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« Green blob in control at Environment Agency | Main | How can the BBC help you advertise your wares better, Mr Green Blob? »

AEP and the GLCL*

Detail from woodcut by Paul Bloomer Evans-Pritchard has an article in the Telegraph boldly declaring that the UK is backing away from wind power just as they become competitive with fossil fuels. The story seems to be that if only wind turbines could be made really, really huge, then everything would be OK.

Cue a barrage of graphs to support the (alleged) case.

"Great levelised costs lie?", I hear you ask.

You bet.

A study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance concluded that the global average for the 'levelised cost of electricity' (LCOE) for onshore wind fell to $83 per megawatt/hour last year compared to $76-$82 for gas turbine plants in the US, or $85-$93 in Asia, or $103-$118 in Europe.

Ho hum.


*GLCL: Great levelised costs lie.

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Reader Comments (79)

I have discovered that a solar panel in orbit around the sun would actually generate electricity at less than $0.001 /kWh. And give a constant output.

My Nobel prize for cat belling, is in the post, allegedly.

Jan 11, 2016 at 10:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterLeo Smith

Only when windmill contacts require uninterruptible power input to the Grid, within defined limits, can any more wind farms be accepted: Subsidy Farmers must bear the cost of standby power.

Jan 11, 2016 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenternCC 1701E

AEP is wrong about everything, all the time. He is constantly predicting catastrophes, none of which seem to come to pass. So he is probably wrong about big windmills too.

Jan 11, 2016 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Fixed it for you Bish:-

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has an article advertorial in the Telegraph........

Jan 11, 2016 at 10:29 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

This is exactly why there should be no "investment" in wind power technology now, why plaster the countryside in turbines that will be obsolete in 5 years time, you would only do that if there was a shortage of electricity, which there ain't (quite the opposite in fact). Economists doing engineering is not a pretty sight, neither is the decline of The Telegraph.

Jan 11, 2016 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

It's a big stretch blaming the government for local nimbyism. But never mind onshore versus offshore and big blades versus small, maybe the best place for wind generators is at high altitude anyway:

Jan 11, 2016 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

From a comment below the AEP article (about battery storage):

"And also figure out how you are going to charge those batteries. If all the renewable electricity goes into the grid there is none for the batteries, but if you charge up the batteries there is none for the grid."

I've not seen that argument before; pretty neat or is someone going to tell me it is wrong?!!

Jan 11, 2016 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Jones

Wind Turnbines hanging from Airships to pick up the Gulf Stream in Berkshire.

No fly zone around them then . One way to stop the third runway at Heathrow

PS RIP our David

Jan 11, 2016 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterThin White Duke

Renewable energy cr*p from AEP = perpetual motion machine......:o)

Jan 11, 2016 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

This is as credible as the true believers blaming climate skeptics for the failure of the climate consensus predictions or their failure to convince people about their obsessions.

Jan 11, 2016 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I know it's a bit tedious, but I think you should spell out exactly what the GLCL lie is and why it's a lie. Previous posts on the subject don't really seem to do this either. You'd only need to write it out once, then refer back to it each time it comes up.

Jan 11, 2016 at 10:57 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

What's his beef?

All we've done is backed away from subsidising windmills. If they're so cheap, have superb gearboxes, and are almost silent, show us. Build a demo park with your lovely windmills. There're a nice piece of land in Hyde Park.

Oh, I forgot to mention, we' d like firm, round-the-clock production; In spite of us having 22GW of new renewables, we're a bit short of firm capacity.

That won't be a problem, will it?

The great LCL is simply that you're selective about what costs you include in your analysis. This analysis omits such trivia as mitigating the cost or renewable intermittency.

Jan 11, 2016 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Paul, so-called "levelized costs" refers to the idea that if one excludes from wind things like the cost of depreciation, "normalizes" operating costs, continues operating subsidies forever, penalizes coal and gas until they are too expensive to use, ignores nuclear, ignores the terrible actual rate of delivered wind power, and enjoys huge industrial sized clutter chopping up birds covering the countryside, then wind is about equal to other forms of power.

Jan 11, 2016 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Surely if you keep making windturbines bigger and more expensive, you are just wasting more money to prove wind turbines don't work, when the wind isn't actually blowing?

If there is a potential advantage, it would be that they can produce better subsidies in lower windspeeds, so does anyone know how much closer to zero windspeed, they can still generate bankable money?

What would be really useful is a graph showing windspeeds against profit generation, combined with the percentage of time per year, that income is generated. Planners get bamboozled with figures of CLAIMED generating capacity, which everyone knows is just blowing rowlocks. Planners need to know the likely profit for producing nothing useful, when they grant Planning Permission. Local residents may be interested to learn the real economics of wind.

