Offshore Wind power: Even Germany Can’t get it Right

Eric Worrall writes:

Bard_offshore1_aerialAccording to Breitbart, Germany’s flagship Bard 1 offshore wind farm has turned into a bottomless money pit, with stakeholders frantically lawyering up, scrambling to pin the blame and ongoing money hemorrhage onto other parties. BARD Offshore 1 is a 400 megawatt (MW) North Sea offshore wind farm encompassing 80 5-megawatt turbines. Construction was finished in July 2013 and the wind farm was officially inaugurated in August 2013. The wind farm is located 100 kilometres (62 mi) northwest of the isle Borkum in 40 metres (130 ft) deep water.

The magazine Windpower monthly reports that Bard Offshore 1, developed and built by Bard, is owned by project company Ocean Breeze, which in turn is owned by HypoVereinsbank. Getting it fully commissioned in August 2013 had taken more than three years, with many setbacks and cost overruns.
Breitbart reports that according to the German magazine Speigel “everything has turned to the question of who is responsible for the fiasco – and the costs.”
The project is estimated to have cost  €340 million in the last year alone, as investors struggle to salvage something of value, from a deeply flawed system which has never functioned as the designers intended. Full details at Breitbart.

My thought – if even the Germans, with their legendary high precision engineering skills, can’t make offshore wind work, surely it is time to pull the plug on this technically infeasible dead end?

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261 thoughts on “Offshore Wind power: Even Germany Can’t get it Right

  1. The distance offshore and the depth were attractive, as the further offshore and greater depth, the longer subsidies last.

    http://t.co/ODk3ffyEFA

    http://windmonitor.iwes.fraunhofer.de/bilder/upload/Windreport_2013_engl.pdf

    “Base remuneration and initial remuneration.
    The initial remuneration for offshore WTs is 15 ct/kWh and the base
    remuneration thereafter is 3.5 ct/kWh. After start-up of an
    offshore WT, the initial remuneration is prescribed for 12 years.
    Thereafter the feed-in remuneration is reduced to a base remuneration.
    Offshore WTs that are brought into operation up to
    2017 are remunerated for 12 years with 15 ct/kWh and thereafter
    with 3.5 ct/kWh. From 2018 onwards the remuneration
    will decrease each year by 7% [53] …”

    “Enhanced initial remuneration.
    All offshore WTs that are
    brought into operation up to the end of 2017 can apply for an
    enhanced initial remuneration of 19 ct/kWh as an alternative to
    the standard initial remuneration. In this case, the guaranteed
    period for the initial remuneration is reduced to 8 years. In cases
    where there is extension of the period of initial remuneration,
    further initial remuneration of 15 ct/kWh is paid for several years
    after elapse of the initial 8 year period, and this is followed by
    payment of the base remuneration of 3.5 ct/kWh”

    “Extension of the period of initial remuneration.
    The initial remuneration period is extended for offshore WTs that
    are constructed at least 12 nautical miles (ca. 22.2 km) out to
    sea or in water depths of at least 20 m. For each whole nautcal
    mile beyond the 12 nautical miles, the period is prolonged
    by half a month and for each additional whole meter of water
    depth the period is prolonged by 1.7 months. Figure 72 shows
    the length of the period of initial remuneration as a function
    of the distance from the shore and water depth [53]”

  2. Interesting comment in the story, the windmills are losing $340 million a year in operating income but cost $1 to $2 million a day to service. Of course the high service costs could be related to the fact they do not work, but if it was just normal service the farm at best would break even and at worst lose twice its annual income.

  3. Breitbart does not mention the nature of the maintenance problems. Could it be bearings as previously reported by WUWT? Could it be the simple fact that salt eats the —- out of everything as anybody who has ever dealt with ocean-going ships or had a boat on salt water surely knows. Could it be some other fundamental design problem? The world wants to know.

    • Could it be that that the whole industrial wind industry was designed specifically as a HUGE transfer of wealth scheme – intended just to siphon money out of taxpayers & ratepayers pockets, and into the pockets of ultra-rich corporate elites who don’t care about anything other than lining their own pockets at everybody else’s (and the environment’s) expense??? As I’ve been told by many an elected official and industrial wind advocate – “It’s ALL about the money!”

      Industrial Wind – The Great American SWINDLE:

      http://citizenpowerallianceblog.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-great-american-s-wind-le-not-clean.html

      • It could be and it is–a subsidy milking device. The fundamentals of wind power–high capital cost, low operating levels, erratic input that must be balanced by swing production–can’t possibly work, no matter what the engineering.

      • It is all about the money. As long as money can be made off from wind turbines it doesn’t matter if they work or not. These are investment opportunities plain and simple and mostly using someone else’s money either equity and/ or debt financing.

        The “green” crowd makes plenty of money off from this in one way or another.

    • DHR September 13, 2014 at 5:14 am
      Breitbart does not mention the nature of the maintenance problems. Could it be bearings as previously reported by WUWT?
      _____________________________

      Actually, it does mention the problem. It appears to be transmission, but does not elaborate.

      Quote:
      The wind farm comprises 80 5MW turbines situated 100 km off the north German coastline. The difficulty facing engineers is how to get the electricity generated back to shore. So far, every attempt to turn on the turbines has resulted in overloaded and “gently smouldering” offshore converter stations.

      Ralph

      • 400MW Offshore converter stations are a major problem in the power chain.. Its interesting because we have an ABB Variable Frequency Drive…

        “ABB’s technology for the offshore wind power industry is essential in the transmission of high quality power with minimal loss. ABB is the world leader in the supply of electrical components, systems and services for the wind power industry, and is uniquely positioned with a complete portfolio of products and services that embraces everything from power semiconductors and high-voltage sea and land cables to complete AC and DC converter stations.”
        http://new.abb.com/systems/offshore-wind-connections

    • As an aside, these are the bearings they use in the larger wind turbines. Less like a bearing, and more like a Swiss bank safe……

      Ralph

      • Those are tapered roller bearings. Each bearing carries the load at a single point and at any one time, only 2 or 3 bearings are loaded as the machine turns. They have minimal turning resistance and can be lubricated by a simple gravity feed system. But such bearings are a prescription for trouble considering the large and erratic load of the machine. Cylindrical (not tapered) bearings would carry the load better (loaded over a line instead of at a point) but would likely require a more robust lubrication system. The most reliable bearing would be a sleeve, aka journal, bearing but they would have more turning resistance and would need a high pressure lubrication system. Choices, choices, choices.

      • The off shore maintenance costs will only increase. Off shore wind farms are not economical due to construction and servicing issues caused by off shore locations. The cost to replace a set of wind turbine bearing on a off shore wind turbine is comparable to the cost of the wind turbine due to access issues. (a massive specialized boat complete with crane is required, the job cost is high as the work stops when sea conditions are not idea.)

        http://machinedesign.com/mechanical-drives/fixing-wind-turbine-gearbox-problems
        Fixing Wind-Turbine Gearbox Problems
        Gearboxes in wind turbines, more than those in any other application, tend to fail prematurely. In fact, at some wind projects, up to half of all gearboxes fail within a few years. There are several reasons for this, including the relative newness of the industry, the rapid evolution of turbines to extra-large sizes, poor understanding of turbine loads, and an emerging (and largely unexplained) failure mode in turbine bearings called axial cracking.

        Wind turbine load is chaotic as the wind speed is chaotic. Wind turbine bearing service is extreme and due to the rapidly changing load caused by wind speed variance (power output is proportional to the cube of wind speed) and due to attempt to increase efficiency and lower per wind turbine costs which has lead to the construction of larger and larger untested wind turbines designs.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power
        P.S. The wind farms are quoted at 100% power. The actual available power is for Germany 17% of rated power. An additional issue is the wind does not necessarily blow to match peak daily power demand. There must therefore be complete backup rapid start back power generation.
        Capacity factor
        For example, the German nation-wide average wind power capacity factor over all of 2012 was just under 17.5% (45867 GW•h/yr / (29.9 GW × 24 × 366) = 0.1746),[63] and the capacity factor for Scottish wind farms averaged 24% between 2008 and 2010.[14] (William: Scotland is one of the best locations in the world for on shore wind farms. )

      • >>Those are tapered roller bearings. Each bearing carries the
        >>load at a single point and at any one time.

        No so. The bearing cage is tapered too, and so (if accurately made) the bearing load is carried across the entire width of the bearing.

        The reason for using a taper bearing, is that it will take lateral loads as well as radial loads. A taper bearing is a half-way-house between a ball bearing and a roller bearing.

        Ralph

      • Those are some downright expensive looking tapered roller bearings! Quality bearings that I can hold in my hand can cost several hundred dollars; let alone ones I could stand in.

      • I’m pretty sure I can’t get one of those from Bunnings Hardware. Don’t tell me how much they cost. My heart couldn’t take it.

    • As far as I know it’s in the first place not a mechanical problem, but how to transport the generated energy ashore!
      To avoid the problems and losses of AC high voltage cables the current should have been rectified and led to the coast by a DC high voltage line! But the rectifier equipment still doesn’t work properly, instead it turned out that it was “gently smouldering”! No wonder, with the incoming fidgeting AC-current, which is difficult to control, because of its susceptibily to inaccurate phase and frequency!

      • I suspect a big grid tie inverter and all that entails, shunt circuits for under and over voltage conditions, capacitor filter banks. I bet the capacitors are as big as the drums on concrete trucks, for sure not easy to cool under load. I don’t even know how to build an oscillator Adler to handle megawatt loads. No wonder they shoulder. I bet the stage preceding the shouldering stage is more like a fireworks show.

    • @Barchester . . . absolutely correct, yet there are engineers inside the electrical energy system who are complicit in this political deception. I honestly thought we engineers were above this.

      • Corruption knows no bounds. Be it politicians, industry leaders, or engineers. Man can be corrupted. We all have our price, some are higher than others.

    • DHR
      Absolutely.
      Willis E, and I – with approaching a century in shipping between us – both know that salty air, salty water, salty tools etc. do indeed ‘eat(s) the —- out of everything’ near the sea – exactly as you say.

      Now, Mary K Barton and Barbara [also commenting above] appear to have hit the nail on the head: ‘follow the money’. Who profits? [my Latin was self taught, and decades ago – but wasn’t that ‘QUI BONO?’]

      Auto

    • Oh, I’d imagine plenty for fish holding structure. A shame that the rig bottoms make trawling tough so us simple fishermen and ladies must check the fish populations with rod and reel.

  4. I loved this quote from the Breitbart piece:

    So far, every attempt to turn on the turbines has resulted in overloaded and “gently smouldering” offshore converter stations.

    Oh dear – ‘gently smouldering…’ Such a shame. (tee hee)

    • I’m no fan of grid wind or solar (although I live off-grid and get 100% of my electrical needs from solar) but enjoying the shear waste is disturbing. The failures of these schemes could I suppose hasten the return of nukes which are and may always be the only solution to out needs.

      • Expat: ‘waste’ of what? As far as I can see there was nothing produced. Unless you are bemoaning the sheer waste of the billions spent building the darn (non-productive) wind-farms in the first place? In that case, I weep for the stupidity of it all and the folly of man that it could come to this.

      • Harry is correct. Nothing is wasted.

        Unknown to most, large scale loans are provided simply by the bank typing the numbers into an account (ie… Out of thin air, so to speak).
        The amount they can lend in this manner is set by central banks.

        It should also be noted that banks take (out of the money created from thin air) huge fees which constitute their profit source, and on each of the loans created they pay ridiculously generous bonuses to individual bankers.

        It is primarily for this reason large scale projects are favoured by the banks. There is no more work in a billion dollar loan compared with a million dollar lian.

    • that’s a whole lot better than the old solid state high power controls. Those things explode sometimes – blowing the doors off the cabinets – or at least that is one of the things that could happen when controlling a megawatt with something the size of a hockey puck.

  5. Actual science and the efficacy of a supposed fix for a trumped-up crisis mean little to the green hysterics. Loss of other people’s money means even less.

  6. Someday those wind turbines will make great artificial reefs for fishing, and that someday will probably come much sooner than expected. Note that they could have saved a lot of money on artificial reefs if they had just taken the wind turbines out and sunk them right away.

  7. I would prefer reading technical details about problems they have than about political squabble around it.It doesn’t look like the whole project is substantially wrong, just like there are some important details that were badly dimensioned. It’s not like germans are always perfect, they just make such impression. And even if these technical problems sink the whole project the experience can be used in future projects.
    That does not make windfarms any cheaper, I’m just saying they’re not as completely bad as the article is trying to suggest.

    • “And even if these technical problems sink the whole project the experience can be used in future projects.” Sounds like a comment from someone use to spending someone else’s money. I imagine we could have learned the same lesson from building one windmill in 130 feet of seawater.

      • I do believe that we plan to build a wind farm off of Hampton Roads, VA. ‘Dominion Virginia Power has been awarded a $47 million federal grant to build two test wind turbines off the coast of Virginia Beach, a pilot project that could set the stage for a large wind power farm.

        The company plans to install the two turbines – each more than 500 feet tall – 24 miles offshore and generate electricity starting in the summer of 2017.

        The two 6-megawatt turbines are designed to produce enough electricity to power up to 3,000 homes, said John Larson, Dominion’s director of alternative energy solutions. Underground cables would come ashore and tie into existing power infrastructure.

        The main goal of the project is to learn lessons to apply to a possible larger wind farm, he said.

        “Really, the key thing is getting the most energy out of each turbine and reducing the installation costs,” he said.’

    • While I agree that nothing is a TOTAL waste (after all, it makes a good “bad example” for others to avoid), yes, wind farms are every bit as bad as the article makes out, and worse. Do you realize that while they’re not generating power, the turbines are using it? People drive by and see the blades spinning, even in light airs, and think that they’re generating power, but the truth is, power is required to keep them spinning at all times, because if you let them stop altogether, the weight damages bearings by creating flat spots, and you need much higher wind pressure to get them to spin then you do to keep them spinning, overcoming inertia. So at times when the wind isn’t strong enough to propel them fast enough to generate, they consume power.

      It’s always feast or famine with a wind farm, and the other, thus-far insurmountable problem, is storage of power generated in excess of an immediate load requirement, and peak surge supply—which means that wind farms must always be tied to some other form of power generation both to keep them spinning, and to provide for the load during those peak hours when the wind is inconveniently absent.

      The environmental toll on birds is shocking as well.

      Given the current total lack of suitable power storage, the building of any wind-powered electrical generation sites on a commercial scale is a horrible waste of money better spent on other projects. This is a classic case of government/politics distorting the marketplace such that wealth is mis-allocated. And on an incredibly large scale. Projects of this sort, and the incredible waste they represent, is only the tip of the iceberg: by building all these “renewable” power generation stations without having engineered solutions to all the questions which MUST be answered before they can scaled to commercial use, governments have deliberately and/or inadvertently driven the costs of energy up to the point that it has real-world consequences. If the middle-class is feeling the strain of all that cost, what does it do to the worlds’ poor, who could little afford the expense, even a small one?

      Increased poverty and the misery it brings, famine, sickness, and death are the real consequences, but little spoken of in government circles, of pursuing madness like these large-scale wind farms, trying to run before they can even crawl.

      If history is any example, “renewable” power generation pursued for political reasons and subsidized by tax dollars will never work, and will continue to fail until a profit can be made from it without any government assistance at all.

