Firms paid to shut down wind farms when the wind is blowing

Britain’s biggest wind farm companies are to be paid not to produce electricity when the wind is blowing.

From The UK Telegraph.

By Robert Mendick
Published: 9:00PM BST 19 Jun 2010

Britain's biggest wind farm companies are to be paid not to produce electricity when the wind is blowing.

Energy firms will receive thousands of pounds a day per wind farm to turn off their turbines because the National Grid cannot use the power they are producing Photo: ALAMY

Energy firms will receive thousands of pounds a day per wind farm to turn off their turbines because the National Grid cannot use the power they are producing.

Critics of wind farms have seized on the revelation as evidence of the unsuitability of turbines to meet the UK’s energy needs in the future. They claim that the ‘intermittent’ nature of wind makes such farms unreliable providers of electricity.

The National Grid fears that on breezy summer nights, wind farms could actually cause a surge in the electricity supply which is not met by demand from businesses and households.

The electricity cannot be stored, so one solution – known as the ‘balancing mechanism’ – is to switch off or reduce the power supplied.

The system is already used to reduce supply from coal and gas-fired power stations when there is low demand. But shutting down wind farms is likely to cost the National grid – and ultimately consumers – far more. When wind turbines are turned off, owners are being deprived not only of money for the electricity they would have generated but also lucrative ‘green’ subsidies for that electricity.

The first successful test shut down of wind farms took place three weeks ago. Scottish Power received £13,000 for closing down two farms for a little over an hour on 30 May at about five in the morning.

Whereas coal and gas power stations often pay the National Grid £15 to £20 per megawatt hour they do not supply, Scottish Power was paid £180 per megawatt hour during the test to switch off its turbines.

It raises the prospect of hugely profitable electricity suppliers receiving large sums of money from the National Grid just for switching off wind turbines.

Dr Lee Moroney, planning director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, a think tank opposed to the widespread introduction of wind farms, said: “As more and more wind farms come on stream this will become more and more of an issue. Wind power is not controllable and does not provide a solid supply to keep the national grid manageable. Paying multinational companies large sums of money not to supply electricity seems wrong.”

Read the rest of the story here

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247 thoughts on “Firms paid to shut down wind farms when the wind is blowing

  1. Even better would be if there were a temporary oversupply of electricity from a gas-powered generating station, they could feed it to the windmills to make them go round and round and produce lots of lovely wind! I don’t know why we didn’t think of this decades ago.

  2. Dr Lee Moroney: “Paying multinational companies large sums of money not to supply electricity seems wrong.”

    “seems wrong ????????”  I am rendered speechless (and as my friends and colleagues will gladly tell you, that doesn’t happen a whole lot).

    /dr.bill

  3. This would be funny, if it wasn’t so seriously absurd:
    Wind farms had to be highly subsidized in order for them to be built and run, and now the U.K. government is going to subsidize them to NOT do what they were subsidized to do in the first place. Only in the government (and not just the U.K.: ours too).

    Given the people currently in control of the our National government in D.C., I shudder to think that it probably won’t be long before this type of bureaucratic lunacy makes it over to our side of the big pond.

    SIDEBAR: Governments in Western countries seem chronically stuck on continuing to shovel out large subsidies to multi-national corporations to build UNcompetitive wind and solar installations that CANNOT be used as base load; when what they SHOULD be doing is fully supporting Gen-III+ and (a little further down the road) Gen-IV nuclear plants.

  4. Lets just read what the article says…

    The National Grid fears that on breezy summer nights, wind farms could actually cause a surge in the electricity supply which is not met by demand from businesses and households.” – so it’s not happened yet.

    Further: “Whereas coal and gas power stations often pay the National Grid £15 to £20 per megawatt hour they do not supply, Scottish Power was paid £180 per megawatt hour during the test to switch off its turbines.” but, windfarms only generate a tiny proportion of UK electricity so the cost is going to be….tiny, and remember, it’s not even happened…

    So, the article is reduced to this pure scaremongering “It raises the prospect of hugely profitable electricity suppliers receiving large sums of money from the National Grid just for switching off wind turbines.” raises the prospect! We’re all gonna be taxed to death by ‘raising the prospect of’ something happening? I think not.

    So, this is the usual WUWT scaremongering about either tax or big Govt – this time it’s tax.

    Don’t buy it people, I don’t, I’m not going to be sacred by such propaganda.

  5. And if that’s not crazy enough many councils are replacing street lights with more efficient ones, and also intending to turn many of the lights in quiet residential areas off completely after midnight. Thereby reducing the base load even more.

    That will make it difficult to export “green” energy from the solar panels in my front garden after dark….

  6. DaveF says:
    June 20, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Think of the boon that would be on hot, windless, summer days!
    We could use windfarms that way to keep sailboats going on the lake!

  7. Even with this latest development, Real virtual wind farms have a relatively poor return on capital compared to my Virtual virtual windfarm. They pay me whenever they are not in a position to take my output. Which is OK by me, because my wind farm is offline 24/7.

    I also have a profit-booster, which consists of a pair of jump-leads. When I want some extra cash for Christmas or say a trip to Vegas, I connect the mains from my utility meter to my windfarm power meter which is the only thing on my windfarm that is not virtual. See those meters whizz round! At the end of the month there is a whopping electricity bill for sure … but an even more whopping cheque!

  8. This pretty much lays bare the notion that wind power was ever supposed to reduce fossil fuel use and thus “carbon” output. The people have been scammed, and scammed good.

  9. Peter H Writes

    “So, this is the usual WUWT scaremongering about either tax or big Govt – this time it’s tax. ”

    Could I point out Mr H that WUWT is just repeating a story which already appeared in the Uk’s daily telegraph.

    Its more like the usual UK MSM scaremongering about tax or big Government.

  10. Peter F – Glad someone else read this. So far there’s only been a test, so at the moment it’s classic Telegraph scaremongering. However, a precedent has been set: money has changed hands for a trial switch off. I’ll wait and see, and hopefully the facts will surface as the summer passes. As to whether I think we should have wind turbines on such a scale in the first place, that’s another story entirely. Wind power is like wave power: unlikely to deliver when we most need it – in the middle of winter during an extended frost. It is also ridiculously expensive. But it makes a fortune for certain companies and individuals. The much more obvious option,of reliable and potentially profitable tidal current generated power doesn’t seem nearly so attractive to companies whose only concern is easy money, regardless of the rights and wrongs of it. HEP at sea is the option that’s sitting up and begging to be exploited – especially in the fast moving water round Scotland’s coasts but even that is likely to be reduced to subsidy milking and consumer abuse.

  11. Results like this are the logical consequence of political prize-fixing. Similar things happen in Germany – the electricity prize on the Electricity Exchange in Leipzig went negative several times already. It doesn’t happen theoretically as Peter H said, it does happen in reality and will continue to do so as long as the market is rigged.

  12. This site is usually worth the read. But as an engineer I find you reporting on energy simplified if not plain stupid. The article above is clearly copy/pasted from a newspaper, who’s readers is not among the brightest and who know almost nothing of electricity production, consumption, grids and gridcontrol. Oh, and there is nothing new in the article. We have done so for some time here ind Denmark, simply because wind turbine are the cheapest to turn of. And even with 20-30% wind power in our grid, it does not happen often. The real problem is that when the government made the laws on wind power subsidies, they did not take into account that a few days a year there is to much power in the grid, and hence they should have made the law taking this into account, as the penetration of wind power in the grid grows. Then this situation would have been avoided in the first place. But as it rarely occurs, it is hardly a big problem.

    It’s the same when Jeff Id rant with his right wing-rhetoric: Taxes and big government.

    Here in Denmark we have a saying that in rough translation goes like this: “Carpenter, stick to you trade”. That is also my advice for this blog.

  13. Then why don’t they temporarily turn off the coal fired ones? Or does it take 24 hours to stop them in their tracks?

  14. >>dave ward says: June 20, 2010 at 12:59 pm
    >>That will make it difficult to export “green” energy from the solar
    >>panels in my front garden after dark….

    That’s a real problem. The Greens were depending on night generation from solar panels to make them twice as efficient as they are now.

    .

  15. Peter H says:
    June 20, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Peter, we’re not scared. We’re outraged. And it isn’t propaganda. It’s fact. Spain has answered that question. So has California. The Foo Foo pie in the sky green dream has failed.

  16. I agree with you Peter H with respect to the article being couched in terms which amount to scaremongering.

    However, the problem of intermittent supply which is inherent with power generation using wind is real. Further, the fact that the National Grid is contemplating the scenario which is set out in the article does indeed invite a sense of the ridiculous.

    It seems that wind power will not in the long run replace anything but an insignificant amount of CO2. It is no answer to the wider problem (if there be a problem).

  17. Peter H says:
    June 20, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Lets just read what the article says…

    “The National Grid fears that on breezy summer nights, wind farms could actually cause a surge in the electricity supply which is not met by demand from businesses and households.” – so it’s not happened yet.

    Further: “Whereas coal and gas power stations often pay the National Grid £15 to £20 per megawatt hour they do not supply, Scottish Power was paid £180 per megawatt hour during the test to switch off its turbines.” but, windfarms only generate a tiny proportion of UK electricity so the cost is going to be….tiny, and remember, it’s not even happened…

    –end quote

    Thanks, Peter, for the advice that we should read what the article says. which you obviously did. However, reading the article is not all. We also need to understand what the article states, which you — also obviously — did not. Therefore the irony of you stating that nothing has happened yet while tens of thousands of pounds were already paid out, even though it was just a trial, so far.

    By the way, it will not just be electricity consumers who will be forced to pay for the impracticality of wind-power generation, and that alone is a substantial amount of money. No, every good and service that requires electricity to be produced or provided will have the price of wind-powered energy production added on to the end-consumer price, plus whatever taxes can be raised through all intermediate stages of production.

    Electricity, whether we are direct users or not is as essential to modern life as is eating food, drinking water and breathing air. We are all being taxed, many times over, for any and all inefficiencies deliberately being built into energy production and distribution.

    The governments of developed nations don’t mind. The more inefficiencies there are, the bigger their tax revenues will become. That is one of the main reasons why governments of the developed nations actively promote any and all hare-brained schemes for increasing tax revenues through making the electricity industry inefficient.

    The Government of Alberta, Canada, actually contemplated (and perhaps still does) to replace the provincial income tax through the taxes that can be raised through energy production and distribution. It was assumed (and perhaps still is) that “The People” would gladly accept that method of energy-based taxation because of the promise of unlimited funding for “free” health care.

    It would be wrong to call that government business-principle a conspiracy. Those in power have no need to conspire. They just do.

  18. Troels Halken says:

    “It’s the same when Jeff Id rant with his right wing-rhetoric: Taxes and big government.”

    You say that like there’s something wrong with being against more taxes and big government.

  19. >>Troels Halken says: June 20, 2010 at 1:45 pm
    >>There is nothing new in the article. We have done so for some time here
    >>in Denmark, simply because wind turbine are the cheapest to turn of.

    Since you never use any of your wind power anyway, you might as well turn your windelecs off completely.

    http://incoteco.com/upload/CIEN.158.2.66.pdf

    .

  20. “Troels Halken says:
    June 20, 2010 at 1:45 pm
    This site is usually worth the read. But as an engineer I find you reporting on energy simplified if not plain stupid. The article above is clearly copy/pasted from a newspaper, who’s readers is not among the brightest and who know almost nothing of electricity production, consumption, grids and gridcontrol. ”

    Troels, is that Danish humour? You confirm everything the Telegraph says and at the same time insult their readership, plus WUWT for re-publishing it? Now if i take what you say about the situation in Denmark then i would say the Telegraph has written a rather good article – it describes the situation correctly. That’s better than most journalism i would say.

  21. jim hogg says:{June 20, 2010 at 1:43 pm}
    “Peter F – Glad someone else read this. So far there’s only been a test,”

    Perhaps the test is not about shutting down windmills but rather a test to see how the public will react to payments for not using them. If there is little negative reaction, they know they can get away with it. As you can tell, I don’t trust anyone involved on either side as long as they are spending OPM.

  22. Peter H calls this scaremongering? More like ironymongering. Dreams of windmills replacing big oil are silly.

  23. >> Veronica says: June 20, 2010 at 1:49 pm
    >> Ralph. Denmark is IN Scandinavia, I think you’ll find.

    Scandinavia Storre.

    .

  24. Smokey, or whatever your name is:

    Being for or against big government and taxes is a matter of opinion. It is not a fact we can measure or in other way determine the truth of. If I was interested in opinions I would visit blogs discussing peoples opinions.

  25. Oh but our governments have done worse than that here in the UK! We sold off the national rail companies to private concerns – then send them a cheque once a year as well! We’re actually paying MORE now for our entire rail network than we did when it was a nationally-owned company – but it’s mostly privately-owned! I’ve run out of exclamation marks now.

  26. There are sound reasons why wind farms will need to be swithced off in the future, as more and more are built. The energy produced cannot, with current technology, be stored. I believe that the energy from wind turbines is so variable – it varies as the cube of the wind velocuty _ that it cannot be used to directly drive things like electric motors. The only way, currently, that it can be used is to feed the power into an existing, STABLE, electric grid. The problem is, that the varying power of WFs, if it gets to be too large, destabilizes the grid. There is a limit as to how much wind energy a stable electric grid can take; I believe the figure is about 15 to 20%.

    This means that if WFs are able to generate so much electricity that they just dont destabilize the electric grid when power demand is high, they will almost certainly destabilize the same grid when power demand drops. So if during the day, the wind energy just does not destabilize the grid, what happens at night? Clearly, if the wind turbines generate the same amount of power, they will have to be “turned off”, otherwise the grid will become unstable.

    This does not matter for conventional ways of generating energy. Down time conserves “fuel”, and can be used for routine maintenance. It is part of normal practice and is already costed in to how electric grids are run.

    Wind farms add a problem, which means there are going to be more and more occasions when generators will be paid to turn the wind turbines off in the future.

  27. “Troels Halken says: ”

    Hey, i remember you from an older Wind Energy thread – i think you said you work for some Danish Wind Power company, right?

  28. Troels:

    “Being for or against big government and taxes is a matter of opinion. It is not a fact we can measure or in other way determine the truth of.”

    Of course it can be measured. Polling organizations do it all the time, with error bars in the ±3% range.

    In the U.S., Conservatives outnumber Liberals by about a 2 – 1 margin. That’s why people here are so upset with the hijacking of our formerly excellent economy and the massive new taxes that are coming.

  29. Oh Boy, it looks like a true nerve has been touched with this article, for the sacred cow of wind power has been shown to be pure bunk.

    When I’ve driven through the passes in California where the windfarms are there, I’ve been frequently wondering why so many of them simply are not running. This explains it, perhaps we should see if the California utilities are in a similar situation…

  30. Troels Halken says:
    June 20, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Here in Denmark we have a saying that in rough translation goes like this: “Carpenter, stick to you trade”. That is also my advice for this blog.

    Isn’t yours as a business developer for the wind industry though? In the UK we have a saying “Never trust a salesman”. You are right about our crazy climate laws in the UK though penalising business and consumers, but the wind industry lobbied hard for those subsidies.

  31. “Ralph. Denmark is IN Scandinavia, I think you’ll find.”

    No it isn’t. Scandinavia is the peninsula where Sweden and Norway are situated.

  32. Peter H says:
    June 20, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    So, the article is reduced to this pure scaremongering “It raises the prospect of hugely profitable electricity suppliers receiving large sums of money from the National Grid just for switching off wind turbines.” raises the prospect! We’re all gonna be taxed to death by ‘raising the prospect of’ something happening? I think not.

    Then why did “The National Grid” do the test? Moreover, don’t you think the “prospect”, which you agree is in fact frightening, could be better eliminated simply by making it legally impossible to pay Windmill Farms for not producing energy? Why is the “prospect” even at all possible in the first place?

  33. “but, windfarms only generate a tiny proportion of UK electricity so the cost is going to be….tiny, and remember, it’s not even happened…”

    So, then, Dave H, following your line of logic you seem to be saying that wind power will always be “tiny” so it will never be a problem to worry much about. So if that is the case, what is the point in building them in the first place?

    We waste money to build them, we waste money to operate them, for a “tiny” amount of power. So basically, we have substituted money for coal and now have a power generator that burns cash instead of fossil fuel.

    Marvelous. Just marvelous.

  34. Windmills don’t work. End of.

    Our Energy minister here in the UK, Chris Huhne, wants to build another 2,600 of these monstrosities to provide the power that a couple of nuke-powered stations could do and much more efficiently. Who is is going to pay for the 2,600 windmills? The UK taxpayer, that’s who. I cannot opt out of paying for something I know does not do what it claims to do. A portion of my earnings is going to be taken from me whether I like it or not to pay for something which has been proven to be useless.
    What to do?

  35. Smokey:

    “Of course it can be measured. Polling organizations do it all the time, with error bars in the ±3% range.”

    You didn’t get it: You can’t measure or otherwise determine if big government is ultimately good or bad.

    But I can tell you this: The Danish citizens are some of, if not the happiest in the world year after year. That you can measure and you can find it on the website of the Economist. And we have what you term big government and high taxes compared to the US. As I said: You cannot objective determine if big government and high taxes are ultimately good or bad.

  36. Atomic:

    “Isn’t yours as a business developer for the wind industry though? In the UK we have a saying “Never trust a salesman”.”

    Then it is good that I’m a business developer and not a salesman, don’t you think?

  37. Re: Veronica

    Then why don’t they temporarily turn off the coal fired ones? Or does it take 24 hours to stop them in their tracks?

    They can and do turn off coal/gas power stations. They know roughly how much electricity they will need at any time of the day and arrange the production accordingly. So they will therefore tell some power stations to reduce their output to a certain level at a certain time. If there is an unexpected spike in demand they have the likes of Dinorwig power station which takes 75 seconds to get to full power from a standing start. While they are using this power the traditional gas/coal stations can bring more power on line. They will also have a certain amount of power on standby just in case of emergency (eg. a power station failing, unexpected increase in demand). By standby I mean ready to generate electricity with minimum startup time.

    The problem with the wind is that they do not know with any degree of certainty when it is going to blow. They therefore can not go to the wind farms and say they want X amount at this time and Y amount at that time. It also means that no matter how much electricity is generated by wind power, they have to have enough of the coal/gas stations on standby to cover all electricity generated by the wind turbines just in case the wind decides to either stop blowing or blow to hard.

  38. “The trial demonstrates that wind can help balance supply and demand just like other generation types: this is potentially useful to us on warm but windy summer days when generation outstrips the low demand – and a higher proportion of generation is made up of wind and inflexible nuclear.”

    Does this guy even know what is coming out of his mouth? What about on still summer days? On a breezy summer day you can open a window, that’s smart wind energy. He’s basically saying that wind energy is only good as a suplement. An unreliable supplement at that. Also why is there a higher demand for energy on hot summer days in the UK?

  39. One might expect that the British will get better at using the available mix of electrical sources with more experience.

  40. Troels Halken says:
    June 20, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Being for or against big government and taxes is a matter of opinion. It is not a fact we can measure or in other way determine the truth of.

    Wrong: it’s well established fact that Communism doesn’t work, and Socialism’s outcomes are not far behind…and counting. I take it you’ve just awakened from about, say, a 200yr. nap?

  41. Peter H June 20, 2010 at 12:55 pm :

    Lets just read what the article says…

    “The National Grid fears that on breezy summer nights, wind farms could actually cause a surge in the electricity supply which is not met by demand from businesses and households.”

    Peter: – so it’s not happened yet.

    Peter – have you ever actually watched as the change in demand on ‘the grid’ and seen how there is a constant battle to maintain 60 Hz (or 50 for most European countries)? First there is a ‘phase lead’ situation followed by a ‘phase lag’ and generating stations interconneceted on the grid are constantly as it is adjusting speed (or phase) and the amount of 60 (or 50) Hz energy being fed into ‘the grid’.

    This isn’t like paralleling automobile batteries with a pair of jumper cables.

    Adding ‘wind’ exacerbates the situation to the point well, where “power system security” (as the industry phrase puts it) cannot be maintained (it becomes unstable and can collapse) … think changing torsional forces acting on every rotary machine (generator) in the system … and wildly so in an unstable system …
    .
    .

  42. “Troels Halken says:
    [...]
    But I can tell you this: The Danish citizens are some of, if not the happiest in the world year after year. That you can measure and you can find it on the website of the Economist.”

    Darn, he’s right. They don’t even have comorbidity in treatment settings:

    http://ar2004.emcdda.europa.eu/en/page123-en.html

    Look at the table! No Denmark! Everybody else: Comorbidity. Opiate users. Drug addicts. Denmark: none!

    Must be the wind power. Doesn’t always produce useful electricity but makes people grin all day. Who woulda thunk.

  43. Troels:

    “You cannot objective determine if big government and high taxes are ultimately good or bad.”

