McIntyre's talk in London – Plus, the UK's tilting at windmills may actually increase CO2 emissions over natural gas

UK’s Burbo Bank wind farm – pink flamingos of folly – Image Wikipedia

At The Register, Andrew Orlowski attended the talk and has a news article describing Steve McIntyre’s talk at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, which was an event hosted by the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

McIntyre’s statement on wind power is interesting:

The entire rationale of policy in US and Europe has been to ignore what’s happening in China and India and hope that petty acts of virtuous behaviour in both countries will cure the problem,” he said. “Even if you install windmills you’re not going to change the trend of overall CO2 emissions.”

Actually, it is worse than that. As Bishop Hill reports, it turns out that windmills in the UK at net positive for CO2 emissions. He writes:

Ever since Gordon Hughes’ report noted that wind power was more likely to produce more carbon dioxide emissions than [natural] gas, I have been looking for the figures behind the claim. In the comments, someone has now posted some details that seem to meet the bill. Although these are not Hughes’ own numbers -they were submitted in evidence to Parliament by an engineer –  I assume they are similar.

[A]s wind rarely produces more than 25% of its faceplate capacity it needs 75% backup – which due to the necessity of fast response times needs OCGT generation (CCGT can respond quickly but the heat-exchanger systems upon which their increased efficiency relies, cannot – so CCGT behaves like OCGT under these circumstances). CCGT produces 0.4 tonnes of CO2 per MWh, OCGT produces 0.6 tonnes. Thus 0.6 tonnes x 75% = 0.45 tonnes. Conclusion: Wind + OCGT backup produces more 0.05 tonnes of CO2 per MWh than continuous CCGT.

In case you are not familiar with the terms:

OCGT = Open Cycle Gas Turbine

  • In a gas turbine, large volumes of filtered air are fed in the compressor section of the engine. In an OCGT the multistage compressor squeezes the air to from normal pressure up to 40 times atmospheric pressure depending on the type of turbine.
  • Fuel is distributed to the various combustion chambers surrounding the gas turbine. This then mixes with the compressed air and ignition and combustion takes place.
  • The combustion gasses expand rapidly and this energy is transmitted to the axial turbine blades which drive the rotor shaft.
  • The rotor torque is transmitted to both the compressor section of the gas turbine and the external electrical generator.

In a combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT), the hot exhaust gases of a gas turbine, or turbines, are used to provide all, or a portion of, the heat source for a heat exchanger (called a heat recovery steam generator) to supply a steam turbine.

So I think the time has come to stop tilting at windmills. End the subsidies that make them temporarily attractive and let shale gas step in and help solve the emissions problem as it has already been doing:

PITTSBURGH (AP) — In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.

http://news.yahoo.com/ap-impact-co2-emissions-us-drop-20-low-174616030–finance.html

Everyone acts so surprised by this news, but I had it on WUWT over a month ago.

USA CO2 emissions may drop to 1990 levels this year

I predict that in a few years, when the subsidies run out, many wind farms will look like this one in Hawaii, now abandoned because it it too expensive to maintain:

http://img.groundspeak.com/waymarking/5132c3b0-37d9-4e23-83fd-68ca51729f7b.jpg

Kamaoa Wind Farm, Hawaii. Image from Waymarking.com

Related, via Jo Nova:

How much electricity do solar and wind make on a global scale? Answer: ‘Not much’ — EIA says 80% of our electricity comes from the fossil fuels & nuclear

Hydroelectricity produces 16% of the total. But all the vanity renewables bundled together make about 3.5% of total. Wind power is a major global industry but it’s only making 1.4% of total electricity. And solar is so pathetically low that it needs to be bundled with ‘tidal & wave’ power to even rate 0.1% (after rounding up). If world’s solar powered units all broke tonight, it would not dent global electricity production a jot. No one connected to a grid would notice.

UPDATE: Hans Labohm writes in with a supporting study:

Dear Anthony,

In The Netherlands Kees le Pair (Dutchman) has recently completed his

analysis on wind energy over here.

It confirms the conclusions of Hughes.

The English version of his report can be found here:

http://www.clepair.net/statlineanalyse201208.html

FYI.