      Wind simply isn’t there yet. None of the “renewables” is, yet. As of this moment, if they require government subsidies, they’re all just so much phogiston and perpetual motion machinery, no matter how hopeful they appear.

      • I know of 2 small wind farms in southern Alberta that I drive by fairly often and we now have 3 of the stupid turbines out side our city (Medicine Hat). When the wind isn’t blowing, they aren’t turning.

      • So we are required to put fish screens on water intakes and hydro-electric projects to provide protection for even the smallest of fishes. How about we require screening on wind turbines to protect avian life?

        Just kidding, but some body ought to raise the issue with EPA. If a snail darter can stop a dam project, surely the slaughtering of thousands of raptors ought to be cause for some concern? No? Killing in the name of Big Green is ok? Hmmm.

    • No wind farm with present techknowledgy, is economic over time. They are an eyesore and a bird killer. It’s hard to say it’s not all bad. I would be interested in that discussion.

    • They are worse than the article suggests, these devices have been around for well over 100 years and today only survive as a subsidised ” new” technology. The only way anyone would put these untested devices so far away from land is government money. A real business would of worked out details in a controlled enviornment, not 100 kms of shore where inspection, repairs and replacement is entirely at the mercy of the weather. Ships can not operate well in high winds and one would hope a windy area is where you would find wind ” farms”. The writer of this article is ass covering because they probably thought it was a reasonable idea at some point.

      • CMC Writes: –
        “Ships can not operate well in high winds and one would hope a windy area is where you would find wind “farms”. ”

        +10 to the power 10 to the power 10 [ad infinitum]

        A cheap way of servicing things at sea is to use a small boat [‘small’ -<20 metres, 100 metres [>300 feet, yeah, I’m approximating, I’m a seaman] – priced at over USD $20,000 per day (whether the weather allows them to work or not . . . .) whilst they are on charter.
        The really big jobs, which can work reasonably in Beaufort 7 (near gale) or Beaufort 8 (Gale) will set you pack nearer $100,000 US for every 24 hours – and even with these, approaching too close to a bird chopper is dangerous, as if their control falters, or the wind gusts badly, we are suddenly minus a bird chopper, but plus a fish reef.
        It was nudged by 50,000 tonnes moving at >1 m/s.
        Nuff said.

        Auto

  8. As a retired mechanical engineer who spent a goodly chunk of what is laughingly called a ‘career’ trying to maintain production machinery inside a nice warm building, firmly on land, and frequently failing, I wouldn’t touch the maintenance problems associated with offshore wind farms with the proverbial disinfected bargepole…

    • Right. I’ve said it before, pinwheels on land are stupid enough (and those w/easy access). Putting them offshore is stupid squared.

      • actually, it depends upon how close to the coast, not just offshore or onshore. we’ve got a few bird blenders down in this region. galvanizing and stainless steel last longer than iron but you’d be amazed at how poorly these perform over just a few years even further from the coast than the local wind farms. It’s amazing they have been able to break even with the subsidies. Without the subsidies, I don’t think they can produce enough income to actually cover maintenance costs.

  9. I find nothing to gloat about in the discovery that a (supposedly) cheap, clean and easy power source turns out to be unfeasible.

    Getting a little tribal here, maybe?

    • I agree with the point. However, the impetus for the project (purportedly on account of closing nuclear power plants) does deserve contempt. There is a cheap power source in nuclear, but for some reason that’s not good enough. And it’s not on account of safety.

      • The Germans decided to close their nuclear power stations after seeing the results of the tsunami in Japan. You can’t be too careful even when your country is nowhere near an earthquake zone.

      • Stonyground
        September 13, 2014 at 6:49 am
        “The Germans decided to close their nuclear power stations after seeing the results of the tsunami in Japan. You can’t be too careful even when your country is nowhere near an earthquake zone.”

        Well of course sabotage of a German nuclear power plant wouldn’t use a Tsunami.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsunami_bomb

    • Uncle Gus

      You say

      I find nothing to gloat about in the discovery that a (supposedly) cheap, clean and easy power source turns out to be unfeasible.

      Getting a little tribal here, maybe?

      Windpower is Bronze Age technology that had thousands of years of development until it was abandoned when the invention of the steam engine enabled the great energy density in fossil fuels to conduct work.

      The resulting cheaper and more efficient energy supply enabled the end of slavery and growth of human wealth, health and well-being previously unimagined.

      In recent decades some charlatans have conned gullible fools into thinking that a return to the latest version of the Bronze Age technology could provide “a (supposedly) cheap, clean and easy power source”. Some of the gullible fools are losing money in Germany where the concept of schadenfreude was defined.

      People whose money was extracted from them by the charlatans and gullible fools are enjoying schadenfreude at the loss of money now also being experienced by the gullible fools. There is no “tribalism” involved.

      Richard

      • A hundred years ago, you would have found windmills all over Texas, and the smaller states :-), pumping water, a task to which they are well suited. Almost all of them have been replaced by electric pumps because of the high maintenance expense.
        Now we have them producing electric power because of the subsidy.

      • Sam hall,

        there are still windmills being put out in texas. we considered one. however the cost of the windmill equipment – especially for deeper wells like our’s can be more than the cost of our complete electric well – including the drilling and the equipment. And, it is easier to have a nice pressurized system like city water than it is to have a gravity pressure tank system – which can also be damaged by windstorms much easier. The tradeoff decision really seems to be whether there is electric power available at the site or how much it might cost to bring it in versus the added cost of the windmill and tank.

    • It was never “supposedly” cheap, as can be observed from the fact that it requires subsidies amounting to several times the price of on-shore coal and gas generated power.

      As for “clean”, ask the Chinese neighbouring the neodymium mining and extraction facilities.

      Plus, anyone who thinks any major industrial project tens of kilometres offshore in the North Sea is ever going to be anything but extremely difficult doesn’t get out much.

      • I agree!

        North Sea has some of the worst storms in the world, on account of a shallow continental shelf and nasty tidal currents. At least one major oil rig was destroyed in a storm in that area.

      • catweazle666, DavidQ –
        + lots and Lots.

        I’ve hit a wave in the North Sea that I reckon was 75 feet [23 metres] trough to crest.
        Note – I’m a seaman, and I do ‘do’ “arm waving estimates”. As accurate as I can – but estimates, only estimates (aka ‘guided guesses’).
        Please note well.
        Thanks.

        As this single wave combined three wave trains, from three separate storms, it was a short and very steep sea.
        I was on an Emergency Support Vessel (current call sign V7IS9), with twin pontoons, and the bottom of the thwartships block about 15 metres/fifty feet out of the water.
        On the bridge – five decks above – we took a green water wave over the wheelhouse, as our ship [15000 gross tons, deadweight perhaps a bit more] slid down a ‘hole in the water’ and was still going down when we hit a near vertical wall of water.
        The bottom plating [remember, some fifty feet or fifteen metres above a (calm) sea level] was set up by a foot and a half/half a metre.
        We had several naval architects on board on the first helicopter after the storm abated.
        ‘How did you do this to our ship? It can ride the hundred year wave!’
        Explaining “adding waves” took several Master Mariners several lessons in controlling distaste.

        “Anyone who thinks any major industrial project tens of kilometres offshore in the North Sea is ever going to be anything but extremely difficult doesn’t get out much.”

        Absolutely true, but the actual situation at sea – certainly in bad weather – is simply too bad for most ‘land-lubbers’ (I hate that term, but it is a good shorthand) to imagine; and I have avoided all but the edges of a Hurricane/typhoon (we sheltered behind an island, on a nearly-new 25,000 tonne tanker).

        And bankers or watermelons or politicians or visionaries or subsidy thieves [I’m never sure I can tell the difference] seem to think that wind power – out there – will solve our problems . . . . . . . .

        I will avoid ad hominem commentary/abuse.
        And tomorrow is Monday. Back on the commuter train and deal with problems on ships . . . . . . . . .

        Auto

    • It didn’t just “turn out” to be “unfeasible”.
      It was advocated, connived, lobbied, funded, hatched, launched and built in a cult like environment with unscrupulous people covering up every red flag and fatal flaw.

      • Or in other words, it was a criminal activity, which is sanctioned by politicians- and used to enrich themselves and their pals.

    • Gus,
      It is not tribal to be upset when organization take your money forcefully and spends it foolishly, while calling you ignorant for not believing their hype. The tribal approach involves pitchforks, clubs and lynch mob justice for the perpetrators of the scam. They tribes may be right on this one.

    • A lot to gloat actually, because engineers have been saying this for years, and now they are proven right. Gloat time!!

    • Ok, Uncle Gus, what is cheap, clean and easy about these things if you dig into their manufacture, waste, grid integration, maintenance and damage to raptors; never mind those that are near people. Spend some time reading about them. Not tribal at all. I looked at wind and solar for my farm. No payback. Nada. Even at doubled grid power prices, I am so much better off with grid in my location. Heck, they’d be all frozen up and snowed under for the last week anyway. Maybe in the southern US (Altamont) wind may be a good power source (but I suspect the raptors and bats aren’t impressed); and no doubt bird frying solar in the Mojave will work. Maybe.

      Well off the break the ice off the water troughs.

    • Not at all. Many of us, engineers in the main, have pointed out for years that this is a mad waste of money and effort. The design parameters for offshore wind are unable to be met. Corrosion, wind, wave are all serious issues, add to that support access issues and you have a real problem child.

      Ships are hard work to keep functioning and they pull into harbour from time to time and have a full time engineering crew onboard 24/7. These towers will rot and fail and can only be visited when the weather permits. Getting highly variable output to come into phase and be managed by sophisticated electronics at sea, interconnected with other large but variable machines is just not going to be reliable.

      Bad ideas are just that. Ignoring sound engineering advice to make political statements is just a waste of other peoples money. Offshore wind is a mirage, as is wave power and tidal power. Materials science cannot overcome the challenges and engineering design will be overwhelmed by nature as we just don’t have sufficient data to base designs on. This is not about money it’s about reality.

    • It’s more than tribal. Two years ago I did a cross country trip. I was appalled at the eyesores out there. Beautiful landscapes ruined by those monstrosities that went on as far as the eye could see. Most of them could have been replaced by a nuclear plant that wouldn’t even have been visible from the road. Of a Natural gas plant. Or even a cola plant.

      I can’t wait until they start coming down. Unfortunately, like many abandoned wind farms, they’ll probably just rust in place, awaiting time so slowly erode them. Unlike San Onofre, which we’ll pay $4.4B to decommission. Seems there is not such retirement planned for wind mills.

  10. As soon as you read, “According to Breitbart” you have to stop and consider the source. It’s like claiming you are “fair and balanced”

  11. “If you’ve got the impression that it’s all just one huge disorganised cluster f**k, that is haemorrhaging money left, right and centre, to no sane purpose, you’re right. You can smile and thank your lucky stars that but for the vagaries of some self-serving politics, there go us, but don’t get too comfortable. If your own government continues to pursue similar policies, you’ll end up exactly where the Germans are today, but just a few more years down the line.”

    http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/examples-will-have-to-be-made-germany/

    Germany is now finding out all about the downside of first mover advantage.

    Pointman

  12. Look on it as a new and unique resource, an offshore, open cast neodymium mine.
    The purity of the ore must make it a real winner.

    • They’re wind turbines, not windmills. BTW

      Now do you see anything that suggests that the “windmills” are not working? No.

      Perhaps the 175 working “windmills” of the London array could be regarded as proof of concept.

    • A proof-of-concept windmill was done and sold long ago by CFO Sancho PONZI and his COO Don Quixote. Unfortunately the lessons of the past are disregarded and disparaged.

      George Santayana wrote on point in 1905 in The Life of Reason, Reason in Common Sense; “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual.”

  13. It would be interesting to know what is wrong with the German project. Even the British managed to get their larger 650 MW system online, what happened to German reputation for engineering. Maybe like their power tools, they are all sub-contracted out and made in China !

    Maybe Cameron is right for once. Britain ( or maybe soon Scotland ) is a better investment prospect if they have got is sussed and the Germans can’t work out what they’ve done wrong.

    This probably something stupid like the Hubble space telescope getting ground to the wrong spec.

    The project is estimated to have cost €340 million in the last year alone…

    Typically dishonest and misleading selective quotation. It has not cost €340 million , it had failed to create that much in anticipated revenue.

    If BP’s share dividend goes down you don’t say it has “cost you money” , because it paid you less than you had projected.

    It has probably cost several million euro not hundreds of millions.

    As ever, those who oppose wind power anyway are going snicker snicker.

    A large part of the Breitbart article was about the working British London Array and projects but Eric Worrel does not even mention its existence.

    • I’m not sure, but 1 to 2 million a day for maintenance may well be called costs.

      Transmission is a huge problem with this array. 100KM distance to shore I believe, and for difficulties with HVDC transmission, see above post.

      HVAC is not suitable for transmission beyond about 40 KM IIRC.

    • climbing the link chain: Notrickszone reports; “The extended shut down will mean a further financial blow to the project, with cost overruns reported to be already well in the double digit millions of euros.”

      • And?

        Maintenance goes on whether project is ‘shut down’ or not, otherwise the turbines quickly become garbage.

        Core personnel keep receiving paychecks.

        Extended shutdowns DO constitute a ‘further financial blow’

        Cost overruns have already been experienced, with apparently more to come.

        Please show how anything in your post above disputes the 340 Million euro previous year cost you seem to take issue with.

    • IMHO, I think you miss the point: investors are persuaded based on projected returns. And corporations base allocations on expected returns. If they lost a projected amount, it’s because they expected that, and had plans that had to stop because they didn’t earn it. This might mean they lost little, or it may mean they lost more than the amount quoted. Difficult to say. I’d guess more, in aggregate, because they weren’t the only ones losing: the people who expected that power had to get it elsewhere. Higher demand and less supply means the costs went up. People who paid for the installation of that wind farm got nothing on their investment, and taxpayers lost as well, both in the tax costs, and in the cost of higher power bills because of the rush to “renewables” and it’s failure.

      Add in the maintenance costs which exist whether the farm is generating or not, and the cost to keep those turbines spinning when the wind cannot, and the remoteness of the region which means the costs of maintenance are far greater than a land-based facility…

      The cost quoted may well be conservative.

    • Greg writes: “As ever, those who oppose wind power anyway are going snicker snicker.”

      There is no human on this planet who opposes wind power. There are many who oppose expensive solutions to simple problems, and further oppose them when they are manifestly uneconomic, ugly, deadly to wildlife, and fail to resolve whatever problems they were meant to solve. If you can find a way to utilize wind power, or indeed any type of power generation, that is cheaper than coal or nuclear, that does not destroy wildlife on a massive scale, and does not destroy the natural beauty of the planet, there would be no opposition to it.

      You presuppose that carbon dioxide is a danger that is more important than any other consideration. That is, I am afraid, a minority view, getting less popular by the day.

    • Share dividend?

      The dividend paid to investors after all the company’s profits and losses are accounted for?

      If the dividend went down, it is typical after the company posting the dividend had to use the cash to offset losses. Less profit equals less dividend.

      Your odd accounting makes no sense.

  14. http://notrickszone.com/2014/07/31/renewable-energy-mega-flop-germanys-largest-offshore-windpark-hasnt-delivered-any-power-since-march/

    Poorly engineered

    Ingenieur.de writes, however, that it is unlikely that the problem has to do with the HVDC technology, as it is successfully being used all over the world. The engineering magazine believes the problems likely stem from the technology that is placed just before the HVDC platform, which “was designed by Bard itself, and not by an experienced company like ABB, Siemens or General Electric.” (One can almost sense the schadenfreude).