    I think your mind is made up. But I’ll try once more:

    Henry Hazlitt shows clearly in Economics In One Lesson that for every government job created, two private sector jobs are lost. A very similar analysis is found in Hayek’s The Road To Serfdom.

    What you’re doing is dismissing quantifiable answers to objective decisions favoring or opposing more taxes and bigger government, with unquantifiable feelings such as ‘happiness.’ As P.J. O’Rourke says, money doesn’t buy happiness — but it provides a close approximation.

  44. Stephen Brown, firstly it looks likely we will replace nuclear power stations in the UK and secondly I see no reason why you might not do what anti nuclear protesters do. Btw, it’s not proven windmills don’t work – dislike of, visceral dislike of even, is not proof. When the wind blows fast enough windmills generate electricity – and in the places they are set up that is much if not most of the time (yes, I know there are still days sometimes).

  45. The windfarms are a scam. Another poster has written that Chris Huhne wants to build another 2,500 of the eyesores.
    Come 2020 the only way we Brits will be able to keep warm is to jump up and down in front of them, flapping our arms and blowing hard in an effort to get the blades moving

  46. Criminal enterprise.

    If the Con-Lib government is serious about the deficit then they’ll end this. If not, the public’s wrath on them and their Labour predecessors will see the rise of a much harder English nationalism.

  47. Wind machines could be engineered to store their energy by compressing air and then releasing it when the power is required. The V4 law would not be so much of a problem. The towers and the piping to the pneumatic generator might be used as reservoirs. It may be that such as system could have great utility in daily peak load clipping. This could make windmills truly useful as opposed to devices that are a public offence.

  48. Troels Halken June 20, 2010 at 1:45 pm :

    It’s the same when Jeff Id rant with his right wing-rhetoric: Taxes and big government.

    Troels Halken, FOR big government and high taxes ? – is this not a veritable leftist/socilaist position (although one probably would not consciencely admit to it in polite company)?.
    .
    .

  49. The way it works in Ontario Canada is that we have a base requirement of about 14,000MW — iow — we rarely dip below that requirement. So we want our wind turbines to supply when we get above that requirement. You never know when the wind will cut out, so, supplying the base requirement out of wind power could make a supplier look pretty foolish unless you can spool up a gas or water turbine almost instantly. If they are on standby, maybe you could. It depends on too much to go into in a short post.

    So if you are in one of those rare dips you may as well shut down the turbines — it’s either or burn fuel, or draw water in idle mode.

    If you get a dip in your economy you may indeed start finding that Wind Power is available when the base draw is quite low. So you have to shut down something. When you are close to that baseline amount (that you chose by observation) you are likely to want to keep your most reliable sources running.

    Other issues may be contractual. If wind power starts to die out, your contracts with other suppliers may be that if they get a start-up order they get a certain amount of pay regardless — so you may as well take the reliable supply.

    So yeah this is not a big surprise, but on the other hand I think it is way too much wind power as when wind is available the system is over required capacity. When there is no wind, maybe you will end up stressed. Wind power requires too much dancing on the head of a pin for my taste.

    Go here

    http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com/

    And look in the viability section for a lot more studies.

    And 1984 just came a little late — that’s all.

  50. Ha ha ha. “Seems wrong ????????” — dr. bill. Well doctor, it only seems wrong if you’re not among the receivers. I am perfectly will to cash big checks from the government for not producing power. I can not produce any amount of power you like.

    And Troels! Hahahahahaha!!! You are a laugh riot. Love your name, too.

  51. Dirk: That is correct.

    Well, guys. I’m of to bed so no more fun.

    Yes, I am a business developer and that is different from a sales developer or strategic sales man or whatever the term is, even thou some companies wrongly use the title for people who develop sales.

    Yes I have worked in the wind turbine industry. I’m not in love with wind turbines and I don’t believe that they can replace fossil fuels. Wind power however is a reasonably clean source of energy and does have some benefits and can be part of a future energy mix that is less dependent on fossil fuels. The oil might be near it’s peak production and together with it’s dependency on unstable regions in the world and higher demand from India and China, it might be good to start developing alternatives. There is coal for the next many centuries, but it has other problems and global demand also making an impact here. So there is reasons to look for alternatives, even thou there is no doom and gloom from co2. And I don’t believe there is.

    Wind has it’s advantages and it’s weakness. It is by no means a solve all do all thing. It is also a technology in it’s youth and so is the policies that are used to regulate the market for it. The world is not black and white but shades of grey, and so is wind power.

    Sleep well, gentlemen.

  52. This kind of fiasco which ranks with the EUs historic wine lakes and butter mountains was always inevitable if wind or solar power become a significant part of power generation. There are two categories of a power grid, baseline: minimum always required, needs a supply that is stable without alteration (nuclear ideal for this). The other, peak, needs to be 100% controllable to react in real time to demand surges such as a million kettles turned on during ad breaks in a popular TV show.

    Wind and solar are uniquely badly suited to either baseline or peak. Their capriciousness can only be tolerated if they make a negligible contribution. Neither are a significant power solution. Britain’s politicians will no doubt think otherwise and find out the hard way.

  53. @ty says:

    “Ralph. Denmark is IN Scandinavia, I think you’ll find.”

    “No it isn’t. Scandinavia is the peninsula where Sweden and Norway are situated.”

    Rubbish! Scandinavia is Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

  54. Stephen Brown says:
    June 20, 2010 at 2:20 pm
    A portion of my earnings is going to be taken from me whether I like it or not to pay for something which has been proven to be useless.
    What to do?

    I’m going to vote with my feet. My fellow countrymen grumble but won’t act in concert to end the madness. The latest paper from the solar physicists Dahau and de Jager say a long Maunder type minimum is on it’s way. I’m looking for some nice growing land nearer the equator.

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2010/06/20/imminent-grand-minimum-new-paper-from-duhau-and-de-jager/

  55. Troels Halken says: June 20, 2010 at 2:23 pm
    Then it is good that I’m a business developer and not a salesman, don’t you think?

    Most definitely not, it just makes you more dangerous and opens the door for the salesmen. But in the UK, we’re caught between a ROC and a hard place I suppose. With other parts of Europe realising wind is better for generating subsidies than electricity, you’ll have to sell to somewhere. Shame we can’t convert these modern ones into housing like we did the last time we realised wind power was inefficient and ineffective.

  56. June 20, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    DaveF says:
    June 20, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Think of the boon that would be on hot, windless, summer days!
    We could use windfarms that way to keep sailboats going on the lake!

    At last, a proper use for windmills. This actually makes more sense than trying to get power out of them.

  57. Well, some farm operations get paid for not growing certain crops, and receive price subsidies for others. Since wind “farms” produce electricity ( instead of beets for example ) why shouldn’t they get the same treatment as any other farm? ;)

  58. Tony says:
    June 20, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Wind machines could be engineered to store their energy by compressing air and then releasing it when the power is required. The V4 law would not be so much of a problem.

    And how is this compressed air going to be used to generate electricity? Blow the wind turbine dynamos round with it? Any idea what the efficiency would look like?

  59. “A very similar analysis is found in Hayek’s The Road To Serfdom.”

    How appropriate! The Danes are good Europeans. Like the rest of the continental nations they enjoy subjugation by unelected dictators. We in UK however, hold democracy dear and hope to throw off the yoke of the unelected European Parliament some time soon – possibly when the Euro goes belly up?

  60. I guess I just don’t get it.

    Why would you PAY someone when you DONT buy their product?

    Especially if you paid them to help build their facility?

    Who cares if it’s only a dozen nights a year? It’s an ignorant foundation from which to start.

  61. Peter H says at 2:41 pm [ ... ],

    You should be immensely proud of that incisive, heavily referenced, thoughtful, carefully argued, fact-filled comment.☺

  62. Smokey, last one then.

    “Henry Hazlitt shows clearly in Economics In One Lesson”

    Do you really believe that you can learn economics in on lesson? Oh, and because two guys write something in some books doesn’t make it true. But I don’t know if it is true or not. You can have all the jobs you want, but when 10% of the American people sits on 90% of the wealth, then the average Joe has less to himself than the average Jens, even thou on average Jens is less rich than average Joe. Unemployment? 10% in the US? I think it is about 4% here ATM.

    So you can have your two jobs. Just leave me with my high taxes, big government and my happy life ;-)

  63. Do they not have pumped storage in England? Oh, I guess they can’t – few real mountains to speak of.

    In California, the Helms Pumped Storage Plant pumps water uphill to Lake Wishon (7200′) when there’s excess electricity, then lets it flow back down through the turbines to Lake Courtwright (5,500′) during times of increased demand.

    This allows the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant to run at 100% even during times of low demand. The same principle would work with intermittent wind power.

  64. @ roger says:

    “A very similar analysis is found in Hayek’s The Road To Serfdom.”

    “How appropriate! The Danes are good Europeans. Like the rest of the continental nations they enjoy subjugation by unelected dictators. ”

    Roger, if you knew anything about Danish politics you would know that Denmark, like the United Kingdom, has various opt-outs from some of the provisions of EU treaties.

  65. This certainly explains why Spain is broke and why ‘green’ energy costs so much.

    Why couldn’t I have thought of this, getting paid to deliver no product.

  66. Troels, maybe you’re happy, and maybe you’re not. But one thing is sure, you’re promoting a self-serving agenda, no less than Barrie Harrop.

    It’s also clear that you’ve never read Hazlitt, and in fact don’t understand the title of his book. Likewise Hayek.

    Your envy and hatred of the ‘rich’ ignores the fact that the top one percent of earners pay more taxes to the federal government than all of the other 95%. Since poor people provide zero jobs, you’d best hope the rich stay around. Because the alternative is to give the money to the government, and then we’re back to Hazlitt and Hayek.

  67. tty says:
    June 20, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    “Ralph. Denmark is IN Scandinavia, I think you’ll find.”

    No it isn’t. Scandinavia is the peninsula where Sweden and Norway are situated.

    Scandinavia includes Norway, Denmark and Sweden. The Nordic countries include the scandinavian countries + Finland and Iceland.

    Denmark is part of scandinavia.

  68. Is it just me, or does it seem that the more outrageous the green buffoonery that is put in the spotlight, the more condescending, indignant, and strident the defensive reaction?

    Hey, don’t yell at us cause your boat’s got a hole in it and is sinking fast, and we aren’t real pleased about going down with the ship simply because you insist upon it.

  69. This is a complete non-story.

    Balancing a modern power system is complicated. The system operator continuously constrains power stations off or on for numerous and various reasons, including transmission system “congestion”, also for voltage management, also to provide “operating contingency”, to make sure system frequency can be managed at all times, and for other reasons.

    The UK power market achieves much of this through mandatory and commercial arrangements, known as the Balancing Mechanism and Ancillary Services. These arrangements have existed since 2001 (going all the way back to the 1997 Labour Party manifesto) and have nothing to do with wind or any other particular generating technology.

    Balancing actions can appear especially counter-intuitive at times of minimum demand. So please don’t fly off the handle at things that don’t look right at first sight -certainly not on the back of a journalistic article about a test.

    The occasional need to constrain power generating equipment off will not materially affect the economics. Nobody in the article said anything about how frequently wind generation would need to be constrained off. If people believe that wind can make a useful contribution to our energy supply (personally, I’m agnostic) then constraining it off for a few hours ain’t gonna swing the issue.

    If there is a possibility that wind might need to be occasionally constrained off by the system operator, then it is right and prudent that the industry carries out tests well in advance. Looks like that’s all that happened in this case.

    There is no end of testing all the time on various aspects of the power system. Perhaps the difference here seems to be that somebody took a particular test in order to develop an emotive argument.

    And paying power stations to reduce their output in the balancing mechanism is not all that unusual. It’s a market with particular technical characteristics – there is no rule to say that prices must be positive. You just need to be in the right place at the right time … and not price yourself out of the market.

    Relatively high price is also a feature of the UK balancing mechanism: it is intended to hurt operators who cause imbalance, and to reward those who help to resolve imbalance. These extra incentives should help to drive investments (build more reliable plant or to make it more flexible, or suffer the consequences).

    Take a look at the balancing mechanism website (www.bemreports.com) and you’ll see that balancing prices are frequently many multiples of the forward-traded power prices. And if you look around, you might even find instances of payments to reduce output.

    I agree that WUWT should encourage healthy discussion about subsidising (or not) certain forms of energy production. That’s the high-level question at stake here.

    But this newpaper article does nothing to alter that debate either way. Picking on something that routinely happens in the balancing mechanism is a complete non-story and takes the arguments backwards.

  70. The sad part is: Windmills are not about saving the environment, they are just another short term business model, made viable by taxpayer money. The long term solution is, of course, nuclear.

  71. It may have been a test in UK, but here in New Zealand where we generate 65% of our electricity from hydro, it is becoming more and more common for hydro stations to spill water in order to allow WFs to remain connected to the grid.

    We also run a full wholesale electricty market, and it is apparent that when wind is blowing the wholesale electricity price is extemely low, and when the wind isn’t blowing the wholesale price is exteremly high. This makes for a very unstable pricing mechanism, and a low rate of return for WF owners.

  72. Troels Halken says:
    June 20, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    “Just leave me with my high taxes, big government and my happy life ;-)”

    I recognise that argument from the DDR. They said they had zero % Unemployment.

  73. Tim says: “Why would you PAY someone when you DONT buy their product?”

    It’s not that unusual to pay somebody when you don’t buy their product. For example, a cancellation charge for something you have ordered but no longer wish to receive.

    In the case of the power industry, some power stations may plan to generate output and sell into the market. But the system operator (for whatever reason) needs to re-jig the actual operation of the plant by asking some not to generate and others to make-good the lost production.

    Technically, the required power stations need to stop operating and we all get the benefit of stable system operation and security of supply as a result. Commercially there is a basis for something akin to a cancellation charge between the power stations and the system operators.

    This is nothing unusal – it happens all the time. It is happening right now as you read this text. And if it didn’t, you wouldn’t.

  74. Well they certainly weren’t switched off on Global Wind Day 8.00am 15th June. as NETA figures for great britains energy generation for GB Wind were…0.0%(17MW) (due to low wind)
    oh….and 7th June 0.0%(4MW) oh and 5th June 0.0%(3MW) oh and 3rd June 0.0%(11MW)……………

  75. Dear Ralph,

    I read the article you posted on the Danish wind industry. Its main point seems to be that Denmark, with major grid connections to Germany as well as Norway and Sweden, which can accept the fluctuations as ‘partners’ in the grid, will have less of a problem with power surges from wind than an ‘island’ system like the UK. It is implicit that if (theortically) all of Denmarks grid-shaers were to go wind-power to the same extent as Denmark, the same problems as in the UK would arise here too, but has some usefulness as a secondary element. Pan-European drives for wind power do not make sense inthis light. I can stand the sight of them, but that is a matter of taste I suppose.

  76. Peter H says:
    June 20, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Stephen Brown, firstly it looks likely we will replace nuclear power stations in the UK and secondly I see no reason why you might not do what anti nuclear protesters do. Btw, it’s not proven windmills don’t work – dislike of, visceral dislike of even, is not proof. When the wind blows fast enough windmills generate electricity – and in the places they are set up that is much if not most of the time (yes, I know there are still days sometimes).

    There are “days”… yes. The problem is that those days usually coincide when the greatest electricity demand. When do you think the highest demand for electricity will be? I’ll let you know – it’s when a high settles over the country, which tends to produce very still days. In the summer they get very warm. In the winter they get very cold. In both cases electricity demand shoots through the roof.

    Something to bear in mind is that when one of these high pressure areas settles over the UK, it covers jut about the entire country.

    What this means? Well, you have a peak in demand for electricity at a time when there’s no wind.

    Or what about when the wind is gusting? They can only go so fast – above a certain windspeed they have to be turned off so they don’t damage themselves. Of course when the wind is that high, demand for electricity tends to be higher as well…

    Those windmills are useless when they’re most needed. They have a very narrow operating band and they can only be relied upon produce electricity in any significant at the wrong times. Usually they don’t produce enough to be worth having on the grid in the first place.

    And, as others have pointed out, they need reliable base-load capacity to back them when they aren’t producing. For every wind farm Gigawatt you’ll need the equivalent capacity in a conventional power station – because they don’t provide electricity reliably, or at the right time.

    On top of which, they eat birds and require the destruction of thousands of square miles of natural habitat.

    Please explain why it’s a good thing to spend money on something that is so destructive, so inefficient and so wasteful. I can’t seem to work it out.

  77. Tim says:
    June 20, 2010 at 3:08 pm
    I guess I just don’t get it. Why would you PAY someone when you DONT buy their product?

    That is an excellent question. Here’s another example of this type of policy from the US:

    ‘The Ag Department manages Congress’s wretched, anti-productive policy of paying farmers to grow fewer crops. It also applies these New-Deal-era policies in the silliest manner possible — for example, by giving former basketball star Scottie Pippen $130,000 over five years not to grow crops.
    Other Dust-Bowl-afflicted tillers of the field rescued with taxpayer-funded largesse include Sam Donaldson, Ted Turner, Larry Flynt and Ben Bradlee. The ridiculous payouts were exposed thanks to the efforts of a nonprofit outfit called Environmental Working Group(EWG), which posted an Agriculture Department database on its website. It obtained the data from reluctant officials by dint of the Freedom of Information Act….But in 2008, the Democrats finally let the Department of Agriculture off the hook. Complying with information requests about its crazy subsidies is now “optional.” ‘

    There may be several reasons.

  78. Sunny Spain suspends solar subsidy scam

    €18bn flushed down the baño

    “Dead broke Spain can’t afford to prop up renewables anymore…

    Estimates put the investment in solar energy in Spain at €18bn – but the investment was predicated… on taxpayer subsidies… Incredibly, Spain pays more in subsidies for renewables than the total cost of energy production for the country. It leaves industry with bills 17 per cent higher than the EU average…

    Spanish economist Professor Gabriel Calzada, at the University of Madrid estimated that each green job had cost the country $774,000.

    Worse, a “green” job costs 2.2 jobs that might otherwise have been created… Industry, which can’t afford to pay the higher fuel bills, simply moves elsewhere.”

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/17/spain_sustainability_scam/

    ———

    Unlike Spain, the UK is still pretending it isn’t bankrupt. Ironically the only reason the UK is only as far in the hole as they are is because of North Sea OIL.

    All in all, the UK is looking more Monty Pythonesque all the time, only without the humor. The rich are getting richer having windmills on the lands while the “small people” are going back to their good old days as feudal serfs.

    And the vast majority of UK serfs don’t even have wood…

    03 June 2010

    Rising electricity prices are increasing the use of wood for heating in South Eastern Europe to alarming levels, posing a serious threat to health and the environment, experts warned.

    http://www.euractiv.com/en/enlargement/impoverished-se-europeans-turn-wood-heating-news-494816

  79. I think I understand: We have a problem created by taxpayer/ratepayer subsidy which can only be solved by another subsidy. If only there were a cheaper, simpler solution…

  80. Guys, straying too far into politics is becoming quite unpleasant here. Can I suggest that comments stick to the point of the article? As the climate sceptic audience grows larger, it is going to have all sorts checking out WUWT, and if this place is chock full of idealogical rants, you will exclude many of us coming here for good strong information on the climate stuff. I know there are trolls around, but attacking people’s politics is unpleasant and unnecessary.

  81. @Jim Cripwell (June 20, 2010 at 2:06 pm) — “There is a limit as to how much wind energy a stable electric grid can take; I believe the figure is about 15 to 20%.”

    Germany, hardly technologically backward but now finding nearly every square millimeter of their countryside infested with the giant turbines, has called off further development because of grid instability. The figure there is about 5%. Denmark has 20%; nearly all of that is dumped to Sweden and Norway, which have much larger grids.

    — Almost everybody else:
    You are arguing on the basis of actual electricity generated by wind turbines. This is absurd. The purpose of wind turbines has nothing whatever to do with electricity — indeed, there is some question, given the fact that they need to be regularly rotated, faced into the wind, dehumidified and heated, etc. while their actual per-unit consumption is never even measured, whether they generate any net power whatever — but rather to generate subsidies, tax breaks, and phony “carbon credits” for international financiers. This they do wonderfully well, and it now becomes utter perfection when they can be paid for not generating electricity, which of course they do to perfection.

    The goal of genuine environmentalists now should be to support all the bureaucratic planning, the tax and subsidy arrangements, and so on, with guaranteed payment, but instead of actually building the things, once all the arrangements are made the turbines, towers, and cement are all dumped in the Marianas Trench. Taxpayers, grid operators, and ratepayers would all be better off — not to mention environmentalists — and the financiers would never notice the difference.

