Whoa, windfarms in UK operate well below advertised efficiency

It’s damning, and published by a green group. The study cited by the BBC is from the John Muir trust of all places. This would be a good place to point out what I posted a few days ago: The reality of wind turbines in California. Told ya so. From the BBC:

BBC story here (h/t to WUWT reader Wayne)

James Delingpole quips that “Official: wind farms are totally useless” Well, maybe not totally useless (unless he’s talking about the ones in Hawaii from my recent article) but these efficiencies are proof positive that the current wind power technology will never be anything but a small sporadic supplemental power source.

PRINCIPAL FINDINGS 

in respect of analysis of electricity generation from all the U.K. windfarms which are metered by National Grid, November 2008 to December 2010. The following five statements are common assertions made by both the wind industry and Government representatives and agencies. This Report examines those assertions.

1. “Wind turbines will generate on average 30% of their rated capacity over a year.”

2. “The wind is always blowing somewhere.”

3. “Periods of widespread low wind are infrequent.”

4. “The probability of very low wind output coinciding with peak electricity demand is slight.”

5. “Pumped storage hydro can fill the generation gap during prolonged low wind periods.”

This analysis uses publicly available data for a 26 month period between November 2008 and December 2010 and the facts in respect of the above assertions are:

1. Average output from wind was 27.18% of metered capacity in 2009, 21.14% in 2010, and 24.08% between November 2008 and December 2010 inclusive.

2. There were 124 separate occasions from November 2008 till December 2010 when total generation from the windfarms metered by National Grid was less than 20MW. (Average capacity over the period was in excess of 1600MW).

3. The average frequency and duration of a low wind event of 20MW or less between November 2008 and December 2010 was once every 6.38 days for a period of 4.93 hours.

4. At each of the four highest peak demands of 2010 wind output was low being respectively 4.72%, 5.51%, 2.59% and 2.51% of capacity at peak demand.

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

OTHER FINDINGS have emerged in the course of this analysis in addition to the Principal Findings which related to the testing of five common assertions. These Other Findings are listed below.

1. During the study period, wind generation was:

* below 20% of capacity more than half the time;

* below 10% of capacity over one third of the time;

* below 2.5% capacity for the equivalent of one day in twelve;

* below 1.25% capacity for the equivalent of just under one day a month.

The discovery that for one third of the time wind output was less than 10% of capacity, and often significantly less than 10%, was an unexpected result of the analysis.

2. Among the 124 days on which generation fell below 20MW were 51 days when generation was 10MW or less. In some ways this is an unimportant statistic because with 20MW or less output the contribution from wind is effectively zero, and a few MW less is neither here nor there. But the very existence of these events and their frequency – on average almost once every 15 days for a period of 4.35 hours – indicates that a major reassessment of the capacity credit of wind power is required.

3. Very low wind events are not confined to periods of high pressure in winter. They can occur at any time of the year.

4. The incidence of high wind and low demand can occur at any time of year. As connected wind capacity increases there will come a point when no more thermal plant can be constrained off to accommodate wind power. In the illustrated 30GW connected wind capacity model with “must-run” thermal generation assumed to be 10GW, this scenario occurs 78 times, or 3 times a month on average. This indicates the requirement for a major reassessment of how much wind capacity can be tolerated by the Grid.

5. The frequency of changes in output of 100MW or more over a five minute period was surprising. There is more work to be done to determine a pattern, but during March 2011, immediately prior to publication of this report, there were six instances of a five minute rise in output in excess of 100MW, the highest being 166MW, and five instances of a five minute drop in output in excess of 100MW, the highest being 148MW. This indicates the requirement for a re-assessment of the potential for increased wind capacity to simulate the instantaneous loss (or gain) of a large thermal plant.

6. The volatility of wind was underlined in the closing days of March 2011 as this Report was being finalised.

* At 3.00am on Monday 28th March, the entire output from 3226MW capacity was 9MW

* At 11.40am on Thursday 31st March, wind output was 2618MW, the highest recorded to date

* The average output from wind in March 2011 was 22.04%

* Output from wind in March 2011 was 10% of capacity or less for 30.78% of the time.