    ===

    So with all that expertise in world class electronics based in Germany why aren’t they using it?

    This problem has nothing to do with “windmills” and probably not the transmission system.

    Maybe “market forces” or corruption.

      • Exactly. The current green zeitgeist is that any desired solution can be arrived at given sufficient money and pressure. Sorry but that is never going to work. Bad ideas are just that, bad ideas.

      • CMC writes
        “The best engineering in they world will not turn a bad idea into good one.”

        Agreed – + lots . . . . .

        And –
        Especially in the presence of sea air – with salt.
        NaCl – with free oxygen – makes rust of an awful lot of what mankind has launched onto the seas.
        Bird choppers do not do a separate branch of physics.
        And these are ‘off-shore’ arrays.
        . . . . . . and guess what about the proximity of salt?

        Auto

    • Greg: You are a relentless supporter of wind ‘turbines’, aren’t you? But tell me, assume that all the engineering and design for this array was met to your satisfaction and, assuming that nothing broke down – though routine maintenance would have to continue, I think you’d agree, and assuming that all the electricity that could be generated was generated, do you still think a turbine array is value for money – compared to say, a land-based gas-fired generator of the same nameplate capacity – or even of the PF capacity (30% on a good day)?

    • Greg, I agree that there have to be unique implementation problems related to this specific installation. That doesn’t mean the problem has nothing to do with windmills as you assert. Large scale power generation at sea is a new thing and difficulties in implementation will naturally occur here and there. But why is this power plant being built at sea? It’s because it’s a power plant based on windmills. So that’s something to do with windmills. When generation goes down, what still has to be maintained and possibly kept spinning at cost? Windmills. Lastly, this being a windmill power plant, it has many many generators strewn over miles and miles of ocean, each of which has a much higher cost to output ratio than a typical steam power plant’s generators. That means opportunities for producing profit in periods when things do work are significantly reduced. I imagine that if this were a coal or gas burning plant at sea that experienced the same amount and type of whatever engineering problems this one is doing, it’s losses would be a great deal lower. If that’s true, then the problem is at least in part related to the generating method which is windmills.

  15. It is all for the good. We need more clear evidence of failures like this one for the German people to get their fascination with green energy out of their system. On the bright side, this is much less damaging than starting a war, the appetite for which previous generations of Germans needed to get out of their system (I’m German myself and allowed to say that).

    • It is not so much any so-called appetite for war that gets nations in trouble, as it is their susceptibility to propaganda.

    • Michael Palmer
      September 13, 2014 at 6:47 am
      “On the bright side, this is much less damaging than starting a war, the appetite for which previous generations of Germans needed to get out of their system (I’m German myself and allowed to say that).”

      I’m German and I’m happy to call you an asshole for saying that multiple generations of Germans (i.e. the common German people) wanted to start wars; EVEN without going into the details of who started what.

      • Dirk,
        I’m a Brit, and I agree with you.

        The – how the +*”^$*!:* do I phrase this? – hoi polloi/ordinary people/mass of the populace/non war-profiteers fairly obviously do not want ‘a war’ – as they (That’s “we”, for >98% of the readers of this blog) will be the poor sods fighting it, and so the souls exposed to the death and injury required from combatants.
        See, for example, the Invictus Games just ending in London.

        Did the average Potsdamer or Hamburger want a war in 1937 or 1938 or 1939? Of course not.
        Blindingly obvious, really.

        Yet they – and the souls from Peterborough, and Hampshire (and half the world) – got one in 1939.

        However started . . . . . . . .

        Auto

    • Well, in hindsight I have to say that my comment about starting a war, even if it wasn’t intended that way, was quite a troll post, as it made a statement about a controversial issue that managed to be sweeping and vague at the same time. It deservedly attracted a number of low-quality replies.

      That said, Dirk H, you need to work on your manners. You don’t have the excuse of stupidity and are perfectly able to express your disagreement, anger, contempt etc. without resorting to name-calling.

  16. The total investment is said to be $3.8 billion (2.9 billion Euro).

    I mean really – $3.8 billion can buy a lot of groceries. Normally, the big money people do not invest this much money in anything without going through every possible risk and putting in place a strategy to avoid it.

  17. Did anyone think to build a trial or research wind farm maybe 1 or 8 turbines 100 km offshore so that they could find out if the idea was even workable in the real (N0 models) world? Or did they jump onto the gravy train of “guaranteed” profits at the expense of the users of the electricity as well as the taxpayers?

    By the way, how much does it cost to keep each of the turbines turning when they are consuming rather than producing? Does the energy that turns the blades when not producing electricity come from power drained from the grid (which means from coal) or is gas or oil delivered to each turbine via ships?

  18. Anytime a subsidized industry fails to make projected earnings means a loss. And sometimes a direct cost. But only if the subsidized contract includes remuneration of failed projected income. If the subsidized contract penned by Germany has this clause, the failed projected income becomes a real part of overall cost.

    Whoever is underwriting subsidies, which downstream is usually subsidized on the wallets of tax payers, is always immune from those costs being taken out of their own personal income. Which is a shame. If politicians pass a subsidized program, I think their own salaries ought to be included when the remuneration clause is activated. If projected income fails to materialize, those who supported the boondoggle ought to cough up their own income, all of it if necessary. I would imagine far fewer proposed subsidized programs would see the light of day in parliamentary procedures.

  19. Maybe instead of Hindenburg technology, they have to think more in terms of Goodyear Blimp technology.
    These things cost more than they create – in terms of energy and dollars (or euros).
    Smaller versions could pump oil or water out of the ground for various purposes.

    • During the time of the Hindenburg there were no synthetic rubbers. The cells in the Zeppelins were hand-sewn from calf intestines. Comparing a Zeppelin to a Blimp is like comparing the first Motorola cell phone to an iPhone 6.

      • Maybe it’s a bad analogy, but it’s a disaster in the making…
        (I particularly liked H.R.’s comment that if they wanted to make artificial reefs, they could have just towed them out and sunk them right away.)
        H.R. September 13, 2014 at 5:54 am

  20. Developers of Germany’s first commercial offshore wind farm, located in the North Sea off of Bockum, reportedly ran into unexploded ordnance from the Second World War. The explosives on the ocean floor were impeding completion of the connections between the turbines and their intended electricity customers on land.

  21. Assuming that wind and/or solar can overcome inherent disadvantages with techonolgy some day in the future, relying on wind significantly now is much like making people rely on air travel from the time that Da Vinci first mused about air travel.

  22. What may be easy and straight forward maintenance on land, becomes very difficult at sea as supply ships/ships with cranes heave up and down and roll from side to side in the swell and waves/wind conditions.

    The problem is that maintenance at sea is very expensive. You cannot easily pre-plan maintenance since you do not know when there will be good weather windows that will permit maintenance work to be carried out, and in adverse weather conditions maintenance cannot be safely conducted.

    Accordingly, there are huge standby costs, commissioning and decommisioning of supply vessels etc. anyone involved in the off-shore industry will be familiar with this.

    The planners have grossly underestimated the harsh environment that these wind turbines are operating in and the toll that this takes on machinery (even the blades will be rough profiled within a short period as they get abrassed by salt air), and the diffiuclties of performing maintenance and hence they have grossly under-estimated the running costs and downtime.

    Off shore wind was always mad. It was only proposed because of the eyesore that windfarms have on areas of natural beauty, the politicians though out of sight out of mind. But engineering wise, the decision is a disaster.

    • The better the location for wind “farms” , meaning a windy location, the more difficult the access for repairs, inspection etc. now if they built them in areas where there is not much wind repairs would be easier.

  23. Thanks, Eric. I think it is not actually a “bottomless money pit”, it is only 40 meters deep.
    But that’s enough. That money is lost, it will be turned into petroleum, together with birds killed, in a few millions years.

  24. The problem is electrical/electronical, and it is said that it is due to the unexperience of Bard on these issues. But it could be more fundamental; it seems that they have unexpected harmonics which trouble the AC/DC and DC/AC converters; perhaps a problem on the “mini grid” of the wind mills before the AC/DC converter which is not a problem when all the wind mills are connected directly on a huge normal grid.

    • Voluavent. The problem isn’t harmonics. It is something called ramp rates. The turbine blades are constantly adjusting to variation in wind speed, Ramping up and down to try to keep the generator at a constant loading. This is obviously not instantaneous, and introduces ramp rate fluctuations in the electricity. Think mini fast brownouts. With land based systems, these are compensated at the grid connection by statcomms or synchronous condensers that are necessary to stabilize the grid anyway. Cannot be done?/was not done$ out at sea with Bard 1.

      • Dear Rud

        ramp rates are fluctuations of power; it creates effectively some problems on the grid, but I do not think that is the actual issue on Bard1; I suppose it is either a problem of the management of the reactiv component of the current or a problem of harmonics produced by the assembly of all the equipments (transformers, converters, filters, cables) coming from different suppliers which seem to be one of the well identified difficulties of such a system .(they speak of “wild currents”)
        It is crucial for them to solve this, as the DC transmission is the key issue for the whole huge planned project for the future

  25. For all the talk of losses, someone did make and someone still is making piles of money from this fiasco.

  26. I get frustrated at the people who are blindly anti-fossil fuel as much as I get angry at people who are blindly anti-wind. Every technology in human history goes brought fits and starts until people learn from past mistakes and makes it better. More efficient, So, we shouldn’t be blindly crowing everytime a mishap or setback happens somewhere in this world.

    All of this technology is ultimately going to lead to a better world to live in. We should all be enthusiastic for it and hopeful for its success.

    That being said,it should be funded by (mostly) private interests and not propped up by illegitimate carbon taxing schemes. Then we have the duty to be openly critical.

    • I am all for new technologies, but wind is not new technology and will never build a better world.

      It was superseded and made redundant centuries ago.

      It is extremely rarely the case that the way to the future, is back to the past, and if there were no subsidies, it would never have been given a second look in.

    • “All of this technology is ultimately going to lead to a better world to live in.”

      That’s pretty naive.
      Lots of technologies fail simply because they’re inefficient.

    • Adam

      You say

      All of this technology is ultimately going to lead to a better world to live in. We should all be enthusiastic for it and hopeful for its success.

      A “better world to live in” was built by abandoning wind power in favour of fossil fuels when the steam engine enabled the great energy intensity in fossil fuels to do work.

      A return to using the low energy intensity in normal winds can only remove the benefits gained from replacing wind power with fossil fuels. We should all be enthusiastic for opposition to the con-artists promoting a return to windpower and hopeful for their failure.

      Richard

    • There is no blind anti-wind. Wind turbines are a bad idea on land, and a much worse idea out to sea. Wind turbines cost more than they are worth.

      The safest, most economical, some would say most abundant energy source is coal.

      There is no reason to limit CO₂. Therefore, there is no valid reason not to burn all the coal we need to run our civilization, and carry on with the business of improving life for our species on this planet.

      ~

      I suggest everyone abandon the incorrect terminology windmill, and use the more precise term wind turbine. I don’t care what Wikipedia says. I’d rather listen to this guy:

      If words are not correct, then language will not be in accordance with the truth of things.
      孔夫子
      Kǒng fūzǐ
      Confucius

    • >That being said,it should be funded by (mostly) private interests and not propped up by illegitimate carbon taxing schemes.
      That being said, do you really think any private interest is foolish enough to fund this nonsense??? The ONLY reason these are build is because of the public gravy trains and food for the useful idiots.

    • “That being said,it should be funded by (mostly) private interests and not propped up by illegitimate carbon taxing schemes. Then we have the duty to be openly critical.”

      Absolutely Adam! I am all for that. Tell the governments that they should not use ‘our’ money, only yours and investors like you.

      • ““All of this technology is ultimately going to lead to a better world to live in.”

        Nope. Let me correct this: “All of this technology PUT TO BENEFICIAL USE is ultimately going to lead to a better world to live in.”

        Technology is good/evil neutral. It is the application that makes the difference.

  27. The problem is that BARD 1 bought a professionally designed AC to HVDC station from ABB but feeds it with a self-designed AC to AC voltage converter; BARD 1 was too cheap to outsource that one as well. I guess it is that ad hoc designed unit that is the cause of the problems.

    This will be fixed eventually, there will be lawsuits, and somebody will go bankrupt. In either case, of course an offshore wind turbine park is far more expensive than a simple gas power plant, and far less useful as long as one has a supply of NatGas – which is currently jeopardized by USA/NATO strategy.

  28. Get wind generated electricty to an electric meter, without any other coal, nuke, water, gas powered plant on line also,,, then we can talk.
    These things are 100% carried by tax money or the other power sources used in the grid.

    As of now little if any wind generated electricty gets to a meter ever.

  29. The resistance is not so much a liberal vs conservative or such.

    The transmission lines, the dristribution lines and the transformers are the “resistance”.
    Keep it simple.

  30. There is a large wind farm in the Smoky Hill region of central Kansas that I have driven past on I-70 and flown over on many occasions. An enormous network of service roads snakes through the wind farm. I can usually spot trucks parked next to the turbines which seem to require constant maintenance. Do they use electric vehicles to get around on these roads, or are their vehicles fossil fuel powered? If the vehicles are powered by diesel or gas, how much fuel do they expend on a monthly basis? Is this an ecologically sound practice?

  31. And to all the Breitbart haters; they did a good job reporting it. I’ve been reading about the BARD 1 fiasco for months on notrickszone , Spiegel , Witschaftswoche, FWN and many more.

    Because I cherish a good tech disaster.

  32. I suppose that I am a pedant, a semantic pedant at that.
    Be that as it may, I have to say that a turbine is built with a fixed nozzle ring to its outer casing that increases the velocity of a gas (superheated steam, for example) and impacts on a series of turbine blades that are individually fixed to a rotating shaft. There can be more than one row of nozzles, and, indeed of turbine blading.
    There are no nozzle rings on wind propelled generators, and they are therefore not turbines.
    Perhaps it would be more accurate to call them wind impellers, but for me, ‘windmills’ does the trick, and they will die a death just the same as their forbears for grinding grain.

    • Wasn’t it Churchill who said “The Americans always do the right thing – after they’ve exhausted all the other possibilities.”

      English-American here, living in Germany. I’ve seen all three approaches. The trouble is, the Greens (aka watermelons) seem to have an inborn aversion to maths. With their pie-in-the-sky poorly-planned schemes they always end up using someone else’s money to balance their equations (apologies to Margaret Thatcher on that one…).

      Interesting too is the fact that ex-chancellor Schroeder played a large part in the (soon-to-be) fiasco of Germany’s dependence on Russian natural gas. With the Greens’ managing to get nuclear shut down, natural gas (along with coal, of course), becomes crucially important as an energy source, either for electricity production, or heading/fuel/etc. How convenient, then, for Herr Schroeder who is likely benefitting from his, cough, advisory role to Gazprom and Russia. With electricity prices rocketing upward, and the crises in eastern Europe, the coming winter looks to be very cold indeed.

      • The fact that Schroeder pushed through the construction of the Nordstream pipeline might be the only thing that saves us when NATO policies lead to a shutdown of gas transport through Ukraine and Poland.