  82. Sure wind power seems at first to be a good idea. But lots of things do that don’t end up working out in the end. Look at ethanol for example and bio fuels. An almost complete failure. If wind power is not cost effective, and does not reduce dependence on conventional energy sources, there is no use for it no matter how much wishful thinking one might have. The President wants to move towards less reliance on fossil fuels, and do this without building additional nuclear plants. Talk about wishful thinking. What he really wants is to tax energy through the roof, so we use less of it, and the Govt can raise trillions of extra dollars from this new source of revenue.

  83. Pater H- we ignorant readers of newspapers also have sayings-one of which is “ignorance is bliss” which can explain some conditions of happiness, I suppose.
    As for previous arguments that since wind is not a large portion of generation, the cost of payments in lieu of operation is not significant, it appears from the article that the cost per Mw ratio of payments to Wind for no generation compared to payments failure to generate from thermal is about 9:1. Looks to be pretty significant.
    While the UK example was evidently only a test, this condition has already occured in Texas and soon comming to the PJM grid area.
    Halken ignores that Danish interconnections to external grids with high proportions of Hydro which can absorb or replace grid changes in short order make for a entirely different grid management situation.
    Incidently, electric power system control, trtansmission, and generation, in my case is “you” trade and has been for about 35 years. From previous comments on this blog, there several other power engineers as well.
    While it may be merely a language difference, in the USA “Business Development” translates to “lobbyist” or “contributor” in the case of “developing” wind power requirements and subsidies. I would prefer “salesman”, but that’s just me.
    Maybe wind power does generate “most of the time” in Europe, but the load factor still appears to be about 30% or less regardless.
    In addition to the subsidies, there are the additional costs of transmission, additions to control systems, additional spinning reserves, and its fuel use, all of which are currently being included in users electric rates.
    Yeah, some USA farmers are paid to refrain from planting crops to reduce surplus and its effect on market prices. But they were not paid to buy the seed, plant and til their fields, and then not harvest.

  84. Jim Cripwell says: June 20, 2010 at 2:06 pm
    The energy produced cannot, with current technology, be stored.

    Not so. See here or, if you’re from the USA, here.

    The same type of affair is being considered for tidal schemes to smooth out the supply/demand mismatch. But these are tiddlers in terms of grid capacity. Many more would have to be built pushing the real cost of renewables even higher.

  85. “AJB says:
    [...]
    The same type of affair is being considered for tidal schemes to smooth out the supply/demand mismatch. But these are tiddlers in terms of grid capacity. Many more would have to be built pushing the real cost of renewables even higher.”

    Pumped storage. The cost is not the problem. Resistance by environmentalists is. You get NIMBY syndrome on a GreenPeace scale by suggesting to blow off a mountain top and flood a valley.

  86. @Craig Goodrich:

    Craig, you are so right about comments to “–Almost Everybody else:”
    I was foolish enough to attend a conference on “Green Technology” here in the “green”, “PC”, Pacific Northwest part of the USA. Huge room fillled with people over several days. But not many “technologists”. My estimate (after eating dinner, lunch, and conversing with attendees during intermissions) is ~60% lawyers, maybe 10% “investors” (including one speaker who said literally — ‘we don’t want to hear about your science projects, we want a minimum $1billion return on our investment’), ~10% government bureaucrats (federal, state, local), ~10% press (passive) and public relations shills, *maybe* 5% real “green technologists” with “skin in the game” and the rest people like me wondering WTF/OMG. My estimates probably understimate the percentage of lawyers, given the list of conference sponsors.

    And the comments on Spain and and the topic of windmills. Can’t help but make the Don Quixote connection.

    And @HB:
    You can’t not talk about politics, economics and policy w/”climate” and “environmentalism”. There so little discussed that’s real science (or even engineering) (not that there isn’t real science and engineering)– it’s primarily about politics, money and power, and so little about science and information, sadly. Thank someone, anyone, Anthony et al. for WUWT.

    And a kind-of sad thing, Essex and McKitrick’s 1st ed. book was published in 2002, 2ed in 2008. Though it’s easier to find now in the USA, had to buy my old 1ed. copy through a bookseller in Canada.

  87. Here is output charts of UK Wind Farms.

    http://www.ref.org.uk/Files/wind.overview.2008.pdf

    Look at page 12 for Load Factors of a few European countries.
    The Load Factor of Spain is only 20%. That is some “investment” in the future.
    Also, note on Page 15 – The offshore LF is essentially the same as the onshore LF for the UK – 27%, which goes against the “dream” that offshore wind, although VERY EXPENSIVE is any better than onshore.

  88. Veronica says: June 20, 2010 at 1:47 pm
    Then why don’t they temporarily turn off the coal fired ones? Or does it take 24 hours to stop them in their tracks?

    24 hrs is a bit long for coal and maybe not so much for nuclear, the electrical system is divided into baseload and peaking plants; Baseloads take a while to get going online or to bring down offline and tend to run very efficiently when going, like coal fired or nuclear. Peaking plants come up quick and go offline quick but are less efficient and used to cover short-term peaks. Windpower is a problem because you never know when the wind is going to blow or stop, if too much windpower drops out, the system will quickly sag and the expensive peaking plants will have to come online and supply the load and you have a brownout until that happens. The only way around that problem is storage; but a BOB, Big Old Battery cost $25 million for 32 MWhr of storrage, so I don’t see too many of these being built.

  89. We are told Wind Farms cannot supply base load electricity (25-30% max) or they drive the frequency of the Grid up and down as the wind/load changes. But this is only because power generation hasn’t advanced since the day of Tesla.
    So that begs the question.
    Why can’t Windfarms sync to a reference frequency supplied by the power company?
    It’s only 50Hz , we seem to be ale to sync Gigabytes/sec of data-streams pretty simply.
    Syncing the wind farms electronically would make them act like base load generators and therefore avoid the stupidity of paying them to switch off during high wind low demand periods.

  90. AJB writes “Not so. See here or, if you’re from the USA, here. ”

    Sorry, you are misinterpreting what I said, or maybe I did not say what I intended. I know pumped storage works. But this is only true if the energy used to drive the pumps is from a reliable source. What I meant was that energy derived from wind farms cannot be stored. I am not sure of this, but from what I can gather, it is not possible to use the energy from wind turnines to drive anything, DIRECTLY. The power varies as the cube of the wind velocity, so the way the power output varies makes it impossible to drive anything like an electric motor DIRECTLY from a wind turbine.

    If this is wrong, I would be grateful if someone could direct me to a source where wind power has been used directly to drive anything useful. So far as I am aware, wind power is only used by piping it into a stable electric grid.

  91. According to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2010

    http://www.bp.com/productlanding.do?categoryId=6929&contentId=7044622

    In 2009 Wind Supplied 1.8% of the US electricity and a little bit less for the World.
    Also, using Oil Equivalents, a unit of energy measurement used to compare various energy sources, Wind supplied .321% of the world energy.
    We Can Keep Trying!
    What I hate about wind is that Wind completely tears up our environment.
    http://www.klimabedrag.dk/attachments/Boone_GIS.pdf (slow loader)
    It has to be the most environmentally “unfriendly” source of energy imaginable. Yet it is completely advocated by so-called environmentalists, just like very unfriendly Ethanol, which has polluted our US Gulf with agricultural runoff and has been partly responsible for destroying the South American rain forests.

  92. I just happened to look at the UK Electricity Production right now. Wind is supplying .1% of the UK demand.

    https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B5vbWLK5dTl2Njc5YjQzYTctOGE2Zi00OTI3LWFhNTYtNjE3MzJhZWRmZWQ2&hl=en

    Yet we have those that keep saying we are going to use Wind to replace something?? in the system. These same people say that Wind is going to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, which his nothing but a complete lie, because we don’t use much oil to make electricity.
    The Ireland graph is probably the best place to see how wind really works, how incredibly variable it is and how hard it is to forecast. You can click previous day and see. Look at frequent the forecast is off by 20%, that is “routine”.

    http://www.eirgrid.com/operations/systemperformancedata/windgeneration/

    So the real power companies have to play this constant balancing act which just costs us money for these silly little green games.
    What I find so sad is that there are so many otherwise smart people, who have real jobs and educations, but they don’t have enough intellect to figure out the absurdity of Wind. Oh well, I guess we can add AGW to that picture also.

  93. Phil June 20, 2010 at 6:45 pm:

    We are told Wind Farms cannot supply base load electricity (25-30% max) or they drive the frequency of the Grid up and down as the wind/load changes. But this is only because power generation hasn’t advanced since the day of Tesla.
    So that begs the question.
    Why can’t Windfarms sync to a reference frequency …

    They do, but, to ‘add’ energy to the system you must necessarily lead (try to spin faster, but only really up the torque applied to the generator shaft), in phase, above that of the majority of the other ‘producers’ or gensets operating into the grid … and at that point then those plants you wish to ‘unload’ (use less of can) begin to back off as their primer movers (usually steam driven turbines and it does not matter so much what generates the steam except nuclear likes to see a more steady ‘load’ or output) are ‘throttled back’ … easy to say, hard to do when you have maybe twenty different generators at about 1/3 that number of physical sites operating as the ‘generators’ into the so-called ‘grid’ and one wants to load each one to some specific ‘level’ (some are base-load continuous operating plants like nuclear or big coal plants while others may be ‘peaker’ gensets powered directly by nat gas and they gas is burned dorectly in a turbine, the output shaft gear-reduced then into a generator) …

    So then the trick is, throttle 30 different gensets at 10 to 15 spacially different sites over maybe +500 miles while maintaning phase coherency between sites with a nominal 60/50 Hz rate over time (as mentined in provious posts – this varies ever so slighty though!!) while controlling ‘power flows’ from each genset into the various ‘loads’ out in the hinterlands …
    .

  94. Jim Cripwell says:
    June 20, 2010 at 6:47 pm
    Sorry, you are misinterpreting what I said, or maybe I did not say what I intended …

    I think you’re probably right. There’s an interesting WEB page here that gives some hints perhaps.

    My point is simply that the additional cost of all this seems not to be included in the comparisons of renewable versus conventional that are typically bandied about, not to mention the eco-NIMBY issues DirkH rightly raised.

    It can be difficult to find suitable sites that permit the construction of pumped-storage stations at a moderate investment cost. Even in systems where suitable sites are available, the investment cost of this type of station is very high, which obliges developers to assume a very high risk during the long periods of amortization required.

  95. Troels Halken says:
    June 20, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    This site is usually worth the read. But as an engineer I find you[r] reporting on energy simplified if not plain stupid.

    –end quote

    As someone who’s done comparative cost analyses on engineering projects for most of his life I find the lack of the business aspects in your arguments astounding, “if not plain stupid,” as you said.

    I don’t want to go through all of your assertions, but here is one you made that is obviously questionable.

    June 20, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Smokey:

    …..

    “…But I can tell you this: The Danish citizens are some of, if not the happiest in the world year after year. That you can measure and you can find it on the website of the Economist.”

    –end quote

    Is that why Denmark finds itself in the upper quartile when it comes to suicide rates of countries in the world? The Danes find life not worth living because they are so exceedingly happy? Check http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide_rates/en/

    Yes, that can be measured and gives Denmark about the same dismal rank year after year.

    Another of your assertions,

    Troels Halken says:
    June 20, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Dirk: That is correct.

    Well, guys. I’m of to bed so no more fun.

    Yes, I am a business developer….

    Yes I have worked in the wind turbine industry….

    Wind has it’s advantages and it’s weakness. It is by no means a solve all do all thing. It is also a technology in it’s youth and so is the policies that are used to regulate the market for it. The world is not black and white but shades of grey, and so is wind power.

    –end quotes

    Wow! Wind power is a technology in its youth? Not so! It has been around for thousands of years, in the form of sails on ships and on windmills to pump water or grind grain, for example.

    Non-one doubts that wind power once had overwhelming advantages, wherever it was used to replace man-power or animal power in treadmills and water power was not available. However, once it comes to replacing far cheaper sources of modern energy generation, wind power is left in the dust — and what use is it to go back to stone-age technology, no matter how much we wish to beat that particular dead horse to death?

    Still, if you don’t wish to take anyone here at his word and keep on insisting to look at things through your rose-colored glasses, why don’t we look at a professional analysis of the technological and economic aspects of Denmark’s wind industry, why Denmark gives a large proportion of its wind-generated energy away at a great cost (note: not for free), and what the price of all of that is to the Danes?

    A September 2009 study report by CEPOS (Center for Politiske Studier), “Wind Energy — The Case of Denmark” makes for fascinating reading. It addresses the illusions that anyone should hold regarding wind energy. The study report should be of interest to a wide variety of people, such as tax payers, electrical systems operators, politicians and policy makers. Check:

    http://www.cepos.dk/fileadmin/user_upload/Arkiv/PDF/Wind_energy_-_the_case_of_Denmark.pdf

    Enjoy, if the truth is not too hard to take.

    Walter

  96. John Cooper says:
    June 20, 2010 at 3:15 pm
    Do they not have pumped storage in England? Oh, I guess they can’t – few real mountains to speak of.

    In California, the Helms Pumped Storage Plant pumps water uphill to Lake Wishon (7200′) when there’s excess electricity, then lets it flow back down through the turbines to Lake Courtwright (5,500′) during times of increased demand.

    This allows the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant to run at 100% even during times of low demand. The same principle would work with intermittent wind power.

    I know this doesn’t work with wind, but I am just waiting on a more elegant poster to explain this without the explatives that I know will come out of my keyboard.

  97. Jim Cripwell:

    You are partially correct. I work for an electric utility, I am an engineer by training but have spent most of my life in operations. The cubed relationship between wind speed and power is not unique to wind, it is the same for any energy conversion in a fluid. For instance, if you double the speed of a centrifugal pump you will double the flow, raise differential pressure by a factor of four, and raise power consumption by a factor of eight.

    You are absolutely correct about our inability to store electrical energy in any significant quantity. The only exception to this I know of is pumped storage hydro and suitable sites for this are as rare as hydro sites themselves. There are some utility scale batteries (NaS, etc.) available but they are expensive and don’t really provide the level of power storage needed, typically only a few megawatts.

    Some of the descriptions above are fairly accurate about baseload and peaking power. To be fair, I don’t work in transmission and distribution but it is almost simpler than described. Power plants are operated based on variable operating costs with each plant operated to meet demand having the next higher variable operating cost than the last. Load never drops below a certain level so some plants operate all the time, these are the ones with the lowest variable operating costs. Typically hydro, nuclear, coal, and nat gas in that order. I’ll get to where renewables fit in a bit. Peaking plants are just a term for plants that change power with demand. Nat gas plants are built as peaking plants because they cost a lot to operate (high variable operating costs) but are cheap to build ( relatively low levelized capitol cost). Renewables have essentially no variable operating cost but cannot be dispatched. If they are generating power and the grid can use it then it will be used, replacing the power with the highest variable operating cost that is operating at the time. This will frequently be nat gas, not coal.

    Regarding the subject of the post, my guess is that these payments would be politically motivated (another subsidy). Technically, a wind turbine should be able to apply it’s brake and turn the blades out of the wind to stop generating power. If current turbines don’t have this capability then they should, my guess is many/most do. In any case, wind turbines have very high levelized capitol costs, higher than nuclear according to the US EIA, and no one would build them absent significant production subsidies. If they would, then subsidies would not be necessary. There are other issues with maintaining a stable electrical grid (reserve margins, maintaining voltage schedule, etc) but I hope this helps. Maybe others with more experience in T&D management will add to this.

  98. I find this interesting. Let’s look at BP’s Statistical_Review_of_World_Energy_2010. I uploaded mine xls with a few figures an annotations.

    https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B5vbWLK5dTl2YTE2NGViZTEtZWI5OC00YzkxLTkwOTUtZTcwMTFkMWE5OTAz&hl=en

    Click the Electricity Generation Tab – China is increasing their electricity generation by 300 TetraWattHours per year, divide by 8760 and 1 million(tetra to giga to mega) to get an increase of power of 34,000 MW per year. Go here http://www.eia.doe.gov/cabs/China/Electricity.html and those BP figures aren’t too far off from EIA. We read that they are building 2 medium(500 MW) coal fire plants per week, but that would yield 52,000 MW and only 83% is thermal not 100%. But still in the ballpark. 83% of 34,000 is 28,000, which would mean just a tad over 1 medium sized 500 MW coal plant per week, but they are planning for the future, so it is more.

    Now look at Wind>Total World and see we are building turbines like MAD!!! From an increase in 15,000 MW in 2006 compared to 2005, to an increase in 38,000 MW from 2008 to 2009. We Will Save The World!
    Now go back to Electricity Generation>Total World and you see that we went from Generation of 15,000 TWHrs in 1999 to 20,000 TWHrs in 2009, 500 TWHrs per year this decade, then divide by 8,760 hrs/yr and 1 million to yield MW(power not energy) and you have an increase of 57,000 MW per year. Meaning that during the past 10 years we are creating much more electricity than we are building wind turbines, even at the frantic page during this past year. And some European countries are being saturated and many other countries just don’t have suitable areas to build them or they are too smart to do so. So if you are going to try to save the world with wind turbines, you aren’t even going to match electricity GROWTH, let alone put a dent in it. Of course we can try.

    The most interesting number for wind turbines is this one. The nuclear plant that is powering this computer puts out 2400 MW, sometimes all year long. (although they usually shut one tower down in the spring and fall for maintenance). We need 5,000 2MW turbines operating at 25% yearly output to equal that one single nuclear plant. We need to carpet my state with Wind Turbines, destroying every single beautiful ridge we have, literally billions of tons of concrete and steel, towering ugliness as far as the eye can see, to equal that nuke plant on about 60 acres of land, bothering no one.

  99. Could an Electricity expert answer this question for me?
    Go to Ercot, the Texas Grid. http://mospublic.ercot.com/ercot/jsp/frequency_control.jsp
    And you will see that spinning reserve is usually about 10% of Total Online Capacity and Wind+Generation roughly equals Online Capacity.
    I spoke to an electricity engineer, (he hates wind because it causes the voltage and frequency problems referred to above) and he said a Grid only creates EXACTLY as much power as needed at any given moment. But I know a grid manager would NEVER let a blackout occur, (unless there is a disaster of some sort, because blackout is a disaster for civilization), and electricity is used instantaneously, but they can’t create electricity After an unexpected surge, it must be created and there already, like a river ready to let loose. So does that ERCOT grid Spinning Reserve mean they likely have an extra bit of thermal energy already spining, 10% or so, ready for an unexpected surge in demand or an unexpected outage of online capacity??
    See, if that is the case, and we know even hundreds of turbines can decrease output 10% quite suddenly, (look at Ireland link above), my “hunch” is that much of the wind turbines output is actually completely backed up by an extra bit of spinning reserve >meaning we are paying for it, but since it is only a few percent of total generation, no one notices that we are not actually decreasing the buckets of coal on the fire 1 for 1, but maybe just 1/2 for 1, because a grid operator WOULD NEVER let the screwed up fluctuating Wind to cause blackout havoc? He will go along with the politicians, the fleecing of the customers, but no way is he going to let a blackout happen on his shift? To the “experts”, does this make any sense?

  100. John Cooper says:
    June 20, 2010 at 3:15 pm
    Do they not have pumped storage in England? Oh, I guess they can’t – few real mountains to speak of.

    In fact they do, the first was built in 1963 at Tan y grisiau for peaking in conjunction with the nearby Trawsfynydd nuclear power station (I visited them both in 1966).
    Trawsfynydd has been decommissioned but the pumped storage is still operated as the Ffestiniog power station. There has since been another station built at Dinorwig.

  101. These things are a blight. Just look at the pic at the head of this story. What a shame and what a waste. I will never live near these things. Twirling, whirling, staccatto light effects….noise…yuk! I’d go nuts.

  102. Troels Halken says:
    June 20, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Smokey:

    “Of course it can be measured. Polling organizations do it all the time, with error bars in the ±3% range.”

    You didn’t get it: You can’t measure or otherwise determine if big government is ultimately good or bad.

    You most certainly can! … One only needs take a little trip through history. It is all spelled out quite clearly! … Smokey is not only correct, but the results of big taxes and especially big government, are extremely clear, with numerous and indisputably consistent results. ie: Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Chavez, and on and on. The results are ALWAYS the same, without exception.

    Learn some history!

  103. A half thought through plan yet again.

    The answer?????

    Build a reservior with two levels. The lower level is full of water, the upper is empty. Surplus energy is used to drive pumps that move the water from the lower level to the upper level. At peak demands open up the sluice gates and generate electricity.

    Did IQ’s drop while I was away?

  104. So many, many misconceptions and downright un-truths on this thread.

    First, wind-turbines DO work. The earlier thread on WUWT Climate Craziness of the Week: Lighting Up Your Windmill has some comments (including mine) on this subject. Despite claims to the contrary, the evidence shows that wind-turbines work and work quite well. California and Texas are excellent examples. However, they must be installed where the wind actually blows, and rather consistently.