Jan 11, 2016 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I suspect Paul knows that, hunter, but nonetheless I think his request for a short but comprehensive note spelling out precisely what's meant by the GLCL - to which future references could provide a link - would be helpful.

Jan 11, 2016 at 11:24 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Wind needs back-up.
The cost of that back-up - ALL of it - is a necessary component of the real cost of wind energy.
The real price comparable is the cost of stuff that works v cost of wind PLUS cost of stuff that works.
Therefore wind energy is ALWAYS more expensive than its competitors.
The end.

Jan 11, 2016 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshireRed

CheshireRed and others:

I presented to the four Planning Inspectors of the Examining Authority for the proposed 970MW Navitus Bay offshore wind farm the suggestion that the developers should also provide a 970MW CCGT so that between the two facilities they could provide a baseload capacity of 970 MW or a load-follow capability of up to 970MW and then the full economic cost of the wind farm intermittency would be born by the developer. Needless to say, my suggestion did not gain traction.

Jan 11, 2016 at 11:54 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I agree with the above commenters about the need for a clear explanation of the "levelized cost issue".
I also would like to request a short, clear summary of what is included and especially what is excluded in this definition of levelised costs as used by the green blob. A link to a previous clear explanation would of course also work.
Thanks in advance!

Jan 11, 2016 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterWijnand

Here's a good critique of levelised costs with numbers.

Jan 11, 2016 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Didn't we have a post about levelised costs a few months ago. Was it from the GWPF?

Jan 11, 2016 at 12:06 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby


"maybe the best place for wind generators is at high altitude anyway:

But only when they have stopped all air traffic to save the planet. The other problem of course is getting access to the power produced, see John Brignell's numerous visits to the topic:

Jan 11, 2016 at 12:16 PM | Registered Commenterdennisa

This infomercial for wind was generated by the same quality of thinking that has North Carolina wood chip mill owners smiling as they watch their product sail off to the suckers in the UK and Europe for use as fuel for electric power plants.

Jan 11, 2016 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I know it's a bit tedious, but I think you should spell out exactly what the GLCL lie is and why it's a lie. Previous posts on the subject don't really seem to do this either. You'd only need to write it out once, then refer back to it each time it comes up.
Jan 11, 2016 at 10:57 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Yes. I wondered but did not dare to ask. (Or was too idle busy to track it down and read up on it.)

Jan 11, 2016 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Levelised Costs: here's a link to the definitive paper:

Nothing more needs to be said.

Jan 11, 2016 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Skepticism is warranted but there are engineers doing just that right now with several cunning schemes. I try to balance my scepticism with the knowledge that if engineers had ever listened to deskbound naysayers then we'd still be using pre-industrial-revolution wind and water mills and there wouldn't be any air traffic to ban :)

Jan 11, 2016 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Fascinating, Capell. Just did a quick eyeball of the spreadsheet in that LC report. - It also includes costs of backup by the way - and it comes up £10/MWh for coal and £187/MWH for on-shore wind. Very interesting. A bit more eyeballing reuired.....

Jan 11, 2016 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Bit of a typo/eyeball error in previous comment. Coal should be £100 not £10 - and even then, it depends on whether CCS etc is employed.

Jan 11, 2016 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Also ban Kettles and flushing the toilet after every dramatic England football sudden death penalty shoot out.

Jan 11, 2016 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

What Paul said.

Jan 11, 2016 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterFen Tiger

The ideal location for windturbines, at height, is to mount them on top of coal fired powerstation cooling towers.

When there is no wind, they could be pivoted down, so the blades rotate in the updraft of steam and water vapour. As conventional power stations have to be on permanent standby anyway, this would be a 'No Lose/No Lose' situation, as opposed to the 'Dead Loss/Dead Loss' situation, we are currently lumbered with.

This would be the biggest advance in windmills evah.

Jan 11, 2016 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I presented to the four Planning Inspectors of the Examining Authority for the proposed 970MW Navitus Bay offshore wind farm the suggestion that the developers should also provide a 970MW CCGT so that between the two facilities they could provide a baseload capacity of 970 MW or a load-follow capability of up to 970MW and then the full economic cost of the wind farm intermittency would be born by the developer. Needless to say, my suggestion did not gain traction.

Jan 11, 2016 at 11:54 AM | Registered Commenter Phillip Bratby


No it wouldn't would it. 'They' don't like people throwing an almighty spanner in the works while making themselves look a bit dim.

Jan 11, 2016 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheshireRed

Capell 11:11am, not just Hyde Park in London, what about Hampstead Heath aswell? It might scare away some of the 'Badger spotters', so Badgers can get on with what badgers know best.

