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« An outbreak of sanity | Main | Science (it says here) »
Thursday
Nov122015

Some weapons-grade sophistry

Take a look at Mark Lynas's latest piece in the Guardian, in which he tries to absolve the wind fleet of any part in the close call the electricity grid suffered last week. This is pretty remarkable, given that at the time - as readers will no doubt recall - the wind fleet was becalmed and delivering just 3% of its installed capacity. Meanwhile the ageing coal fleet was only delivering 65% of capacity because of breakdowns.

Lynas's position is that this was fine and dandy because the near-total failure of the wind fleet was predicted.

Grid managers...had a day or more’s warning that Wednesday was likely to see very little wind generation, and planned accordingly.

Which is an argument that I'm sure you will agree, would only convince someone who was extraordinarily slow on the uptake. I mean, it's all very well being able to plan, but you do actually need capacity to act on your plan. Lynas has spent his whole working life as a writer and campaigner, so you could imagine that little details like these might slip his notice.

However, in fact it seems that Lynas's co-author Chris Goodall is not wholly blind to the point, noting in the comments:

If you put a lot of renewables on a grid, then you make it impossible to finance new fossil fuel electricity generation in the current electricity market. Market reform is therefore vital, combined with a well-thought-through plan to move to 100% renewables with storage.

What a shameless piece of sophistry that is. You "put" a lot of renewables on the grid, do you? Of course you can't "put" wind power on a grid just like that - you have to bribe people to install wind turbines and coerce others into buying the output. Only then can you make fossil fuels look financially unviable. It's quite clear that the authors know that this is the case and that it's the subsidies that are causing the problem, but they are putting on a fine show of pretending otherwise. Nothing to do with wind power gov'nor, nothing at all.

That market reform is needed is undeniable, although you will note that Goodall says precisely nothing about what reforms he wants - more sophistry of course. Moreover, market reform is precisely what what the government is doing by cutting back the subsidies to renewables. Is Goodall in favour? Who knows, but one would guess that he thinks we should subsidise fossil fuels too. It is hard to get to grips with such foolishness.

As for his idea that the problem is going to be solved by storage at any time in the next few decades, this is completely crazy. The amount of pumped hydro you'd need to see the country through a five-day lull in wind is absurdly large. And what then happens when you have a lull in the wind that lasts longer than five days? In the cold winters of 2009-11 we had lulls lasting weeks.

But don't worry, if the lights go out it will be fine if was predicted.

 

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Reader Comments (110)

Nov 12, 2015 at 3:49 PM Jeremy Poynton
Nov 12, 2015 at 4:42 PM David Schofield

Forty Percent Of UKW.

Brownedoff
===============================================
Ta.

Nov 12, 2015 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

diogenes says

"If you were a company approached by the Grid for load-shedding, surely you would only agree if you had back-up power supplies, probably in the form of filthy Diesel generators. So you go off-grid and get paid by the Grid to run filthy, noisy Diesel generators.

The recent crisis happened during the recent mild weather!

If not enough ready standby power capable of large industrial scale output is available, what then?

Ed Davey and his Department of Wishful Thinking can issue policy papers but the reality of a sub zero January with a high pressure no wind period will call for emergency cuts whether agreed or not.


http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/nov/05/national-grid-spent-more-2-5m-prevent-power-shortages

Nov 12, 2015 at 7:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterBryan

He's none to smart, is he, Lynas, looking at this exchange on his article...

James Griffith 9h ago
there were at least three major power plants out of action, including the Fiddlers Ferry coal plant in Cheshire
The entire UK wind and solar fleet, meant to replace major power plants, was producing at 5% capacity for over a week

Reply
marklynas01 James Griffith 9h ago
No-one expects much from solar at this time of year, least of all the National Grid!

Reply
Quicknstraight marklynas01 8h ago (stating the bleedin' obvious. JP)
Duh. So, clearly, you need other forms of generation besides renewables.

Mr. Lynas seems to have no response to this.

Nov 12, 2015 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

Bryan

I believe that is the reality. The Grid have reached agreements to pay companies to run off gennies. We have to hope enough companies have gennies for when electrity usage ramps up one evening during a blocking high. And let's pray the NHS has enough Diesel fuel as well.

Nov 12, 2015 at 7:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

"They WANT the grid to fail..." --rxc

Yes, they do. Bear in mind that when it does fail, the media and hired yobs and hoons will dominate the conversation. Others will then use the crisis to accomplish the underlying Marxist objectives of the Warmist/Sustainable movement.

The time for action is now.

Nov 12, 2015 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

We really are run by industrial scale morons!
Feather-bedded idiots!
How good is it for (already-poor) productivity to have factories effectively down tools due to lack of power, ffs!

Basically an act of war, to conquer a country, 1st thing, take its power down!