    Second, grid operators are not running blind about wind speed and wind-turbine output. It seems obvious to write this, but weather forecasters study the wind along with many other parameters in order to produce their predictions. They know many hours in advance, and sometimes days in advance, what the likely direction and strength of the wind will be. Also, there are hundreds of anemometers in areas surrounding wind-turbines, some are part of weather information gathering systems. These also can be used to determine what the wind will be as it strikes the wind-turbines.

    Finally, to repeat some of what I wrote on the earlier Lighting the Windmill thread, California’s experience with wind-turbines is at the 2 percent (average) production of the entire grid. Daily values can and are much higher, sometimes 5 and 6 percent. The grid handles this without effort or problems. The quantity of power produced in California from wind is 700 MW annual average, but some days is nearly 2000 MW. Texas has higher percentages and quantities, with no problems.

    California is not likely to ever see higher percentages of wind-energy, as the resources for wind are nearly built-out. There are only three suitable locations and they have had wind-turbines for many years. Texas, though, will see much more wind-turbine capacity installed.

    Given all of these facts, it is somewhat surprising to see all the negative comments about wind will never work, it causes problems on the grid, and such.

  105. As to having free electricity from wind, this is not so unusual. In the early 1980’s Canada’s Quebec Province had a surplus of hydroelectric power and were offering huge incentives for industry to purchase the power. In the oil refining industry in which I worked at the time, the offer was to pay for the purchase price and installation of things that consume electricity. They even were offering large electric heaters for the oil refineries, which normally burn a mixture of gases in fired heaters.

    I don’t recall anyone complaining about that.

  106. “Is that why Denmark finds itself in the upper quartile when it comes to suicide rates of countries in the world? The Danes find life not worth living because they are so exceedingly happy?”

    I do not trust suicide statistics (are people really honest about that?), but the Scandinavians have a problem with alcohol, too. It may be caused by the long, dark, cold winters.
    Taxes are so high, Scandinavians have no money to travel the world (contrary to the Germans and the British who are everywhere). So when their governement tells them their system is the best, they actually believe it.

  107. nofreewind says: “I spoke to an electricity engineer … and he said a Grid only creates EXACTLY as much power as needed at any given moment.”

    Then he doesn’t understand the operation of a grid and misled you . Frequency varies according the the short term balance of supply and demand. Too much supply and frequency rises (the system speeds up) and vice versa.


  108. You most certainly can! … One only needs take a little trip through history. It is all spelled out quite clearly! … Smokey is not only correct, but the results of big taxes and especially big government, are extremely clear, with numerous and indisputably consistent results. ie: Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Chavez, and on and on. The results are ALWAYS the same, without exception.

    Learn some history!

    Correlation is not causation?

  109. nofreewind says:

    “Could an Electricity expert answer this question for me?
    …….”
    I can’t speak with any authority on the Texas grid, but I am an electricity professional in New Zealand, and the general principles will still apply.

    Spinning reserve is generally carried in an amount sufficient to cover the largest single contingincy on a grid, and must serve two purposes. The first is to cover the loss of generation and prevent the frequency from falling to unacceptally low values. In New Zealand we call this Fast Reserve. Traditional thermal plant (e.g. coal fired) is brilliant at providing this type of reserve, but often can’t sustain the extra generation for more than a minute or two. The second purpose to replace the lost generation and to restore the frequency and voltage stability in the grid. Hydro plant (where avialable) and gas fire GTs are the perfect solution for this as they can ramp up relatively quicklyand maintain that generation for an extended time. Here, we call that sustained reserve.

    The best way to obtain that reserve is to have plant operating at less than full load. As a hypothetical situation, lets say that a grid has a largest unit generating at 1000MW. It would need to have at least 1000 MW of spinning reserve, both fast and sustained. To achieve this there may be a further 10,000 MW of connected capacity (maybe spread over 20 to 50 other units) all operating at 90% capacity and ready to pick up that 1000MW risk at a moments notice. In the event that the 1000MW plant should trip off the grid, the grid operator would not need to dispatch the remaining plant as the governors on that plant would detect the drop in frequency and respond automatically.

    Wind provides a much more complex issue, as it can suddenly increase generation, or (as happened here an hour ago) can suddenly decrease generation. therefore where wind comprises a significant part of the supplied generation, there needs to be a much more complex mix of generation plant actually running. Not only does the grid operator need to carry reserve to pick up ge4neration if the WFs suddenly decrease their output, but must also have plant that can reduce output quickly should the WFs suddenly increase. That is a much more complex issue as most types of turbine have a minimum load that they can’t reduce below with causing damage or risk of trip.

  110. Let’s put the politics aside. I was merely trying to establish that big government and high taxes does not lead to Stalin or Mao style societies, but can lead to societies as the ones in Scandinavia and Germany and Japan and others. If you read what I have written carefully, you’ll notice that I have not written if big government and high taxes are ultimately good or bad. They are neither, as it seems it does not have an impact on how rich the society are nor on the peoples happiness. Free liberal democracies that belongs to the worlds richest countries and with a high degree of happiness. The world is not black and white. Oh and we do travel here ind Denmark. Quite a lot. If someone claim different, I would like to see some facts. But we’re only five million people compared to Germanys 88 or the UKs 70, so that might be why you don’t often meet a Dane out there.


    Politics aside. I’ll be happy to help clearing questions from people who want to know, who want to have facts about wind power.

    The report from CEPOS has been mentioned. It is a right wing (by Danish standards) think tank. The report has spurred a lot of debate on the website for the Danish Engineering Association http://www.ing.dk (in Danish), because you can do the numbers in very different way, because of the complexity of our energy system. Some can do them in such a way that no wind power is exported and others so a lot of it is exported. The issue is that if the coal plants run when there is a lot of wind and high exports (due to low price at the time) who is supplying the export? The wind turbines or the coal plants? The truth is probably somewhere in between. As I have stated above we have begun shutting down wind turbines when the price becomes to low, as that is the cheapest way to remove capacity. A wind turbine usually run idle when not in use, but when coupled into the grid it produces power within a minutes. So we have begun seeing wind power used as spinning reserve.

    Wind turbines comes with full converters today. That mean that the power produced is made from AC to DC and then back to AC by power electronics. This means that the generator is decoupled from the grid frequency. It also means that we can control the power factor and the voltage of the output. This is being used actively to stabilize the grid. Today there is also requirements for fault-ride-through which means that in the case of a grid error, the turbine must actively help combat the error. In the UK which have a weak grid (the frequency is unstable) modern turbines has a stabilizing effect on the grid. Even when a turbine is not running, it can still provide about 2/5 of it’s nominal effect in reactive power. The power output from an individual turbine can be regulated as needed. In practice it is done by changing the angle of attack of the blades, to capture more or less wind.

    So the claim that turbines destabilize the grid and consumes reactive power and so on is based on old turbines. It is not the reality of today.

    Power from a turbine is measured AFTER it’s own consumption.

    The wind is a fluctuating force. Especially when standing on the ground. But in 90 meters it is less to. When we pool a hundred turbines, the fluctuations of the individual turbine is averaged out. When we pool turbines from a area as Texas, the power from turbines becomes pretty stable and very close to the average windspeed over the area.

    Power can be sold on futures and on the spot market e.g. here and now. Power sold on futures is much more profitable and hence the power companies running turbines do this. Weather forecasts are not always precise, but wind forecasts has proven to be better, as you only need to forecast that parameter and today they can be done for individual wind parks. When the turbine operator combines the wind forecast with the his wind parks properties, he can calculate a power forecast for the individual turbine according to its siting and type, and the for the whole park. This can be done a day or two in advance and hence the operator can use this to sell the future production and the grid operator to make sure that the right mix of productions units are online. The forecasts are maybe 80% right, so smart operators sell about 80% of the predicted power in advance, and then sell eventual surplus on the spot market.

    Storage. Storage of wind generated electricity is the wind powers Achilles heel. Pumped storage is currently the only large scale viable option, but in reality you need difference in elevation for it to work. That we don’t have here in DK and in many other places like the Netherlands. The idea with compresses air in caverns is not economically feasible. I have seen many ideas to store wind energy, but so far none that are economically viable.

  111. Stating the bleeding obvious says:
    June 20, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Build a reservior with two levels. The lower level is full of water, the upper is empty. Surplus energy is used to drive pumps that move the water from the lower level to the upper level. At peak demands open up the sluice gates and generate electricity.

    Did IQ’s drop while I was away?

    …hi STBO
    Speaking as a resident of the lincolnshire Fens, currently threatened by many oversized industrial wind turbines being built too close to peoples houses (NETA figures today for GB 0.0% again)….and that clearly don’t work anyway. Could you explain to us how your scheme, should be built, we seem to be a bit short of ‘up’ here on the Fens?

    ..’.none taken’, by the way

  112. I think myself, the problem is, the inderect subsidy scheme (ROC’s) Which just encourages developers to build wind turbines in the wrong place….(Britain) for example.
    ….possibly, a better place would be Denmark?

  113. Stating the bleeding obvious says:
    June 20, 2010 at 10:31 pm
    A half thought through plan yet again.

    The answer?????

    Build a reservior with two levels. The lower level is full of water, the upper is empty. Surplus energy is used to drive pumps that move the water from the lower level to the upper level. At peak demands open up the sluice gates and generate electricity.

    The Ffestiniog Pumped Storage Scheme in Wales does exactly what you describe and has done so since 1963, giving a “capacitor” function to the UK national grid.

    http://www.fhc.co.uk/ffestiniog.htm

  114. The madness continues and is unlikely to end soon in the UK as the Prime Minister’s father-in-law and the deputy Prime Minister’s wife are being paid millions of pounds from the wind farm racket.

    This is from today’s Daily Mail:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1288066/Wind-turbines-blades-bigger-London-Eye-future-green-energy.html

    ____________________________________________________________

    Wind turbines with blades bigger than the London Eye could be the future of green energy

    21st June 2010

    Monster wind turbines with blade spans that dwarf the London Eye could be the shape of future green power, it has been revealed. An offshore turbine more than 500ft tall with a diameter of 475ft is due to make an appearance in British waters within the next two years.

    The Britannia turbine is still being developed, but Clipper says even bigger blades are the future of green power. The 10 megawatt machine, dubbed Britannia, may only mark the start of a growing trend, according to the project”s leader Bill Grainger. He sees no reason why offshore turbines should not get even larger, since greater size and power make economic sense. Mr Grainger, who heads the Britannia design team, told The Engineer magazine: “There isn’t a technical issue that screams out size limit. You have to make changes as you get bigger. Blades get floppier, for example, so you have to put more carbon in, but we aren’t anywhere near 100% carbon yet.”

    Mr Grainger is engineering manager at Clipper Windpower Marine, the UK arm of the US company developing the 10 megawatt turbine.

    The Britannia, being built at Blyth, Northumberland, will have three enormous blades, each weighing more than 30 tonnes. They will sweep a circle more than 100ft wider than the 400ft diameter of the London Eye. Standing on a solid foundation on the sea bed, the wind turbine will rise 574ft above the waves. It is expected to generate enough electricity to power 10,000 homes, and over its lifetime could displace the use of two million barrels of oil. The most likely location for Britannia is Dogger Bank, off the north-east coast.

    Clipper Windpower Marine is sinking £44 million into the turbine”s building facilities, including a blade factory in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The project is also receiving £5 million from the local regional development agency, One North East.

    Metal fatigue caused by the stress imposed by turning blades is one of the biggest engineering issues to be overcome by the Britannia team. But Mr Grainger does not believe the size of wind turbines will be restricted by technical hurdles. He told The Engineer: “There might be a limit to the size that people want to put into the field – if a 20 megawatt turbine failed, that’s a big chunk of electricity to lose. But then, if a power station goes off-line you’ve lost 300 megawatts, so I don’t think that’s a limit either. They’ll get bigger than 10 megawatts, is my feeling. How much bigger? I don’t know.”
    ____________________________________________________________

    Letters can be emailed to the Daily Mail:
    letters@dailymail.co.uk

  115. If wind power was that great, wouldn’t you see lots of it in China? That’s a big country, should always be usable wind blowing somewhere, and with a national grid wouldn’t the places with usable wind “average out” the areas without, yielding a certain amount of dependable continuous supply? Plus China wants to be competitive, free energy would give them an edge. Also as the government basically can do anything it wants, NIMBY issues and expected profits aren’t an issue, they can basically just mandate the long-term investment and at a far lower installed cost than we here in the “Western” world could ever get.

    Lo and behold, a Wikipedia article! Wind power in China:

    At the end of 2009, wind power in China accounted for 25.1 gigawatts (GW) of electricity generating capacity,[1] and China has identified wind power as a key growth component of the country’s economy.[2] China is the second largest producer of wind power, after the United States.[3] With its large land mass and long coastline, China has exceptional wind resources.[4]

    Researchers from Harvard and Tsinghua University have found that China could meet all of their electricity demands from wind power through 2030.[5]

    Wow, China is second in capacity only to the US. Impressive. Maybe. Who has the numbers on per capita electricity consumption, and what percentage is from wind? Ah who cares, it clearly says China could meet ALL of their electricity demands through 2030 with only wind!

    In 2009, China became the third largest wind energy provider worldwide (behind USA and Germany), with the installed wind power capacity reaching 20 GW at the end of 2009. According to the Global Wind Energy Council, the development of wind energy in China, in terms of scale and rhythm, is absolutely unparalleled in the world. The National People’s Congress permanent committee passed a law that requires the Chinese energy companies to purchase all the electricity produced by the renewable energy sector.[9]

    It was at third place in 2009, at the end of 2009 with installed capacity reaching 20 GW, and at the end of 2009 it accounted for 25.1 GW of electricity generating capacity with China (currently?) in second place. Wow, they must really understate those nameplate capacity ratings if they can get a full 1/4 more wattage out on average. Which is completely the opposite case experienced by those of us who’ve dealt with imported machinery, where a 1 HP rated Chinese-made motor actually has an output more comparable to an American-made and UL-rated 3/4 HP motor.

    Oh well, it’s free energy. And the government is requiring all that renewable energy gets bought, so it saves the producers the hassles of having to worry about competitive pricing and matching demands etc, the people running the grids can figure out the small details.

    So China just needs to commit itself to making a Great Leap Forward to get all this free energy and possess an unbeatable competitive edge. All their electricity demands can be taken care of through 2030 by wind alone, they can scrap all those dirty coal plants. Right?

    Controversy
    The increasing penetration of wind power has exacerbated the problems of delivering reliable power to users. “Because wind energy is unstable, it is a pollutant and affects the safety of the power grid,” said Hu Xueha, the deputy chief engineer of China’s Power Grid Research Institute. Furthermore, the transmission capacity of the grid hasn’t kept up with the growth of China’s wind farms. According to recent data from the China Power Union, only 72% (8.94 GW) of China’s total wind power capacity was connected to the grid.[17] In addition, increasing China’s wind power capacity means increasing coal use as well, to provide power when the wind isn’t available. “China will need to add a substantial amount of coal-fired power capacity by 2020 in line with its expanding economy, and the idea is to bring some of the capacity earlier than necessary in order to facilitate the wind-power transmission,” according to Shi Pengfei, vice president of the Chinese Wind Power Association.[18] Shi is also concerned about the high cost of wind power, which makes the industry dependent on the government’s willingness to subsidize renewable power. “It isn’t that wind power is showing signs of over-heating. It has already overheated.”[19]

    Wait, mighty China with its dominating government and vast resources is having problems with wind power? “Problems” that are little niggling things that can easily be engineered away, if they even exist at all, as has been repeatedly claimed by others on this site, in this thread?

    But, just look at the impressive figures! ALL of their electricity demands through 2030!

    Just look at what those researchers found, Ref 5 (see below):

    They discovered that many areas, especially northern and western parts of the country, could generate energy at about 6 – 8 cents/kWh. This meant 6.96 trillion kWh could be generated annually at a profit, which is twice the current energy demand and close to what the demand is expected to be in 2030.

    If China chose this route instead of adding more coal, it could prevent 3.5 billion tons of CO2 from being emitted.

    There it is, only 6 to 8 cents a kWh generation cost. Cheap electricity and SAVING THE WORLD from Lethal Runaway Climate Change, what could possibly be wrong with that?!
    —–
    Here are the numbered references from what’s copied above, just in case certain “inconvenient truths” will soon be “disappeared” from the article, especially those from the “controversy” section:

    1. Lars Kroldrup. Gains in Global Wind Capacity Reported Green Inc., February 15, 2010.

    2. Gow, David (2009-02-03). “Wind power becomes Europe’s fastest growing energy source”. London: Guardian. Retrieved 2010-01-31.

    3. “China was world’s second-largest producer of wind power last year”. star-telegram. Retrieved 2010-04-12.

    4. Oceans of Opportunity: Harnessing Europe’s largest domestic energy resource (pdf) pp. 18-19.

    5. “China Could Replace Coal with Wind”. Ecogeek.org. Retrieved 2010-01-31.

    9. “CN : China ranks third in worldwide wind energy – Alternative energy news”. Instalbiz.com. 2010-01-04. Retrieved 2010-01-31.

    17. Xina Xie; Michael Economides (July 30, 2009). “Great Leap Forward for China’s Wind Energy”. Energy Tribune. Retrieved 2009-08-01.

    18. Jing Yang (September 28, 2009). “China’s Wind Farms Come With a Catch: Coal Plants”. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-09-28.

    19. Lu Zhenhua (July 31, 2009). “Wind power growth in China’s deserts ignored financial risks”. 21st Century Business Herald. Retrieved 2010-05-22. (Reprinted in The Guardian, May 14, 2010.)

  116. tallbloke says:
    June 20, 2010 at 3:05 pm
    Tony says:
    June 20, 2010 at 2:41 pm
    “Wind machines could be engineered to store their energy by compressing air and then releasing it when the power is required. The V4 law would not be so much of a problem.

    And how is this compressed air going to be used to generate electricity? Blow the wind turbine dynamos round with it? Any idea what the efficiency would look like?”

    Nuclear energy and burning coal are used to generate steam which drives the turbines, doesn’t it? Therefore those turbines are in essence steam engines, are they not? Steam engines can work on compressed air, so no problem there, Tall bloke.

    Real- world problems would be, Tony: added cost of an extra compressor coupled to the windmills (how would they/it be coupled to the windmill? Will you need a separate compressor for each windmill or could you couple them? – how?); then there’s the storage capacity for the compressed air, hence how long supplies of stored air would last.

  117. One more question: “turn off their electricity supply” mentioned in the article presumably amounts to spinning standby. Why should windfarms be paid subsidies for going on spinning standby?


  118. Bruce says:
    June 20, 2010 at 3:49 pm
    Dear Ralph,

    I read the article you posted on the Danish wind industry. Its main point seems to be that Denmark, with major grid connections to Germany as well as Norway and Sweden, which can accept the fluctuations as ‘partners’ in the grid, will have less of a problem with power surges from wind than an ‘island’ system like the UK. It is implicit that if (theortically) all of Denmarks grid-shaers were to go wind-power to the same extent as Denmark, the same problems as in the UK would arise here too, but has some usefulness as a secondary element. Pan-European drives for wind power do not make sense inthis light. I can stand the sight of them, but that is a matter of taste I suppose.

    Yes, the title of the report – Why Wind Power Works for Denmark – is somewhat ironic. Quite obviously, wind power does NOT WORK for Denmark, because they have never used any of their wind power.

    http://incoteco.com/upload/CIEN.158.2.66.pdf

    Not only is this a story of exporting Denmark’s wind problem to neighbours, it is also a story of having quick start-up power sources. Wind power works for Scandinavia Storre (the greater) because hydro power has instant start-up capability, and Scandinavia has lots of hydro. Wind power will not work in the UK (or most of Europe) because we have no instant power as a backup.

    And anyway, even if you do have instant backup supplies, you are doubling the power
    infrastructure for no good reason. Why not simply delete the windelecs (wind turbines), and just use the backup?

    The entire wind programme is merely a balm to salve the conscience of the Urban Green (like P.M. Cameron and his absurd micro-generator, that has so far supplied a constant 2.5 watts of power). In reality windelecs will do nothing but bankrupt nations.

    A WUWT article that makes this point:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/05/25/renewable-energy-–-our-downfall/

    .

  119. Roger Sowell:

    I think you are being very foolish when you write at June 20, 2010 at 10:36 pm saying:

    “So many, many misconceptions and downright un-truths on this thread.

    First, wind-turbines DO work. The earlier thread on WUWT Climate Craziness of the Week: Lighting Up Your Windmill has some comments (including mine) on this subject. Despite claims to the contrary, the evidence shows that wind-turbines work and work quite well.”

    Why would anyone except a fool draw attention to a discussion where he was completely demolished?
    The thread is at

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/06/18/climate-craziness-of-the-week-lighting-up-your-windmill/

    At June 19, 2010 at 2:43 am in that thread I wrote to you saying;


    I responded to that at June 18, 2010 at 4:06 am by saying;
    “If it were their purpose then they would not be built because no wind turbine provides any useful electricity to a grid at any time.”