Best,

Hans H.J. Labohm

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Ed Reid

“I think that I shall never see” a wind farm with more than 50% of the turbines spinning.
(Apologies to Joyce Kilmer)

“Everyone acts so surprised by this news, but I had it on WUWT over a month ago.”
I saw in in the Netherlands on May 24th. In Dutch language. Try Google translate.
http://fibronot.nl/nieuwsartikel2012-136-schaliegas-drukt-co2-uitstoot-vs/

John A

How can you persuade the IPCC to do engineering-quality testing of its core assumptions with Rajendra Pachauri at the helm and battalions of NGOs controlling the texts and the press releases? And after several years of screaming that “the science is settled, the results are in, we fast approaching the tipping points of climate change if not actually passing them on our way to destruction”?
You can’t.
Reconsideration of core assumptions and rigorous testing of key results are not exactly the strong suits of zealots, to put it mildly.
The IPCC is a toxic combination of politics and scientific hubris.
Close down the IPCC before science itself is reputationally trashed for a generation.

James

The quickest way to cut CO2 emissions and it would be done at a stroke, not slowly over the years is to generate electricity with gas. The plants are cheap and easy to make and could almost instantly take over from coal.

Edim

“…government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal…”
I don’t think it’s the biggest reason, but it did contribute (probably the second biggest). The biggest reason is the decline in energy consumption – even the graph says so (eyeballed). I may be wrong of course.

Jim Berry

I’m opposed to wind power as it make no economic sense. But assuming that the 75% of the time wind turbines aren’t operating that the power is replaced by OCGT or CCGT operating in an OC mode doesn’t seem correct. If wind turbines are down for, say 3 days, due to no wind I believe most of the power would be replaced by something other than OCGT.

Lars P.

There is a good analysis of wind turbines from Holland:
http://www.windenergy-the-truth.com/index.html
For the wind turbine supporters a good look at the graph for EON wind supply may help:
http://www.clepair.net/windstroom%20e.html

Edim

OK, the graph doesn’t say that and I was wrong. Any reliable data/graphs for USA energy consumption?

Bill H

its not uncommon for a wind farm to have a 35-50% downed equipment due to vibrations and stress.. yet people refuse to see that constant back up sources must be available in milliseconds. you cant do that unless those plants are UP AND RUNNING…. so the wind farm thing is pointless except for small single home uses where a hybrid system can be employed. and even that is questionable..

ChE

The actual analysis is a bit more involved than this, but basically, that’s right. You’d never use a combined cycle generator for peaking and filling in voids, because it’s too expensive and not fast enough responding. So depending on a number of factors, you could end up using more gas to run a wind system than a CC system. This isn’t always going to be the case, but it’s probably going to be true in most cases.

HankHenry

Something is getting stretched here. To say: turbines typically get only 25% of nameplate power therefore the 75% that is unused comes from gas turbines is a big leap. The gas turbines near me turn on during peak demand, and at other times nuclear power would be picking up any slack in the small percentage of power being contributed by wind.
It seems wrongheaded to try do decide whether to turbines are worthwhile based on political considerations. If they pay a return on capital invested then they will be built. It they are uneconomic without advantageous tax treatments, then that’s not good, although there are games that can be played with that analysis too.

“If world’s solar powered units all broke tonight, it would not dent global electricity production a jot. No one connected to a grid would notice.”
If wind and solar all broke, the grid would be in better shape period. It would be more reliable.

GoodBusiness

Look at the cost per KWH – nuclear is under $.01 per KWH if built without law suit delays. Gas and Coal $ .015 per KWH. Solar is not easy to asses as they include tax credit reductions – but most admit to over $ .30 per KWH and wind has the same issues for accuracy come in at over $ .15 per KWH.
Keep in mind that solar and wind require gas/coal/nuclear base load production capabilities to insure 24/7/365 uninterrupted energy delivery. So, the capital cost of conventional energy production units is there either way.

William Astley

There is absolutely no logical reason, economic or environmental, to construct wind farms and solar farms or to convert food to biofuel. “Green energy” results in higher carbon dioxide emissions, damage to the environmental, and a net loss of jobs (9 jobs lost for every 4.4 jobs created, in addition to massive deficits.)
How long will this fiasco continue?
http://www.juandemariana.org/pdf/090327-employment-public-aid-renewable.pdf
“…Europe’s current policy and strategy for supporting the so-called “green jobs” or renewable energy dates back to 1997, and has become one of the principal justifications for U.S. “green jobs” proposals. Yet an examination of Europe’s experience reveals these policies to be terribly economically counterproductive.
This study is important for several reasons. First is that the Spanish experience is considered a leading example to be followed by many policy advocates and politicians. This study marks the very first time a critical analysis of the actual performance and impact has been made. Most important, it demonstrates that the Spanish/EU-style “green jobs” agenda now being promoted in the U.S. in fact destroys jobs, detailing this in terms of jobs destroyed per job created and the net destruction per installed MW.
Optimistically treating European Commission partially funded data1, we find that for every renewable energy job that the State manages to finance, Spain’s experience cited by President Obama as a model reveals with high confidence, by two different methods, that the U.S. should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs on average, or about 9 jobs lost for every 4 created, to which we have to add those jobs that non-subsidized investments with the same resources would have created. ….”