        Schroeder did not make us more dependent on Russia; we’ve been buying their oil and gas since the 1970ies. We would so LOVE to have a gas pipeline directly from the home of the free but UNFORTUNATELY geography doesn’t favor it. XXXXOOOO.

      • @Dirk, you’re right, I confused that with the other pipeline. Good thing then, that it’s an alternate source, although I wonder if (Ras)Putin would be inclined to turn off the tap anyway…lots of money to be made in wintertime :( I do remember Schroeder going to Nordstream (of course the same thing happens in the US and other countries too…sort of a cronyistic cross-pollination of politicians). Wish I could strike oil (better yet, gold) in my backyard :)

      • “@Dirk, you’re right, I confused that with the other pipeline. Good thing then, that it’s an alternate source, although I wonder if (Ras)Putin would be inclined to turn off the tap anyway…”

        A) Germany is dancing a complicated dance now; we must not anger the Americans who control NATO; and we want peaceful business with Russia at the same time

        B) You might think calling Putin Rasputin is a kind of insult. In fact, Rasputin was a pacifist; he was murdered shortly before WW I so he would not be there to convince the Tzar to stay out of the war. In my book Rasputin was one of the sanest political advisors you could have.

  33. As I recall, offshore wind usually attains somewhat less than 40% capacity. Let’s assume 40%, to be generous. That would make this offshore windfarm capable of 160 MWs, average. I assume many are not familiar with power plant capacities, but base load generators, like coal and nuclear typically run at 100% (sometimes more for nuclear – 110%) while they are online. Nuclear overall averages about mid 90 percent capacity, but that is because of downtime for refueling, but that is not an issue, since refueling always is scheduled for the time of the year when power consumption is much reduced (Spring and Fall) and closing the plant does no harm nor cause extra expense. In effect, nuclear plants run at 100% (or greater) capacity, almost always.
    Total German (net) power capacity is aproximately 150,000 MW!! That should provide a picture of just how insignificant is the net power capacity of this windfarm (160MW). It’s NOTHING!! A tenth of one percent. It wouldn’t even rate a mention in any analysis of German power generation. A smaller-than-average closed cycle gas generator could replace the whole damn windfarm and probably be built in a week or so. And it wouldn’t need any additional generation capacity sitting around costing money, unike the windfarm.

    • +1
      I really hate to see so much hand wringing and extra effort thrown in to make electrical generation so difficult. The whole idea is to make it cheap, easy, and get it to the customers in abundance. Economies grow strong with cheap abundant power!, why dick around with these windmills that suck more economic resources than they generate? Each dollar, or Euro, thrown into something wasteful is money that could have been used to grow the economy. How long do politicians who press this nonsense think we are going to tolerate this? How are we expected to remain inspired and productive when we see them throw hard earned money away. Why do we tolerate their insinuations about our patriotism and commitment when we are reluctant to turn over even more money?
      /rant over/

  34. With climate change, it’s the appearance of making an effort that counts. Build a few wind turbines and you can be forgiven for using massive amounts of your own coal.

  35. Breitbart article
    FLAGSHIP GERMAN OFFSHORE WIND FARM PROJECT HUMILIATED BY TECHNICAL FAULTS

    by DONNA RACHEL EDMUNDS 12 Sep 2014

    Germany’s flagship Bard 1 offshore wind farm has been described as “a faulty total system” as technical problems continue to plague the project, casting major doubts on the feasibility of large scale offshore projects.

    The wind farm was officially turned on in August last year but was shut down again almost immediately due to technical difficulties that have still not been resolved – and now lawyers are getting involved.
    The wind farm comprises 80 5MW turbines situated 100 km off the north German coastline. The difficulty facing engineers is how to get the electricity generated back to shore. So far, every attempt to turn on the turbines has resulted in overloaded and “gently smouldering” offshore converter stations.

    Built at a cost of hundreds of millions and costing between €1 and €2 million a day to service, the project is estimated to have cost €340 million in lost power generation over the last year alone. And if the problems with the technology are deemed not to be the fault of the operator, German taxpayers will be on the hook for the running and repair costs, thanks to the German Energy Act 2012.

    Understandably, the project’s investors are becoming increasingly nervous, which is why lawyers are now scrambling to pin the blame elsewhere. According to the German magazine Speigel “everything has turned to the question of who is responsible for the fiasco – and the costs.”

    Inevitably, the fiasco has brought into question the feasibility of the entire green energy industry. The Bard 1 project was designed to be the global leader in offshore wind design: a model for everyone else to follow. That it doesn’t work has already cast doubt on other projects. Energy company Trianel are concerned that their ‘Windpark Borkum’, Germany’s second largest major offshore project, will now not work when it comes online next month. And they have already shelved plans for a further 200MW offshore project until the technology can be proven.

    Germany already has amongst the highest energy bills in the world, not helped by the EU’s commitment to carbon reduction measures at the behest of an increasingly hysterical climate change industry, and the rest of Europe fares no better. British and European climate change policies already add an extra ten percent to British householders’ energy bills, at a time when fuel poverty affects one in four people.

    Offshore wind is often seen as the acceptable face of green energy. Earlier this year Conservative minister Michael Fallon announced that the party was planning to scrap subsidies for onshore wind farms, but they remain fully committed to offshore projects.

    Opening the 175 turbine, 630MW capacity London Array wind farm, the world’s largest to date, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron said “This is a great day for Britain and a big win for renewable energy. London Array shows you can build large scale renewable energy projects right here in Britain. This is because when it comes to clean energy, the UK has one of the clearest investment climates globally.”
    His support gives the lead for the rest of his party, with Conservatives of all ranks lining up to get behind offshore wind power.

    In July, planning permission was granted by the government for a 175 turbine wind farm off the historic south coast of England, which will be seen from the newly created South Downs national park and tourist spots such as Beachy Head. The Rampion project will cost £2 billion to construct, and is expected to be handed £200 million a year in taxpayer subsidies. The local Conservative candidate for Lewes constituency, which runs along the affected coastline, wrote to her local paper to underline her support for the project, saying “I supported this scheme and actually voted for it as a local councillor when it was first proposed a few years ago. I was therefore delighted when the Conservative led Government approved the scheme earlier this year.
    “The Rampion Wind farm will bring a much needed energy supply for the country but it will also be a huge boost to the local economy and that is why I voted for it in 2010 and why I still support it now.”

    Likewise, Conservative MP Therese Coffey, whose Suffolk Coastal constituency is likely to be affected by a vast offshore wind farm project, has also written in support of offshore wind. An article on her website reads “Therese has welcomed the announcement from the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills that an Offshore Wind Investment Organisation to boost levels of inward investment and to further stimulate jobs in the UK offshore wind industry, will be set up.
    “Therese said: “The creation of the Offshore Wind Investment Organisation will help bring enormous economic benefit to our shores, supporting skilled jobs. … The formation of this industry-led partnership will boost the positive benefits that the offshore wind sector can bring to the UK economy”.”

    However, with the Bild 1 turbines are already being tagged “white elephants in the North Sea” by sources such as the Economist, and with costs mounting and no end in sight, the question being asked, in Germany at least, is “Is the wind boom over before it even really began?”

  36. Without cost-neutral (buffer)storage the german “Energiewende” is just an idiotic waste of energy-consumer money, initiated by “Green”politicians and lobbyists for their own benefit!They are still supported ideologically by climate alarmists, pseudoenvironmentalists and anti nuclear-power activists. This collective madness is hyped by “Green” journalists and morons who slept in their lessons of “Physics/Electricity”, thus they can’t understand the difference between – KW – and – KW/h- and certainly not the technique of high-voltage power grids and their requirements!
    If the Wind Park owners/operators were paid only for a steadily! delivered certain amount of the maximum rated output energy (in KW) to satisfy the demand schedule, instead of being paid for useless KW/h s of fidget-current , the whole craziness would be dead at once!
    Nearly every week I read such nonsens in the regional Newspapers like: ” The recently installed wind turbine will generate electric energy for xxx households!” —– Will? —- By the ghost of Sir Beaufort!– Would perhaps!
    Nothing will go, when the wind doesn’t blow!

    • “Nearly every week I read such nonsens in the regional Newspapers like: ” The recently installed wind turbine will generate electric energy for xxx households!” ”

      On average; and don’t forget to divide the number by 5, as the capacity factor of onshore wind is 20%. The journalists always use the name plate capacity when they write that. So it should read, will generate electricity for XXX households during the moments where full capacity is delivered, shortly before the wind gets just a bit too strong and the wind impellers will go into emergency shutoff. (as delivered energy is the 3rd power of the wind speed, those two points – 100% generation and shutoff – are right next to each other. The energy production time series of a wind impeller always looks very spikey for that reason.)

      • DirkH,

        The average Capacity Factor for onshore wind in Ireland is a little over 29%. I have calculated it from the available wind production datasets from 2001 to 2013 (15 minute interval values). The standard deviation is around 3.6%. All annual capacity factors in that period have been between just under 22% up to 36%. In Germany the average figure is around 19-20% (and would be similar for continental Europe generally). Expected Capacity Factor for offshore is expected to be up to 50% (this is not wild speculation as the wind surveys would be statistically very robust). The unknown figure, however, is the availability level which will greatly affect that capacity factor but given the level of industry experience nowadays educated guesses could be made as to the likely availability figure achievable.

      • Thats exactly the point! Windmills deliver Now-And-Then-Occasionally-Current and are useless nowadays as their ancestors!(Sonne und Wind schicken keine Rechnung!—lol!)

      • Wind turbines will generate XXX energy for households is a “marketing” strategy fed to the public via the news media and by other means as well.

    • @ alacran – ‘“Green” journalists and morons who slept in their lessons of “Physics/Electricity”, thus they can’t understand the difference between – KW – and – KW/h’

      Sorry to point out your error to you, and embarrass you in public, but the unit of energy in electrical systems is kWh not kW/h.

      Absolutely no one claims or believes that wind power is reliable in the sense you mean. Ireland has the highest penetration of wind power in any large synchronous power system in the world, with as wide a spatial diversity as is possible, and even then the output is still at times next to zero. It seems to be the case that wind will always require next to 100% backup (this isn’t a surprise to those who were honest about it). However, largely unacknowledged on this website is the fact that, concomitant with the development of wind technology, the gas turbine technology developments have been very significant (as well as the developments in gas sourcing which are an unbelieveable paradigm shift in world energy markets: USA now No. 1 gas producer in the world! Who’d a thunk it 10 years ago?!). Gas generated electricity works very well with wind in terms of ramp rates, part load efficiency and capital costs. CCGT now can work at efficiencies close to 50% on loads as low as 20% of nameplate. I know and understand that electricity is more expensive with wind than without it but the issue was never about the cheapest source of electricity but energy security and sustainability (in terms of leaving something to the generations to follow us).

  37. I would sure hate to be one of the ‘Engineers’ on this project.
    Job interview time.
    Interviewer: Whats the most expensive mistake you have made and how-much did it cost your company?
    Applicant: errr… $3.8B tax payers money… it was a unicorn fart generator…..
    Interviewer: Did you say 3.8 with a ‘B’
    Applicant: err… err… yes…
    Interviewer: Just a moment …. ‘click’ Security… Thank you and have nice day … next.

    Having an educated does not mean you are smart.
    You can’t fix stupid.

  38. The folly of Wind Follies. A system for making energy very expensively, very intermittently, with large amounts of material, to trash the environment, get in the way, bugger up radar, fall over, break up and catch fire, noisily……. But ultimately not work at all.
    Thus proving the political strength of the mind virus driving them. Which even now deserves more sacrifice, and ever more, ever larger totems to the green goddess of de industrialised poverty and the saddling up of the four riders.

  39. My favourite comment of the week – from Bishop Hill’s blog (sorry) – was from a comment by Pointman. It was in the form of a quiz question:

    Question: What did people in the UK use for illumination before candles?
    Answer: Electricity!

    (We’re talking 2014 here!)
    I’ve made sure I have plenty of candles and a Tilley lamp ready for when the wind fails to hit the fan.

  40. From the Bard web site linked in the article:

    “The BARD Group successfully installed the first commercial wind power plant on the high seas, around 100 kilometres off the German North Sea coast. The wind farm, encompassing 80 5-megawatt turbines, was completely connected to the grid in September 2013.”

    They left out the part about having to immediately disconnect from the grid due to overloaded and “gently smouldering” offshore converter stations as well as the maintenance cost of one to two million euros a day incurred while failing to produce 340 million euros worth of power.

    “Gently smouldering”….I’ll have to remember this phrase the next time I have to report on an electrical fault.
    .

    • “Gently smouldering”….I’ll have to remember this phrase the next time I have to report on an electrical fault.”

      I will be using in a failure analysis meeting on Monday!

    • There is really only one thing left they can do. Fit a maintainance vessel with a 1 MW generator in its hold. Fit another vessel with a tank. Go to the site, plug it in, and run it full out 24/7, while the crew tries to look busy.

  41. I am an engineer by profession and what I just cannot get my head around is how ANYONE could go ahead with wind power, especially units located at sea.

    The back of an envelope calcs and a few minutes thought tell you that you are extracting energy from a very low density medium (air) that has a huge range of possible velocities ( from zero to 1/100 or 1/200 year storm) to be designed for using a structurally inefficient arrangement (a cantilever) and locating it remotely requiring long distance cabling. The units lkocated at sea have the added overhead of a marine environment in which to have to install, maintain and decommssion the unit.

    There you go. Take those 4 1/2 lines of text to your local merchant bank and see what they say when there is no subsidy rort in play. (‘rort’ is Australian for scam, boondoggle, con etc.) The most suitable legal term in Australia is “scheme of arrangement”, usually associated with tax avoidance, and means some scheme put in place which has no other purpose to justify it other than to effect the scam in question). Has a certain low frequency resonance, doesn’t it?

  42. We need to go into thorium reactors. If we can get the idiots in charge to forget about making plutonium bombs that is.

  43. It just hasn’t been tried on a scale large enough to be economically feasible. I propose we cut down our national forests for wind turbine placement, you know, for the sake of the environment.

  44. After several meetings with the wind industry to discuss implementing vibration measurement and blade balancing techniques from the aviation world – we concluded that the management had no interest in minimizing long term operational costs. They were in it for the subsidies and “green” bump to their stock price.

  45. ‘Breitbart does not mention the nature of the maintenance problems.’

    Actually, it does say what the nature of the problem is. In the second paragraph it says that the converter stations offshore are the problem as they are over-heating. DC converter stations (I assume at 100km it is DC but it doesn’t have to be as, from recollection, that’s around the cut-over point from AC to DC). This is a strange problem but hardly an insurmountable one. I reckon the problem is they are using the newer voltage-sourced converter technology (VSC) which is reasonably well proven but with less experience at higher 200+MW capacities. The largest VSC world-wide at time of commissioning last year is the new East-West 500MW interconnector from Dublin to Wales and it too gave some problems when commissioned but not of the same magnitude (interference problems on telephone circuits).

    I doubt this is a problem that cannot be overcome, but I’m sure it will come at a price.

  46. AND to cap all of this, there is no significant reduction in CO2!

    By the time one has factored in CO2 emitted from conventionally powered back up (which is not running at optimum performance due to the need to ramp up/ramp down with the vagrancis of wind), other grid balancing devices (emergency diesel generators), there is no saving in CO2. I suspect that if one were to factor in the CO2 incidental to erecting the windfarm (in remote places) and coupling it to the grid compared to building a conventionally gas powered generator, the CO2 is net negative.