The nature of wind output has been obscured by reliance on “average output” figures. Analysis of hard data from National Grid shows that wind behaves in a quite different manner from that suggested by study of average output derived from the Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) record, or from wind speed records which in themselves are averaged. It is clear from this analysis that wind cannot be relied upon to provide any significant level of generation at any defined time in the future. There is an urgent need to re-evaluate the implications of reliance on wind for any significant proportion of our energy requirement.

Read the Full Report

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MangoChutney

tell us something we didn’t know
/Mango
I don’t deny climate change, I know climate changes

Michael S

If only there were decision makers who read and understood this. Think of the amount of capital that has been wasted on this folly. Then add the amount of subsidy that taxpayers throw at the industry. Now add the higher electricity costs that ratepayers have to cover. All that wealth destroyed to benefit an inefficient source of energy.
First Ethanol. Then Wind/Solar. Next up “The Pickens Plan” that will use government largesse to generate a market for LNG in vehicles. Another industry (nat gas industry) that will become beholden to Washington and will fight for more subsidies/tariffs/mandates to the death.
Stop the madness.

Richard S Courtney

OK, so even conservationists are now saying it.
But none of this is news: everybody who examines the matter finds the same. I have been reporting it for years; see e.g.
http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/courtney_2006_lecture.pdf
Richard

Stacey

Well blow me!

KLA

Not surprising at all.
Relying on averages, as all the “green” wind studies do, is akin to saying that a guy with one foot frozen in a block of ice and the other blistering in glowing embers is doing just fine.

Richard Day

Wind farms may operate at less than 10% ecapacity one-third of the time but hey, they’re still 100% efficient in massacring flocks of birds.

“There is an urgent need to re-evaluate the implications of reliance on wind for any significant proportion of our energy requirement.”
You can say that again.
Perhaps common sense will prevail. I am sick of living in a mad-house.

Labmunkey

Wow- not that the findings are suprising- any idiot knew this already; but that it is SO damning.
Let’s see them spin this one then.

This report won’t come as very much of a surprise to anyone who lives in an area of the UK where wind farms are prevalent, for example in West Cumbria (marketed, among other things, as “The Energy Coast”). It’s quite evident that most of the time only a fraction of the turbines are operating. A couple of days ago I found it noteworthy that one fellside wind farm south of the Duddon estuary had all nine turbines turning; normally 50% or fewer are operating.

Cassandra King

We have been lied to and mislead and deceived about windmill (non)generated electricity and now we have concrete proof.
All those years and billions of pounds utterly wasted and based on a series of cynical lies, I feel slightly sick, the waste the sheer bloody waste of it all. Will this change the minds of the self proclaimed “greenest(reddest)ever government”. We have been had, been rolled and scammed and its left a bad taste in the mouth, whats worse is that some people are going to exit the fraud a great deal richer while those least able to weather the consequences will suffer greatly. I hope those people who walked away richer will one day realise what they have done.
Why?
Our own government ignoring the evidence, hiding the facts, misrepresenting the reality and for what? Even if they scrap the bird manglers all we have to show or those billions of pounds is a few tons of rare earth magnets and a great deal of scrap steel at the scrapyard, its not so much the money but the time wasted on a fantastical fraud, time is precious because our electricity matrix is on its last legs, time lost means when the rolling blackouts come the least able to ride the wave will be the poor and the elderly on limited incomes.

Frank K.