Taphonomic

Extra added bonus pollution from windmills, solar, and hybrid cars comes from rare earth elements (REEs). These are needed to make the magnets in the windmills, solar panels, and multiple components of hybrid cars (as well as many fancy Ipad and Iphone type gizmos). 90% of REEs are mined in China with lax enviro laws and many mining sites are heavily polluted. But why should the US and Europe care, it’s only China.

For those who fervently believe that only open-cycle gas turbine generators can follow a grid’s load, it must be true then that the grid loads were constant before about 1940. Surely, no coal, nor oil, nor gas-fired steam plant could accomplish the task.
“1939: First 4 MW utility power generation gas turbine from BBC Brown, Boveri & Cie. for an emergency power station in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.” (source: Wikipedia)
I have seldom seen such idiocy being passed off as truth.

Rms

I fear we have a untested assumption, that being that those promoting all wind power intend to provide the same quality of service. I fear there is an expectation and hope by some that a key to success of using wind power is using “smart meters” to control demand instead of supplying in response to demand.

China is thinking beyond nat gas.
Game changer: The “green” nuclear. Molten salt thorium nuclear reactors. Much cheaper, safer, and cleaner.
Feb 2011
“China has officially announced it will launch a program to develop a thorium-fueled molten-salt nuclear reactor, taking a crucial step towards shifting to nuclear power as a primary energy source.”
“The project was unveiled at the annual Chinese Academy of Sciences conference in Shanghai last week, and reported in the Wen Hui Bao newspaper (Google English translation here).”
“If the reactor works as planned, China may fulfill a long-delayed dream of clean nuclear energy. The United States could conceivably become dependent on China for next-generation nuclear technology. At the least, the United States could fall dramatically behind in developing green energy.”
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/02/china-thorium-power/
June 2012
“The U.S. Department of Energy is quietly collaborating with China on an alternative nuclear power design known as a molten salt reactor that could run on thorium fuel rather than on more hazardous uranium, SmartPlanet understands.”
“Proponents of thorium MSRs, also known as liquid thorium reactors or sometimes as liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTRs), say the devices beat conventional solid fuel uranium reactors in all aspects including safety, efficiency, waste and peaceful implications.”
http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/intelligent-energy/us-partners-with-china-on-new-nuclear/17037
The solution is there. Technology developed in the US in the 60’s. Just needs to be updated. Fortunately the Chinese (who do and will burn the most coal) are on to it. We can all breath easier.

Bill H says August 18, 2012 at 9:29 am
its not uncommon for a wind farm to have a 35-50% downed equipment due to vibrations and stress.. yet people refuse to see that constant back up sources must be available in milliseconds. you cant do that unless those plants are UP AND RUNNING…. …

Let’s look at a few numbers to gain some perspective on this … this morning at I type at 10:55 AM local the ERCOT-area load here in Texas is 48,000 MW with predicted peak later today of 54,000 MW. Our peak demand during summer runs in the 65,000 MW (or 65 GW) area.
ERCOT, the system operator in the majority of Texas frequently issues the following message when we approach those 65 GW peaks here in summer indicating ‘spinning reserves’ (actual, rotating generation equipment with summed nameplate capability) are below the preferred ‘reserve’ value of 3000 MW at any given time:

Aug 01 2012 11:04:16 CST
Physical Responsive Capability < 2500 MW: ERCOT is issuing a Watch due to Physical Responsive Capability being below 2500 MW.

We regularly (seems like every other week or so) lose a generator on the Texas ‘grid’ in the range of 500 to 700 MW capacity and then grid frequency dips; here is one such message issued just today:

Aug 18 2012 07:13:31 CST
On 8/17/12, a sudden loss of generation occurred at 22:31 totaling 542 MW.
Frequency declined to 59.905 Hz, ERCOT load was 48, 348 MW.