    So what is the point if they do not even achieve the primary goal of reducing CO2? This is where the politicians will face the biggest problem, when AGW unfolds.

    Questions will be asked as to why they put in place an energy system that was unreliable and hiked energy prices threefold when the system does not even reduce CO2 emissions?

    • Richard,

      This is not in fact correct. There are numerous papers out there analyse the CO2/kWh from wind (the LCA technique allows for all CO2 from wind from manufacturing, installation, extra grid, operation etc.). The reduction of CO2 by substitution affect is a least one order of magnitude greater than the reduction of efficiency of fossil fuel plants. See Pehnt et al 2008 for a detailed paper on the German market and offshore wind. A good summary paper on all of this analysis is ‘Life-cycle assessments of wind energy systems’ by Arvesen et al.

      • Hop Lite

        Wind advocates publish all kinds of rubbish to justify reaping subsidies from their subsidy farms. What matters is reality and not the number of papers published by wind advocates.

        David Tolley (when Head of Networks and Ancillary Services, Innogy (a subsidiary of the German energy consortium RWE) said of windfarms in the UK,

        When [thermal] plant is deloaded 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.)

        Richard

    • I should add I don’t really care about CO2 emissions as they don’t appear to be affecting our climate significantly however, they are a good proxy for fossil fuel usage. Therefore, it can be concluded to a high degree of certainty that wind farms do increase energy security insofar as they reduce fossil fuel usage.

  47. Reply to Richard S Courtney.

    Richard all you’ve got is a comment from this fellow Tolley which you keep repeating ad nauseam. Please read the papers I referred to and all other papers referred therein and point out here where they are wrong. There is a high level of consistency between them in their findings which utterly negate the perception and comment of one senior manager in NGUK. If they are all absolutely wrong then either you are saying these authors are all falsifying results deliberately or else you are saying the have all made an egregious error which I’m sure they would appreciate you pointing out to them what it is. The carbon emission saving/fossil fuel saving due to wind (allowing for ALL of its life cycle from mining raw materials to decommissioning) is an order of magnitude GREATER than the reduction in efficiency (i.e. increased carbon emission/fossil fuel use) caused by part loading and additional start ups etc of fossil fuel plants. If wind results in additional fossil fuel usage as you claim then please point out EXACTLY where these papers and analysis are in error.

    I note than coal is the least good performer in the portfolio with wind and I suspect that, give your background, is what you have an issue with.

    Given the breath of academic research and findings showing that wind is indeed a net energy contributor, if you are to keep saying here that it isn’t, then it really is now down to you to demonstrate why that is so. If you won’t I will assume it is because you can’t.

    • Hop Lite

      All I’ve got is a statement by an operator of both thermal plants and wind turbines which he made – and placed on record – as part of a keynote address, to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. It was in 2003 and has never been refuted.

      All you have is pro-wind propaganda.

      Richard

      • No Richard you really are going to have to do better than that. Hand waving blustering and dismissing academic research as ‘propaganda’ is the sort of behaviour that has given skepticism of GW a bad name. If the ‘propaganda’ isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on then you really have to make the effort to point out where it is wrong.

        Generally, the level of debate and application of sound scientific practices is very good on this website but when it comes to the technical/performance aspects of wind (not talking about its economics) there is a lot of yielding to prejudices going on here. You are amongst the worst culprits for this.

        The real reason the assertion you quote wasn’t refuted was probably because a) it wasn’t a very important utterance and b) there was nothing in it to refute other than a vague assertion of some ‘estimates’.

        As I had said, I will interpret your refusal to review refute the body of research into this matter as a tacit admission that you are unable to. Clinging to a single comment from a single manager from a presentation that is over a decade old, given the large body of comprehensive research since then, has a certain quixotic obduracy to it!

      • Hop Lite

        No YOU are going to have to do better than that.

        I gave you a clear quote from a clearly unbiased commentator responsible for operating wind turbines and thermal power plants which he provided to an institution of people qualified to assess it. That is NOT “Hand waving blustering”.

        Furthermore, I fail to understand how the statement by Tolley could be wrong. And nobody has attempted to show he is.

        The issue is simple. When wind is in the range to enable a wind powered subsidy farm to generate electricity then the electricity from the subsidy farm displaces electricity from a thermal power station. The power station has to reduce its output and it does, but this reduces its efficiency so it uses more fuel – hence provides more emissions – to generate less electricity. The effect is similar to driving a car at 10mph in fifth gear: it can be done but it uses a lot of fuel.

        You have only presented pro-wind propaganda and ad hom. aspersions from behind a coward’s shield of anonymity. You say

        Generally, the level of debate and application of sound scientific practices is very good on this website but when it comes to the technical/performance aspects of wind (not talking about its economics) there is a lot of yielding to prejudices going on here. You are amongst the worst culprits for this.

        Bollocks! I was commissioned to conduct a serious analysis of the issue in the UK and produced this. Serious technical analysis is not “prejudice”.

        Not content with that, you write

        As I had said, I will interpret your refusal to review refute the body of research into this matter as a tacit admission that you are unable to. Clinging to a single comment from a single manager from a presentation that is over a decade old, given the large body of comprehensive research since then, has a certain quixotic obduracy to it!

        You have demonstrated that you will “interpret” anything in a malign manner if it assists your anonymous promotion of wind powered subsidy farms. I see no reason why I or anybody else should be concerned at your nonsense.

        I have studied the pertinent literature and a “body of research” which claims perpetuum mobiles work or that wind powered subsidy farms reduce emissions from grid supplied electricity is wrong: it claims to have discovered how to achieve a miraculous physical impossibility.

        Richard

      • Richard,

        As I said previously, you really give GW skeptics a very bad name indeed!

        The fact that you liken a WT to a perpetual motion machine says it all really. The energy input to the WT is clear to all bar you – the wind which in turn is powered by the sun (or more accurately the sun’s uneven distribution on our planet).

        I have read you brochure and it certainly isn’t serious analysis, as you say, but is more akin to a school boy’s report in terms of the depth and quality of the analysis.

        I will take you up on just a few howlers in your report as that is all I have time for:

        Your chapter 11 on ‘Power surges’ is a mish-mash of complete mis-understandings and a vague kind of awareness on your part (I’m sure mainly attributable to the fact that you’re not an electrical engineer and haven’t worked in electrical grids). The issue you speak of may have been a minor problem in the early days (<2000) but modern grid code standards largely cover this off. It is mainly managed by ramp-up rates and TSO rights to turn down and disconnect wind farms. You say that in Ireland new windfarms were not allowed due to 'power surges' in 2003. This is complete and utter nonsense. The TSO stopped grid applications due to a glut of them and wanted the existing very very large queue already offered connections to play out to see which happened and which didn't. Your assertion that the additional wind since then could only happen due to grid reinforcements is utter (as you say) bollocks. NONE, and I mean NONE of the large scale deep reinforcements on Ireland's internal grid to strengthen it and allow for additional wind have been built yet and all are in permitting stage (Grid west, Grid link, North-South etc.). East-west interconnector only went live last year and all other grid work was to connect wind farms directly to the system. In the meantime, the installed wind capacity in Ireland went from around 300MW in 2003 to 2,700MW in 2013 (2003 being the turning point from 20MW/year to about 240MW/year installed ironically!). Wind now accounts for 18% of electrical demand and in 2013 was over 50% of power supplied to the grid on around 16 separate days in the year. The consequences of this? Power surges? Black outs? back to candles? Nope on all counts – the performance of the system has not suffered in any way that affects customers. Please review EirGrid's facilitation of renewables to see the technical work being done here – it is hoped wind can go to 75% of instantaneous if certain changes to the grid (mainly protection issues) happen. It is aimed to hit 40% of energy demand.

        Your assertion re the incredibly poor part load efficiencies is also largely BS. Please look at gas turbine literature – it's all available on the web. Efficiencies of high 40's for loads as low as 20% of nominal on CCGT's. I know that may not have been the case when you were researching this 100 years ago but it is now. You really need to update your broken record here, Richard, as you are starting to sound utterly ridiculous.

        Your assertion re the academic literature being biased is baseless innuendo and probably libelous.

        If wind farms are a 'miraculous physical impossibility' then we are seeing miracles every day here in Ireland and around the world. They do generate net positive electricity far outweighing the energy to install them and any thermal plant consequential inefficiencies. This is a simple fact of life that only the preternaturally obdurate will deny.

        If all the analysis here is as bad as yours on this issue, it is making me worried that I am placing to much confidence in WUWT!

  48. how easy it is to power a city in a small area.

    “Russia’s newest nuclear icebreaker — the 50 Let Pobedy, or 50 Years of Victory — is currently the biggest and most powerful in the world. Almost 160 meters long and 30 meters wide, its two nuclear-powered engines are capable of jointly producing 55 megawatts of power — enough to cover the electricity needs of a small city. The only existing icebreaker of a similar class in the world is the U.S. diesel-electric and gas-powered Polar Star, built in 1976?”

  49. Anyone see the piece by Gillis on German wind and solar in Sunday’s NYTimes? Propaganda, by my lights, but right at the top on page one. I’d be most interested in a WUWT rebuttal.

  50. Hoplite wrote
    September 14, 2014 at 8:52 am


    Absolutely no one claims or believes that wind power is reliable in the sense you mean […]
    I know and understand that electricity is more expensive with wind than without it but the issue was never about the cheapest source of electricity but energy security and sustainability (in terms of leaving something to the generations to follow us).

    No, the issue has always been greatest return on our investment – biggest bang for the buck – and lowest cost for the consumer. There is no greater energy security than a conventional coal fired power plant, or an entire network of them because energy security means that the power is there when you need it, and that is 24/7/365 without interruption, at the lowest cost to the consumer, or nation.

    There is no security in unreliable power, especially when it costs more than reliable power.

    Here we see again another face of the scam: the emotional pleading to leave something for future generations, the poor dears, who will no doubt have all sorts of new technology and presumably new knowledge – perhaps even wisdom – to deal with the problems and opportunities that the passage of time inevitably presents our species.

    Even if no new viable energy technology emerges in the immediate future, the generations that follow us will still have mountains of coal to burn far into the future – several hundred years, by some estimates.

    The important thing to sustain is our modern civilization, and that is also our greatest gift to future generations.

    • ‘No, the issue has always been greatest return on our investment’

      What does that mean? maximising wealth? That’s an mantra for shareholders not citizens.

      Wind is there and is reliable when it is part of a portfolio of generation. For a country like Ireland that has one of the best wind regimes in the world it makes no sense to not use an energy source on our doorstep. Your statement about no security in ‘unreliable’ power shows me that you don’t understand how wind contributes to a state’s energy inputs.

      Your attitude towards future generations seems to me to be ‘they can stuff themselves and make their own way in this world, and they ain’t going to cramp my style’. Not an attitude I’d care for.

      I agree that leaving our civilisation in rude good health is one of the greatest gifts we can give future generations, however, claiming that introducing wind power as part of the generation mix is going to destroy that civilisation is egging it just a bit, no?

      • Hoplite says:

        Wind… is reliable when it is part of a portfolio of generation.

        Wind power is unreliable, period. If the wind blows too fast, or too slowly, or stops, wind power stops. That means it is unreliable. As Steve P says above:

        There is no security in unreliable power, especially when it costs more than reliable power.

        I can see solar power improving to the point that it does not need subsidies to exist. But windmills? Not likely, except in *very* limited circumstances.

        Face it: wind power is basically ridiculous, when other power sources are considered. The best, cheapest power is from coal and other fossil fuels. They are the gold standard. Then nuclear, then solar, then peons on bicycles, then windmills. Maybe the last two can be switched; not sure. The subsidies make it questionable.

        Windmills are an energy scam, a blight on the landscape, and raptor-blenders. They are basicallty NFG, and if you doubt that, why not ask the people who have to live next to giant windmills what they think?

        Windmills are modrn day pyramids; just as useful, and erected as the eco-answer to the gods of ‘sustainability’. If they were all torn down immediately and replaced by coal-fired power plants, the country would be immensely better off.

  51. @RichardSCourtney,

    As I said previously, you really give GW skeptics a very bad name indeed!

    The fact that you liken a WT to a perpetual motion machine says it all really. The energy input to the WT is clear to all bar you – the wind which in turn is powered by the sun (or more accurately the sun’s uneven distribution on our planet).

    I have read you brochure and it certainly isn’t serious analysis, as you say, but is more akin to a school boy’s report in terms of the depth and quality of the analysis.

    I will take you up on just a few howlers in your report as that is all I have time for:

    Your chapter 11 on ‘Power surges’ is a mish-mash of complete mis-understandings and a vague kind of awareness on your part (I’m sure mainly attributable to the fact that you’re not an electrical engineer and haven’t worked in electrical grids). The issue you speak of may have been a minor problem in the early days (<2000) but modern grid code standards largely cover this off. It is mainly managed by ramp-up rates and TSO rights to turn down and disconnect wind farms. You say that in Ireland new windfarms were not allowed due to 'power surges' in 2003. This is complete and utter nonsense. The TSO stopped grid applications due to a glut of them and wanted the existing very very large queue already offered connections to play out to see which happened and which didn't. Your assertion that the additional wind since then could only happen due to grid reinforcements is utter (as you say) b*****ks. NONE, and I mean NONE of the large scale deep reinforcements on Ireland's internal grid to strengthen it and allow for additional wind have been built yet and all are in permitting stage (Grid west, Grid link, North-South etc.). East-west interconnector only went live last year and all other grid work was to connect wind farms directly to the system. In the meantime, the installed wind capacity in Ireland went from around 300MW in 2003 to 2,700MW in 2013 (2003 being the turning point from 20MW/year to about 240MW/year installed ironically!). Wind now accounts for 18% of electrical demand and in 2013 was over 50% of power supplied to the grid on around 16 separate days in the year. The consequences of this? Power surges? Black outs? back to candles? Nope on all counts – the performance of the system has not suffered in any way that affects customers. Please review EirGrid's facilitation of renewables to see the technical work being done here – it is hoped wind can go to 75% of instantaneous if certain changes to the grid (mainly protection issues) happen. It is aimed to hit 40% of energy demand.

  52. @Anthony Watts, why can’t I post my reply to Richard Courtney? Even when I try to break it into 4 pieces it will not post.

  53. “…if even the Germans, with their legendary high precision engineering skills,” ; more legend than reality. German industry historically depends on highly skilled craft technicians to tweak so – so designs into submission. Without a good set of files and hammers in the hands of craftsmen the “legendary German engineering” would just be so much krap.

  54. @RichardSCourtney,

    As I said previously, you really give GW sceptics a very bad name indeed!

    The fact that you liken a WT to perpetuum mobiles says it all really. The energy input to the WT is clear to all bar you – the wind which in turn is powered by the sun (or more accurately the sun’s uneven distribution on our planet).

    I have read you brochure and it certainly isn’t serious analysis, as you say, but is more akin to a school boy’s report in terms of the depth and quality of the analysis in it.

    I will take you up on just a few howlers in your report as that is all I have time for:

    Your chapter 11 on ‘Power surges’ is a mish-mash of complete mis-understandings and a vague kind of awareness on your part (I’m sure mainly attributable to the fact that you’re not an electrical engineer and haven’t worked in electrical grids). The issue you speak of may have been a minor problem in the early days (<2000) but modern grid code standards largely cover this off. It is mainly managed by ramp-up rates and TSO rights to turn down and disconnect wind farms.