Nov 12, 2015 at 9:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterGaznotprom

"Its about time all these green-meanies who forced the whirling (well whirling all the time) things on the rest of us were on a separate wind and sun grid. It would not take long for them to change their minds"

If, AND ONLY IF, all so called "Green" tariffs were supplied (and cut off) by Smart Meters in proportion to actual generation, then I might consider letting my supplier fit one, As it stands I rebuffed their recent offer with two pages of A4, explaining why I won't be taking them up at present. It included links to the papers produced by Cambridge University on the security aspects...

I'm also waiting for householders with solar panels to start moaning when they discover that all UK installations are required to include a grid failure disconnect in the inverter, which means they won't even get a (limited) supply when the sun is shining, if the main supply fails.

Nov 12, 2015 at 9:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Ward

The National Grid did not cause the capacity crunch. It is, however, coping remarkably well. Emergency measures kept the lights on last winter, and last week too. While the focus is on avoiding blackouts, it seems to me that the blackout protocols in place would prevent significant damage.

As to the causes of the capacity crunch, climate policy plays a minor role. Acidification policy is more important: It shut down the old coal plants. The lack of investment in new thermal capacity is mostly because of regulatory uncertainty and an ill-designed market.

Nov 12, 2015 at 9:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Richard Tol

The National Grid did not cause the capacity crunch.

Correct, but with the inevitability of the crunch obvious I don't think the stance taken by its CEO has done anything to alleviate the issue.

When UK citizens could, quite rightly, have been expecting the National Grid to be shouting long and hard about the measures needed to ensure security of supply, we were actually told :-

""The days of permanently available electricity maybe coming to an end, the head of the power network said yesterday.

Families would have to get used to only using power when it was available rather than constantly, said Steve Holliday, chief executive of National Grid......

....He warned that the government was "looking more to communities and individuals to take power into their own hands".....""

Why was he not explaining to UK citizens what needed to be done in order to ensure we had electricity available, constantly? Why, surely that is his job? At the time (2011) I was of the opinion that it might not the time for a Holliday:-)


The lack of investment in new thermal capacity is mostly because of regulatory uncertainty and an ill-designed market.

Correct, I wonder if Mr Holliday has been lobbying the government on this aspect?

Nov 12, 2015 at 10:27 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Richard Tol, the power market evolved and adapted over time, and matched changing ability to supply with changing geographical demand, it was never designed. Failures of the National Grid have normally been down to local damage to power lines, transformers etc.

The modern requirement for Emergency Measures has been created by political interference. Anthropogenic Green Power cuts were forecast. The 'current' capacity crunch is due to misguided and unnecessary climate policy, with generous subsidies for unreliable windmills, and no incentives to maintain coal and gas power stations, let alone build new.

Sustainable policies have created an unsustainable energy supply. Consumers lose. 97% of consumers are not going to be very happy about it. China can up production of diesel generators within a month. Power stations take a bit longer. You don't need to be an economist to work out what PPE graduates can't.

Nov 12, 2015 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Green Sand, yes broadly agree, the Government did respond to the warnings from Mr. Holliday, by buying diesel generators, though not in sufficient numbers for the needs of all communities.

Nov 12, 2015 at 10:53 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Brownedoff wrote: "However, a large proportion of that 28.4GW is in need up of replacing with modern plant, say all the pre-2000 stuff, which is about 14GW".

I suspect your government will pay the owners of your pre-2000 generation capacity enough to keep the lights on most of the time. I doubt your government will invest heavily in CCGTs when you don't produce much domestic gas to fuel them and the international market price can change dramatically. Better get fracking, if the greens will let you.

Reliable renewable power is technologically feasible: It requires expensive storage and expensive overbuilding of nameplate capacity for wind (far beyond that anticipated using an average output of 30% of nameplate capacity). You won't like the cost in terms of money and landscape.

Nov 12, 2015 at 11:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Bryan

an interesting blogpost

http://www.cityunslicker.co.uk/2015/11/power-cuts-ahoy.html

Nov 13, 2015 at 12:30 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Frank, the Green propaganda has been heavily financed, and well orchestrated in the UK. 'Renewables' are neither renewable, nor reliable. The public are on the brink of working this out for themselves.

The Mark Lynas article in the Guardian, is a damage limitation piece, and represents a defensive strategy, or rearguard action.

The anti-fracking lobby at Local Government level (UK Planning) will not survive a harsh winter with power cuts caused by Green thinking, and public support will evaporate. Paris is not going to produce financial bungs for developing countries, which is the only reason most of them ever turn up, in fact, what will Paris produce apart from expanded waistlines for those attending?

Nov 13, 2015 at 1:11 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

As an alternative to the British folly, Australia could make further export of coal to China contingent on China installing in Australia 1 watt of nuclear electric capacity for every tonne of Australian coal imported.

Nov 13, 2015 at 1:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Welcome to Enron Country

During California's rolling blackouts, when streets were lit only by head lights and families were trapped in elevators, Enron Energy traders laughed.

One trader is heard on tapes obtained by CBS News saying, "Just cut 'em off. They're so f----d. They should just bring back f-----g horses and carriages, f-----g lamps, f-----g kerosene lamps."