[bolding mine]
Given the value of the generator that ‘tripped’, it would appear that a gas peaker (or maybe several peakers) or perhaps a CCGT tripped offline; nuclear plants and coal-fired baseload plants weigh in at generation capabilities of over 750 MW each …
Given the size of the desired ‘spinning reserve’ one can see that the equivalent of a ‘baseload’ generator or three are desired to be in the spinning-but-idle state at any given time, and this equates (in Texas; YMMV in the E and W grids!) to about 4.5% of current system load should be ‘spinning’ (generators turning and synchronized with the grid, but _not_ perhaps significantly generating electric current) as a ‘reserve’ or standby in the event of loss (‘tripping’, of either the generators or transmission lines from the generating station) of other ‘active’ generation equipment …
.

Fred

Greenie vanity electricity . . . because I am a Vegan Progressive, I recycle and my poo doesn’t smell.
I am so at one with the university, basking in the glow of my Al Gore wall poster, cherishing the time Michael Mann said hello to me and hoping my application to study Climate Scientology at East Anglia is accepted.

Charles Hart

Game changer: The “green” nuclear. Molten salt thorium nuclear reactors. Much cheaper, safer, and cleaner.
Feb 2011
“China has officially announced it will launch a program to develop a thorium-fueled molten-salt nuclear reactor, taking a crucial step towards shifting to nuclear power as a primary energy source.”
“The project was unveiled at the annual Chinese Academy of Sciences conference in Shanghai last week, and reported in the Wen Hui Bao newspaper (Google English translation here).”
“If the reactor works as planned, China may fulfill a long-delayed dream of clean nuclear energy. The United States could conceivably become dependent on China for next-generation nuclear technology. At the least, the United States could fall dramatically behind in developing green energy.”
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/02/china-thorium-power/
June 2012
“The U.S. Department of Energy is quietly collaborating with China on an alternative nuclear power design known as a molten salt reactor that could run on thorium fuel rather than on more hazardous uranium, SmartPlanet understands.”
“Proponents of thorium MSRs, also known as liquid thorium reactors or sometimes as liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTRs), say the devices beat conventional solid fuel uranium reactors in all aspects including safety, efficiency, waste and peaceful implications.”
http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/intelligent-energy/us-partners-with-china-on-new-nuclear/17037
The solution is there. Technology developed in the US in the 60’s. Just needs to be updated. Fortunately the Chinese (who do and will burn the most coal) are on to it. We can all breath easier.

richardscourtney

Friends:
The information in the above article deserves wide publicity but it is not new. Indeed, I have been saying everything in the above article for many years.
For example, I fully explained these matters – including the points about different gas-fired power plant types – in posts on the recent WUWT thread at
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/09/wind-power-not-coming-through-for-california-power-alert-issued-by-the-caiso/
and in this Annual Prestigious Lecture which I had the honour of being asked to provide in 2006
http://www.mininginstitute.org.uk/papers/courtney.html
Richard

Unattorney

Winds turbines are ecofraud beyond belief. Wasteful,polluting,ugly bird grinders bought with borrowed government money.Now Obama has granted wind a “categorical exemption” from environmental protection laws. (This new legal trick allows Obama to exempt his supporters from any legal requirement, whether welfare,immigration,environmental, etc.). While logging in three states was shutdown for an owl, and California agriculture was dried up over a common smelt, wind turbines are allowed to destroy entire populations of birds and bats. With free money and legal exemptions, turbines are popping up like mushrooms after the rain. Our great-grandkids will be paying for these and wondering why there are no eagles in the sky.

The discussion re CO2 seems pretty superficial in assuming gas turbine backup. A more efficient backup (if nuclear was unavailable) might involve some form of stored energy such a pumped hydro facility. I’ll call it a battery because that is how it acts, but in this context battery isn’t to be taken literally.
So, windmill would be used to charge a battery and the battery would supply the energy. The system would be designed so the battery could supply your design needs for some period T even if no wind energy was available. The wind farm would have to be designed with so wind statistics that gave the probably that the battery had sufficient energy that wind outage period longer than T had a low probability (actually that outages would reduce battery below the period T would gave a low probability). The backup might remain off in an outage until battery capacity fell to some threshold, say rT where 0<r<1. Then, the full system would have to be designed that the period rT was sufficient to bring the backup to full power.
This approach could also be used with solar or other intermittent power sources. It sets the gating size for generation as the capacity of your battery (and the statistics of your intermittent energy source).

richardscourtney

GoodBusiness:
On the basis of your post at August 18, 2012 at 9:50 am I would not want to invest in any business operated by you. For example, you say;

Keep in mind that solar and wind require gas/coal/nuclear base load production capabilities to insure 24/7/365 uninterrupted energy delivery. So, the capital cost of conventional energy production units is there either way.