There is also Highgate Cemetery. What better place to erect a monument to zero productivity, through failed political doctrine, than overshadowing the grave of Karl Marx? If they build it quick, Corbyn might still be around, to celebrate a triumph of foreign failed engineering with unemployed Brits, all made possible by stupidity.

Jan 11, 2016 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard - says it all really. Another upper-class twit.

Probably an English/Economics graduate so superbly qualified to pontificate on Claimit (not a spelling error) "science".

Jan 11, 2016 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

AEP, I believe has been got to by the green blob - probably sat upon by Dong or Vasteras.

Back in the day, he never used to be so thick obtuse when referencing such items as that very fanciful chimera known as 'levelised costs'.

AEP, the bloke is some sort of abstract philosopher economist for crying out loud, not an bod' who actually knows about stuff - like an engineer would.

But that's the problem is it not?

Advocates, the jerks who pronounce on such things of which they know FA about and mimicking to an audience most of whom are equally as dense. Those dense areas at the top of the neck - a goonfest and who are constantly fed a very sugary [not to be recommended] highly concentrated diet of fast with the truth factoids - concerning and covering the great scam.

Ah the great warmunist scam, it's ideas, not least the idea that birdmincers will somehow eventually and by some very creative statistics - become equal players with fossil fuelled electrical generation. - which as I said - is a type 1 lunacy, only those who bark at the full moon would actually promulgate - step forwards, Naomi Klein, the beeb, roger the harrabin, Leo Hickman, Joss Garman et al and least of all - AEP.

Jan 11, 2016 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Wind power seems to be very effective in Scotland, generating most of our electricity. As reported on the BBC today and in several newspapers "the environment charity said wind power produced the equivalent of 97% of Scotland's household electricity needs" in 2015. The charity is the WWF so I presume that the various reports are lifted uncritically from a WWF press release. So what is the difference between "97%" and "the equivalent of 97%"? Are our "electricity needs" the same as our electricity usage? Most importantly can we now abandon all but 3% of non renewable generation capacity as we don't now seem to need it?

Don't you wish that we had some decent journalists who would actually question claims which must surely look dubious rather than simply and uncritically regurgitating them and thereby giving them a stamp of authority for the large number of people still inclined to believe the BBC or what they read in the newspapers?

Jan 11, 2016 at 2:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterGuirme

Capell, in the link you give to Colin Gibson's paper he states

"The [levelized] costs include, for intermittent generation, all the costs of delivering to the customer the same ‘product’ in respect of Security of Supply and frequency control of non- intermittent generators."

I take it to mean that the "same product" means the cost of electricity on demand (which 'renewables' cannot reliably supply, so the cost must include backup). This appears, to me, to be the opposite definition to that used by Paul L. Joskow in the paper linked by JamesG.

I feel no wiser as whether there is a commonly understood definition of levelized costs. As requested by others, perhaps the Bish might give us his definition.

Jan 11, 2016 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I am offered retail electricity for around 8 cents per KWH here in Texas. I don't really think it can cost $80 per MWh at the producer.

Funny, there is a lot of wind generation here but I've never seen a wind generator. I've been to Dallas, Houston, Austin and of course Paris. Maybe they are in West Texas.

Jan 11, 2016 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

@Guirme: The best thing to improve Scots' Renewable Energy would be to place phase switches at the 'border' to stop their subsidy farmers, who bankroll the SNP, from dumping excess energy in gales to the rUK.

Then the Scots would have to do a proper job with pump storage instead of raping the English poor, always a prime aim of the SNP which dreams of replacing N. Sea oil with windmills.

Jan 11, 2016 at 3:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

It seems to me that if wind farms are indeed competitive with other means of power production there is no need to subsidise them.
The same goes for solar, or any other scheme.

Jan 11, 2016 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat

Guirme: Re Scottish winf power: You could have indicated that the report of 97% wind-generated power came from this article in the DT

An interesting part of the report puts it into context:

According to its data, wind farms generated the equivalent of more than 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs during six of the last 12 months, including a “record” amount in December. This dipped to only 37 per cent in June when the weather was relatively still.
But the annual average suggests that the SNP’s target of generating the equivalent of 100 per cent of the country’s electricity was all but met in 2014, six years ahead of the party's 2020 deadline.
I don't believe a word of it.

Jan 11, 2016 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

To NCC 1701E - I find your response somewhat shocking, Generation is a Westminster reserved matter so I don't see how this is an SNP issue. I am not a member of the SNP (or any other political party) but I find your suggestion that the subsidy farmers "bankroll the SNP" as lacking credibility - are you really suggesting that wealthy landowners are natural or actual SNP supporters. As regards your comment about "raping the English poor" I find that deeply offensive and tasteless in the extreme. Are you not aware that the major Westminster parties are all unquestioning "climate change" supporters?