    And I explained that this results from the grid having to cope with the fact that wind turbines do not provide continuous power. I said a more full version of my explanation can be read at

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/courtney_2006_lecture.pdf

    But at June 18, 2010 at 1:09 pm you have responded to my comment in the typical manner of a wind power PR Consultant by saying:
    “Actually, wind-turbines work quite well where the wind blows. The technology works.

    http://www.caiso.com/green/renewrpt/DailyRenewablesWatch.pdf”

    That completely ignores the facts that
    (a) nobody disputes “the technology works” (it has been used to generate electricity for over a century),
    and, importantly,
    (B) “no wind turbine provides any useful electricity to a grid at any time” BECAUSE “ the wind does NOT blow all the time.”

    And in that thread I repeatedly asked you to address the simple issue that;

    “Intermittent supply of electricity that merely displaces supply from continuously operating power stations is NOT “useful”: it is an expensive bloody nuisance.”

    You have still not addressed that simple issue (which does not surprise me).

    Wind farms are not only “an expensive bloody nuisance” that produce no useful electricity: they are also environmentally damaging bird swatters that increase – yes, INCREASE – emissions from power generation. I explained this briefly in the thread you cite and there referenced my more full explanation which is at

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/courtney_2006_lecture.pdf

    Richard

  120. >>Nuclear energy and burning coal are used to generate steam
    >>which drives the turbines? Therefore those turbines are in essence
    >>steam engines, are they not? Steam engines can work on compressed
    >>air, so no problem there, Tall bloke.

    Duhhhhhh !!!

    You know these Greens are out to kill us all with their ignorance.

    You cannot run a turbine generator on compressed air. The current set of ‘compressed air’ turbines are actually jet engines burning gas, that use the compressed air as a turbo-booster. A very different concept, my ignorant friend.

    .

  121. Kadaka:

    “Researchers from Harvard and Tsinghua University have found that China could meet all of their electricity demands from wind power through 2030.[5]”

    I think you’ll find that the word “could” and “researchers” are very important words in this sentence. It does not imply if they should or not. Just that there theoretically is enough wind in China to power China.

    The Chinese has a system where the subsidies are given when the turbines is erected. That is why many of the installed turbines in China is not connected to the grid. Why should they? The same has happened in India some years back. When the owners had got their taxcredit, they did not care if the turbine actually produced anything. It’s okay to blame wind turbines for their wrongs, but hardly precise to blame poor regulation on them.

    And yes, you’ll find that the quality of the Chinese turbines til be somewhat lacking compared to western turbines and that is also why they sell 95% or more of their production in China, where western products are not allowed into 80% of the purely government controlled marked. But the Chinese government has termed the wind power industry as a strategic industry and hence does everything to promote it, including throwing loads of money at it.

  122. Excerpted from: Kate on June 21, 2010 at 2:00 am

    Monster wind turbines with blade spans that dwarf the London Eye could be the shape of future green power, it has been revealed. An offshore turbine more than 500ft tall with a diameter of 475ft is due to make an appearance in British waters within the next two years.
    (…)
    Metal fatigue caused by the stress imposed by turning blades is one of the biggest engineering issues to be overcome by the Britannia team. But Mr Grainger does not believe the size of wind turbines will be restricted by technical hurdles. (…)

    The bloody hell with what he believes!

    Basic engineering reality will be conflicting with designers’ dreams. You can only hang so much weight off the end of a shaft. What basically supports all that weight of the prop will be the front bearing unit(s), with the front acting as a pivot point for all that weight to try to pry up the rear of the shaft in the generator from its mountings. This amounts to a lot of side pressure in the bearings, leading to premature failure. Plus the effects of scale would come into play. In the testing lab, a sample small diameter piece of the shafting material may appear incredibly tough, more than adequate for the job. With that much weight, on that scale, forces come into play that want to flex that shaft end at the bearing so much, back at the lab the equivalent motions would be seen with a plastic rod. Metal fatigue indeed.

    Best solution for the shaft is a two-point support, as in you still have the front bearing unit(s) on the generator but there is also a bearing system in front of the prop, the shaft goes through the prop and is mounted into the other bearing. This is time-tested, durable, and will likely greatly extend the life of the bearings and shaft.

    Except then you need another tower in front of the prop to mount the bearing system on. You need blade clearance. You could mount the other tower on an offset from the main tower, or use another tower coming from the ground, which can be considerably smaller. Then you run into the fun problems of keeping both points the same distance from each other, with distances involved where the effects of scale take over and the tower tips will flex relatively easily. Still, that can be overcome with the correct usage of bearings and methods to mount said bearings on a shaft.

    Which leaves the dang floppiness of the blades. At that length they will flex, and there will be a fixed amount of space between the towers. One strong wind gust hitting just one blade, flexing it too far, and a tower is going to get smashed.

    Reality with practical experience says it can’t be done, not without a radical redesign of the blade system and better materials. Even if they do get it up, it’s a totally safe bet there will be an “unforeseen failure” due to an “unanticipated flaw” long before the computer models said a failure should occur. This is not simply scaling up proven(?) designs, effects of scale make this new territory. And do they really want to spend the money for what in reality will be an untested prototype?

  123. This coalition government announce severe cuts in the budget deficit. These windfarms are the most wasteful yet the most potentially saving target for such measures. It seems to be a double whammy saving.

    The subsidy to build. The subsidy to stop them.

    Bring it on Mr Osbourne

  124. Compressed air …

    Compressed Air Energy Systems (CAES) do exist at small scale. For example there has been some discussion in the press about a compressed air car.

    There are CAESs being developed for power storage at relatively small scale.

    More generally, energy storage (of whatever type) involves capital expenditure plus “turnaround loss” (operating costs). The most efficient systems will lose anything from 10% to 25% of energy input, depending on a variety of factors.

  125. From: Troels Halken on June 21, 2010 at 3:38 am

    I think you’ll find that the word “could” and “researchers” are very important words in this sentence. It does not imply if they should or not. Just that there theoretically is enough wind in China to power China.

    I think the originally-linked Ecogeek piece is sourced from an article in MIT’s Technology Review, within you will find Michael McElroy was project leader.

    McElroy, a Harvard professor of environmental studies, insists that such ambitious visions are realistic and worth seriously considering.

    This, to me, sounds very much like a “should.” Besides whatever limitations may be considered imposed upon such academic personages as to what they may say without straying into advocacy, outright saying the Chinese government SHOULD do something may seriously limit his future research opportunities within China. For Chinese nationals on Chinese soil, it also leads to a statistically significant shortening of lifespan.

    The Chinese has a system where the subsidies are given when the turbines is erected. That is why many of the installed turbines in China is not connected to the grid. Why should they? (…)

    Good, you agree in principle that installing turbines just to have installed turbines is a waste of money.

    Actually since the government has mandated that all electricity from the turbines is to be bought, that is in effect another subsidy. Since there is forced buying, then selling is an easy way to make profit. Provided you actually have something to sell, of course.

    (…) It’s okay to blame wind turbines for their wrongs, but hardly precise to blame poor regulation on them.

    This is China we’re talking about. If all that is needed to make wind power work is sufficient regulation, then wind power will work very well in China. It can be made to do so in a day.

    Take note of the second page of the article, where it is mentioned as a benefit how China’s government can make short work of the local opposition.

    Most of the article, by the way, is about how all China really needs for 100% wind power is a smart grid with upgraded capacity. It has been repeatedly noted in the US that “smart grids” with “smart meters” will work wonderfully, when they have the ability to prevent the use of certain appliances at the discretion of the electricity provider. The temperature is soaring outside, no wind and a brownout is imminent due to low system capacity, with smart meters they can just start turning off air conditioners to keep the grid stable. And isn’t this what you’ve been preaching, how much better things are when the authorities are given more control over the individual? Why, give them all the control they say they need and you’ll have a utopia!

    (…) But the Chinese government has termed the wind power industry as a strategic industry and hence does everything to promote it, including throwing loads of money at it.

    The Chinese government has determined it may be in their best interest to deflect criticism of their coal plants (and many other Crimes Against The Environment) by having some Green Credentials to wave about. Shiny twirly windmills are great for distracting the eco-mentalists.

  126. Here is a verbatim comment from World Nuclear News. It notes that some windfarms in Scandinavia are providing electricity at a loss.
    ……………………………………
    Scandinavian power price surprises. Finland has announced its intention to put a tax
    on nuclear and hydro power sources built before 1997 because in the operation of a carbon trading market they will make good profits. The tax will apply to 2182 MWe of nuclear capacity and about 3000 MWe of hydro at a rate of up to EUR one cent per kWh. It will thus counter the incentive to maximise the utilisation of non carbon-emitting base-load plant.
    Denmark trades power in the same Nord Pool, which has announced that from October the spot floor price for surplus power will drop from zero to minus EUR 20 cents/kWh. In other words, wind generators producing power in periods of low demand will have to pay the network to take it. Nord Pool said that “A negative price floor has been in demand for some time – especially from participants trading Elspot in the Danish bidding areas. … Curtailment of sales may give an imbalance cost for the affected seller and thus creates a willingness to pay in order to deliver power in the market.” This is likely to have a negative effect on the economics of wind power in the region, since a significant amount of Denmark’s wind power
    production is affected. WNN 1/4/09, Nord Pool 4/2/09.
    World Nuclear News, http://www.world-nuclear-news.org – UK ISSN 1326-4907

  127. Alexej Buergin says:
    June 20, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    “I do not trust suicide statistics (are people really honest about that?), but the Scandinavians have a problem with alcohol, too. It may be caused by the long, dark, cold winters.
    Taxes are so high, Scandinavians have no money to travel the world (contrary to the Germans and the British who are everywhere). So when their governement tells them their system is the best, they actually believe it.”

    The extent of honesty in compiling suicide statistics is perhaps no worse than that involved in compiling temperature data. I am not sure that statistics on problems with alcohol involve more honesty than suicide or temperature statistics. As to suicide rates being higher in countries located at high latitudes, Ukraine and Sri Lanka have suicide rates that are substantially higher than those in Denmark. On the other hand, there appears to be a positive correlation between high suicide rates and the extent of progress made by socialism in a given country.

    “Everywhere” is a big place, but in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada, the road signs are in English and Japanese. I have never yet seen a sign in German there.

    Our government tells Canadians that that Canada is the best place to be in the world, and the government of the USSR told the whole world that that the USSR was the best place for people. I would believe neither any more than I believe the assertion that the Danes are the happiest. The standards for measuring that vary and depend on the opinions of the beholder. However, if we go by the extent of the development of Wind Power, then Denmark is without a doubt the best place to be, although that works only if we ignore the net losses and taxes involved to pay for it.

    Here in Canada, the cost of wind power is in the order of 20 cents per kWh, five times the cost per kWh for coal-fired generation and equal to the cost per kWh produced through natural-gas-fired generation. The reason why the cost of generation of wind-power and natural-gas power are the same is because for every MW of wind-powered generating capacity an equal capacity of natural-gas-fired generating capacity must be available as standby for when the wind does not blow or blows too hard.

    If the U.K. scheme for increasing the cost of wind power by paying wind farms for not producing wind power when it can not be used catches on in Canada (which it quite likely will, because that will create more tax revenue), then the cost of wind power will increase to more than 20 cents per kWh. It stands to reason that the level of happiness of the citizens in a given country where such a scheme is used will not be outstanding and be a far cry from being the best in the world.

  128. I’m in the wrong business man!!! This sound like it could become something akin to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy where farmers have been paid not to grow food because of food mountains and wine lakes. Only after years of this insanity did the EU decide that something had to be done.

  129. Imagine where the UK had say 30% of its energy from wind and solar and suddenly you had a NON-breezy winters day!!! Where would the energy come from? Surely not nuclear! I’m sorry to say this but unless they get their act together winter deaths in the UK will skyrocket.

  130. Re:Jordan says: June 20, 2010 at 3:31 pm
    Relatively high price is also a feature of the UK balancing mechanism: it is intended to hurt operators who cause imbalance, and to reward those who help to resolve imbalance. These extra incentives should help to drive investments (build more reliable plant or to make it more flexible, or suffer the consequences).

    This is not a non-story in the UK because we have to pay for this nonsense, whether we want it or not. In the UK, energy suppliers have to buy 11.1% of their electricity from ‘renewables’ at a fixed price, currently £36.99/MWh under our ROC scheme. If they don’t, or can’t buy that quota, they pay the difference into a ‘buy out’ fund that is then shared amongst the windmill operators as a windfall.

    So it incentivises opeators that cause the imbalance due to the vagueries of wind. If they need to shut down windmills and get paid for doing so, no problem because they’ll get paid again anyway for their ROCs. That profit may go into building bigger, more efficient subsidy extractors but still does not solve the fundamental problem of no wind, no electricity or wind at the wrong time creating balance problems. It also means there’s no incentive to upgrade any of our existing conventional generating plant because they’re forced to buy wind anyway.

  131. Peter H,
    You have tried to put up a good defence and correctly point out that winpower is only a tiny proportion of the UK’s energy use. The real problems begin when that proportion of winpower increases say 10 or 20 fold. Compensation would rocket for not producing electricity on breezy summer ights. As for:

    ““The National Grid fears that on breezy summer nights, wind farms could actually cause a surge in the electricity supply which is not met by demand from businesses and households.” – so it’s not happened yet.”

    This statement is foolish to put it mildly. Breezy summer nights in the UK WILL HAPPEN. Combine this with a large increase in windpower (which I suppose you want) and it spells economic (waste) and political trouble down the line. Don’t defend the indefensible.

  132. The UKs manufacturing base has shrunk to a tiny fraction of what it was before we closed our coal mines, and switched our fossil fuel energy reliance to North sea natural gas/oil and imports.

    If the article is to be believed, with all this expected excess production of electricity, we could easily produce Hydrogen, simply by electrolysis of seawater. Then we could burn the hydrogen, instead of natural gas to make electricity on calm days. The electrolysis by-products are mainly chlorine and sodium hydroxide, both of which have ready markets. We could even use the latter to scrub our atmosphere clean of carbon dioxide, if anyone ever produced any evidence that carbon dioxide was harmful.

  133. kadaka (KD Knoebel):

    You are barking up the wrong tree. Ecogeek? I mean just the name makes me feel sick and I will not defend their nonsense. Nor am I defending whatever they do in China. So talk to them about it.

  134. Jantar-
    Appears that the NZ grid and the USA grid(s) operate on about the same principles-as you would expect.

  135. Hu Duck Xing says:
    June 20, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Troels Halken

    http://tinyurl.com/ykevgd8

    Thanks, for the link. My favorite quote from the post by Troels was this one:
    “Wind energy is not the answer to everything. But it may be part of an answer to something.”

    Fans of JEOPARDY! please feel free to provide the “question” to Troels’ answer.

    My second was this:
    “To me it does not really matter if it is green…”

    And as for Troels and the other naysayers who claim this blog or this particular entry stray too far into politics, I would just say that this blog is a necessary animal in the search for climate truth. Unfortunately, the current nature of climate “science” is politically charged at its core. So the only way I can see to let the truth triumph is to counter the politics point for point.

    Personally, I found the answer to many of my questions, originally thinking that hydroelectric storage was a viable solution to the inconsistencies of wind-generated energy. But the last post by Richard S Courtney was an eye-opener: There is no reason to fabricate an inefficiency into our power grid in the first place.

    Wind energy looks like the answer to a question we don’t need to ask.

  136. @Troels Halken
    ‘It’s the same when Jeff Id rant with his right wing-rhetoric: Taxes and big government.’

    ROFL something most of us european never understand since we’ve been living with taxes and big government for, wait for it, ever.

    ‘Here in Denmark we have a saying that in rough translation goes like this: “Carpenter, stick to you trade”. That is also my advice for this blog.’

    What a load of utter crap. Every person has not only the right, but also the responsibility to voice their opinion in a democratic society. So the carpenter shouldn’t only stick to his trade but also influence policy on trade itself, but not only that he has a right to influence policy to not have to pay a too hefty electric bill in the first place, especially with all the expensive “green electricity” being exported in favor of him having to buy dirty coal produced electricity which ought to be dirt cheap.

    But if you only want stick to your field of expertise within the concept of engineering that’s your choice. :p

  137. Government intervention distorting the market ?

    One would think that given the goal of reducing the CO2 emissions – that the Government create an environment that would result in natural gas-fired producers to reduce THEIR power output during peak wind events. I think that everyone understands that one cannot easily ramp down base-load supplies (coal, nuclear), but natural-gas fired turbines are quite easily dialed up or down. They are the peak / swing producers most easily displaced by wind power.

    Pricing might need to be deregulated perhaps, not sure how it works… Presuming that the wind guys have excess power to sell (beyond their contracted amounts) at peak events, the wind guys might offer the natural gas guys power at prices cheaper than they can produce to fulfill THEIR contracts. Otherwise – peak wind energy is lost.

    Am I missing something here? Why pay to NOT use peak wind load? Somethings wrong… And I’m stupid I guess…

  138. It sounds unprecedented but it’s not. In December 2009, some of the Copenhagen prostitutes were also paid money not to do their f-job exactly when there was the maximum number of maximally horny, f-ing consumers in the town.

    http://politiken.dk/newsinenglish/article719339.ece

    This is the inverse logic of the environmental movement. Everything is upside down. Just rotate your body, exchange the position of your skull and your buttocks (and their content), and you get the answers that the environmentalists will appreciate. :-)

  139. @ Richard Courtney – repeating the falsehoods from a different thread does not make them true. My statements in reply to yours, on the earlier thread, stand.

    You have a very peculiar definition of “useful.” But, you are entitled to be as wrong as you choose to be.

  140. This is relevant to our situation in North America. Consumers are being encouraged to utilise alternative forms of energy, but the fact is our grid similarly is unable to manage the unpredictable and uncontrollable fluctuations in electricity input.

    A friend who works in the industry tells me it will be at least another ten years in Canada/US before the completion of the grid restructuring necessary to accomodate individual tie-ins. Those who are 100% off-grid can do as they wish. However, if increasing numbers of individuals connected to the grid set up solar/wind, it will wreak havoc on the system.

    In this event, perhaps the individual will also be forced to shut down during peak hours. Maybe they should also get compensated in the form of a rebate for the electricity they do not produce.

  141. Jordan says:

    But this newpaper article does nothing to alter that debate either way. Picking on something that routinely happens in the balancing mechanism is a complete non-story and takes the arguments backwards.

    It’s not a non-story to those who where unaware of it, such as voters and politicians, perhaps because proponents of wind-power made a point of not mentioning it in their propaganda.

  142. Troels Halken said on June 21, 2010 at 6:25 am:

    kadaka (KD Knoebel):

    You are barking up the wrong tree. Ecogeek? I mean just the name makes me feel sick and I will not defend their nonsense. Nor am I defending whatever they do in China. So talk to them about it.

    That’s it? That’s your grand rebuttal? No mention of what was in the MIT Technology Review article, just ‘Ecogeek? Ewwww, that makes me sick!’

    Ecogeek.org actually looks like a nice site, suitable for concerned environmentalists if not CAGW alarmists. I like their tag line, “Brains for the Earth.” See this part from the sidebar:

    Are you an EcoGeek?

    We’ve got to keep 6 billion people happy without destroying our planet. It’s the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced….but we’re taking it on. Are you with us?

    I can easily see this site being popular with the regulars here. And look at the Categories list! No “Global Warming,” (C)AGW… Looks good to me. See this recent headline on the homepage, “NREL Invents 90% More Efficient Air Conditioning Unit.” Now that’s interesting.

    Hmm, this looks good. Currently identified as its #1 Most Popular Article:

    Solar Aero’s Bladeless Wind Turbine

    A research company in New Hampshire recently announced the patent of their bladeless wind turbine, which is based on a patent issued to Nikola Tesla in 1913. The Fuller Wind Turbine developed by Solar Aero has only one rotating part, the turbine-driveshaft. The entire assembly is contained inside a housing, so that this turbine offers several advantages versus blade-style (primarily horizontal-axis type) turbines. With a screened inlet and outlet, this turbine does not present a danger to wildlife such as bats and birds. To an outside observer, the only movement visible is the entire turbine housing as it adjusts to track the wind. This also makes it a good candidate for use near military surveillance and radar installations, where moving blades would otherwise cause difficulties.

    According to the company, the turbine is expected to deliver power at a cost comparable to coal-fired power plants. Total operating costs over the lifetime of the unit are expected to be about $0.12/kWh. The turbine also should have fewer maintenance requirements, leading to lower lifetime operating costs. The turbine itself can also be supported on magnetic bearings, and all of the generating equipment kept at ground level, which will also make maintenance easier. The company estimates “final costs will be about $1.50/watt rated output, or roughly 2/3 the cost of comparable bladed units.”
    (…)

    More in the article on the site, and it’s good informative reading too.