The main reason for the very high cost of peak power’ is that power plants must operate on standby all the time so they can provide electricity for the little time when ‘peak power’ is needed. The major cost of this is the investment and depreciation costs of generating assets which are only utilised during the short times of ‘peak demand’. Adding wind power to the grid supply reduces the utilisation of these assets. Hence, adoption of wind power causes ‘peak power’ to be even more expensive because those assets get used even less.
Also, additional power plants must be built and operated on spinning standby when windpower contributes more than 20% of the potential electricity supply. This is because of the need to manage risk of supply failures to the grid. I explain this as follows.
Windfarms provide intermittent power. Hence, windfarms increase the risk of supply failures. Indeed, they give the certainty of supply failures when the wind is too strong or not strong enough. This increased risk of supply failures from windfarms is insignificant when there is small contribution of electricity to the grid from windfarms. All the output from the windfarms forces thermal power stations to operate spinning standby or at reduced output that can cope with the risk.
But the problem of managing the risk increases disproportionately as the risk increases.
Electricity is not wanted in the same amounts everywhere, and electricity is lost when it is transmitted over long distances. The additional risk management difficulties require additional spinning standby when the risk of supply failures is very large. Otherwise it would be impossible to match supply with demand throughout the grid when a large supply failure occurred.
Therefore, additional power stations must be built and operated on spinning standby (using their additional fuel and providing their additional emissions) to manage the increased risk of power cuts from supply failures (e.g. of a power station or transmission lines) when windpower contributes more than 20% of the potential electricity supply.
(ref. Laughton, M.A., Renewables and the UK Electricity Grid Supply Infrastructure, Platts Power in Europe. 2002).
Indeed, this limit is the reason why the UK target for ‘renewable’ electricity generation is 20%: the UK generates hydropower (mostly in Scotland) so wind power will not reach the 20% limit if the target is met. The problem is inherent to any grid infrastructure and not only the UK’s grid.
Richard

Edohiguma

I had a look at what a city like Vienna eats up per year. I found this city comes down to 40,000 GWh per year (and rising), and by international standards that’s a small city, with only 1.5 million inhabitants. Primary source for electricity is gas. For the public transport wind makes 1.5% of the energy produced.
There is simply no way in hell we can feed a city like Vienna with 40,000 GWh per year simply from wind or sun. How should that work?
My home town and the surrounding district with roughly 60,000 inhabitants still eats up 200 GWh per year, and that’s only because it’s a very rural area where most people don’t rely on electricity for heating, etc. A lot of folks still use wood, since it’s readily available. But even there, especially when considering local industry and geography… How would… I can’t wrap my mind around it. It’s not possible to feed this place with wind and solar 24/7/365.

Theo Goodwin

The future of wind farms opens an important opportunity for big government. Government can move the remaining grant money from renewable energy to the arts. There can be competitions for artists who can transform dead wind farms into something attractive or, at least, not stomach turning. Poets can create work that immunizes citizens against visions of wind farms. You get the idea. In addition, many climate scientists can move into the arts which is really their natural home. /sarc off

Udar

This is a bit off topic, but does anybody have any comment on a recent claim being made by Obama campaign and news that wind energy constitutes about 20% (I also heard 25%) of Iowa’s energy production?

Gary Pearse

“USA CO2 emissions may drop to 1990 levels this year”
If the US has been hated by the new-world-orderites, they will be doubly so for this. Europe has screwed up their economy in no small way with the untotalled billions spent on electric toys and Lysenko-inspired “scientific” climate research (other socialist economic policies have done the rest – huge handouts for Greece, Italy, Spain … which were squandered supporting artificially high standards of living in countries that never gave economics any priority). The EU signed Kyoto and set to work to meet their targets by abdicating their responsibilities in favour of a Greenpeace-WWF-IPCC fantasy solution. The naivete is palpable. The irony stringent. Who would have thought that the “target” could have been met by doing the most economic thing. They villified the US for not signing and then EU emissions go up and US emissions go down – you will never be foregiven, even when you invoke a 2nd Marshall Plan and send economic missionaries there to straighten it all out.
Thank God the Conservatives are in power in Canada. The Liberals who perfected the process of sending good money after bad would have contributed billions to refinance the EU’s excesses. Harper said no – they need to straighten up their economies not shore them up. Canada, which has the best government banking policies in the world has had to take some hits for it from Europe, too.