    • Hoplite

      You really are a nasty little troll. As Steve P said to you

      … which by the way, clearly illustrate your manner of debate: ignore what has been said, and pretend that it was something else …

      I review what you have done here.

      This began when richard verney accurately wrote

      …. AND to cap all of this, there is no significant reduction in CO2!

      By the time one has factored in CO2 emitted from conventionally powered back up (which is not running at optimum performance due to the need to ramp up/ramp down with the vagrancis of wind), other grid balancing devices (emergency diesel generators), there is no saving in CO2. I suspect that if one were to factor in the CO2 incidental to erecting the windfarm (in remote places) and coupling it to the grid compared to building a conventionally gas powered generator, the CO2 is net negative.

      So what is the point if they do not even achieve the primary goal of reducing CO2? This is where the politicians will face the biggest problem, when AGW unfolds.

      Questions will be asked as to why they put in place an energy system that was unreliable and hiked energy prices threefold when the system does not even reduce CO2 emissions?

      You replied saying that is untrue and that there are “many studies” say windpower reduces CO2 emissions. But you did not name, cite and/or quote those “studies”.

      I quoted Tolley’s statement which bluntly says Steve P is right so your reply to him is nonsense.

      In reply to my post you went ballistic. You posted a nasty piece which consisted of untrue assertions about me, and about Tolley together with citation of a pro-wind propaganda paper.

      I pointed out fact. I again explained the issue raised by richard verney. I said that your accusation of “prejudice” is untrue: a professional association commissioned a paper from me on the matter so I have studied the literature and linked to here which was well-received. And I said

      I gave you a clear quote from a clearly unbiased commentator responsible for operating wind turbines and thermal power plants which he provided to an institution of people qualified to assess it. That is NOT “Hand waving blustering”.

      Furthermore, I fail to understand how the statement by Tolley could be wrong. And nobody has attempted to show he is.

      The issue is simple. When wind is in the range to enable a wind powered subsidy farm to generate electricity then the electricity from the subsidy farm displaces electricity from a thermal power station. The power station has to reduce its output and it does, but this reduces its efficiency so it uses more fuel – hence provides more emissions – to generate less electricity. The effect is similar to driving a car at 10mph in fifth gear: it can be done but it uses a lot of fuel.

      You still have not made any attempt to explain how the statement by Tolley could be wrong.

      Instead, you have provided a barrage of bombast, ‘ref herrings’; distortions of my words, and insults.

      Let us assume you are right that I give scepticism a “bad name” and that my acclaimed analysis is rubbish. And let us assume you are not an anonymous sock puppet for the industry which fleeces the public by use of wind-powered subsidy farms.
      None of that alters the fact that use of wind-powered subsidy farms INCREASES CO2 emissions from grid-distributed electricity generation systems.

      Richard

      • ‘You replied saying that is untrue and that there are “many studies” say wind power reduces CO2 emissions. But you did not name, cite and/or quote those “studies”.’

        I most certainly did and I asked you to read them!! Here we go again:

        ‘See Pehnt et al 2008 for a detailed paper on the German market and offshore wind. A good summary paper on all of this analysis is ‘Life-cycle assessments of wind energy systems’ by Arvesen et al.’ Now who’s the one not paying attention?

        BTW the title of the Pehnt paper is ‘Consequential environmental system analysis of expected offshore wind electricity production in Germany’. The Arvesen paper is a summarising of other papers and you can get plenty of other references there. If they are wrong (fairly consistent results between them) then the are so massively wrong it is either a fraud or spectacular incompetence. Please read them as I asked you to do and come back here and point out where they are wrong.

        ‘You really are a nasty little troll.’ – no I’m not. Instead, I’m a well read and experienced person in electrical power systems and renewable technologies. You’ve met your match here Richard and you don’t like it. I am pointing out where you are spreading falsehoods and prejudices as facts. I understand you don’t like that but that doesn’t make me a troll – nasty or otherwise. Ad homs are not the way to defend your position.

        ‘You still have not made any attempt to explain how the statement by Tolley could be wrong.’ – the papers I quoted show there is a order of magnitude difference between the saving in CO2/kWh (proxy for fossil fuel use) against the increase in CO2/kWh due to less efficient running of thermal plants (including coal in the portfolio). Tolley’s assertion is emphatically WRONG and there is a large body of research that has been done since then that points out what he said is utter and absolute tosh. TOLLEY IS REFUTED.

        ‘None of that alters the fact that use of wind-powered subsidy farms INCREASES CO2 emissions from grid-distributed electricity generation systems.’ – correct it does but the substitution effect (wind replacing ff generated electricity) is around 10 times greater. Net effect? REDUCED CO2/Fuel usage. (and that’s over the complete lifetime).

        I note you have not challenged where I pointed out the egregious errors in your ‘analysis’ of the Irish grid situation and supposed ‘power surges’.

        I don’t work in the wind industry and never have. I don’t depend on it for a penny of my income. If the wind industry completely died in the morning it would have almost no affect on my career. I can absolutely be described as an impartial observer of that industry (and I am also a critic of it too where they play fast and loose with its economics). In any event, even if I was employed by it, it has no bearing on the veracity of what I say and the challenges I am presenting to you. Play the ball not the man, Richard. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them biased or dishonest.

        I don’t set out to hurt your feelings when it comes to your report of the wind industry and take no pleasure in doing so. I have worked as a technical consultant and also employ technical consultants. If the report you pointed me to the other day was presented to me by a technical consultant I employed, I simply would refuse to pay for it. However, we have to be honest here even if your pride takes a bit of a bashing. ‘Self praise is no praise’ – this is an adage that you should remember when it comes to your report which you have self-described as thorough and detailed. It’s simply not and is so replete with issues, I really don’t know where to start. For you, you need to start with the modern wind industry and not the one in the 1970’s that is in your reference list when describing the technology and its efficiencies (refs 7 and 10 from recollection).

        Your behaviour here is IDENTICAL to those climate scientists who simply refuse to believe what the climate is doing is real and cling on desperately to their belief that CO2 driven CGW is for real. In your case, that cherished belief is that the wind industry cannot generate net positive energy when all factors are taken into account and that they will destabilise and topple over grids if they become large enough. This may have been a defensible position 30 years ago but it is rank denialism today (and I don’t like that word) that is akin to still claiming that the world is flat. The real world facts on the ground today are proving these ‘cherished beliefs’ wrong hour in-hour out, day after day. You only sunder your credibility by spouting them here. There are areas that the wind industry can be challenged but I’m afraid these two are not among them.

      • AWEA board member E.ON, which operates German transmission grids and also builds wind plants in the US, is succinct:

        “Wind energy is only able to replace traditional power stations to a limited extent. Their dependence on the prevailing wind conditions means that wind power has a limited load factor even when technically available…. Consequently, traditional power stations with capacities equal to 90% of the installed wind power capacity must be permanently online [and burning fuel] in order to guarantee power supply at all times”

        http://www.nerc.com/docs/pc/ivgtf/EON_Netz_Windreport2005_eng.pdf

        This means wind generation cannot replace fossil generation to any meaningful extent.

        This also means that comparisons between wind and fossil with respect to emissions are ill informed. Wind is entirely reliant upon fossil fuel. Wind is more honestly referred to as fossil/wind. Wind cannot stand on its own and cannot replace fossil generation.

        GE makes this clear here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/oira_2060/2060_07232013-1.pdf

        This means the ill effects of wind energy are added to the ill effects of fossil fuel extraction – not a replacement for them.

        Wind energy adds insult to injury, both from an environmental and an economic perspective.

        Even the Center/Left Brookings Institute concurs:
        http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2014/05/low-carbon-electricity-technologies-frank

        “Wind is one of the great scams of the modern age,” Robert Bryce, Manhattan Institute Scholar, correctly stated in his presentation – “MORE ENERGY PLEASE!”:

        “WIND TURBINES ARE CLIMATE CHANGE SCARECROWS”:
        http://www.nationalreview.com/nro-energy/364885/wind-turbines-are-climate-change-scarecrows-robert-bryce

      • Hoplite

        Your implications that your need to wait for a post to leave moderation is some kind of misbehaviour by WUWT is disproved by my post replying to you now being in moderation.

        Richard

      • This is a repost with hopefully corrected formatting.

        Hoplite

        I am replying to your additional falsehoods and nonsense.

        Firstly, as I said, your initial post did NOT cite any references. You only did that after I pointed out that it did not.

        Secondly, merely citing papers is pointless. SAY WHAT YOU THINK THEY SAY AND QUOTE FROM THEM TO JUSTIFY IT. We can then discuss whatever issue you want. Merely stating there are papers which support you but not saying how is ‘setting homework’ which you are required to do, not me.

        The nearest you get to providing any statement of what your references say is this in your offensive missive I am answering

        BTW the title of the Pehnt paper is ‘Consequential environmental system analysis of expected offshore wind electricity production in Germany’. The Arvesen paper is a summarising of other papers and you can get plenty of other references there. If they are wrong (fairly consistent results between them) then the are so massively wrong it is either a fraud or spectacular incompetence. Please read them as I asked you to do and come back here and point out where they are wrong.

        NO, troll! You have cited the paper and it is up to you to say why you think it supports your untrue assertion and why you think it does. There is no reason for me to provide a review of the paper which onlookers may not have seen.

        And you really, really are a nasty little troll.

        You accuse me of “spreading falsehoods”, and the kindest understanding of that accusation is that it is an example of your psychological projection.

        Saying you are a troll is NOT an ad hom. It is an observation that you are an anonymous sock-puppet for the wind industry who is presenting falsehoods. Indeed, the ad homs. have all been provided by you. As I said to you

        Let us assume you are right that I give scepticism a “bad name” and that my acclaimed analysis is rubbish. And let us assume you are not an anonymous sock puppet for the industry which fleeces the public by use of wind-powered subsidy farms.
        None of that alters the fact that use of wind-powered subsidy farms INCREASES CO2 emissions from grid-distributed electricity generation systems.

        And your egregious post I am answering still does not. It merely raves

        Tolley’s assertion is emphatically WRONG and there is a large body of research that has been done since then that points out what he said is utter and absolute tosh. TOLLEY IS REFUTED.

        Troll, that is the logical fallacy of ‘argument by assertion’. It is NOT an attempt to refute the fact that use of wind-powered subsidy farms INCREASES CO2 emissions from grid-distributed electricity generation systems, and it does not.

        And you clearly know it does not because you admit it when you write this nonsense.

        ‘None of that alters the fact that use of wind-powered subsidy farms INCREASES CO2 emissions from grid-distributed electricity generation systems.’

        – correct it does but the substitution effect (wind replacing ff generated electricity) is around 10 times greater. Net effect? REDUCED CO2/Fuel usage. (and that’s over the complete lifetime).

        So, you assert that the INCREASE to CO2 emissions caused by wind-powered subsidy farms is compensated “10 times” by “wind replacing ff generated electricity”. As I said, that is physically impossible. I yet again remind that the issue is

        The issue is simple. When wind is in the range to enable a wind powered subsidy farm to generate electricity then the electricity from the subsidy farm displaces electricity from a thermal power station. The power station has to reduce its output and it does, but this reduces its efficiency so it uses more fuel – hence provides more emissions – to generate less electricity. The effect is similar to driving a car at 10mph in fifth gear: it can be done but it uses a lot of fuel.

        That is reality, and your daft assertions don’t change it.

        And of course I did not discuss your daft assertions about my analysis. I also don’t bother to refute assertions that the Moon is made of green cheese. I yet again repeat that if your claims about my analysis were true then it would not alter the reality that use of wind-powered subsidy farms INCREASES CO2 emissions from grid-distributed electricity generation systems.

        Your insults don’t “hurt”. They are laughable. You know you are spouting nonsense so you try to distract from your nonsense by flaming from behind the coward’s shield of anonymity. Clearly, in light of your other falsehoods there is no reason to accept your assertions that you are not a shill for the wind industry.

        Richard

      • Richard,

        My God you are some operator here!! This is prima facie evidence of how you simply CANNOT be debated with. You state:

        ‘Firstly, as I said, your initial post did NOT cite any references. You only did that after I pointed out that it did not.’

        But if you read my ORIGINAL post (ever before you got involved and to which you responded):

        https://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/09/13/offshore-wind-power-even-germany-cant-get-it-right/#comment-1736427

        See? I know you won’t read it. But for other readers here who are intellectual honest and decent they can see I quote the two papers. The first can easily be found with just author name and year and second gives the title and author – 5 seconds googling and you’d have them both.

        Now, Richard, which of the two of us here is a troll?

        I have quoted the results of it which are quite clear the NET effect of wind is unquestionably CO2/ff reduction. If you want me to repost the entire contents of the paper here then just ask but that is the pertinent conclusion to the matter in hand. Tolley is refuted by a large body of research.

        I am not a shill of anyone and once again I would have thought you were old enough to know that just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t make them dishonest or a liar.

        What else is there to say to a bad tempered and nasty man like you?

      • ‘So, you assert that the INCREASE to CO2 emissions caused by wind-powered subsidy farms is compensated “10 times” by “wind replacing ff generated electricity”. As I said, that is physically impossible. I yet again remind that the issue is’

        The marginal CO2 generation from a CCGT plant of one unit of electricity is around 400g CO2. The marginal (key word) CO2 generation of a unit of electricity from a wind turbine is more or less 0g CO2. If wind generates the unit of electricity rather than the CCGT that is around 400g CO2 reduction. This is the substitution effect. We have gone from 400g to 0g – a reduction. How on earth is it even possible that you do not understand this very simple point?

        The papers are available and free on the web and you could read them for yourself – but you won’t as your mind is made up and anyone who tries to argue against you is a shill of the wind industry. I guess there’s no arguing with some people. However, I hope other readers here can see you for what you really are.

        If readers don’t like the wind industry and don’t like paying a bit extra for it that’s fine – everyone is entitled to their opinion and many enthusiastically support it. But what isn’t acceptable is making sh*t up that simply is NOT true in order to win people over to your side of the argument. The truth is sacred and science would have gotten nowhere without fidelity to it. We have seen the consequences of not having that fidelity in the GW sorry saga.

      • Hop Lite and Hoplite

        Enough troll(s).

        This thread is not about you and/or your ravings and/or your fallacious assertions.

        The reality is as you know and you inadvertently admitted
        use of wind-powered subsidy farms INCREASES CO2 emissions from grid-distributed electricity generation systems.

        Now stop bothering with your untrue and disruptive rants. Go troll some other blog instead.

        Richard

      • Hope Lite…
        ..
        You know you have won the argument wit R Courtney when he calls you a ‘troll”

      • beckleybud@gmail.com

        Hop Lite and Hoplite did not make any argument to win or lose. They only made unsubstantiated and untrue assertions of the ‘yes it is’ and ‘no it isn’t’ kind.

        I know the ravings of a troll have been overcome when another troll arrives to support the first troll.

        Richard

      • Thanks beckleybud. I was starting to wonder was I going a bit mad as I have never in my life come across such obduracy and stridency. I have noticed him having similar go’s at others here and I suspect you may have been one of them.

      • Hoplite and beckleybud@gmail.com

        It is very sweet that you are having a troll ‘love in’.

        It would be good if you were to round up some more of your ilk so you can all go off to some blog of your own to enjoy the ‘love in’. This would benefit everybody except for discontinuing any payments for your trolling.