1. During the study period, wind generation was:
* below 20% of capacity more than half the time;
Well, this problem is easy to solve – just install 5 times more wind turbines to obtain your original generation capacity!
/sarc

Steve Keohane

Pretty much what was expected from these contraptions. This lengthens the time to pay for themselves by ~20% if the initial expectations were 30% of capacity output. There appears to be a discrepancy in the lists above:
First list of Findings: 3. The average frequency and duration of a low wind event of 20MW or less between November 2008 and December 2010 was once every 6.38 days for a period of 4.93 hours.
List of Other Findings:
2. Among the 124 days on which generation fell below 20MW were 51 days when generation was 10MW or less. In some ways this is an unimportant statistic because with 20MW or less output the contribution from wind is effectively zero, and a few MW less is neither here nor there. But the very existence of these events and their frequency – on average almost once every 15 days for a period of 4.35 hours -indicates that a major reassessment of the capacity credit of wind power is required.

Clive

Thanks for this item! Good resource for us who are opposing wind farms here in Alberta.
Here in southern Alberta the AESO reports that wind farm output averages 30 to 35% of its 777 MW capacity.
I recently saw one “real time” report of zero MW and it is common to see output of <10% of capacity.

DirkH

What you will hear from the Green profiteers, amongst them the German renewable energy provider Greenpeace Energy, is that this is not a problem at all; simply store the excess wind energy in “wind gas”, by which they mean H2; derived by electrolysis. Oh, and you will here that we need to force the natural gas pipeline owners to transport this H2 in the gas mix, and that we will need incentives for this new and innovative solution.
What you will not hear is a word about the inefficiency of this idea or the fact that H2 would destroy the pipeline network.
Before you think i’m making this up here’s the source, in German.
http://www.greenpeace-energy.de/windgas/windgas-als-speicher.html

pat

Everyone who has tried wind farms has been disappointed.

Robert of Ottawa

How long before the insanity passes?

Dr T G Watkins

I second Richard Courtney. Will government take note? Doubt it.
Excellent site to view electricity output by fuel source in the UK.
http://www.geog.ox.ac.uk/~dcurtis/NETA.html

RockyRoad

As an energy solution, wind farms are as ephemeral as the wind. (We really shouldn’t be surprised, should we?)
(BTW, why is it spelled “windfarm”? I don’t see the spellings “vegetablefarm” or “wheatfarm” anywhere.)

Jimbo

An utter waste of money and energy [pun intended] aimed at making the carbon profiteers very rich people indeed. This mad experiment will lead to power outages in mid-winter, excess winter deaths and so on.
This winter Scotland was forced to buy nuclear energy from France when its wind turbines failed abysmally. After Germany shut down some of its nuclear plants it turned from an exporter to an importer of nuclear generated electicity from France. It looks like France will soon become the new Saudi Arabia of electricty generation. Fools! ;O)

Jimbo

I vaguely remember that wind turbines require conventional power to turn the blades when there is not enough wind or something like that.

Jimbo

And “In high winds, ironically, the turbines must be stopped because they are easily damaged.”
http://www.aweo.org/problemwithwind.html
http://www.aweo.org/windCourtney1.html

David A. Evans.

Steve Keohane says:
April 6, 2011 at 9:32 am
No contradiction at all Steve. The 1st refers to 20Mw or less, which by definition must include the 10Mw or less periods which are shorter & less frequent as noted in the 2nd.
DaveE.

David A. Evans.

Jimbo says:
April 6, 2011 at 9:57 am

I vaguely remember that wind turbines require conventional power to turn the blades when there is not enough wind or something like that.

You remember correctly. If the blades are not turning for protracted periods of time, the bearings and shafts can distort so they must be powered. I have long thought that the abominations should have bi-directional metering and would not be surprised if at least some were nett energy users.
DaveE.

Brian Johnson uk

Will somebody please bang Cameron’s and Huhne’s heads together and remove their Green blindfolds. Cameron’s credibility amongst party members must be approaching zero. Spend the wind money on Thorium powered devices.

Jimbo

A waste product of producing wind turbine magnets is a massive, toxic lake in China. Extra! Extra! Read all about it.
Toxic lake
http://tinyurl.com/4u2xjst
Toxic mine run-off
http://tinyurl.com/ycczj26
Just how really green is winpower? So green it’s known as the bird chopping eyesore.