Joe Veragio

“Edim on August 18, 2012 at 9:27 am
OK, the graph doesn’t say that and I was wrong. Any reliable data/graphs for USA energy consumption?”
Have you seen the excellent Energy Information Administration database, which is referenced from this recent article and follow up commentary on Aus/NZs Best Weblog ?
http://joannenova.com.au/2012/08/how-much-electricity-do-solar-and-wind-make-on-a-global-scale-answer-not-much/#more-23371

richardscourtney says:
August 18, 2012 at 11:08 am
Electricity is not wanted in the same amounts everywhere, and electricity is lost when it is transmitted over long distances.

Really!!??
(Seriously, this is an ‘engineering problem’ for which there are solutions; are you totally unaware of operational DC tie lines that work over ‘great distances’? You write this continually as if you were …)
High-voltage direct current – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-voltage_direct_current
Pacific DC Intertie – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_DC_Intertie
“The Pacific DC Intertie (also called Path 65) is an electric power transmission line that transmits electricity from the Pacific Northwest to the Los Angeles area using high voltage direct current (HVDC). The line capacity is 3,100 megawatts”
.

richardscourtney

Philip Lee:
I wondered when the ‘pumped storage’ excuse would come up, and you provided it at August 18, 2012 at 10:52 am where you say

The discussion re CO2 seems pretty superficial in assuming gas turbine backup. A more efficient backup (if nuclear was unavailable) might involve some form of stored energy such a pumped hydro facility. I’ll call it a battery because that is how it acts, but in this context battery isn’t to be taken literally.

I will not take your battery analogy literally, but I will use it as you do.
For ‘pumped storage’ to provide a store of energy equivalent to the energy stored in one AA battery, then 100 kg of water must be lifted 10 m (i.e. 220 lb of water must be lifted 33 feet).
Put another way
For ‘pumped storage’ to provide a store of energy equivalent to the energy stored in one gallon of petrol (i.e. gasoline), then 13 tons of water must be lifted a kilometre (i.e. 3,500 gallons of water must be lifted 3,280 feet).
These calculations are theoretical maxima and ignore losses in the system.
Available places for the elevated reservoirs to provide pumped storage are limited. And the relatively low ability of ‘pumped storage’ to store energy means this technology has limited ability to ‘smooth’ output from wind turbines. For example, the UK’s entire ‘pumped storage’ capacity can provide up to 2788MW for only 5 hours before dropping to 1060MW, and the provision stops (because the reservoirs empty) after 22 hours. There is no wind when a stationary high or low pressure region exists over the UK, and such highs and lows typically stay over the UK for several days.
‘Pumped storage’ is a very economic method to meet ‘peak demand’. Its ability to ‘smooth’ output from windpower is so limited that it is effectively useless for this purpose.
Richard

Stephen Brown

The move to greater dependence on ‘renewable’ power sources in Germany is destabilising their power grid ever so slightly. The consequences of these minor perturbations in the power supply are enormous and expensive.
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/instability-in-power-grid-comes-at-high-cost-for-german-industry-a-850419.html

JohnC

Mr. Sowell & Lee both seem to miss the point in their comments. The historical record is one of increasing capacity and reliability in power systems by building ever larger grids (to share loads and sources) and specialized plants (baseload, peaking) . A wind or solar plant might have value as a peaking plant in some venues, but is not appropriate for baseload as the output is unavailable for frequent extended intervals. Similarly, solar and wind plants should not be considered as reliable peaking sources, they require backup plants should clouds or calms reduce the available power. Battery, pumped hydro, molten salt, and other energy storage devices cannot compete economically with building a conventional power plant. Once they can, they will.

@ Roger Sowell it must be true then that the grid loads were constant before about 1940. Surely, no coal, nor oil, nor gas-fired steam plant could accomplish the task.
Yes, it might be true. You forgot that hydropower can balance the grid.

Cabin Creek has the ability to respond to increases in customer demand quicker than any other plant on our [Xcel] system.

Jaypan

What does this extra CO2 cost the tax-paying consumer?

richardscourtney

Roger Sowel:
I see you are still selling misinformation about windpower. For example, your post at August 18, 2012 at 10:10 am says in total.

“For those who fervently believe that only open-cycle gas turbine generators can follow a grid’s load, it must be true then that the grid loads were constant before about 1940. Surely, no coal, nor oil, nor gas-fired steam plant could accomplish the task.
“1939: First 4 MW utility power generation gas turbine from BBC Brown, Boveri & Cie. for an emergency power station in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.” (source: Wikipedia)
I have seldom seen such idiocy being passed off as truth.”