California's attempt to deregulate energy markets became a disaster for consumers when companies like Enron manipulated the West Cost power market and even shut down plants so they could drive up prices.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/enron-tapes-anger-lawmakers/

Nov 13, 2015 at 1:39 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

esmiff, ENRON has been a great inspiration to those in the UK seeking to make money from anthropogenic market forces. The Climate Change Act could almost have been designed specifically, as it has not succeeded in any other purpose.

Nov 13, 2015 at 2:14 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

GC = Exactly !


"Enron officials later expressed elation at the results of the Kyoto conference. An internal memo said the Kyoto agreement, if implemented, would "do more to promote Enron's business than almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring the energy and natural gas industries in Europe and the United States."

http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/THE-ENRON-COLLAPSE-Gaining-Favor-in-Washington-2884271.php

Nov 13, 2015 at 2:20 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Frank,

Reliable renewable power is technologically feasible: It requires expensive storage and expensive overbuilding of nameplate capacity for wind (far beyond that anticipated using an average output of 30% of nameplate capacity). You won't like the cost in terms of money and landscape.

Sorry, but that expensive storage just doesn't exist. Not in any meaningful way as far as the UK needs are concerned at any rate. And without it, it wouldn't matter if you had 100 times the amount of wind turbines built - There was no wind. In the dead of winter when a blocking high moves over us, there can be no wind for a week or more. That equates to a huge amount of storage needed to cover such times. At this time, reliable renewable power is not at all feasible, technologically or otherwise.

Richard Tol,

As to the causes of the capacity crunch, climate policy plays a minor role. Acidification policy is more important: It shut down the old coal plants. The lack of investment in new thermal capacity is mostly because of regulatory uncertainty and an ill-designed market.

Climate policy has played a huge role in the capacity problems we now have. You are right that the coal plant closures are because of EU clean air regulation, but without the whole climate thing, these would have been replaced by either clean burn coal plants or gas. But, thanks to the governments climate policies and their resultant push for renewables, nobody wants to invest in modern ff plants as they might not see a return on those investments. The regulatory uncertainty you refer to is precisely a result of climate policy. Without the climate scare, there wouldn't be any regulatory uncertainty.

Nov 13, 2015 at 4:37 AM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

Lots of OT stuff deleted.

Oh noes, censorship :D
Nov 12, 2015 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Nice try.
Before I read your comment, I was thinking of saying "Fair dinks for deleting my comment, Bish. When I found myself getting ready to agree with aTTP then I ought to have known that I was being drawn off-topic."

Nov 13, 2015 at 6:05 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Richard Tol - it is true that some of the coal plants have closed because of the Large Combustion Plant directive, but not all. Scottish Power had no intention to close Longannet next April, afaik they were planning to invest in it to meet the directive. National Grid and DECC has closed Longannet for climate reasons, and no other. Cockenzie was going to be replaced by a CCGT station, but subsidies and market incentives for unreliable renewables have killed that off. There was an Australian company which wanted to build a brand new coal station at Hunterston, but it was effectively killed of before it got to planning by WWF who asked all their members to write letters of objection, citing the need to 'combat climate change' which no local or Holyrood politicians had the intelligence or spine to challenge. If the closures were all due to the EU's LCP directive, how is Germany able to build 19 new stations?

This has all the makings of an impending national crisis (Scottish and UK). Once Longannet closes, and there's a fault at Torness or Hunterston, we are at the mercy of the wind, and grid stability will be a significant problem. If there is a prolonged winter cold spell, when the 9GW of windmills will produce diddly squat, and UK demand hits 60GW as it did in winter 2009-10 (and again in 2010-11), we will be up the creek without a paddle. A very dark and smelly creek. Brown-off's figures on the lack of capacity are terrifying.

Nov 13, 2015 at 8:48 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

It's quite simple if you change the investment economics to suit wind rather than dispatchables then you will have blackouts. But of course economics was never guardo readers strong point

Nov 13, 2015 at 8:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterOwen

@frank

...Reliable renewable power is technologically feasible: It requires expensive storage and expensive overbuilding of nameplate capacity for wind (far beyond that anticipated using an average output of 30% of nameplate capacity). ...

I have never seen a workable 'storage capacity suitable for renewables. Facilities like Dinorwig were specialist items built where the geography was suitable - they cannot be replicated across the country. Accordingly, I do not think storage is technologically feasible at the moment...

Nov 13, 2015 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered Commenterdodgy geezer

From IET Member News December 2015
“Panel engages with UK
Government and advises
on electricity power cuts
————————————
Last year, the IET produced a number of reports on Britain’s power system, which put forward the case for a System Architect role to ensure that Britain’s power system is fit for purpose.
This year, the IET’s Energy Policy Panel has been developing a paper for politicians, journalists and the general public to raise awareness around electricity power cuts. The paper will highlight the main causes of power cuts, such as damage to electricity networks, operational problems and demand being larger than supply, as well as emerging new challenges for Britain’s energy system such as cyber security threats.
The IET Energy Policy Panel has also been engaging with the UK Parliament’s new Energy and Climate Change Select Committee to address what the key energy issues for the UK will be from now until 2020. The Panel is giving advice to the Committee on how the Government should approach energy efficiency and low carbon electricity infrastructure, to increase investor confidence.”