1DandyTroll

With nuclear it takes 7 minutes to boil a 7 minute egg but with the propeller heads it can take forever until the coal fired power plant kicks in and then it takes 7 minutes. :p

Chance that the UK gummint will read, understand and act: Zero

The latest New Scientist has an article noting that even with ideal efficiency, plain old entropy puts a hard and small limit on wind and solar. Those blades convert the wind into mechanical motion, which means that you can’t keep on stacking turbines behind turbines; and a large solar panel heats up its surroundings so much that it may be undoing the “good it does” for “global warming.”
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028063.300-wind-and-wave-energies-are-not-renewable-after-all.html

Peter Miller

Sadly, all major political parties spout the official AGW line and bleat about the ‘need’ for renewable energy sources.
Solar panels obviously don’t cut it in the UK, except for a few weeks in July and August every second or third year.
So now the UK economy is rushing headlong into a future of brown outs and blackouts and/or hideously expensive electrical power, reliant on unreliable, expensive wind machines. The signs are now officially up for foreign and domestic investors in industrial projects to keep well away from the UK, as there will be insufficient electricity for their needs.

G. Karst

If windmills were re-tasked, with the chore of disassociating hydrogen from water, many of it’s apparent flaws, would be moot.
It’s not that windmills are useless, it is just that, the proper generation product must be selected, which better suits it’s unique characteristics. Windmills must be coupled with a storage capacitance. Solve this problem and wind power can reveal it’s potential. GK

Jack

This was predicted by anyone who actually took a look at the numbers.
We always knew it, but we are really learning how costly ignorance, especially willful ignorance, actually is. The greens have a lot to answer for.

mddwave

Rocky Mountain Power has a “Flyer” on wind power. When describing wind power, the common phrase is “generation capability”. It is silent on delivered generation output.
The following quote indicates the real incentive for the program.
“Our planning and investment in cost-effective wind energy has provided . . . and other benefits for our customers and the communities we serve. It also has positioned the company to meet renewable portfolio standards and/or carbon reduction initiatives enacted in four of the six states within our service area. Our wind-powered resources help address potential future federal policies as well.”
http://www.rockymountainpower.net/content/dam/rocky_mountain_power/doc/About_Us/Newsroom/12-35_RMP_RenewableEnergyFlyer.pdf

Next time, you may want to hire a real engineer.

James Sexton

This needs to be repeated. Over and over again.

polistra says:
The latest New Scientist has an article noting that even with ideal efficiency, plain old entropy puts a hard and small limit on wind and solar. Those blades convert the wind into mechanical motion, which means that you can’t keep on stacking turbines behind turbines; and a large solar panel heats up its surroundings so much that it may be undoing the “good it does” for “global warming.”
I’ve been saying just that about solar for years.
And on the subject of entropy – G. Karst, you might want to check out the laws of thermodynamics. Your proposal would be even LESS efficient.

Sun Spot

And Solar power is worse !!

Henry chance

The response to this can only be emotional. ROMM and Hansen say we don’t care about our grand children if we slander the wind industry.

Nigel Brereton

Jimbo,
‘I vaguely remember that wind turbines require conventional power to turn the blades when there is not enough wind or something like that.’
You don’t have to worry about this issue as the UK government plans to have shut down the majority of industry thus supplying a veritable surplus of manpower to stand in front of the windfarms and blow. The fishing industry will be usefully employed for the off shore windfarms backed up by the redundant sailors from Her Majestys Royal Navy.
I would normally type ‘/sarc’ at this point but those from the UK will appreciate the reasons not to.

DJ

The real clue to wind farm profitability and efficiency came when T. Boone Pickens pulled the plug on his grandiose scheme.
That’s all I needed to know!

David Ashton

“Periods of widespread low wind are infrequent.”
The problem is that those days occur when an anti-cyclone sits over the UK. When that occurs during the winter months they are the coldest days of the winter, with the consequent maximum demand on the grid.