You know your post is pure pro-wind propaganda because I repeatedly explained the matter to you recently on the WUWT thread at
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/09/wind-power-not-coming-through-for-california-power-alert-issued-by-the-caiso/
e.g. in my post at August 10, 2012 at 4:25 am I wrote


It takes days to start a power station from cold (they utilise steam turbines and anybody who has boiled a kettle knows it takes time to boil the water, to superheat the steam, and to heat all the components of the plant). Therefore, some power stations operate as “spare capacity” so they can provide the grid with electricity needed to overcome any shortfall in supply from such a failure.

The power stations need to provide all the power supplied from the grid when the windfarms are not supplying to the grid. When windfarms do supply electricity then they displace the power stations
(a) onto ‘spinning standby’ (so they continue to consume their fuel and emit their emissions)
or
(b) to operate at lower output. This reduces their efficiency so they increase their use of fuel and increase their emissions (this like driving a car at 10 mph in fifth gear: it can be done but it uses much fuel).
The power stations operate like this while waiting for the wind to change because it takes days to start a power station from cold.
One caveat. Gas-fired turbine units can start rapidly because they do not use steam turbines but they are very inefficient so provide very expensive electricity. Combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) units are much more efficient so they are the preferred option for gas-fired generation..

And at August 10, 2012 at 10:28 am I wrote

In the interim, I draw your attention to this statement from David Tolley. He is Head of Networks and Ancillary Services, Innogy (a subsidiary of the German energy consortium RWE) which operates windfarms in the UK. He said of windfarms in the UK,

“When [thermal] plant is de-loaded to balance the system, it results in a significant proportion of deloaded plant which operates relatively inefficiently. … Coal plant will be part-loaded such that the loss of a generating unit can swiftly be replaced by bringing other units on to full load. In addition to increased costs of holding reserve in this manner, it has been estimated that the entire benefit of reduced emissions from the renewables programme has been negated by the increased emissions from part-loaded plant under NETA.”

NETA is the New Electricity Trading Arrangements, the UK’s deregulated power market. And Tolley made the statement in a keynote address to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on January 15, 2003. The UK has increased its use of windpower since 2003 so it can be assumed that the problem has increased since then.

Richard

Gail Combs

Bill H says:
August 18, 2012 at 9:29 am
… so the wind farm thing is pointless except for small single home uses where a hybrid system can be employed. and even that is questionable..
________________________________
Wind power is fine for pumping water or grinding grain where there is no other source of power AND the indigenous population can build them out of native materials and also repair them without outside direction.

ChE

JohnC says:
August 18, 2012 at 11:54 am
Solar can help with peaking up to a point. Wind, never. Wind is a complete wild card, and is at least as likely to not be there when it’s needed most as the other way around. To help with peaking, there would have to be some reason to believe that there’s more wind during the day as at night. There isn’t.

richardscourtney

_Jim:
re your fatuous comment at August 18, 2012 at 11:37 am.
Yes, of course I was aware of that. But line losses exist especially when the HV AC distribution system must be used to re-route power because of a failure of a power plant or the wires from it.
Simply, my comment was correct.
I suspect you knew that, too. And when you choose to make fatuous and (deliberately?) misleading comments such as your post to me then perhaps you would put your full name to them.
Richard

GeoLurking

richardscourtney responded to Philip Lee:

I will not take your battery analogy literally, but I will use it as you do.

Let’s take is a bit further for those who wish to jump on the battery mantra.
Golden Valley Electric Association in Alaska installed a high capacity battery system in order to deal with short outages until the local generating system could be brought online. According to their website, it can provide “27 megawatts of power for 15 minutes.” Also, they state that it they use 13,760 liquid electrolyte-filled Ni-Cad cells with a total BESS weight – 1,500 tons.
The battery rack is quite impressive.
http://www.gvea.com/energy/bess

Gail Combs

Philip Lee says:
August 18, 2012 at 10:52 am
The discussion re CO2 seems pretty superficial in assuming gas turbine backup. A more efficient backup (if nuclear was unavailable) might involve some form of stored energy such a pumped hydro facility….
_____________________
I have suggested that for small facilities but it still does not address the energy density problem.
SEE: Pump Up the Storage: Do The MATH
Also of interest: Economics of Nuclear Power and Solar Panels Don’t Work. And No One Knows.
There is also this The Real Costs of Alternative Energy
What is very interesting is the plug for “Clean Gas”
Shifting us to gas has been the main reason for the whole CAGW scam. It is why BP, Shell and Enron and WWF were in on it from the beginning funding CRU and pushing for IPCC. See my comment on the money behind the scam in my other comment. That is not to say that Enron, BP and Shell were not positioned to take advantage of the windpower and solar subsidies too but they knew from the start they were not going to work long term so gas would be the “Compromise”