Can you believe this? I despair of the IET, which has gone along with the green movement for far too long and continues not recognise the electrical power disaster that is coming.

Nov 13, 2015 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterEForster

Laurie Childs
One blocking high a couple of years ago covered Ireland, the UK, France as far south as Dijon and roughly east of Tours, Benelux, Denmark, Germany west of a line from Munich to east of Hamburg and much of southern Sweden as far north as Gotenburg.
To what extent anything was turning inside that area I couldn't say but it's a fair bet that virtually all of anything generated was going to make sure that the others didn't seize up!
It lasted for the best part of a week and temperatures in the middle of France hovered around -7C for most of that time.
But it seems to be impossible to convince anyone that when there is no wind then windmills do not make electricity and that an infinite number of the damned things still doesn't make any electricity!

Nov 13, 2015 at 10:49 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

EForster, ".... demand exceeding supply.." This must seem like weapons grade complexity to PPE Graduates. They probably thought we could just borrow some extra energy from the EU or UN, and saddle our grandchildren with increasing energy debts, that they will never be able to pay back.

Nov 13, 2015 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Nov 12, 2015 at 11:09 PM Frank

Please let us know where you live, because it is clear that you have not got a clue as to how the UK really operates.

The government has no money - where electricity is concerned any money will have to come from private sources.

About half of the "unreliables" costs are paid for by people living in accommodation fitted with an electricity meter. The other half comes from business consumers.

The existing government will not put in place a scheme for paying, with taxpayer money, the fixed costs of the owners of CCGT plant.

However, there will, repeat will, come a time when, in the face of grid collapse, a future government will find a secret hoard of taxpayer cash to pass out in order to close the capacity gap for despatchable generation.

Meantime, NG will continue to pay out £2,500/MWh, now and again, to top up the supply.

However, there is no business case for private investors to put their own money into despatchable generation.

They know that “unreliables” take priority when National Grid are making contracts for the supply of electricity. This is the law of the land.

When they look at National Grid's TEC register for 4 November 2015 they see that National Grid have made arrangements to have more than 45 GW of wind by 2023.

If that comes to fruition, potential investors know that represents about 118 Twh of suppy (@ 30% effectiveness) per year from 1 January 2024.

So, from wind alone, that is double what the whole of the “unreliable” sector supplied in 2014 (58 Twh), which, at that value, is causing mothballing or closure of despatchable generation.

In addition to that burden, Amber Rudd is seeking to increase the agony by looking for 20 GW of solar to be installed by 2020. This generation is embedded and so serves to deny access to to the grid for existing despatchable generation let alone any new capacity.

Therefore, investors are running away from financing new despatchable capacity.

There is neither the time nor the money to correct the insane policies of successive UK governments since the late 1980s.

The UK will just have to prepare itself to endure many years of electricity supply rationing until such time as all "unreliables" are closed down, without compensation, and a new market system is put in place to encourage private investors to embark on a massive programme to finance replacement despatchable generation capacity.

That market place will make the shenanigans over Hinkley Point C look like a bargain.

BTW, do not worry your little head as to gas supply, if and when, the new CCGTs start coming on line - the fuel will be found.

Do not forget, please let us know where you live.

Nov 13, 2015 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

Brownedoff, Greens don't get the implications of Unreliables. The clue is in the word, which is why they don't use it. The UK public are not going to be very happy when they work it out. They might even realise that 'Big Green' just means 'Big Lie', as their trust is eroded by power failures.

Nov 13, 2015 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Matt Ridley

How about funding green infrastructure? Texas, of all places, has the strictest renewable-energy mandate in the USA - and consequently lots of windmills. And who can we thank? Enron. It lobbied Governor George W Bush hard for the measure in 1999, partly because it coveted the chance to trade carbon credits and partly because it needed to help out its loss-making windmill arm, Enron Wind. Enron was showered with plaudits from green groups for its support for alarm about climate change.

http://www.wired.co.uk/wired-magazine/archive/2009/12/start/matt-ridley-climate-alarm?page=all

Nov 13, 2015 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Browned off
Thanks for the details of which I am generally aware. The IET, formerly the Institution of Electrical Engineers, has pushed the bright new world of renewables regularly to the membership in the last few years, without any admission of the intrinsic and hugely costly problems, which were clear right from the start. Evidently, the IET must have been corrupted by pressure from senior members within the generating industry to keep quiet. Ordinary members employed within the industry probably valued their jobs too much to speak out. It is very sad, that the latest advice from the IET is so anodyne and inadequate to say the least even at this late stage.