    Wow. This is Big News. If this pans out then there’s a viable alternative to the bird choppers, that possibly could survive without subsidies, that won’t uglify the landscape near as much. With this new and better technology, the vast fields of gigantic alien monstrosities may be abandoned sooner than anyone expected. And woe to the makers and promoters and sellers of the bird choppers.

    I like ecogeek.org. Nice little site, well focused. I Recommend It!!

  143. ” Jantar says:
    June 20, 2010 at 3:36 pm
    We also run a full wholesale electricity market, and it is apparent that when wind is blowing the wholesale electricity price is extremely low, and when the wind isn’t blowing the wholesale price is extremely high. This makes for a very unstable pricing mechanism, and a low rate of return for wind farm owners.”

    Finally, something that makes sense, i.e., letting the pricing mechanism dictate whether wind farms make good investments. The grid doesn’t like wind power, so the grid price for wind power is low implying that the investment required must also be relatively low. The fact that the investment costs are actually currently quite high is gotten around only by putting our tax dollars in the investors’ pockets via subsidies.

    When someone finally builds a wind farm that can store power, they’ll be able to supply the market when prices are higher. Investors will like that and supply more of them (assuming returns are sufficient to supply them at all, that is.)

    Legislators should limit their role (and their lawmaking) to ensuring that an economically successful wind farm not be frustrated by lack of access to a market. That is, they should ensure access to the grid. But they should stay out of the pricing game altogether. If wind farm power is desirable, someone will pay for it. If it’s not, they won’t, and investors won’t come to the table. Finding such legislators seems to be the real problem. They either want to “do something” or they are bought and paid for by special interests. Either way, we get these inane subsidies.

  144. Peter H says:
    June 20, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Lets just read what the article says…

    So, the article is reduced to this pure scaremongering “It raises the prospect of hugely profitable electricity suppliers receiving large sums of money from the National Grid just for switching off wind turbines.” raises the prospect! We’re all gonna be taxed to death by ‘raising the prospect of’ something happening? I think not.

    So, this is the usual WUWT scaremongering about either tax or big Govt – this time it’s tax.

    Don’t buy it people, I don’t, I’m not going to be sacred by such propaganda.
    __________________________________________________________________________

    No it is not propaganda. As more and more Wind Farms come on line “spikes” will be come a problem and someone is doing their homework ahead of time. Wind power is erratic and a way of “storing” the energy is the major problem.

  145. It seems that the drifting of the north magnetic pole is driving the people nuts up there! ☺
    Can’t find another explanation for such a nonsense. No more comments needed. Call the closest psychiatrist and put all those guys under treatment, after tie them with straitjackets.

  146. _Jim says:
    June 20, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Troels Halken June 20, 2010 at 1:45 pm :

    It’s the same when Jeff Id rant with his right wing-rhetoric: Taxes and big government.

    Troels Halken, FOR big government and high taxes ? – is this not a veritable leftist/socilaist position (although one probably would not consciencely admit to it in polite company)?.
    _______________________________________________________________
    Unfortunately the Socialist do not realize that what they are actually doing is transferring Joe Sixpack’s wealth to the multi-billionaire central bankers.

    1984 Grace Commission Report

    “Resistance to additional income taxes would be even more widespread if people were aware that:

    * One-third of all their taxes is consumed by waste and inefficiency in the Federal Government as we identified in our survey.
    * Another one-third of all their taxes escapes collection from others as the underground economy blossoms in direct proportion to tax increases and places even more pressure on law abiding taxpayers, promoting still more underground economy-a vicious cycle that must be broken.
    * With two-thirds of everyone’s personal income taxes wasted or not collected, 100 percent of what is collected is absorbed solely by interest on the Federal debt and by Federal Government contributions to transfer payments. In other words, all individual income tax revenues are gone before one nickel is spent on the services which taxpayers expect from their Government.”

  147. Phil. says:
    June 20, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    “John Cooper says:
    Do they not have pumped storage in England? Oh, I guess they can’t – few real mountains to speak of.”

    “In fact they do, the first was built in 1963 at Tan y grisiau for peaking in conjunction with the nearby Trawsfynydd nuclear power station (I visited them both in 1966).”

    No they do NOT have pumped storage schemes in England. Dinorwig is in Wales!

  148. Atomic Hairdrier – like I said, by all means WUWT should encourage debate about which sources of energy should be subsidised.

    And on that issue, it’s gonna be a question of what non-CCGT genertating plant get’s the goodies!

    But trying to develop an argument around whether wind should play a part in the UK balancing mechanism was a “dead Norwegian Blue” before the Telegraph went to print.

    It’s a non-story. Don’t dignify it with indignation.

  149. “A total of 7,000 turbines, on and off-shore, are either under construction, approved for building or seeking planning permission. Mr Clegg’s party wants 15,000 of them, and the Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, also a Lib Dem, has described them as “beautiful”. ”

    Your country is a little small for all of that “beautiful” metallic government commissioned Picasso art.

    “Notice the simple shapes he uses to construct this moment in history. Cylinders, triangles, squares, rectangles and circles make up his heavily weighted piece, massive in size and only black, white and gray. He depicts despair”

  150. Zeke the Sneak says:
    June 21, 2010 at 10:33 am

    The only way these giant monsters can reproduce is through bribery and kept alive by subsidies. This is contagious because it is an easy method for making money.
    They will stand everywhere as a reminder of corruption.

  151. tallbloke says:
    June 20, 2010 at 2:57 pm
    ……I’m going to vote with my feet. My fellow countrymen grumble but won’t act in concert to end the madness. The latest paper from the solar physicists Dahau and de Jager say a long Maunder type minimum is on it’s way. I’m looking for some nice growing land nearer the equator.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    I made that decision 15 years ago and left the “People’s Republic of Taxachusetts for 100 ac of farm & timber land in North Carolina.
    Last Ice Age Map – North America

    Last Ice Age Map – Eastern USA

    Maps are from NORTH AMERICA DURING THE LAST 150,000 YEARS Compiled by Jonathan Adams, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, USA

    Now if only my countrymen will wake up and kick the hogs out of Washington DC, we might stand a chance.

  152. “Walter Schneider says:
    June 21, 2010 at 5:28 am
    Everywhere” is a big place, but in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada, the road signs are in English and Japanese. I have never yet seen a sign in German there”

    The Germans are so smart they can read a road sign in English !!!
    But probably so can the Japanese (they write Ohm’s law as “U=RI”).

  153. Well, it’s obvious that those wind mill farms aren’t using big enough spot lights to illuminate the wind mills at night.

    Later, should the need arise, they can point to spot lights at some solar cells….

  154. I think the offshore wind powerplants is the greatest folly of them all.

    You will have to go out by boat to do maintenance…..
    Talk about making it difficult for oneselves.

  155. “LearDog says:
    [...]
    Am I missing something here? Why pay to NOT use peak wind load? Somethings wrong… And I’m stupid I guess…”

    You’re not stupid. It’s a rigged market. I don’t know who invented it first, the Danes or the Germans: The feed-in tariff, a politically fixed guaranteed prize for every kWh produced over a lifetime of the generator of 20 years. The idea was to make it an absolutely risk-free investment, transferring all risks to society / the taxpayer / the consumer. It works! The whole risk IS transferred. That’s also why Troels likes this system so much – it makes his job risk-free. The Spaniards, the Brits, everybody imitates it. Some give extra subsidies even if no power at all is produced. European politicians all love it. Don’t ask me why they love it; i’m not a political scientist nor a psychiatrist.

  156. “Jordan says:
    [...]
    And on that issue, it’s gonna be a question of what non-CCGT genertating plant get’s the goodies!”

    How about none? (Assuming CCGT means CO2; i’m of the opinion that our emissions don’t harm the climate. YMMV.)

  157. “Juan El Afaguy says:
    [...]
    If the article is to be believed, with all this expected excess production of electricity, we could easily produce Hydrogen, simply by electrolysis of seawater. Then we could burn the hydrogen, instead of natural gas to make electricity on calm days.”

    Technically possible; but the efficiency of the hydrogen fuel cycle that you describe is about 10% with todays technology.

  158. Roger Sowell:

    Your comment at June 21, 2010 at 8:30 am is not merely disingenuous: it is a set of downright lies. In total it says:

    “@ Richard Courtney – repeating the falsehoods from a different thread does not make them true. My statements in reply to yours, on the earlier thread, stand.
    You have a very peculiar definition of “useful.” But, you are entitled to be as wrong as you choose to be.”

    1.
    I have presented no “falsehoods” here or in the other thread. My posting here is at June 21, 2010 at 3:11 am and the other thread is at

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/06/18/climate-craziness-of-the-week-lighting-up-your-windmill/

    so anybody can check this for themselves.

    2.
    You have made no “statements in reply” to my substantive point – none, zilch, nada – on that thread or on this. I again remind that (as I quoted in my post at June 21, 2010 at 8:30 am above) my substantive point is:
    “Intermittent supply of electricity that merely displaces supply from continuously operating power stations is NOT “useful”: it is an expensive bloody nuisance.”

    3.
    My definition of “useful” is not “very peculiar”.
    My definition is simply that something is useful when its use provides a benefit and/or benefits of some kind.
    But wind farms and the use of wind farms provide no benefit of any kind to an electricity grid.
    their intermittent supply of electricity is not a practical addition to the electricity suppied to, or supplied by, the grid at any time.
    They provide additional costs to electricity supply.
    Their use increases fuel consumption for power generation.
    Their use increases emissions from power generation.
    Their intermittent supply of electricity is a disruption to operation of the grid.
    They cover the landscape in concrete for their foundations and for roads to access them.
    They swat birds and bats.
    They obscure the landscape.
    THESE EFFECTS ARE DIRE AND NONE OF THEM PROVIDES A BENEFIT AND/OR BENEFITS OF ANY KIND.
    However, wind farms milk consumers and taxpayers of funds through subsidies and legally enforced purchase of their expensive output so – while their intermittent supply of electricity that merely displaces supply from continuously operating power stations is NOT “useful” – owning and operating wind farms is profitable (so “useful”) to their owners and operators.

    3.
    I choose to be right. And I remind that on that other thread at June 19, 2010 at 1:47 pm I wrote to you saying (in total)

    “Roger Sowell:
    At June 19, 2010 at 10:57 am you assert:
    “@ Richard S. Courtney, re clear statements of fact. No, you have made erroneous statements of non-facts, easily and clearly rebutted. ”

    OK, then rebut my clear statements of fact. I like to be shown when I am wrong because then I learn. However, nobody can learn anything from your propogandist assertions that ignore my substantive point. I again remind you that my substantive point is

    “Intermittent supply of electricity that merely displaces supply from continuously operating power stations is NOT “useful”: it is an expensive bloody nuisance.”

    If that is “erroneous” and if that is “non-fact” which is “easily and clearly rebutted” then you should have no difficulty in refuting it. Please try.”

    To date you have still to address that issue (i.e. you have made no attempt to refute my substantive point).

    Richard

    [Snip] Your point is sufficently clear without the additional reinforcement – RT Mod

  159. Gail Combs and tallbloke – I’ve heard Costa Rica is a nice place, very stable government, cost of living very cheap. There is supposedly a growing American/foreign community establishing residence there. I’ve thought about going down there to see if it’s worthwhile.

    Also, the statement by Leo Moroney HAS to be a candidate for understatement of the year.

  160. “Paul Jackson says:
    [...]
    problem is storage; but a BOB, Big Old Battery cost $25 million for 32 MWhr of storrage, so I don’t see too many of these being built.”

    Thanks for the link; i’m eager to see more NaS battery technology. When Lithium runs out due to the electric automobile craze NaS can save our ass. Too hot and too heavy for mobile application but it may become a viable mass storage; hopefully the cost will come down. Might even make wind and solar viable.

  161. “LearDog says:
    [...]
    Am I missing something here? Why pay to NOT use peak wind load? Somethings wrong… And I’m stupid I guess…”

    LearDog, you must remember that the Greenies are basically socialists. They do NOT want every man to decide for themselves via the electricity bill which power-type to consume.

    They want a Commitee to decide for you what the price per KWatt should be.

    Not you, you are too stupid to decide that. Not me either.

    They also want to decide whatever to be produced. 100 000 left shoes this month, 100 000 right shoes next month. All according to a 5 year plan. They have to,they believe.

    All to the greater good. Which is that all must be equal.

    There will be a socialist elite dieciding all this. They will eat goose liver canapees, ride 747’s and Airbus to Paris and Brussels to join the holy commitees, where only those agreeing to the great Party Concencus will be allowed to join.

    You, LearDog, will most likely NOT be allowed. You are using your own brain as an individual. That cannot be.

    In a society where everyone shall be equal, and everyone must follow a concencus, something must be done with those who are not equal, who does not follow the concencus. They must be equalizised.

    And that happens at school and via the media. Every day.

  162. “kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    [...]
    Hmm, this looks good. Currently identified as its #1 Most Popular Article:

    Solar Aero’s Bladeless Wind Turbine”

    I found a link to an article with a better picture of the design:

    http://www.physorg.com/news192426996.html

    There’s an interesting comment below:
    “ubavontuba – May 07, 2010 Rank: 1 / 5 (3) Oh brother, this isn’t really all that new. If you eliminate the excess mass incorporated in the disks, you wind up with a typical blower fan of the type commonly used in climate control systems.

    The only significant difference here is they’re using it passively, rather than actively.”

    Tesla was a genius but later geniusses were able to stand on his shoulders…

  163. Does anyone know where one can get reliable figures on how much of the world’s energy usage is supplied by wind power?

    The World Wind Energy Assoc., an advocacy group for wind power, says 2%, but they provide no information about how that figured was derived.

  164. DirkH says:
    June 21, 2010 at 11:27 am
    “LearDog says:
    [...]
    Am I missing something here? Why pay to NOT use peak wind load? Somethings wrong… And I’m stupid I guess…”

    You’re not stupid. It’s a rigged market. I don’t know who invented it first, the Danes or the Germans: The feed-in tariff, a politically fixed guaranteed prize for every kWh produced over a lifetime of the generator of 20 years. The idea was to make it an absolutely risk-free investment, transferring all risks to society / the taxpayer / the consumer. It works! The whole risk IS transferred. That’s also why Troels likes this system so much – it makes his job risk-free. The Spaniards, the Brits, everybody imitates it. Some give extra subsidies even if no power at all is produced. European politicians all love it. Don’t ask me why they love it; i’m not a political scientist nor a psychiatrist.

    The whole scheme is predicated upon the idea of ‘facilitation.’

    The so-called ‘greens’ WANT to ‘see’ their dreams come true. So they enact laws which MAKE things happen with government assistance and funding.

    In order for an artificial market to succeed, it needs entirely artificial impetus.

    So then, one group of idiots (the greens) declares that they need to be free of another group’s energy supply. But the ‘other’ group is paying the ‘greens’ to instigate matters.

    The ‘other group’ is actually owned by the same people whom the ‘greens’ despise, i.e., the multinational oil companies.

    The greens want to ‘see’ windmills, and they are the quintessential Don Quixote: Instead of charging windmills, they charge the coal and oil interests.

    Lenin had a term for what the greens are: Useful idiots.

    Either way, the multinationals make big bucks.

  165. “899 says:
    [...]
    The so-called ‘greens’ WANT to ‘see’ their dreams come true. So they enact laws which MAKE things happen with government assistance and funding.”

    I had an idea along the same lines. It’s actually a way to neutralize the greens politically. Use money to satisfy one of their wishes and carry on running the country. Seen this way, a lot of subsidy schemes make sense. There are also still subsidies for some coal mining in Germany; this neutralizes another interest group.

    By keeping an unviable scheme alive this way you make your enemy dependent on you. And keep him happy.

  166. You guys seem like a knowledgeable group, so I have a question regarding the use of windmills: Has anyone ever used wind-powered water pumps to return water from below a hydroelectric dam back to the reservior above it? Given the absurd inefficiency of using wind to generate electricity directly, this might offer a more practical, storable way of converting intermittant wind energy. Here in Washington state, areas of the Columbia River gorge, which features several hydroelectric dams, are notable for windy conditions.

  167. Very interesting thread, the arguments from Richard and others show how surprisingly useless and disruptive wind “power” is. As “solutions” to reduce carbon emissions, wind/solar and nuclear appear to be mutually exclusive. The only way to “mollycoddle” and accommodate wind/solar is to increase the contribution of wind/solar to a maximum of 30-40% while making ALL the remaining power generation peak generation, i.e. able to increase and decrease quickly. This peak power supply is more expensive (prices for peak are always higher than for baseline). Essentially the end point of pushing wind/solar is th have NO baseline. Peak adjustable power has to adjust to two things – fluctuating demand and fluctuating output from wind/solar. These adjustments for fluctuating wind/solar will be large and hard to predict and will require, as repeatedly pointed out, a big INCREASE in adjustable peak supply.

    Nuclear of course is essentially baseline. So wind/solar and nuclear are mutually exclusive. Maybe this is one of the hidden agendas of the greens, eliminating nuclear out of sheer irrational bloody-mindedness. REplacing a solution that would decrease carbon emission with one that increases it.

  168. “Maxbert says:
    [...]
    below a hydroelectric dam back to the reservior above it? Given the absurd inefficiency of using wind to generate electricity directly,”

    I don’t think the conversion is inefficient.
    Here’s an interesting table:

    http://k0lee.com/turbineeff.htm

    Up to 70% of the Betz limit? That’s not bad. Using electricity for pumped storage? Efficiency should be about 85%. So you get max. 59% efficiency.
    Can a mechanical transmission top that? I doubt it. There’s a reason we replaced mechanical with electrical transmission. How would you transport mechanical power from the site of the wind turbine to the place where it’s needed without incurring huge losses?

  169. “Beacon Power Corporation, a leading provider of advanced products and services to support a more stable, reliable and efficient electricity grid, today [March 18, 2010] announced that it has shipped, installed and successfully connected a Smart Energy(TM) 25 (Gen 4) flywheel energy storage system at a wind farm in Tehachapi, California. The system is part of a wind power/flywheel demonstration project being carried out for the California Energy Commission.”

    source: http://www.windfair.net/press/7183.html

  170. @ DirkH:

    I’ve read persuasive studies saying that total windfarm efficiency (for electrical generation), when you factor in all losses due to “intermittancy” and demand mismatch such as pointed out in the above article, is never better than 20%, since it’s prohibitively expensive to store electrical energy. Therefore, I was thinking that a wind turbine located close by a hydro dam could drive an hydraulic pump (instead of an electrical generator), which in turn would power an hydraulic motor on the water pump below, to move river water back upstream to the dam’s reservoir, where the stored energy could be used as dictated by grid demand.

    In my senior year in engineering school, my team designed and built a feedback load control system for a wind turbine. Using the flexible loading characteristics of impeller-type water pumps, such a controller keeps the turbine spinning at the optimal tip-speed/wind-speed ratio to maintain turbine efficiency in varying wind velocities, with disruption due to hysteresis. I realize that there are losses in every kind of pump and motor (and hydro generation too), but nevertheless, water pumping would seem superior to an maximum overall electrical-generating efficiency of 20%.

    But back to my initial question: Has the hydro dam idea ever been tried, or even studied by anyone?

  171. @tallbloke and @John Wright, & co.

    Just a clarifying point about using wind power as a ‘pumped storage system’. A windmill is a means of extracting energy from flowing air. If the blades drove an air compressor which charged up a reservoir, then this compressed air could be discharged when needed, into a remotely sited air-motor/generator.

    If the reservoir is insulated then losses ought to be lowered directly. However we are talking about a ‘free’ energy supply and so inefficiency of such a system is only a capital as opposed to an recurring revenue loss. In other words, inefficencies show up as a one-time cost in terms of larger-than-necessary apparatus.

    One interesting feature of such a system is that the loss of adiabatic heat at the reservoir, piping etc will show up directly as cooler-than-ambient air-motor exhaust temperature.

    Another interesting feature is the possibility of using the compressed air in the reservoir to store heat energy. For example if the grid needed to dump some excess electrical power, it could do this by heating up the compressed gas via electrical heater elements mounted inside the reservoirs. This will increase the temperture, and so the pressure will also increase, and this extra energy will be recovered by the air- motor/generator.

    And so by using these relatively cheap ‘wind-pumped air storage farms’, a grid could also handle local lumpy electrical suppliers such as traditional wind turbines, by dumping any excess power into these reservoirs.

    The whole concept is like a huge but very slow heat engine.

  172. Maxbert says:
    June 21, 2010 at 1:50 pm
    You guys seem like a knowledgeable group, so I have a question regarding the use of windmills: Has anyone ever used wind-powered water pumps to return water from below a hydroelectric dam back to the reservior above it? Given the absurd inefficiency of using wind to generate electricity directly, this might offer a more practical, storable way of converting intermittant wind energy. Here in Washington state, areas of the Columbia River gorge, which features several hydroelectric dams, are notable for windy conditions.