@ Richardscourtney,
From you, who are almost completely ignorant about energy, engineering, and thermodynamics, that is laughable.
Are you truly a consultant to UK policy-makers on energy matters? Perhaps I should reveal to them your outstanding comment on an earlier thread at WUWT, where you assert that wind-generated power violates the first Law of thermodynamics.
You are indeed a laughingstock. I laugh at you, and derisively.
My information on wind power generation is firmly grounded in facts. Yours, apparently is based on a dream world where thermodynamics does not exist.

davidmhoffer

_Jim
“The Pacific DC Intertie (also called Path 65) is an electric power transmission line that transmits electricity from the Pacific Northwest to the Los Angeles area using high voltage direct current (HVDC). The line capacity is 3,100 megawatts”
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Well yes, but that is a technique that is in general of use when transporting electricity from a single large generation point to a single large consumption point. Manitoba Hydro for example does the same from Churchill to Winnipeg. But there are two important issues to consider:
1. Transporting electricity via DC is a way to REDUCE line losses, it doesn’t eliminate them.
2. In the case of wind power, this technique would be of little use. Wind mills being dispersed rather than central, the costs of building in a DC transport network would easily exceed the amount saved in line losses.
That said, I do agree that moving energy from where it is to where it needs to be is largely an engineering problem. IT can be solved economicaly provided that the power source choices are predicated on the most practical available for any given project. Wind power just doesn’t fit that bill.

The view in the article is optimistic. Here in Central North America the wind can cut out completely at times. This requires 100% backup by another generation method. The much quoted 75% backup is simply a myth. It cannot be done if you wish reliability close to 100%.
See here:
http://ontariowindperformance.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/chapter-3-1-powering-ontario/
That article will provide you with links to the original data at IESO and links to current data so you can confirm the drop outs. Ontario and the American mid west will give similar results in wind power I would think.
Here in Ontario, IESO simply ignores the wind power output when scheduling the electrical generators. There is at this time no known scheduling system that will give reliable power without watt-for-watt coverage of the wind turbines — and yes I do suspect Solar is the same.

Matt

This is simply false:
“McIntyre’s statement on wind power is interesting:
The entire rationale of policy in US and Europe has been to ignore what’s happening in China and India and hope that petty acts of virtuous behaviour in both countries will cure the problem,” he said. “Even if you install windmills you’re not going to change the trend of overall CO2 emissions.”
Well, Muller has been giving his Physics for future presidents lectures for ever, and you can pick any of them on YT, and he explicitly stresses that what the president (sic! – are you reading this, Barack? Bush couldn’t read, so he is excused, naturally) needs to know is that NO MATTER WHAT “we” (i.e. the west) are doing in terms of CO2, if China does not pull along, all our efforts will achieve is delay global warming by TWO years, and you can rubbish that, there is no utility in that. So every US president for at least a decade had POSITIVE KNOWLEDGE of this, and there is no way arguing their asses out of this, as Muller is/was (?) their science advisor, of course. Make a T-shirt out of this and send it to your member of congress, there you go.

richardscourtney

Roger Sowell:
I am outraged by your slander at August 18, 2012 at 1:01 pm
You say of me

Perhaps I should reveal to them your outstanding comment on an earlier thread at WUWT, where you assert that wind-generated power violates the first Law of thermodynamics.

I have not made any such comment on WUWT or anywhere else.
RETRACT AND APOLOGISE.

Richard

Silver Ralph

The reason that the USA’s CO2 emissions are reducing, is the same as why the UK’s emissions reduced – it is de-industrialising.
This is the problem with Green dreams. If you make power expensive, then industry will relocate to China, where it will double its emissions. Thus overall, every wind farm in the West doubles the amount of CO2 that the previous generating equipment used to output.
.

richardscourtney

Moderators:
On reflection, I am disappointed at your not having snipped the slanderous posting from Roger Sowell. The entire post is offensive innuendo and untrue based on a stated falsehood.
At very least I would have expected a citation would be required for the falsehood if it were not to be snipped.
Indeed, in light of the fact that Sowell was shown – by me and others – to have provided a series of misleading and plain wrong assertions supporting windpower in the recent thread at
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/09/wind-power-not-coming-through-for-california-power-alert-issued-by-the-caiso/
I would have anticipated he would have been subject to careful moderation in this thread.
Richard
[Reply: WUWT moderation is done with a light touch. So long as commenters abide by site Policy, they can express their opinions, whether they are right or wrong. Other commenters are always free to disagree with them if they like. ~dbs, mod.]