I should add that members trained in electromagnetic theory are in a very good position to question “back radiation” nonsense and confirm that radiant energy flux is a vector that always flows from hotter to cooler objects. But this discussion has never surfaced probably for the same reason, to go with the flow and make money.

Nov 13, 2015 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterEForster

Nov 13, 2015 at 1:52 PM EForster

Here is a link to an archive of IET documents:

http://www.theiet.org/policy/submissions/archive/archive.cfm

Can you point to the one you have mentioned - anodyne and inadequate?

Thank you.

Nov 13, 2015 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

All the green talk about "storage" is quite amusing, considering that enviros were the tip of the sword AGAINST the installation of storage facilities back in the 60s and 70s, when there was a lot of talk about building LOTS of nuclear plants, which like to operate at a constant power level (because of cost and fuel issues). It was proposed to build some large pumped storage facilities near the Hudson River north of New York and run the nuclear units at constant load, storing the excess generated during the night in hydro pumped storage, and then running them down during the day to supply peak loads. Norway and Sweden effectively do this by swinging power back and forth between the nuclear units in Sweden and the hydro in Norway.

The enviros then hated this idea. It provided a very good solution to the nuclear load following issue, but required large areas of land to be flooded, and they were determined to be "ecologically sensitive" and "of breathtaking beauty", so nothing was built. Now, of course, when windmills are in favor, they want to build "something" that stores the power, but no one has any idea what would be appropriate or workable or economical, as well as environmentally acceptable and safe.

I hate to say it, but the public will not start to question the greens until the lights go out and couples whose jobs are shutdown have to spend a lot more time at home in cold, dark housing with their children, who cannot go to school, The only thing they will be able to do is talk to one another, because there will be no electricity to run any entertainment equipment. "Huddled together around a fire, singing songs."

Nov 13, 2015 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterrxc

Mike Jackson,

Exactly so. Winter time blocking highs are surprisingly frequent. It's only in recent years that we've begun to notice them because of the effect they now have on our electricity generation. If we get a similar pan-European event this coming winter, we could be in really serious trouble. Even STOR might not be enough back-up. There will be a real likelihood that large chunks of our energy intensive industries will have to shut down for the duration. That'll be good for our balance of payments and our reputation won't it?

Nov 13, 2015 at 6:15 PM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

Lots of OT stuff deleted.
Oh noes, censorship :D
Nov 12, 2015 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Nice try.
Before I read your comment, I was thinking of saying "Fair dinks for deleting my comment, Bish. When I found myself getting ready to agree with aTTP then I ought to have known that I was being drawn off-topic."

Nov 13, 2015 at 6:05 AM | michael hart
============================================================
You can rely on aTTP more than the grid, it seems...

Nov 13, 2015 at 9:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

Laurie Childs wrote: "Sorry, but that expensive storage just doesn't exist. Not in any meaningful way as far as the UK needs are concerned at any rate. And without it, it wouldn't matter if you had 100 times the amount of wind turbines built - There was no wind. In the dead of winter when a blocking high moves over us, there can be no wind for a week or more."

Correction: That expensive storage just doesn't CURRENTLY exist, except at the pumped storage at Dinorwig and a few smaller sites. Britain is a reasonably prosperous society; you can build storage and more wind farms, if you want. I personally wouldn't spend the money to cover our landscape with wind farms and fill our valleys with Dinorwigs. Screaming: "It can't be done" at the opposition accomplishes nothing, when it can be done. Demanding a plan with costs for how it could be done RELIABLY makes more sense to me. Reliably means every GW of demand that can no longer be met by conventional generation (including the standard reserve) must be available from wind, solar or storage at least 8750 out of 8760 hours in the typical year. 99.9% reliability. Reliably means without importing non-hydroelectric power from outside the country - power that won't exist when Britain and its neighbors are short of power due to weak winds. In the end, reliably means too expensive for an informed public.

David MacKay's book says you need storage capable of replacing wind for 4 days, not a week or more. IF correct, that would cut your astronomical storage cost in half. It is probably cheaper to overbuild wind farms so that 10% of nameplate capacity can meet average demand and further reduce the need for storage.

http://www.withouthotair.com/c27/page_210.shtml


dodgy geezer questioned building more Dinorwigs. MacKay doesn't think enough could be built to get most of your electricity from wind, but you can build the equivalent of 40 DInorwigs. Enough for a decade or two.

http://www.withouthotair.com/c26/page_192.shtml

After that, you'll need cheaper or newer technology: Batteries, compressed air storage underground, hydrogen. At the moment, you can only count on pumped hydro and expensive batteries to keep expanding wind farms in a reliable manner. Reliability requires storage. Building wind without storage doesn't make sense.


Brownedoff wrote: "Please let us know where you live, because it is clear that you have not got a clue as to how the UK really operates. The government has no money - where electricity is concerned any money will have to come from private sources."