MikeinAppalachia

“If windmills were re-tasked, with the chore of disassociating hydrogen from water, many of it’s apparent flaws, would be moot.”
Well, not exactly. Their 20% load factor would still be present and what exactly would be accomplished by the hydrogen produced? Hydrogen usage would only be effective in a usage scenario that doesn’t exist. If hydrogen is the target, it would appear that off-peak nukes would be a much more efficient and economical means of production.

Allan M

Analysis of hard data from National Grid shows that wind behaves in a quite different manner from that suggested by study of average output derived from the Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) record, or from wind speed records which in themselves are averaged.
If our politicians were anything but well below average, they might realise that an average is just a number, not reality.

Gary Hladik

In other breaking news, scientists report that water is wet, the sky is blue, and politicians buy votes with taxpayer money.

Billy Liar

Frank K. says:
April 6, 2011 at 9:28 am
…During the study period, wind generation was below 20% of capacity more than half the time…
Well, this problem is easy to solve – just install 5 times more wind turbines to obtain your original generation capacity!

The sad thing is, Frank, that’s the plan.

James Sexton

Whirlygigs and pinwheels. I blame the utility industry for their abject failure to educate the public on the issues of wind energy.
It was always a farce and never seriously considered a replacement for traditional sources of energy. We (in the utility industry) knew this from the start. We didn’t speak up on behalf of the public.

George E. Smith

Mother Gaia, does NOT do averages; neither average Temperatures, nor average wind speeds. She knows what the Temperature is everywhere all the time, and she knows what the wind speed is, and she never lets go of any excess of either to make room for a dearth of either, at some other time.
Both Temperature and Wind Speed are non linear functions of energy (in either order); so what is the point of computing averages; which are as I have often said, about as useful as the average telephone number in the Manhattan Phone directory; or the average number of animals (larger than a flea) per hectare, on earth !

James Sexton

G. Karst says:
April 6, 2011 at 10:33 am
“………… Windmills must be coupled with a storage capacitance. Solve this problem and wind power can reveal it’s potential.”
=====================================================
Well, yes, that’s true, but given that almost all electricity delivered is AC form, that’s like saying “if we could find a way to bottle lightening……….”

Ralph

Between Jan and Feb 2010, the UK had no wind for six weeks. You cannot run a 24/7 technological societyon an electrical supply that disappears for six weeks.
Even more farsical, is the fact that Denmark, Europe’s largest wind power generator, has never used any of its wind power. Its large variability would overwhealm their small grid. It sells the electricity to Scandinavia instead (at a huge financial loss), who can instantly throttle up and down their large hydro generation plants.
.

Tom T

If this wasn’t known before it should have been known from the time of the Wright Brothers. They went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina because the average wind speed was 15kts which is perfect for flying, the problem was that often it blows much harder or much less than average. Now of course they did finally get off the ground, but they had a lot of delays due to poor wind conditions.

George E. Smith

If you consider a wind fan to be just the turbine part of a gas turbine, requiring a mass of working fluid (air), and an input duct (big valley) to bring the working fluid to the turbine; and an output duct, to allow egress of the spent working fluid (exhaus gas) (nother big valley), and a fuel to provide heat energy to the working fluid (the sun), you can appreciate that these things are simply huge in size. Just imagine what the Temperature drop is for the working fluid going through the turbine, and guess what the Carnot efficiency might be. Well yes I know that you have a near infinite amount of solar energy to waste; but think of the wasted space. So the propellor only takes a quarter of an acre; or is it up to maybe an acre now with these 5 MW monsters. Well it you really want to just consider the business end of things, and not the whole installation, you should calculate what the available power density is coming out of a standard 20 Amp or even a 15 amp three prong wall socket. 15 Amps at say 120 Volts, is 1.8 KW coming out of about 15 square cm; now there is a real power source; I get about 1.2 MW/square metre.
That’s 1200 times the ground level sun power. Well yes I know that behind the curtain there is this humungous big power distribution network; but if you aren’t going to consider ALL of the real estate that s running your windmill fan, why should I worry about what’s behind my 15 Amp plug !