        Richard

  55. Looks RichardSCourtney like you are going to the last word in this round as I simply cannot post a reply to your last one. I have tried many different ways. I am intrigued as to the technical (or maybe not technical) reason as to why my post to you will not show up here. Curiouser and curiouser.

    • Hoplite

      I don’t know the cause of your problem but have had similar in the past. And it is very frustrating. I suspect it is WordPress doing it. If my suspicion is right then your post will probably be retrieved when the mods. clear out the ‘bin’: this sometimes means a wait of several hours. However, I have had posts vanished by WordPress and as far as I can tell nobody knows why.

      Richard

    • Hoplite

      I waited and – as expected – your item did appear.

      I have replied to it because it is complete rubbish which demonstrates you don’t have an answer to the fact that wind-powered subsidy farms increase CO2 emissions from power generation, and you will say anything to hide the reality that you know wind-powered subsidy farms increase CO2 emissions from power generation.

      Richard

  56. Hoplite wrote
    September 14, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Your attitude towards future generations seems to me to be ‘they can stuff themselves and make their own way in this world, and they ain’t going to cramp my style’. Not an attitude I’d care for.

    I have clearly articulated my attitude about future generations in my post at 9:51. It bears no resemblance to your words above, which by the way, clearly illustrate your manner of debate: ignore what has been said, and pretend that it was something else, to wit:


    Your statement about no security in ‘unreliable’ power shows me that you don’t understand how wind contributes to a state’s energy inputs.

    No, it means you’re going to pretend not to understand my clear remark:

    There is no security in unreliable power, especially when it costs more than reliable power.

    Unnecessary expense is a drain not only on people’s pockets, but also on state treasuries. Excessive state debt due to unnecessary expenses can hardly be considered a sign of security. Rather, it is a sign of vulnerability.

    Not everyone is out to make money in the stock market. Many of us are just happy to be able to pay our utility bill. You forget that most people in this world are poor.

    My concern about future generations is that they will think we were fools for littering the landscape with these towering whirligigs, when we had mountains of coal.

    And finally, more of the same; what you claim I said:


    […]however, claiming that introducing wind power as part of the generation mix is going to destroy that civilisation is egging it just a bit, no?

    And what I actually wrote:

    The important thing to sustain is our modern civilization, and that is also our greatest gift to future generations.

    The backbone of modern civilization is base-load power. Wind can’t provide that, and introducing it into “the mix” just makes everything more complicated, less reliable, and more expensive.

    • ‘There is no security in unreliable power, especially when it costs more than reliable power.’

      There is security in a portfolio of generation that includes wind. There is no security in wind on its own – who’s claiming there is? Why is there security? As the imported fossil fuel requirements lessen. Ireland imports the vast majority of its energy. This is seen, rightly, as a national vulnerability. By lessening this reliance, which wind does, that increases security. Your ‘reliable power’ is not so reliable in Ireland where its fuel has to be imported often from politically unstable regions whose sudden unavailability makes the prices surge. By relying on wind our national strategic imported reserves last longer = more security of electrical supply and stability of its price.

      The extra cost of wind has been modest to date in Ireland that has the largest penetration of wind on a >1GW synchronous system in the world (now nearly 20% of energy demand). The annual PSO levy in Ireland for 2014-15 will be E64.37 on an average annual electricity bill of E1,236 (5.2%). I, and 80% of my fellow citizens, are happy to pay this as we support wind as one of the energy sources to our economy. The PSO levy also pays for the peat burning stations which are Gov policy (much less public support for them) so the element in that supporting wind is less.

      Ireland, UK, Germany, USA etc etc can well afford these extra costs for renewables and don’t cod yourself that we can’t. I fully agree with the deep criticisms of the enviro lobby that is denying cheap power to the developing world but those nations that can afford to pay a bit more to create sustainable energy sources can and should do so as a moral imperative. I guess we just disagree on how strong that moral obligation to future generations is. Our energy usage, like our consumption patterns, need to become a little more sane and sustainable and you certainly don’t have to be a Green to believe that. I am not and have never politically supported them as I believe economically and in other areas they are loolahs.

  57. When talking about the amount of energy a wind farm generates, even the actual amount of power produced is an over-estimate. The real question is how much usable power does the thing generate. Power generated at off-peak times is completely useless because it will just get dumped.

    • Steve – that is incorrect. The fossil fuel generation is turned down and wind supplies the load instead of it. BTW how is electrical power ‘dumped’?

    • Hop Lite,

      When the power is not used on the grid, wouldn’t that mean that it’s dumped?

      Also, I agree with Steve that the numbers promoted by wind power generation are inflated.

      Face it, windmills are a lose-lose, except for the people receiving the subsidies. Those folks, and the eco-freaks who have no skin in the game are the only ones who like windmills. Everyone else would prefer that they just disappear. Especially the birds and bats.

      • ‘When the power is not used on the grid, wouldn’t that mean that it’s dumped?’

        The power IS used on the grid as I explained. Where do you think the power goes to? Energy cannot be created or destroyed ……etc etc etc.

        Some of the wind industry are guilty of egging it somewhat on the financials and the benefits of wind but the production levels are a matter of public record now and cannot be gainsayed. I have calculated the capacity factors of wind myself from these power times series. There really is no place for them to hide in falsified numbers at this point. You can get all that data yourself at eirgrid.com or uknational grid website. Please note these entities have no stake in or are allowed a stake in wind or any other generator.

        Nope – wind is not a lose lose as it does reduce dependency on fossil fuels but at a price (the part the wind industry tries to fudge). I have given the actual details of that level of costs for wind in Ireland today at 20% annual energy demand levels (+5% or so).

        I haven’t read the literature much on WTs and birds but I have spoken to windfarm operators who have told me they don’t see many bird strikes (one was in Spain and another in Ireland controlling multiple farms). As I understand it the loss of birds to hunting and poisons is much greater. My suspicion is that this ‘fact’ about wind is similar to many of the canards about it that still are trotted out by many (one unname-able here!).

        If you don’t like wind power and don’t want to pay extra for it that’s a perfectly legitimate view but you don’t have to make stuff up about it in order to promote your stance.

  58. The author wrote:

    “My thought – if even the Germans, with their legendary high precision engineering skills, can’t make offshore wind work, surely it is time to pull the plug on this technically infeasible dead end?”

    Let me rephrase that slightly:

    My thought – if even the Japanese, with their legendary high precision engineering skills, can’t make nuclear fission reactors work, surely it is time to pull the plug on this technically infeasible dead end?

    Let me add:

    After trillions of dollars of R&D and subsidies for 70 years, one accident at Fukushima lost more money and destroyed more assets than any other source of electricity in history, and forced the shut down of the entire industry. In one day, nuclear power was revealed as the most dangerous and expensive source of energy.

    • Jed Rothwell,

      I think what you are referring to re: Fukishima is politics, not safety.

      Politics is the reason that nuclear power is so expensive. If it were treated rationally, by now nuclear power would be producing plenty of inexpensive electricity. But it is fought tooth and nail every step of the way, mainly with lawsuits. That makes a nuclear plant incredibly expensive, because aside from the constant delays, there are also constant engineering changes required, and those changes generate more lawsuits.

      Regarding safety, how many people did the Fukushima accident kill? As far as I know, the number is zero. Considering that statistic unemotionally, and adding other nuclear accidents in the West that also caused no deaths and very few injuries of any kind, it appears that nukes are extremely safe — much safer than any alternative. But that is an unemotional assessmant. Politics is inherently emotional.

      So while Fukushima may be the most expensive accident in history [I don’t know that for a fact], it was undeniably not dangerous. There are arguments on both sides, but as usual, the wild-eyed scaremongers get all the press. Rational skeptics don’t.

      • You wrote: “Regarding safety, how many people did the Fukushima accident kill? As far as I know, the number is zero.” The accident itself killed several people but that was not from radioactivity. It remains to be seen how many people will die from radioactive exposure. Thousands of workers received doses far above the safety standards, so the standards were changed. Middle-aged and retired workers have volunteered to do the work, knowing that it takes 20 years in most cases for health problems to appear. I do not know whether the government accepted volunteers. Most of the workers there have been recruited through criminal organizations, so I doubt there has been much follow-up. (Yakuza-run employment agencies often contract manual labor in Japan.)

        I happen to know a great deal about this because I translate Japanese physics and chemistry papers into English. I was in contact with several of the nuclear engineering professors involved in the cleanup, from Hokkaido U., and I watch the NHK news and documentaries about the disaster.

        The professors tell me that soil and biological samples taken far from the reactor are so radioactive, they are a hazard to work with in the lab. Long-lived isotopes will make an area roughly 600 square kilometers uninhabitable for centuries. The government disagrees, but I expect the professors are right. The NHK reported on wildlife captured or shot ~100 km from reactor:

        “Tests of the meat from boars shot in Fukushima Prefecture show radioactive cesium at levels up to 61,000 becquerels, which is 610 times the maximum allowed by government safety standards.” (my translation, see: http://www.nhk.or.jp/gendai/kiroku/detail_3379.html)

        Most of the radioactivity in the boars comes from plants, which is about half their diet. There is no doubt that crops for humans are also contaminated. Maps showing average contamination are not reliable because contamination varies a great deal in one place. You can have normal background levels in place, and 100 meters away in a culvert where water collects, you might find radiation several orders of magnitude above background.

        I expect this is the most expensive accident in history. Japanese population density is high, and their farms, factories and cities are highly developed, with infrastructure and investment. Chernobyl is in the middle of nowhere compared to Fukushima, so property damage measured in dollars was smaller. Official estimates are that $250 to $500 billion in property was lost, with 159,000 people displaced. That sounds low to me. At $500 billion that comes to $3 million per person. We are not just talking about houses lost. They also towns, schools, roads and other infrastructure, and equipment, factories, farms, and all other places of work and public and private property. I expect that comes to a lot more than $3 million in rural Japan. (I lived in rural Japan for a while, so I know how much land and other assets are worth.)

        The losses have been incurred by individuals, so they are difficult to tally. The government and the power company have offered home owners, farmers and other nominal sums as compensation, for example $25,000 for a farm worth millions, with equipment alone worth far more than that. This is not surprising to anyone familiar with Japanese government or industry.

        See:

        http://www.psr.org/environment-and-health/environmental-health-policy-institute/responses/costs-and-consequences-of-fukushima.html

      • Let me add that I said fission reactors are “dangerous.” That does not necessarily mean they kill people. Danger would include causing property damage or the permanent evacuation of a large area of land. It includes a situation where workers can only spend a week on the clean-up site before exceeding radiation safety standards — even though these standards were arbitrarily increased a great deal. Whether that kills a worker or not, I think we all agree it is hazardous, or dangerous. That’s why they have to wear those plastic hazmats suits.

        Fukushima may have shortened the lives of hundreds of workers. We will not know for another 20 years. If the previous safety standards in Japan, which are still current elsewhere in the world, were valid, then probably it has shortened many lives and it will cause cancer.

        Wind turbines have occasionally collapsed or burned. They can be dangerous. Coal and natural gas plants have exploded. However, these accidents cause no long term damage, and they are not hazardous to clean up. They do not cost a lot to clean up.

        There is also the financial hazard. The Tokyo Electric Power Company is the largest power company in the world. It had so much money before the accident, it was investing in projects even outside of energy. The accident effectively bankrupted it. The company cannot possibly pay for the clean-up, never mind compensation. The government has stepped in. The actual costs are impossible to calculate, given the opacity of Japanese finances. Plus, as I said, much of burden will fall on individual farm and factory owners displaced from the land, who have been paid a pittance, or nothing. Many have been told they can return to farming, but no sane person would eat the produce from that land, according to the expert professors I have been in contact with.

      • Hi Jed. I just want to say that I, along with many others here, followed the whole situation with real nuclear guys who posted continually about radiation levels and what was really going on. As a consequence the Fukushima thing played out as a huge over-reaction by so many folk it was risible.

        The simple facts are that the system was overwhelmed by a tsunami wave bigger than design parameters. The stand by diesel system was drowned and failed to kick in. Nobody died, nobody got sick but lots of livestock died because they were abandoned by spooked humans who bought into the official line regarding radiation.

        Today we have the gross pretence that the area is dangerous, which it isn’t, and that the design of Fukushima was a failure which it wasn’t. You and your ilk have an agenda which is anti-human but it is still nonsense. Nuclear radiation is not the issue you make it out to be.

      • Jed Rothwell says:

        The accident itself killed several people …

        Name them, please. Provide a source.

        The professors tell me…

        Another uncited assertion. Please stop that.

        This is the internet’s Best Science & Technology site. It is not the National Enquirer, or Skepticalscience. You need to provide cited facts, not someone’s opinion. We all have opinions.

        You stated that people were killed at Fukushima, but you never identified anyone killed. Then in your next post you contradicted yourself, and admitted that no one was killed. And your “What-if” speculation is just that: speculation. Nuclear power remains the safest form of power generation. Many people have been killed in coal plants, hydro plants, NatGas plants, etc. They are all more dangerous than nukes.

        But you can only accept those facts if you keep your emotions out of it. Otherwise, the anti-science Greens will manipulate you like a string puppet.

      • “The accident itself killed several people …

        Name them, please. Provide a source.”

        I do not know their names. Three people were reportedly killed by collapsing structures or by being washed out to sea. See:

        http://asiancorrespondent.com/53036/the-fukushima-death-toll/

        As I recall, several others were killed in subsequent days, by the hydrogen explosions and other conventional causes. About 100 were reportedly subjected to radiation beyond the new, higher standards, but they are not dead as far as I recall.

        You can confirm my statements about the change in radiation standards, retired professional volunteering and so on in various sources, including the one I attached and also the New York Times, the Yomiuri, the NHK and the official Japanese Diet investigation. I linked to the NHK report. It is in Japanese but you can ask Google to translate it.

        “The professors tell me…

        Another uncited assertion. Please stop that.”

        I did cite it! I said nuclear engineering professors at Hokkaido National University. You can find the same information in many other authoritative sites. Granted, it is easier to find them in Japanese, but there is plenty of English documentation available.

        “This is the internet’s Best Science & Technology site. . . .”

        In that case you should accept information from authoritative sources sources such as the NHK. That is the gold standard of objectivity in Japan.

      • Let me explain that if you want to determine how much radioactive debris is located at various distances from the accident, there are several methods. There are airborne detectors that compile averages. You can send people down roads or into the bush with handheld detectors and sample bags. However, a much better method is to shoot a wild boar and test the meat from it. Wild boars eat lots of plant food from many different places, including places inaccessible to most people. The foraging range of wild boars is known, and biologists are quickly learning more about it. So this is a much more comprehensive and reliable way to measure radiation in plants than any human technology. When you shoot many boars, and you find up 61,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium in the meat — such that it would be an extreme hazard to eat it — that is irrefutable proof that dangerous levels of radioactive debris have spread far and wide from the reactor. You cannot go around shooting people who eat crops from that area, but if you could it is likely you would find radioactive debris in the people too. It is up and down the food chain, on land and at sea. If that is not “dangerous” I do not know what would be.

        And yes, that information does come from authoritative sources: the NHK and the Japanese government biologists who are shooting the boars and also monkeys, rats, badgers and various other animals. You can look it up.