I live in the US Mid-Altantic where the Budischak study describes plans capable of meeting our local grid demand (averaging 31 GW) solely from renewable energy and storage given the local weather and demand actually experienced HOURLY for the four years with five shortages totaling about 50 hours (99.9% reliable). It would be expensive, though this study isn't candid about the real cost, which I estimate to be 5X the cost of conventional generation.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378775312014759

In the US (probably like Britain), the government demands that a certain fraction of power be provided by renewable sources and forces customers to pay for whatever private enterprise volunteers to build. There isn't enough competition, so the price is high. Then the government offers private enterprise subsidies such as loan guarantees and the local public utility commission (PUC) offers a guaranteed high rate and the private investors make a pile of money - if they can deliver. If not, they negotiate a higher rate from the PUC by threatening to abandon the project - probably after their green allies threaten legal action for failing to meet renewable energy goals - and then they make a pile of money. (Google has been a big investor.)

You are absolutely correct that renewable power is driving up the price of dispatchable power and making investors reluctant to replace aging facilities. Dispatchable plants get used less, so their capital charge must be higher. Fortunately, fuel is their main cost. The US (except possibly California) doesn't appear to be suffering from a shortage of dispatchable capacity at the moment, but Britain is and someday we will be. In the end, our PUCs presumably will be forced to offer better terms to providers of dispatchable power - after a lot of public anguish and perhaps shortages. Customers will pay more for both renewable and dispatchable power, which has become less reliable, and the cost of the subsidies will be added to the national debt and paid by future generations. The only thing worse I can imagine would be the government completely replacing private enterprise.

I'm not sure how large pumped hydro storage would be built in the US. The government might provide or acquire a suitable site and ask for bids to build and operate the site.

As I see it, the issue isn't feasibility; it's the true cost of RELIABLE renewable energy, which is massively higher than the widely publicized levelized cost of generation. Our host rails about the deceptions associated with the leveled cost of generation. (Budischak can rebut them.)

Nov 14, 2015 at 4:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank

I'm always amazed that someone that serially ignorant can continue draw a paycheck in a field in which they have no expertise. The western world is hopelessly forgiving of stupid.

Nov 14, 2015 at 7:22 AM | Unregistered Commenterdp

Nov 14, 2015 at 4:48 AM Frank
"You are absolutely correct that renewable power is driving up the price of dispatchable power and making investors reluctant to replace aging facilities."

Apart from the fact that I did not say that, that sentence shows that you do not understand anything about the UK electricity supply industry. The price of despatchable power is not going up, for many years it has been stable within the range of £45 to £50 per MWh.

The problem for investors is that:

(a) because of the ever increasing (and seemingly unstoppable) penetration of wind, which displaces the operation of all types of despatchable power plant, together with

(b) the ever increasing (and seemingly unstoppable) penetration of solar, which displaces ALL types of generation,
it is clear to investors that there are not enough hours left in a year for the operation of the existing fleet of despatchable plant, let alone any additional new plant.

Every MWh of wind and solar pumped, by law, into the grid is a MWh denied to the despatchable power plants.

In 2014, so called "renewables" imposed 58,000,000 MWh on the grid and no doubt that figure will be higher for 2015.

Had the available despatchable plants been permitted to provide that, they would have earned (at £50/MWh) approximately £2,900.000.000. That is a huge loss of revenue and, in part, accounts for the lack of enthusiasm on the part of private investment.

If an asset is not permitted to operate to generate revenue, it is not going to pay its way.

If an investor is aware of that, he will hang on to his money and look elsewhere for opportunities.

I clicked on your link. The usual GreenBlob crap.

The graph demonstrates the futility of your position.

http://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S0378775312014759-fx1.jpg

The grid studied " . . . . a large grid system (72 GW)" - that is about the same as the UK system.

Your silly little graph shows that you need 22GW "Fossil Backup Generation" which is only needed 5 times in 4 years (BTW the x- axis is insane).

So, you have £22 billion Pounds Sterling of assets standing idle, effectively, all the time.

At that point, the whole paper is clearly useless, although, it could be torn up into 4 rectangles per sheet and handed over to a GreenBlob for recycling in their eco toilet.

Frank, you are beyond help.

Nov 14, 2015 at 10:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

Frank, I think you make the case for small nuclear powerplants very well. The tried and tested technology, of having them small enough to fit in a submarine already exists.

Nov 14, 2015 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Frank,

I was hardly screaming it can't be done, now was I?

Build 40 more Dinorwigs? My apologies, I thought your earlier comments were meant to be taken seriously. I see now that that can't have been the case.

I really don't have the time (or the inclination) to answer every point you make so I'll just deal with a couple.

You say that MacKay says we only need 4 days storage and not a week or more? Oh well, that's ok then. If MacKay said it, it must be true. Problem is, as Mike Jackson points out above, there have already been cases where the blocking highs that mean no wind have lasted more than a week.

You still keep wittering on about building more turbines as an answer:

It is probably cheaper to overbuild wind farms so that 10% of nameplate capacity can meet average demand and further reduce the need for storage.
(my bold)

I don't know how to make this any clearer - there was no wind. During such events there is no wind. 1 x 0 = 0, 10 x 0 = 0 and guess what, 100 x 0 still = 0.