    The idea certainly sounds intriguing, but what purpose would it serve, if the water from the dam is also supposed to feed the salmon stream?

    But aside from that, it would seem to be a matter of cost effectiveness: How much will it cost for the purchase, installation and maintain of such, versus the amount of water returned to the reservoir?

    In other words, will the power generated by the returned water bring a return on investment greater than the investment itself? Will it even break even?

  173. Tony says:
    June 21, 2010 at 3:20 pm
    @tallbloke and @John Wright, & co.

    Just a clarifying point about using wind power as a ‘pumped storage system’. [--snip--]

    And so by using these relatively cheap ‘wind-pumped air storage farms’, a grid could also handle local lumpy electrical suppliers such as traditional wind turbines, by dumping any excess power into these reservoirs.

    The whole concept is like a huge but very slow heat engine.

    What will be the return on investment? That is, how long will it take for the system to pay for itself, and that includes its continued maintenance and operation?

    Will it stand by itself, or will it require subsidies?

  174. >>A research company in New Hampshire recently announced
    >>the patent of their bladeless wind turbine, which is based on a
    >>patent issued to Nikola Tesla in 1913.

    Based upon a centrifugal compressor, and HUGELY ineficient at slow speeds. You might have noticed that slow aircraft have propellers, not turbines.

    Again the Greens want to kill us all with their ignorance.

    .

  175. Trolls Halken,
    “but when 10% of the American people sits on 90% of the wealth, then the average Joe has less to himself than the average Jens, even thou on average Jens is less rich than average Joe. Unemployment? 10% in the US? I think it is about 4% here ATM.”

    You’re showing your leftist inclinations. Perhaps you regard wind “power” as a device to redistribute wealth from the productive entities to yourself. Don’t try to compare Denmark to the USA. The USA is a country of +320 million people. Denmark has 5.4 million. There are counties in the USA with larger populations than Denmark. America absorbs an equivalent to the population of Denmark in poor immigrants within every 2-3 years, and Despite all of Denmark’s “green” postureing their wealth comes from the exportation of North Sea oil and natural gas.

    And Trolls, maybe indirectly but every person that works in a business is part of the sales aparatus. The the goal of every business is sales without which no business can exist.

  176. From: DirkH on June 21, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    I found a link to an article with a better picture of the design:

    Thank you.

    There’s an interesting comment below:
    “ubavontuba – May 07, 2010 Rank: 1 / 5 (3) Oh brother, this isn’t really all that new. If you eliminate the excess mass incorporated in the disks, you wind up with a typical blower fan of the type commonly used in climate control systems.

    The only significant difference here is they’re using it passively, rather than actively.”

    Not exactly. I am well familiar with a standard squirrel cage fan, so much so I find Wikipedia’s illustrations to be ridiculous. Normally the blade part is a stamped strip of steel sheet metal, said stamping causing a long row of slits, then between the slits each little strip (still attached at the ends) is twisted to form a blade. The long strip is then bent into a circle, ends joined, and that part is attached to the disk with the mounting hub for the full assembly. An extra reinforcing ring to maintain the circular shape on the other end is often used. Plastic injection-molded versions are also found.

    The Wikipedia illustrations, with wide blades normally curved reaching into the center and resembling a water turbine design more than anything air related, are quite humorous.

    That comment you mentioned, with that article’s illustration in mind, misses an essential point. They’re trying to use Tesla’s turbine design, which is bladeless and uses the boundary layer effect. But that requires rather close spacing and very rigid disks, especially at the size shown. If the illustration is correct, their “bladeless” design is using other pieces at the edge for greater rigidity, probably sheet metal threaded through punched slots, in effect yielding a multitude of tiny blades. Thus the tiny blades, when you remove practically all the rest of the metal, resemble a squirrel cage. But the disks (actually rings as depicted) are yielding that Tesla turbine effect, allegedly, thus the efficiency is increased over using a plain squirrel cage.

    From the linked Wikipedia Tesla turbine article, down in the “Pump” section, it is mentioned how Tesla experimented with washers (read small disks) spaced out along the perimeter for better performance. It doesn’t exactly say if this was done only for a pump application or also for a regular turbine. If it works for said wind application, such could be used to provide rigidity, in application as possibly rods threaded through punched holes.

    The design as illustrated is somewhat of a hybrid but not by much, and claiming it’s basically a squirrel cage is in error, provided it properly has the details that make a Tesla turbine work.

    Tesla was a genius but later geniusses were able to stand on his shoulders…

    Tesla was quite a bit a showman, willing to give the impression of possessing deep mysterious knowledge only he himself could comprehend. Which doesn’t seem all that unusual for inventors of that time who needed to attract investors. Look at some of the tricks Edison tried to pull off. Yet underneath the mysteries, the science must be there for those things that worked. It’s just a matter of finding it, then one can build greater mysteries.

  177. Jordan says: June 21, 2010 at 5:03 am
    Compressed air …
    Compressed Air Energy Systems (CAES) do exist at small scale. For example there has been some discussion in the press about a compressed air car.

    And here is that very same compressed air car.

    Yes, ladies and gentlemen, roll up, roll up, we have here a car that uses its own compressed air generator to generate its compressed air, to run the car with compressed air, so this car needs no energy to run whatsoever. Zippo, Nada, Nothing. One million miles per gallon, guaranteed. It simply runs on fresh air and few prayers to the great god of Green Pipe-Dreams.

    http://www.zideo.nl/index.php?option=com_youtube&tag=200&tubeid=ztFDqcu8oJ4&feature=youtube_gdata&zideo=6b773d3d

    (look at end part of video)

    .

    Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Greens have rediscovered the old perpetual motion con trick !!!! Daa, daaa. (drum roll…)

    “” Roll up, roll up, get your wallets out, ladies and gentlemen – and lets hope our politicians are just dumb enough to fall for the oldest confidence trick in the book. Give us £billions, and we will laugh all the way to our yacht in the Bahamas. “”

    .

    As I said, the Greens are out to kill us all with their ignorance. We let them do it at our peril.

    .

  178. DirkH says: “(Assuming CCGT means CO2; i’m of the opinion that our emissions don’t harm the climate. YMMV.)”

    sorry for the jargon Dirk – CCGT means combined cycle gas turbine genertator

    If we leave the matter solely to the Market, the only new generating stations that compete will be CCGT and there will be loss of diversity.

    For example, how much does Germany want to be dependent on supplies of gas from the east if all the new generators are CCGT?

    So if no other generating tecnology is competitive, the only remaining question (assuming we don’t want to be wholly dependent on gas supplies) is how much subsidy to dole out to other generating tecnologies to secure diversity of supply.

    Now that is a worthy question. Meantime all the hand waving about a test of a wind generator in the balancing mechanism is a wasteful distraction.

    And in case you missed it – I am agnostic towards wind.

  179. Ralph says:
    June 21, 2010 at 4:00 pm
    >>A research company in New Hampshire recently announced
    >>the patent of their bladeless wind turbine, which is based on a
    >>patent issued to Nikola Tesla in 1913.

    Based upon a centrifugal compressor, and HUGELY ineficient at slow speeds. You might have noticed that slow aircraft have propellers, not turbines.

    Again the Greens want to kill us all with their ignorance.

    Ralph,

    Don’t be so quick to condemn!

    There are plenty of slow aircraft which employ turboprop engines.

    Actually —and it might amaze you to discover— that turbine driven aircraft engines can indeed be lighter than their reciprocating cousins, whilst delivering greater torque and horsepower.

    But aside from that, I’m intrigued by the design of the impeller.

  180. Maxbert says:
    June 21, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    I dont know if its been tried. You would need a tunnel, and a sort of valve, to avoid water flowing the wrong way….Maybe better to let nature do the pumping?
    Via evapouration?

  181. @899, & co.

    My conjecture is that if windmills on a windfarm were fitted with air compressors rather than electrical generators, then their output could be stored as compressed air in a reservoir. This air will be at a high pressure, and also a higher temperature due to adiabatic heating. ( An analog is the compression stroke of an internal combustion engine)

    This compressed air can then be released when needed, to generate electricity. As this ‘pumped storage’ medium is air, certain interesting characteristics could be exploited. Whilst a simple air-motor driven generator could be used, alternatively the compressed air could be fed into a gas turbogenerator, which would not then need to use energy on it’s compressor stages. But, at this point we have a system that is in the same class as hydroelectric pumped storage, albeit with certain clear advantages.

    But it has a unique feature in that the compressed air in a reservoir offers a way of storing heat energy itself, and converting it to a recoverable form. Adding heat to compressed air raises the pressure and temperature, and is the basic principle behind all internal combustion engines including turbines.

    So we could fit the reservoirs with simple resistive heating elements, and dump excess power from a grid into these elements to boost up the tremerature, and so pressure, of the compressed air pressure. The analogy is the combustion phase of the internal combustion engine cycle. This heat energy will be recovered when the air is released through the generator process.

    So what is different about this kind of storage is that it allows raw heat itself to be stored and recovered. For example the reservoirs could be used to recover the some of the waste heat in the flue-gas from coal or gas-fired power stations, and turn it back into useful power. Or, the intermittent power form solar concentrators could be used to add energy to a reservoir. Even electricity from tidal power schemes could be stored as heat in reservoirs of air compressed by the windfarms .

    In a nutshell, the whole thing could become a giant internal combustion system. Air is compressed by the windmills into a reservoir, is then heated by waste heat, then expanded through a mechanism to produce useful work in the form of electricity. The whole point is, that the expansion phase can be stored, i.e. held back until the electricity is needed.

    This series of concepts raises the prospect of ‘renewables’ such as windfarms, tidal barrages, wave generators, solar concentrators, & co., actually becoming useful.

    I suspect that all of the technologies to build a prototype wind/heat storage farm already exists on an off-the shelf basis.

  182. Daniel M

    “And as for Troels and the other naysayers who claim this blog or this particular entry stray too far into politics, I would just say that this blog is a necessary animal in the search for climate truth. Unfortunately, the current nature of climate “science” is politically charged at its core. So the only way I can see to let the truth triumph is to counter the politics point for point.”

    Naysayers? I’m not quite sure what you mean, nor which group you put in here. However I agree with the rest of your statement.

    Things is, this article is populism. As Jordan stated further up, there is nothing special about paying for not buying something. We do it every day, when when we cancel a purchase we have already agreed to. That this also happens for wind power is by no means extraordinary. Obviously what I would like to see is that the same rigor and scrutiny as applied to the climate science is also applied to the other side, e.g. wind power in this case.

    We’re long past peak discovery for oil. Eventual see Matthew Simmons Twilight in the Desert, or any chart over oil discoveries. Even EIA has stated that peak oil is looming in the future. And with the economic growth in China and India, demand for energy will soar. Both things means that prices on energy will rise. So we have to start look at alternatives.

  183. LearDog

    And that is exactly what happens. The gas are replaced by wind power when the wind blows. But as gas only constitutes so much of the total capacity, that turning all of it off is not always enough, when you have a high penetration of wind power.

  184. kadaka (KD Knoebel):

    “That’s your grand rebuttal?”

    I don’t really care who wrote it.

    “concerned environmentalists”

    I’m hardly a concerned environmentalist.

    “Currently identified as its #1 Most Popular Article” “http://solaraero.org/”

    Working in the energy industry for most of my career, I have seen many claims to new and more efficient designs of wind turbines. Search the net and you’ll find a load of them. The problem with this type of funnel design, is that a funnel covering the same area as a rotor has proven til be more expensive than the rotor solution. And that is why industrial scale turbines are designed with a rotor and not a funnel.

    Many have made the same claims as the company above. But none have delivered so far.

  185. Gail Combs:

    “Unfortunately the Socialist…”

    I don’t hope that socialists are referring to me.

  186. DirkH:

    “Technically possible; but the efficiency of the hydrogen fuel cycle that you describe is about 10% with todays technology.”

    Wikipedia states that the efficiency of electrolysis of water is between 50-80%. Let’s go with the lower number of 50%. Hydrogen and gas turbines or piston engines does not go well together because hydrogen burns rather hot compared to hydrocarbons. There where some in the sixties that did some research on the topic, and made a hydrogen burning gas turbine. But nothing commercial. So we need a fuel cell and it has an electrical efficiency around 50%. So electricity to electricity efficiency is around 25%. To store the hydrogen in between will lower this at bit further depending on the solution chosen. Compressing the hydrogen also requires energy. The efficiency of the powerplant producing the electricity in the first place can be taken into account, thus further lowering the number. Of cause this is interesting, but what is more interesting is that the price of such a system with the current state of the technology is prohibitive.

  187. Maxbert:

    “Has anyone ever used wind-powered water pumps to return water from below a hydroelectric dam back to the reservior above it?”

    They have done so for centuries in Holland. I know of no modern application of wind power for this. Here in DK we sell some of the wind power to the Norwegians, who stop their hydro plants and/or pump water back into the reservoir, thus having the same effect.

  188. 899:
    Actually —and it might amaze you to discover— that turbine driven aircraft engines can indeed be lighter than their reciprocating cousins, whilst delivering greater torque and horsepower.

    And using more than 10 times as much fuel to do so.

    Look, 899, governments may be taken in by Green Pipe Dreams, because they can afford to waste (our) money – but private investment and science dictates that propellers are better than turbines at slow speeds. That is why small aircraft have props. End of story. Stop demonstrating your lack of understanding.

    Yes, modelers are experimenting with micro-jets, because they are fast. But the following version burns as much fuel as a 4-seat aircraft, and produces just 10 kg of thrust !!! And the darn thing has to spin at 175,000 rpm to do so, which is why it is suited to fast applications, not atmospheric wind.

    http://machinedesign.com/article/tom-thumb-turbines-power-radio-controlled-jets-1104

    As I said, the Greens are out to kill us all with their ignorance.

    .

  189. Troels Halken says:
    Wikipedia states that the efficiency of electrolysis of water is between 50-80%. Let’s go with the lower number of 50%.

    Troels – the hydrogen cycle is NOT just the electrolysis of water. It includes the efficiency of the power station to create the electricity, the electrolysis, the cooling or compression (depending on storage type), the transport, and the efficiency of the engine or fuel cell.

    Add that lot all together and hydrogen is the most inefficient ‘battery’ known to man. And please remember that hydrogen is a ‘battery’, not a fuel.

    The Greens will kill us all with their ignorance.

    .

  190. Justa Joe says:

    “You’re showing your leftist inclinations.”

    Well, after American standards, I guess I am. Something wrong with that? Are you also gonna compare me with Stalin and Mao? But actually I am neither. I am a liberalist, and I belive in individual freedom, but I also believe that we have a responsibility to provide freedom and equality for those who cannot fend for themselves. Ge the book The Furture of Liberalism. It kind of encompasses a lot of my beliefs.

    “Perhaps you regard wind “power” as a device to redistribute wealth from the productive entities to yourself.”

    Not really. The average Jens does not get anything from wind power. The large utilities and wind turbine companies like Siemens and Vestas are the ones earning money on this. But then again, the industry provides jobs for the average Jens and pays taxes to the benefit of our society.

    “Despite all of Denmark’s “green” postureing their wealth comes from the exportation of North Sea oil and natural gas.”

    Sweden and Finland is roughly the same as Denmark and they do not have any oil. So where does their wealth come from I wonder?

    “The the goal of every business is sales without which no business can exist.”

    That is correct. But you haven’t seen me claim that we can power the whole world with wind even thou it would further the agenda for the industry I work in.

  191. I really must ask Troels if he would care to comment on the Shale Gas phenomenon, and as a Businness Development Specialist, give us his view on what it will do for the development of the windfarm business?

  192. Anthony,

    You are making a great point about the need for some form of energy storage from wind turbines. It would be a very valid point but the fact as others have alluded to that wind generation in the UK is a subsidy farming scam.

    A deal has been done between the generators and the UK government in regards to ROCs and the rets of us are just expected to shut up and put up.

    What’s the point therefore in even trying to get these currently useless devices to become more efficient and actual make some contrubution to reducing our dependency on fossil fules when the whole point of the exercise is to take money from your and my pocket (through increased fuel bills) and to put it in the pockets of those who paid the advocates to lobby for the ROCs in the first place.

  193. ” Jordan says:
    June 21, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    DirkH says: “(Assuming CCGT means CO2; i’m of the opinion that our emissions don’t harm the climate. YMMV.)”

    sorry for the jargon Dirk – CCGT means combined cycle gas turbine genertator

    Darn. I’m feeling dumb now – somehow i immediately replaced CC with Climate Change …

    “If we leave the matter solely to the Market, the only new generating stations that compete will be CCGT and there will be loss of diversity.”

    True. A winner-takes-all market.

    “For example, how much does Germany want to be dependent on supplies of gas from the east if all the new generators are CCGT?”

    I see your point.

    “So if no other generating tecnology is competitive, the only remaining question (assuming we don’t want to be wholly dependent on gas supplies) is how much subsidy to dole out to other generating tecnologies to secure diversity of supply.

    Now that is a worthy question. Meantime all the hand waving about a test of a wind generator in the balancing mechanism is a wasteful distraction.

    And in case you missed it – I am agnostic towards wind.”

    I share that agnosticism. I’m only against subsidies. But i see your point about a possible gas monopoly. This would in the longer term lead to a breakdown of market mechanisms and some regulation -or redistribution of profits- is necessary beforehand to maintain competition between different forms of energy generation.

    Thanks for your input. BTW, ATM our electricity bills are artificially inflated by 10% in Germany due to the renewables subsidies so it’s not that dramatic. I guess it’s all a matter of political balance.

  194. Troels Halken says:
    June 22, 2010 at 1:51 am

    ……. ‘But you haven’t seen me claim that we can power the whole world with wind’

    ….well no mr Halken, that would be because they can’t

    …….’even thou it would further the agenda for the industry I work in.’

    …..Wha?…. you mean your just holding back? please……tell it like you think it is.

  195. Ralph:

    “Troels – the hydrogen cycle is NOT just the electrolysis of water. It includes the efficiency of the power station to create the electricity, the electrolysis, the cooling or compression (depending on storage type), the transport, and the efficiency of the engine or fuel cell.

    Add that lot all together and hydrogen is the most inefficient ‘battery’ known to man. And please remember that hydrogen is a ‘battery’, not a fuel.”

    Plueeeazzze! Did you read past the first sentence of what I wrote? I does not seem so. And did you see that I stated anywhere that hydrogen is a fuel?

  196. Anthony, what do you want to hear? It seems to be like natural gas, just extracted differently and from different formations. I don’t know much about it. I haven’t seen any estimates of recoverable reserves, so I have no idea if there is enough of it to make a significant difference. Does IEA have in on their World Energy Outlook? The price of it will be like natural gas I’d assume.

    Natural gas and gas from shales are effective and rather clean fuels, that can be converted into electricity with high efficiency in combined cycle power plants or used as transportation fuel, all thou its lower energy density means that range will be slightly lower than a car running on diesel or gas.

  197. feanbeagle:

    “….well no mr Halken, that would be because they can’t”

    And that is why I don’t claim it. And?

    “…..Wha?…. you mean your just holding back? please……tell it like you think it is.”

    I’m not sure what you mean.

  198. Jordan:

    “For example, how much does Germany want to be dependent on supplies of gas from the east if all the new generators are CCGT?”

    Yes, and that is part of the point. To have a diverse and independent energy supplies. Except Norway and Russia, Europe is running out of oil an natural gas. That makes us dependent imports (and goodwill) from Russia and the Middle East. Russia has again and again shown that they don’t mind using the gas supplies political. And Americans (and formerly Europeans as well) are dying in Iraq a we write this, to secure the cheap flow of oil and gas, not to account for the problems in Saudi Arabia with their aging fields (about 13% of the worlds oil production). Not to speak of the bilions of dollars the US taxpayers has sunk into the oil-wars in the Middle East. At the same time we have to compete with growing demand in China and India. Higher oil price also means higher prices on natural gas and coal. The coal industry in some countries is also heavily subsidized because of the local jobs.

    Nuclear is different, as the uranium constitutes a very very small part of the price of generated electricity (the large part is the payments on the initial investment). Wind and hydro power has the same pricing structure, where the fuel is free but building the turbine or dam is what cost most money.

    Another thing is that for wind, nuclear and hydro, most of the money stays in Europe or the US, whereas for oil and gas the money goes to the Middle East or Russia or that guy in Venezuela.

    So obviously there is a bit more to creating the right mix of energy sources than just the price of the energy generated.

  199. Troels,

    It will pay you to do a bit of googling on the impact of developments in shale-gas technology. It could save your career ( ….. if you are smart, and quick enough)

  200. Troels Halken says:June 20, 2010 at 2:03 pm
    Being for or against big government and taxes is a matter of opinion. It is not a fact we can measure or in other way determine the truth of. If I was interested in opinions I would visit blogs discussing peoples opinions.