It would be better to concentrate on what we can all do to change their skewed view of reality rather than hurling baseless and inappropriate insults.

Jan 11, 2016 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterGuirme

I missed the article, but I'm puzzled by the thrust of it, which seems to be a complaint that support for wind energy is being downgraded just as it is becoming competitive with fossil fuels. Surely that's appropriate. If it can stand on its own feet, it should be allowed to do so! Something funny about the logic being touted here..

Jan 11, 2016 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered Commentermothcatcher

Comment removed by author.

Jan 11, 2016 at 3:21 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Harry Passfield - The DT report is a bit odd. They have added an extra %age, upping the figure to 98% and they claim it is in relation to all of Scotland's needs, not just to household needs. This is an even more ridiculous claim than that made by the WWF as reported on the BBC and in the Scotsman, inter alia. Start with a lie and then tell an even bigger one. Sadly there are many credulous people who will believe this nonsense.

Jan 11, 2016 at 3:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterGuirme

it's a real pity that we can't have a myriad of end user tie ups to the type of energy you want

I'm thinking that those who want windmills can have ALL their power from it
other could have unicorn dung and faerie dust generators

those that want lovely instant gas can have it

then on most days of the week we can walk down Acacia Av and have right good laugh at the non-charging of their eye phones

and with no internet connection , or at best wildly intermittent (see what I done there?) wouldn't be able to inflict stupid articles and comments on the grown ups

Jan 11, 2016 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

Michael Hart
I've failed to download the Joskow article but I have managed to get an abstract. This says:
" I demonstrate that this metric is inappropriate for comparing intermittent generating technologies like wind and solar with dispatchable generating technologies like nuclear, gas combined cycle, and coal. It overvalues intermittent generating technologies compared to dispatchable base load generating technologies. It also likely overvalues wind generating technologies compared to solar generating technologies. Integrating differences in production profiles, the associated variations in wholesale market prices of electricity, and life-cycle costs associated with different generating technologies is necessary to provide meaningful comparisons between them."

That seems to be exactly the point Gibson is making. If you're going to do a levelised cost analysis correctly then you have to include all the costs. If you want to lie about the costs you exclude costs which don't tell the story you want.

Thus: want to convince everyone that solar is at grid parity right now?: do a levised cost study on solar but exclude intermittency mitigation - just as KPMG did recently (albeit, they coughed up in the very small print - they do appear to have some integrity).

I suppose the lesson is: always check that a levelised cost study at least tries to embrace all the costs.

You can ask the Bish for another explanation, but it's always going to come down to the reader of such a report doing some careful thinking about what they've read.

Jan 11, 2016 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

@Guirme: West Midlands businessmen paid for Brown's private office, and Balls via the Smith Institute. They got subsidies and PFI. 200 Scots' businessmen despoiling the Highlands backed Salmond and the SNP. DECC is controlled by the Climate Change Committee, not UK Government.

A generating oligopoly with smart meters = peak time pricing. In 2011, the CEO of the National Grid Company warned that by 2020 there would be no guaranteed domestic supply; high prices or darkness. This takeover by Corporate owners directly taxing the poor is Corporatist Fascism.

Jan 11, 2016 at 4:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

RG and PM, Planning Engineer corrected the EIA LCOE for wind compared to coal and gas. Step by step, including backup costs for 10% penetration on a real grid, ERCOT. Answer is CCGT about $53/MWh, wind over $140.
2015 guest post True Cost of Wind at Judith Curry's Climate Etc. the Bish is welcome to write a summary and provide a link to the detailed analysis.

Jan 11, 2016 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

Coincidences in AEP's track record

"Oil could hit $220 a barrel on Libya and Algeria fears"

Link :AEP 23 Feb 2011

And what kind of experts does AEP quote in THAT article ?
Jeremy Leggett, a leader of the UK industry task force on peak oil and energy security, said the Mid-East crisis "shows the extreme fragility of the global system. People don't realise how close we are to a potential precipice if this unrest reaches critical mass in enough OPEC countries. Governments need to draw up emergency plans and get cracking on proactive measures while we still have time," he said.
And what's Jeremy Leggett's track record for predictions ?
Predicted that in 2013 solar PV would be on parity with conventional electricity (Original 2010 bet )

"I concede I've lost the £100 bet, but it's a folly to put faith in costly reactors to cut emissions" Monday 24 June 2013

- Monbiot claimed victory in 2013

Yet when the gov RECENTLY talked about downsizing solar subsidies just now, Leggetts predictions on parity were forgotten and not mentioned by Greens.

..... I swear I do not make the sh*t up !

Jan 11, 2016 at 5:08 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Intermittency and lack of power density are insurmountable when fossils are so dense, and so there.

Jan 11, 2016 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

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