Nov 14, 2015 at 1:17 PM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

golf charlie says....

"Frank, I think you make the case for small nuclear powerplants very well. The tried and tested technology"

What do we do with the waste from these power plants?

Already Sellafield costs billions mainly for storage costs.
It seems to lurch from crisis to crisis with new plans being forced on the operators as each previous plan was inadequate.
Incidentally Sellafield is the new name for Windscale which very nearly became Britain's Chernobyl

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windscale_fire

All nuclear plant ' tried and tested' technology is just an accident waiting to happen if history is any guide.

Would you like to live within ten miles of such a plant?
Perhaps you might but as the price of your home would significantly drop instantly on news of such a new plant in your area so you might have to live there for a long time.

Nov 14, 2015 at 4:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBryan

Bryan, Unreliables are a failure. There is nothing wrong with fossil fuels, apart from Green thinking, therefore Frank has made the case for small nuclear.

UK property prices do not show a significant drop in the value of property near to nuclear facilities. Why aren't windfarms built on city and town parks?

You can't keep redirecting sign posts to unreliable power, when it remains unreliable. Telling everyone how great it WILL be is fine, but trying to persuade people that they have no choice, option or even valid opinion, should have been left for another 10-20 years, however long it takes.

In the meantime, people are dying everyday around the world as they do not have access to reliable power, clean water, food and medicine, much of this has been denied to them by the Green Blob.

This thread was about Lynas saying the UK problems were not the fault of the inevitable failure of unreliable power. He is wrong again.

We now have the crass stupidity of diesel generators being used to keep 'essential' services and functions running, because unreliables can't, and coal has been deliberately run down. Bring on small nuclear power stations.

How many have died as a result of Windscale/Sellafield? Chernobyl even? Fukushima?

Nov 14, 2015 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

golf charlie says

"Bryan, Unreliables are a failure. There is nothing wrong with fossil fuels, apart from Green thinking, therefore Frank has made the case for small nuclear."

I agree with all that with the exception of nuclear power plants.

"How many have died as a result of Windscale/Sellafield? Chernobyl even? Fukushima?"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nuclear_and_radiation_accidents_by_death_toll

Its all so unnecessary, stop dismantling perfectly good ,cheap power plants like Longannet.

Nov 14, 2015 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBryan

Bryan, thank you for that link which I did read.

If your argument is that we need to avoid nuclear at any cost, so be it. But those numbers do not stack up very well against deaths from malaria, other preventable disease, and in the UK, cold.

How many lives have not been lost mining coal, because some countries have used nuclear?

If you want to add up lives lost in one column of accountancy, you need to look at the adjacent column, lives saved. Cars are not banned because of the number of people killed on the way to work or school.

New battery and charging technology is causing damage, and some deaths, whether it is cigarette substitutes or passenger airliners, or electric cars. Where are the calls for bans? Battery technology has improved massively, but remains incapable of storing the amount of power from a functional windmill.

Car batteries for petrol/diesel vehicles have not improved very much in my 30 odd years as a car owner/driver.

Nov 14, 2015 at 8:12 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Laurie Childs: My apologies for accusing you or anyone else of screaming. Numerous commenters repeating what appear to be fables have created that impression.

Getting part of Great Britain's electricity RELIABLY from renewable power is technically feasible, but expensive. So expensive, that few will want it to be built. Few will tolerate a plan accepting unreliable power. IMO, the solution is to demand a plan that can reliably meet existing variable demand EVERY HOUR 365 days a year - given the weather you typically experience. National Grid may be required by law to provide a system capable of delivering power with 99.7% reliability. The renewable energy component would need to be capable of delivering the gap between dispatchable power and demand with 99.9% reliability or 8750 of 8760 hours per year. This was the objective of the study by Budischak I discussed and linked above.

(Until the proper facilities can be built, preoccupation with renewable power will make it difficult to avoid shortages in the next few years.)

David MacKay was the Chief Scientist of DECC. Some disliked him for pointing out the some limitations of sustainable energy; others criticize him for promoting it. I simply cited him as an authoritative source for the amount of storage capacity Britain requires (4 days), and then said: "IF correct, ..." Budischak also called for 4 days storage. If you have records showing that the output of British wind farms has been zero for a week, please share than important data. Mike Jackson discusses large blocking highs associated with low wind, but doesn't mention how long they last.

CAGW has become a religion which ignores the facts. Skeptics shouldn't be equally close-minded. The real problems with renewable energy are: 1) cost, 2) environment footprint, and 3) developing a realistic plan for dealing with intermittency via storage. Not technical feasibility.

Here is what MacKay says about 40 Dinorwigs (since you appear not to have followed the link). Your environmentalists may block such a plan. Brits may be unwilling to pay the cost of such a plan. These are excellent objections. MacKay discusses technically feasibility. (Most Swiss dams have been equipped to pump water back up into their dams when excess German renewable energy is cheap).