    So big government in Denmark is good.

    Please rate big government in Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain, and umm…the the USA since about 2005, when government debt began doing the hockey stick hokey-pokey. A good numerical quantifier would be: personal income / rate of inflation multiplied by productivity. Compare this figure to the calculation identified as big government.. Government budget / Gross Domestic Product and see how the the trend in standard of living in these countries compare to countries with lower debt. The robust answer may be worse than you thought.

  201. From: Troels Halken on June 22, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Another thing is that for wind, nuclear and hydro, most of the money stays in Europe or the US, whereas for oil and gas the money goes to the Middle East or Russia or that guy in Venezuela.

    For wind, the “fuel” is free and the major money is in the initial investment, right?

    Wikipedia, List of wind turbine manufacturers:

    Top 10 wind turbine manufacturers by megawatts installed worldwide in 2009
    1. Vestas (Denmark) 35,000 MW[1]
    2. Enercon (Germany) 19,000 MW[2]
    3. Gamesa (Spain) 16,000 MW[3]
    4. GE Energy (Germany / United States) 15,000 MW[4]
    5. Siemens (Denmark / Germany) 8,800 MW[5]
    6. Suzlon (India) 6,000MW[6]
    7. Nordex (Germany) 5,400 MW[7]
    8. Acciona (Spain) 4,300 MW[8]
    9. REpower (Germany) 3,000 MW [9]
    10. Goldwind (China) 2,889 MW[10]

    Oh well, at least there’s one US manufacturer on the list, right?

    From GE Energy:

    With wind manufacturing and assembly facilities in Germany, Norway, China, Canada and the United States…

    Certainly not an alphabetical list, it looks like their smallest operations are in the US.

    Offhand for wind turbines in the US, looks like most of the money is not staying in the US, since the main components are likely not made in the US. Unless, of course, if the bulk of the money is spent on the installation, using “local” installers and supplies. Which would indicate installation costs that are very very high.

  202. Tony says:
    June 21, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    @899, & co.

    My conjecture is that if windmills on a windfarm were fitted with air compressors rather than electrical generators, then their output could be stored as compressed air in a reservoir. This air will be at a high pressure, and also a higher temperature due to adiabatic heating. ( An analog is the compression stroke of an internal combustion engine)

    What you’re up against there is the conversion of energy from one form to another and back again. And again: Does your return on investment (ROI) make sense enough to undertake the venture?

    As I see it, in order to accomplish your goal, you’d have to have a large enough compressor and very many tanks (a tank farm) to achieve the end result. Compressed air is notoriously easily expended, because it takes a lot of it to make things move and the pressure soon drops below the point of usability.

    Think of it this way: A good sized dam has lots of head pressure, and it’s that ‘head’ which affords the necessary pressure to effectively generate power. But as soon as that head is lost, i.e., the water falls to below the critical low level, then there’s not enough energy to much of anything with. The potential energy is largely diminished.

    With a compressed air tank, once the air pressure drops to that point, you’re left with a lot compressed air which won’t accomplish much but take up space.

    It’s not the it couldn’t be done, but the associated up-front costs and the attendant after-installation costs (upkeep, etc.), might end up costing more than the benefit.

    Perhaps if electrical power were expensive enough you’d realize a ROI that would make it all worth it.

    For my money —if I had enough to undertake such a venture— I’d instead purchase a large tract of valley, dam the upper end of it, fill it with water, and dam the lower end using it as a catchment basin.

    Next, I’d install the windmills at the best possible locations, and use the electrical power generated by them to retrieve the water in the catchment basin to fill the upper reservoir.

    Then, when the power was needed, you’d have a far greater capability for generating power from the spill of the upper reservoir.

    There are several schemes like that which are operating, only they use the nighttime generated power from the grid to operate the retrieval pumps.

    But again: With compressed air, you’d need one hellacious sized tank capable of containing several ~thousand~ psi in order to sustain a long-term bit of power generation. That in itself bespeaks a large compressor.

  203. You’re a real piece of work, Trolls.

    “…I am a liberalist, and I belive in individual freedom, but I also believe that we have a responsibility to provide freedom and equality for those who cannot fend for themselves. Ge the book The Furture of Liberalism. It kind of encompasses a lot of my beliefs.” – TH

    How does your commitment to “individual freedom” co-exist with your desire to ram your self enriching “renewable” energy” schemes down public’s throat at the public’s expensez? Like most self styled leftist “individual freedom” only applies when the subjects coincide with what you want.

    “Not really. The average Jens does not get anything from wind power. The large utilities and wind turbine companies like Siemens and Vestas are the ones earning money on this. But then again, the industry provides jobs for the average Jens and pays taxes to the benefit of our society.” – TH

    Wind energy exists through heavy tax burdens on these so-called “average Jens”. It’s a net loss for the average Jens. Poltically connected by corporations make out like bandits.

    “Sweden and Finland is roughly the same as Denmark and they do not have any oil. So where does their wealth come from I wonder?” -TH

    Their wealth doesn’t come from tax payer subsidized “green energy” schemes. That’s for sure. From what I’ve read these 2 small countries’ relative wealth appears to come from good ol’ fashioned capitalism and industrialization.

  204. 866
    I see you have not considered many compressors into one reservoir
    And without quantification, the rest of your post is handwaving.

  205. DirkH: ” This would in the longer term lead to a breakdown of market mechanisms and some regulation -or redistribution of profits- is necessary beforehand to maintain competition between different forms of energy generation.”

    Agreed and well put.

    We all dislike subsidies, but the lesser evil is that we need to accept some form of support mechanism to secure diversity of supply. The question is how best to handle that issue and to get public sign-on.

    Thanks for your constructive reply BTW.

  206. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    June 22, 2010 at 9:39 am

    I liked your list of windmill manufacturers:

    2. Enercon (Germany) 19,000 MW[2]

    Says it all really doesn’t it?

  207. Jordan says:
    June 22, 2010 at 10:42 am
    [--snip--]We all dislike subsidies, but the lesser evil is that we need to accept some form of support mechanism to secure diversity of supply. The question is how best to handle that issue and to get public sign-on.

    I disagree most vehemently!

    The only valid way of ensuring diversity is via the antitrust mechanism.

    And anyway: Why should anyone be made to ‘subsidize’ —pay for— someone else’s wants/needs?

    A business venture is just that: Either it works, or it does not.

  208. 899: “I disagree most vehemently!
    The only valid way of ensuring diversity is via the antitrust mechanism.”

    disagree all you like but the threat of antitrust action will not attract investment in a wnner-takes-it-all Market

    Ideology is the path to failure in this case. So try to let go and understand the issues.

  209. Jordan says:
    June 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm
    899: “I disagree most vehemently!
    The only valid way of ensuring diversity is via the antitrust mechanism.”

    disagree all you like but the threat of antitrust action will not attract investment in a wnner-takes-it-all Market

    Ideology is the path to failure in this case. So try to let go and understand the issues.

    So, no competition, then?

    How well did that work out for Americans when Rockefeller used his vast power to drive other competitors out of the marketplace?

    Just as soon as the U.S. Congress broke up his trust, the price for oil plummeted to reasonable levels.

  210. 899 there are two issues at stake here.

    Firstly, if we rely solely on the market, all we will ever get built will be CCGT. There is no investment case for other technologies – they simply cannot compete on cost, firmness and flexibility.

    Threatening the Market on antitrust issues will not get the investment we need for a diverse portfolio of generating assets. So we’re gonna have to come up with something to fix the Market failure.

    Secondly, when your power supply is dependent on a single fuel type, there are serious Market issues which you cannot control. If Germany threatens its eastern neighbours on antitrust issues, what good do you think it’s gonna do?

    Nobody here likes subsidy. But something has to intervene to help other generating technologies to compete with CCGT if we want security of energy supply in our homes and businesses.

    Like I said, this is not the time to cling to ideology on this issue.

    GTG

  211. Tim:

    “The robust answer may be worse than you thought.”

    Well, I’m not the one to prove anything. You are, as it is you who claim that big government is bad. I say it is neither. It can be good or bad or somewhere in between. The European countries you have hand picked happens to be some of the weakest economies in Europe. Why don’t you do the same calculation with Denmark, Sweden, Finland, France and Germany?

    Or does they not provide the robust answer that you’re looking for?

  212. “Offhand for wind turbines in the US, looks like most of the money is not staying in the US, since the main components are likely not made in the US. Unless, of course, if the bulk of the money is spent on the installation, using “local” installers and supplies. Which would indicate installation costs that are very very high.”

    Firstly the numbers you have are global historical installed capacity and hence are not valid for the US. The ones you should look for is market share in the US for 2009. As I recall, I believe that Vestas, GE and Siemens are the main players. GE is American, Siemens is also noted on NYSE and Vestas has international owners but are traded on the danish stock exchange.

    It is a valid concern. Obviously today we live in a global economy and the goods are shipped around the world. However most turbines manufacturers (if they have sufficient local market share) have production in the region (as North America), because transport expenses makes their products less competitive. A modern turbine is maybe 300-500 tons of steel and the finished blades, tower, nacelle and hub does not fit in the cheaply shipped containers and being mostly steel they are not light either. Vestas and GE has manufacturing in the US and also relies heavily on local suppliers. Siemens has a blade factory, buys towers local and will soon commission a nacelle plant.

    Another point is that the quality requirements for the parts are rather high, why the Chinese and other LCC are not as competitive as parts of lower quality.

  213. Justa Joe,

    “How does your commitment to “individual freedom” co-exist with your desire to ram your self enriching “renewable” energy” schemes down public’s throat at the public’s expensez?”

    Enriching? Plueeeeaze.

    I’m not getting rich. Sorry. And I’m not for green energy as such, read what I have written above. Yes I belive that we should have diverse and independent energy suplies, but not at any cost.

    “Their wealth doesn’t come from tax payer subsidized “green energy” schemes. That’s for sure. From what I’ve read these 2 small countries’ relative wealth appears to come from good ol’ fashioned capitalism and industrialization.”

    And that’s not the case for Denmark? How do you know?

  214. Jordan says:
    June 22, 2010 at 2:36 pm
    899 there are two issues at stake here.

    Firstly, if we rely solely on the market, all we will ever get built will be CCGT. There is no investment case for other technologies – they simply cannot compete on cost, firmness and flexibility.

    Threatening the Market on antitrust issues will not get the investment we need for a diverse portfolio of generating assets. So we’re gonna have to come up with something to fix the Market failure.

    Secondly, when your power supply is dependent on a single fuel type, there are serious Market issues which you cannot control. If Germany threatens its eastern neighbours on antitrust issues, what good do you think it’s gonna do?

    Nobody here likes subsidy. But something has to intervene to help other generating technologies to compete with CCGT if we want security of energy supply in our homes and businesses.

    Like I said, this is not the time to cling to ideology on this issue.

    GTG

    Any business which relies upon a government subsidy isn’t a private business. Rather it’s nought but an appendage of government.

    Subsidies tax the citizen TWICE:

    [1] The fact of the tax money being paid out to subsidize

    [2] The fact that that citizen pays again when using the product or service.

  215. “And that’s not the case for Denmark? How do you know?” -Trolls Halken

    Denmark’s relative wealth is greatly contributed to by their exploitation and exportation of North Sea fossil fuels (I commend them for it). It sounds like you’re a denier in regard to this verifiable fact.

  216. “Justa Joe says:
    June 23, 2010 at 4:58 pm
    “And that’s not the case for Denmark? How do you know?” -Trolls Halken

    Denmark’s relative wealth is greatly contributed to by their exploitation and exportation of North Sea fossil fuels (I commend them for it). It sounds like you’re a denier in regard to this verifiable fact.”

    And pretty substantial. I just checked in the CIA world factbook – 100,000 barrel / day net export of oil, 2.5 billion cubic meter of natural gas net export per year if i interpret the numbers correctly, for a population of 5.5 million. Numbers from 2008.

    The UK has become a net importer of both.

    Wait… OIL:
    Denmark: 5 Mill people, 100,000 barrel a day net export.
    Russia: 160 Mill people, 5 Mill barrel a day net export. 80 times the people, 50 times the oil exported.

    GAS:
    Denmark: 5 Mill people, 2.5 billion cubic meter net export
    Russia: 160 Mill people, 200 billion cubic meter net export. 80 times the people, 80 times the export.

    All in all, Danes export more hydrocarbons than Russians per head.

    Very green ;-)
    So that explains how they can afford the windpower…

  217. “899 says:
    [...]
    Any business which relies upon a government subsidy isn’t a private business. Rather it’s nought but an appendage of government.”

    Fundamentally you’re right but it doesn’t help – gas would drive the other energy sources out of business under current circumstances. You can just let it happen, or you can make a policy decision to help the disadvantaged technologies to keep some of that capacity alive. Germany has decided to do the latter long before solar and wind came into being; for instance coal mining has been subsidized. On one hand, that’s politicians buying votes of the people in the coal mining areas; on the other hand it was a strategic decision after the oil price shock of 1972. It’s an insurance policy.

    When i said that a monopoly would come into being i thought about a technological monopoly. There might still be several providers in a gas-only energy infrastructure but it’s a technological monopoly, like a monoculture in agriculture, and it would be life-threatening for an economy if its only fuel source would suddenly become scarce or very expensive, whether through political blackmail or through market forces.

  218. DirkH says:
    June 23, 2010 at 5:44 pm
    [--snip--]

    All in all, Danes export more hydrocarbons than Russians per head.

    Very green ;-)
    So that explains how they can afford the windpower…

    Yeah, and be pretentious as well as condescending with the rest us at the very same time!

    Denmark
    Capitol city: Jokenhagen.

  219. DirkH says:
    June 23, 2010 at 6:02 pm
    [...]
    Any business which relies upon a government subsidy isn’t a private business. Rather it’s nought but an appendage of government.”

    Fundamentally you’re right but it doesn’t help – gas would drive the other energy sources out of business under current circumstances. You can just let it happen, or you can make a policy decision to help the disadvantaged technologies to keep some of that capacity alive. Germany has decided to do the latter long before solar and wind came into being; for instance coal mining has been subsidized. On one hand, that’s politicians buying votes of the people in the coal mining areas; on the other hand it was a strategic decision after the oil price shock of 1972. It’s an insurance policy.

    When i said that a monopoly would come into being i thought about a technological monopoly. There might still be several providers in a gas-only energy infrastructure but it’s a technological monopoly, like a monoculture in agriculture, and it would be life-threatening for an economy if its only fuel source would suddenly become scarce or very expensive, whether through political blackmail or through market forces.

    Before any government steps in and attempts/pretends to decide anything in the name of its people, there needs to be FAR more than just a ‘national consensus.’

    Let the PEOPLE decide what’s best for them.

    Government should just GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY of private decisions!

    If the PEOPLE decide to go with a more expensive solution, then it is for THEM to decide and NOT some government CONTROL FREAK sitting behind a desk and DICTATING matters of what is, what will be, or not.

    In a FREE country, FREE ENTERPRISE rules supreme.

  220. “899 says:
    [...]
    Before any government steps in and attempts/pretends to decide anything in the name of its people, there needs to be FAR more than just a ‘national consensus.’

    Let the PEOPLE decide what’s best for them.[...]”

    I sympathize with your opinion. And i would love if Germany scaled the subsidies back because it would make for cheaper energy, and that’s something i like. But i also think that Jordan has a point; a mixture of energy sources must be preserved to a certain extent. It’s difficult to find the right balance, but no need to get outraged.

  221. 899 says: “Any business which relies upon a government subsidy isn’t a private business. Rather it’s nought but an appendage of government.”

    That’s probably true, especially in the case of power and energy supply. But then again, if you did not have any power or energy supply for even just a few days, your lifestyle would be nothing like the lifestyle you presently take for granted.

    Governments never really take their hands off any industry when you stop to think about it. Intervention and regulation is commonplace.

    I’m not saying these things because I have a problems with markets – but we should let the facts speak for themselves.

    “Government should just GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY of private decisions!”

    Like private decisions to exploit child labour, prostitution, manipulation of the disadvantaged and infirm, selling goods on false trade descriptions (cheating), food poisoning, chemical poisoning, management of controlled susbtances, causing death and injury to employees or the general public, etc, etc – the list of regulation for public protection is too long. Markets operate alongside all of this – but the market is subordinate. Firms can take their chances in the market, but they suffer penalty for breach of regulation.

    “If the PEOPLE decide to go with a more expensive solution, then it is for THEM to decide and NOT some government CONTROL FREAK sitting behind a desk and DICTATING matters of what is, what will be, or not.”

    But nobody will invest in the more expensive generating techology 899. If one generating technology costs $700 per kW, who is going to get private investors to put their money into another which costs (say) $900 per kW. Fact of life – it simply doesn’t happen!

    If we leave it to the unfettered market, things will drift along until one day there will be a horrendous loss of supply. This will result in loss of lifestyle, loss of businesses and even loss of life. And then what happens – Government step in where the market failed. So what does it achieve? We’d have to be pretty stoopid to let it go that far.

    “In a FREE country, FREE ENTERPRISE rules supreme.”

    I’ll need to come visit your planet for a look around. I expect to see an economy with absolutely no regulation of any economic activity where you live? Or is it just that you haven’t noticed?

    In the real world we do need to be pragmatic.

  222. Jordan says:
    June 24, 2010 at 10:11 am
    [--snip propaganda--]
    In the real world we do need to be pragmatic.

    Your favored way of deciding things for others —the old Soviet Union 5 year plans— went the way of the dinosaur for a reason: The marketplace, unfettered with artificial manipulations by people who pretend to know better, is the only REAL option.

    You talk about U$700/Kw for power —a straw man argument of the worst sort— but the marketplace would never tolerate such an egregious price, and so both the people and business would seek other solutions.

    More than likely others would step in and provide those other solutions at far more reasonable prices and better service to boot.

    Government is not any kind of answer; it never has been, and it never will be. For the largest part it speaks to the highest bidder, i.e., the ones whom behind the façade who fill the pockets of the anointed appointed to reach a predetermined decision.

    And if THAT isn’t obvious by now with the current state of ‘official weather’ prognostications, then you’ve either been asleep, or you’re a part of the problem.

  223. 899 – I can see this is all above your head, do let me explain.

    A brand new shiny combined cycle gas turbine power station might cost in the region of $700 per kW (note … NOT kWh). That means a 500 MW (500,000kW) generating station will cost around $350M. Gas has low operating costs and high efficiency (50%).

    A coal fired unit will be more like $900 per kW. So a 500MW generating station will cost more like $450M (extra $100M needed – see any possible problems?). Coal fired generation has higher operating costs and lower thermal effiiciency (low-to-mid 40’s).

    So when you go to the bank to raise capital for your new 500MW power station, one requires $100M more up-front capital than the other. And fuel input prices don’t cover the difference. The coal fired option gets thrown out every time. Over time, we become increasingly dependent on gas.

    And much of Germany’s gas comes from Russia – so no point in arguing with them about antitrust issues.

    Did you get that? The market doesn’t deliver diversity: “Houston we have a problem.”

    It is not my “favored way of deciding things for others” – there is an obvious and foreseeable issue here. We need to think forward about the consequences of our present direction. Linking that to “old Soviet Union 5 year plans” is just emotional claptrap.

    Now I mentioned a number of areas where you seem to have failed to notice the interfering hand of regulation in your life. The purpose of regulation (including law) is to anticipate serious issues and to keep things within certain rules for the general public welfare. I agree that it can go too far – but complaining about the extremes does not justify the abolition of good regulation.

    I’ll give you another example – food standards. When you go into the store to buy a sandwich or a burger (or whatever), you do so in the relative comfort that you are not going to be poisoned. There’s a problem with salmonella, listeria, botulism, mercury, cadmium, and all sorts of nasty things: you can’t always tell that they are in your food. And you don’t want to find out that your food was contaminated when it is in your gut. It’s a bit too late to find out that there is an issue when you are already sick. So the answer is to have good regulation of the food industry.

    But anyway 899 – your rantings are becoming tiresome. I’ll sign off now, with the friendly suggestion that you step off the ideological pedestal. Take a moment to try to work out how the world around you really works.

  224. Jordan says:
    June 25, 2010 at 5:01 am
    899 – I can see this is all above your head, do let me explain.

    Why, yes, Jordan!

    Should I address you as ‘Your Assholiness?’

    Heaven forbid that I even challenge You Assholiness’s proclamations, lest I be summarily consigned to the trash heap of life!

    Meanwhile, back in reality: The PEOPLE make decisions for themselves.
    .
    Can’t have that, now, can you?

  225. 899 says: “Should I address you as ‘Your Assholiness?’”

    Oh dear.

    Political ideology followed by ad hominem attack. At least you have been consistently poor in your arguments.

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