing for energy security. The hypothetical costs of upgrading the grid for wind are financially and environmentally enormous for the UK consumer, while the green lobby simply wash their hands of any responsibility and cash the profits. It really is a scam.

So points (above) i and ii can simply be replaced by

i) Power exceeds 50% of available power for 200 hours (9 weeks)

In reality 2013/14 Wind contributed an average of just 5.7% of UK power demand after a net investment exceeding £45 billion. Gas and Coal were about 70% and Nuclear about 18%

Oct 27, 2014 at 10:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterClive Best

Wind Farm developers and the politicians who support them know it is a scam.
They need to be charged with fraud and when found gulity, imprisoned.

The whole “renewable energy” policy cries out for judicial review.

But they are trying to prevent ordinary people who are affected by damaging policies (like promoting wind “power”) from asking courts to review them.
Latest proposals will require you to go to Court to first establish a basis- and guess what? It has will be VERY expensive.

We need to act now before this possible remedy is removed.
Then the thieving b******s will be untouchable.

Oct 27, 2014 at 11:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Oct 27, 2014 at 2:49 PM John de Melle

If you are after an easy to read no nonsense book on what wind (and solar) can't do, you could try

The Solar Fraud by Howard C Hayden

The link is to a review

Oct 28, 2014 at 12:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobH

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