"If all four [current] pumped storage stations are switched on simultaneously, they can produce a power of 2.8 GW. They can switch on extremely fast, coping with any slew rate that demand-fluctuations or wind-fluctuations could come up with. However the capacity of 2.8 GW is not enough to replace 10 GW or 33 GW of wind power if it suddenly went missing. Nor is the total energy stored (30 GWh) anywhere near the 1200 GWh we are interested in storing in order to make it through a big lull. Could pumped storage be ramped up? Can we imagine solving the entire lull problem using pumped storage alone?

We are interested in making much bigger storage systems, storing a total of 1200 GWh (about 130 times what Dinorwig stores). And we’d like the capacity to be about 20 GW – about ten times bigger than Dinorwig’s. So here is the pumped storage solution: we have to imagine creating roughly 12 new sites, each storing 100 GWh – roughly ten times the energy stored in Dinorwig. The pumping and generating hardware at each site would be the same as Dinorwig’s.

Is it plausible that twelve such sites could be found? Certainly, we could build several more sites like Dinorwig in Snowdonia alone. Table 26.8 shows two alternative sites near to Ffestiniog where two facilities equal to Dinorwig could have been built. These sites were considered alongside Dinorwig in the 1970s, and Dinorwig was chosen.

Pumped-storage facilities holding significantly more energy than Dinorwig could be built in Scotland by upgrading existing hydroelectric facilities. Scanning a map of Scotland, one candidate location would use Loch Sloy as its upper lake and Loch Lomond as its lower lake. There is already a small hydroelectric power station linking these lakes. Figure 26.9 shows these lakes and the Dinorwig lakes on the same scale. The height difference between Loch Sloy and Loch Lomond is about 270 m. Sloy’s area is about 1.5 km2, and it can already store an energy of 20 GWh. If Loch Sloy’s dam were raised by another 40 m then the extra energy that could be stored would be about 40 GWh. The water level in Loch Lomond would change by at most 0.8 m during a cycle. This is less than the normal range of annual water level variations of Loch Lomond (2 m). Figure 26.10 shows 13 locations in Scotland with potential for pumped storage. (Most of them already have a hydroelectric facility.) If ten of these had the same potential as I just estimated for Loch Sloy, then we could store 400 GWh – one third of the total of 1200 GWh that we were aiming for."

Nov 14, 2015 at 10:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank

@Nov 12, 2015 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie
Green Unreliability remains something we can all depend on, as their clasp on the Power Control Knob starts to wither. A couple of good Green Out disasters is all that it is now going to take, as this Mark Lynas article demonstrates, as he tries to counter MSM criticism, with support from Guardian censorship of comments that are Off Message, not just OT.

Yes as I see it Mark is all over the place with his views. I have added this little sketch to underscore that. The Paris conference is already headed for disaster - Shade of Copenhagen.

https://youtu.be/DI3O-8F1vnE

Nov 14, 2015 at 11:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas

"There's some quite astounding twisted logic going on over there"

Hey, who cares? It's always somebody else's money with these people, isn't it.

Nov 15, 2015 at 5:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterPiperPaul

"[T]he power market evolved and adapted over time, and matched changing ability to supply with changing geographical demand, it was never designed."

Hey, doesn't that also sort of describe the backbone (to varying degrees) of most western countries' economic system, capitalism? That thing that we need to get rid of in order to save the planet?

Nov 15, 2015 at 6:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterPiperPaul

And from yesterday
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/14/un-climate-change-summit-paris-planet-future-balance-science#comment-63374048

"And here is the good news. The transformation is under way. Copenhagen has announced it will be free of fossil fuels by 2025. Now Sweden is seriously talking about being the first fossil-fuel-free country. I believe it could do this as early as 2030."

Nov 15, 2015 at 7:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterPunksta

Frank

The real problems with renewable energy are: 1) cost, 2) environment footprint, and 3) developing a realistic plan for dealing with intermittency via storage. Not technical feasibility.

Actually the real problems with "renewable energy" in the form of wind generation are : 1) it is unnecessary, 2) it is uneconomic, 3) it is unreliable,4) it is undespatchable, 5) it is unpredictabel,6) it needs reliable back up,7) it does not reduce CO2 emissions on a life cycle basis, 8) the technology is obsolete, 9) the turbines have a very short life and their output degrades rapidly, 10) it takes up a huge amount of land per unit of power generated.

Adding storage is not a solution - if it was possible and economic it would just it be a way of living with all the shortcomings that would still exist with wind generated electricity.

If you add a spoon of sh*t to a ton of sugar you have a ton of sh*t - if you add a spoon of sugar to a ton of sh*t you still have a ton of sh*t!

Any more reasons anyone?

Nov 15, 2015 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpectator

Spectator, yes, who had the dumb idea to call Unreliable power Renewable? If a power revolution starts with a big lie, and depends on a big lie, you can't be surprised if Inconvenient Facts undermine and expose the failure of the original lie.

Nov 15, 2015 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

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