      • From Jed Rothwell on September 15, 2014 at 10:22 am:

        Long-lived isotopes will make an area roughly 600 square kilometers uninhabitable for centuries. The government disagrees, but I expect the professors are right.

        Like Hiroshima, so desolate the population was only 1,173,980 on January 2010. Or Nagasaki, still so dreadfully irradiated that as of January 2009 it was only supporting 1,100/km2 (3,000/sq mi), merely 446,007 people in total. Sadness.

        Then there is what was the greatest disaster at a nuclear power plant, Chernobyl. To fully appreciate the absolute unresolvable unrelenting devastation, you need to take the tour. Go stare at the reactor buildings and have lunch at the Power Plant canteen, walk on through the abandoned town of Pripyat. Stop near the Red Forest, enjoy the abundant wildlife. You might even meet the self-settlers, those who moved themselves back home after the evacuation, who are inhabiting the uninhabitable wasteland.

        Five-star rating from Trip Advisor. The reviews rave about how good the tour guides are, because the guides spend most of their time there!

      • You wrote: “Like Hiroshima, so desolate the population was only 1,173,980 on January 2010.”

        You are confusing radiation with radioactive material. The Hiroshima bomb had about 10 kg of uranium in it. That is the most radioactive material it could have spread, and it went over a large area. A fission reactor core has tons of uranium, and many other dangerous isotopes. Two of the Fukushima reactor cores blew up in spectacular hydrogen explosions, far into the air, pulverizing and releasing tons of radioactive material. Hundreds to thousands of times more than a nuclear bomb releases (depending on the isotope). Radioactive debris from the reactors is spread much farther and in greater amounts than all of above ground nuclear tests in history, I have read.

    • dbstealey wrote
      September 15, 2014 at 8:52 am

      Regarding safety, how many people did the Fukushima accident kill? As far as I know, the number is zero.

      Your assessment is based on the mistaken assumption that the disaster at Fukushima is over.

      Mankind’s knowledge of radiation spans less than 120 years, but nuclear advocates are eager to close the books on any possible long-term health effects of any and all nuclear events, or radiation, in general.

      I don’t know what is causing the reported sharp decline in sperm counts in France, and elsewhere, and I don’t know either what accounts for the observed end of the Flynn Effect among Norwegian & Danish recruits, and other groups, including in the UK. It seems the vaunted precautionary principle does not apply when it comes to radiation or chemicals, but is only operative when we are discussing a beneficial, but demonized, trace gas.

      In any event, even if we set all the health questions about radiation aside, there are still the issues of cost, and security. I’m old enough to remember the early TV ads from the nuclear power industry about how their product would be Too Cheap To Meter.

      I don’t think that has worked out too well.

      • Steve P says:

        Your assessment is based on the mistaken assumption that the disaster at Fukushima is over.

        “Mistaken assumption”?? Isn’t that just another “What if”? And who are you to say it isn’t over?

        I try not to deal in too many assumptions. Going instead by “What is“, we see that the Fukushima situation didn’t kill lots of folks. Actually, none was the last number I heard.

        But “what if” it does, years from now? Then we will have to look at that situation at the time. But right now, there aren’t hospital beds full of radiation victims. People are not dying. The tsunami happened years ago. If we are making assumptions, what would you assume? That people are going to start dropping dead now?

        Next, you write:

        …nuclear advocates are eager to close the books…

        No, it is you and Jed who want to keep the books open, when there is no evidence of any fatalities. That outcome isn’t good enough for you folks. Like the runaway global warming believers, you need a bigger disaster. But the fact is that a tsunami wave much bigger than design parameters caused most of the damage. The radiation was incidental. As we constantly ask here: “Where are the bodies??”

        Next, Jed Rothwell sounds a tad too emotional when he writes:

        Two of the Fukushima reactor cores blew up in spectacular hydrogen explosions, far into the air… Hundreds to thousands of times more than a nuclear bomb releases… Radioactive debris from the reactors is spread much farther and in greater amounts than all of above ground nuclear tests in history And so on.

        Subtracting his emotion, we get this:

        A larger than expected tsunami wrecked a nuclear power plant. There were no fatalities. Radiation levels are rapidly declining.

        False alarms have been sounded about nuclear power plants for sixty years now. But the fact is that nuclear plants are as safe as, or safer than all other kinds of power plant. Any worrying beyond that is just rank speculation.

        Speculating is simply making a conjecture. But after 60 years of baseless conjectures, in which the predicted disasters never happened, it is time to tone down the wild-eyed scares and accept nuclear power for what it is: just another way to produce electricity.

  59. and thats the real answere to the thread

    wattsupwiththat.com/2014/08/22/the-eu-climate-change-and-the-giant-sucking-sound/

    of course the EU Bureaukrats have technicians telling them ‘half the power, double the working time’.

    but as well the greens know they’re driving us to ‘Mangelwirtschaft’ resp. poor energy supply.

    Look up ‘Janosz Kornay’; a economy unable to meet consumers needs.

    As in former DDR, nowadays north corea, cuba etc.

    And as in times of war.

    Less power, twice the time means: hopefully our energie supply doesnt break down at the needs, ‘give us more time to deliver’ – at the best forget about it.

    brg – Hans

  60. Coming back to wind mills and the great lobby of Hot lite in favour of it.

    I was surprised by some arguments of him on the Irish situation, which seemed so fine, and contradicted that I know in wind mills caracteristics. So I take some time to know more on the Irish situation.
    To summarize, the situation of Ireland (all Islands) is caracteristic of a small country (the same for Denmark):

    – surrounded by sea, many possibilities to erect off shore farms, small distances from consumption
    – connection with the UK grid (500 MW) enough to deliver an instantaneous help (because it is peanut for UK) so it acts like a spinning reserve

    If I take the situation of 2012, the absolute peak of consumption is 7GW; the fossil fueled plants are 8GW and
    wind 2MW (2,6 now) and it is planned to go to 3,5 MW in 2020. But in any case, Ireland will have to save the 8 MW of fossile fuels, as even with an increase of wind capacity, it cannot be excluded no wind at the peak, as shown by the data of EIRGRID.

    All this over-investment will gain about 20 % of consumption of coal and /or gas, no more, and due to the intermittence, the more there will be windmills, the less the marginal gain will be.

    I wonder if a revamping of all the fossil fuel plants (and specially the ban of peat, which is probably horribly inefficient) could achieve a better gain.
    Regarding the supply by ADCT, it is true that AD are more flexible, but very expensive and with a small unit capacity; so it is not thinkable to have the totality of the reserve with that in a big grid. And ADCT, because of the second part of the process, has the same problems of flexibility as normal fuel plants. So my opinion is that if you have a big part of the grid from wind, the others lose some efficiency anyway.

    To summarize, there are a lot of hidden unconvevient truths in the description of the Irish situation, and what is possible for a small country having the help of the connection with a big one is not possible for a whole continent.

    • Hard to know what you’re saying here volauvent. As I said previously, I expect that wind will always require 100% backup so the issue about no power at peak load is then irrelevant as the power is there to supply it.

      I’d be interested to know what the characteristics are of wind power are that you said are in conflict with what I have said here.

      I find your post quite hard to follow. What is ADCT?

      Wrt to the interconnector to UK remember this really only went into service last year (after technical difficulties in late 2012). Yes, it is part of the solution (wind capacity or not it effectively lowers spinning reserve for traditional plants) and works well with wind power.

      Intermittence is fully accounted for in the wind models and the capacity factors I quoted.

      Are you sure your negative attitude to wind is not blinding you to some of the positive realities of it?

      • Hop lite

        you said” As I said previously, I expect that wind will always require 100% backup so the issue about no power at peak load is then irrelevant as the power is there to supply it.”
        Is the back up power there by miracle? Who paid it? Who will pay the fact that they loose efficiency in providing a constant up and down short term back up?
        You must understand that what is possble for a small coutry thanks to the proximity of a much bigger one is not for the whole continent. In UK, Germany and France the companies shut down all the gas power plants because they loose money: the spot price is decreasing (sometimes negative when there is a lot of wind), they provide less energy (as the wind and sun is regulatory imposed ti the grid) and in the same time they are obliged to buy the wind and sun power at a very high price. so the gas plants disappear as the grid need urgently them for the back up.
        This is a complete crazy situation; I am not blind, I am just angry to pay for that, and anxious to see how the EU grid will pass the next winter.

      • Volauvent,

        ‘Is the back up power there by miracle? ‘ – no it was built, no miracles required.
        ‘Who paid it?’ – electricity customers of course ultimately (and possibly taxpayers generally too). If you look at my post above again you will I said that grid with wind is more expensive than without it as 100% backup is required.

        Re the link to UK you are quite mistaken here. Yes, it is part of the longer term solution but it is only active since last year and the only other interconnector is the Moyle interconnector which has had a troubled service history and has been out of service for extended periods. It did not significantly affect wind generation on the island when it was out of service (when there was no other interconnector). Prices and commercial realities influence power flows much more than technical needs on these interconnectors. (e.g. Ireland has an oversupply of thermal capacity and UK an undersupply but yet 2.2TWh – 8.5% of demand – was imported from UK to Ireland last year – purely for commercially reasons).

        Don’t confuse market commercial drivers with technical requirements or underlying economics. Power system generation is probably always more efficient when it is centrally planned rather than left to market forces as the market is too short-term focussed which brings about inefficiencies and technical shortcomings.

  61. Hoplite

    You ask Volauvent

    Are you sure your negative attitude to wind is not blinding you to some of the positive realities of it?

    “Positive realities” of wind-powered subsidy farms!?

    They are expensive, polluting, environmentally damaging bird-swatters that only produce expensive electricity when the wind is blowing strong enough but not not too strong, and they do not produce electricity useful for an electricity grid at any time.

    Please state which of these attributes you think to be a “positive reality” and not a liability.

    Richard

  62. Well a glimpse of one of the problems of “wind mills” can be had by looking at various forms of sailing ships.

    Chinese Junks, would be one example, and the Hawaiian two masted catamaran is another. For modern designs, the recent Americas Cup racing yachts, would be a clue.

    What all these designs demonstrate, is that sailors are fully aware of the phenomenon of vertical wind shear. The ancient Polynesian boat has two triangular sails, but the pointy end is down at the deck level, and most of the sail area is up aloft.

    That is where the wind blows hardest.

    So when you apply this to your megawatt windmill, you discover that the wind speed blowing on the top blade, maybe 300 to 600 feet above the water, is much stronger than what the bottom blade, maybe 50-100 feet off the water.

    So both the axial thrust and the circumferential torque, are totally different for the different positions of the blade. The top blade generates much more power than the bottom blade, unless you deliberately kill the top blade power by feathering the blade, as it goes over the top.

    As a result the three blades are subject to a pulsating axial and circumferential thrust, that is synchronized to the rotation, so they are literally shaking themselves to pieces.

    And those huge spherical roller bearings, are being subjected to those load pulses, which is not a healthy load to apply to a precision bearing.

    Well the rotating pulses, maybe don’t harm the bearings, but the axial pulsation, is going to create havoc.

    The common (in USA) electric trolling motors, used on fishing boats, run quite smoothly when operated out of the water, with no significant blade loading.

    But once down in the water, with the upper blade quite close to the surface, and the bottom blade much deeper, they too experience synchronous vibrating loads, that convince boat owners, that their trolling motor is way out of balance. It isn’t but their loading is, and they shake themselves furiously.

    If you put the ocean windmill on a shorter tower, for a stronger tower, the differential wind shear is more severe, and if you use a taller tower, then its weight and cost go up rapidly with height.

    I don’t know how effective it is to have individual feathering of the blades; I believe helicopter rotors do that, but then they also shake themselves to pieces.

  63. Hotlite

    To answer my last reply, you said:”Prices and commercial realities influence power flows much more than technical needs”
    Precisely, prices on the EU market are neither the result of technical needs nor real market; they are the result of crazy regulations which distort the needs and the prices. The consequences could be dramatic; no electricity companies want to invest in Europe now and nobody know how to get rid of this crazy situation.

    Of course, if the programs were completely centralized in state owned companies, with a price fixed by the government and the electricity mix decided without the advice of the consumers it could be easier; but this has been tried in the past in several countries, and it seems that the results were not convincing.

    coming to the UK connection, I have read the scenarii of the 2020 project, and it is said that the connection has an important role in it (avoiding more spinning reserve when the part of wind will increase).The problem of wind is occuring when it becomes a significant part of the capacities (for you 3,7 GW in 2020 for 8 GW in fossil fuels)
    One of the other uncertainties also is the maintenance cost of off shore after a significant number of years; in the same time, you will have to replace the old fossil fuel facilities that you have maintained (ex the peat) without investments because of the huge financial effort in wind.
    if the Irish people are happy to pay twice the investments in order to save (perhaps, it is not sure) 20 % of the gas and coal bill it is up to them. But I do not agree to pay EU subsidies for this myself.

    I repeat: Ireland can do this because of a very partiular situation surrounded by sea, small distances, immediate reserve in the future provided by the huge UK grid.

    A similar case in Denmark: the huge wind capacity is only possible because of the interconnection with Norway which has an overcapacity in hydro electricity.which is a good spinning reserve.
    ; it happens that sometimes Norway buy Danish electricity with a negativ price and when there is no wind, they sell at a high price. Norway consumers are happy to be helped to pay their bills by the Danish.

  64. Jed Rothwell

    “My thought – if even the Japanese, with their legendary high precision engineering skills, can’t make nuclear fission reactors work, surely it is time to pull the plug on this technically infeasible dead end?”

    May I add my penny’s worth to the excellent response from Keitho at 12.42
    The 40 year old power plant withstood the force 9 earthquake and was only brought down because it was located on ground too low to withstand the subsequent ten metre tsunami. Nothing to do with precision engineering only to an initial risk assessment which did not make sufficient allowance for the aftermath of the largest Japanese earthquake since records began.

    “Let me add: After trillions of dollars of R&D and subsidies for 70 years, one accident at Fukushima lost more money and destroyed more assets than any other source of electricity in history, and forced the shut down of the entire industry. In one day, nuclear power was revealed as the most dangerous and expensive source of energy.”

    Not true. Perhaps Mr. Rothwell has not heard of the bombing of the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams.
    http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/bombercommanddambusters21march1943.cfm. Far more damage and much more expensive in lives as well as in money.

    The shut down of nuclear plants in Japan and Germany and possibly other countries was not due to any scientific or engineering assessment as to safety but was due to the panic of politicians fearful of losing votes.

    As to the number deaths caused by radiation following nuclear bombs or a disaster such as Chernobil, one should be cautious. For years after the event every death from cancer or leukemia for people who were living (or returned to live within a few years) in the medium vicinity of the incident has been attributed to radiation exposure. Thus those who might have died anyway from cancer or leukemia had they not been exposed to radiation were included. The only proper statistic would come from a study comparing death rates by age, sex and type between those who were deemed to be exposed and a control population living outside the designated area.

    Such studies might have been done but I do not recollect seeing any. Perhaps they did not produce the expected results.

  65. My guess is that ignorant politicians substituted non-lead-solder in place of the lead-solder that the engineers specified in the original plans. The electrical components are growing metal whiskers, a phenomenon which has been known for about a century. Any electrical component that is supposed to last longer than two or three years should be built with lead-solder. The metal whiskers have also been observed to grow faster when subjected to a high voltage potential. All of those electrical components out in the North Sea are going to continue to short themselves out, due to an irrational fear of lead.

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