Offshore Wind Turbine Project – Statoil’s Hywind Scotland–A Positive Viewpoint

By Roger Sowell (1)

clip_image002

Figure 1 Artist’s Depiction – Hywind Scotland credit Statoil ASA Environmental Statement

Background

This article is the result of a request by Charles The Moderator (ctm) for me to write a more in-depth piece on my views of wind energy systems. About one week ago, WUWT had an article bashing the Hywind Scotland wind farm (7/28/2017, see link) on which article I offered a few comments. I also added a link on the Tips and Notes page to the Hywind Scotland project’s Environmental Statement (ES). That ES is the rough equivalent to an Environmental Impact Report in the US. Many technical details are included in the ES. That note in Tips and Notes prompted ctm to ask me to write this article.

Having withstood for several years the slings and arrows (including libel) of many commenters and guest bloggers at WUWT, I was reluctant to write a positive piece on wind energy. I reserve such articles for my own blog. But, ctm is a persuasive and charming fellow, and I agreed to write this. I have attempted to use plentiful references and citations throughout, and those only from reputable sources. For example, Statoil’s claims to 40 years offshore experience, built and operated more than 40 offshore oil and gas structures, some of those offshore structures are powered from shore by undersea cables, and the details of their Troll platform, are from Statoil’s own documents online. If those facts are in error, the fault is theirs. However, those facts also align with my memories of working with Statoil guys over the years.

Forging ahead, it should be remembered that another article of mine is online at WUWT (and my own blog), on the serious consequences of breaking the libel laws online. See link to “Climate Science, Free Speech and Legal Liability – Part 1.” In plain English, it is OK to disagree, but argue your points with facts, and argue politely.

Introduction

This article’s overall topic is part of the questions, what should a modern civilization do to look to its future electrical energy needs? Then, what steps should be taken now to ensure a safe, reliable, environmentally responsible, and cost-effective supply of electricity will be available in the future? These questions have no easy answers; they occupy a very great deal of time, energy, and written words.

More to the point, what should an advanced society do in the present, when it is very clear that two of the primary sources of electric power will be removed from the generating fleet with 20 years, and half of that removed within 10 years?

Two scenarios are discussed: first the world electric generating situation, then that in the United States.

The basic facts are these: at present, worldwide electricity is provided by six primary sources: coal burning, natural gas burning, nuclear fission, hydroelectric, oil burning, and a mix of renewable energy systems. Of the renewables, most of the power is from wind turbine generators (WTG), second is solar power, and the rest is from a few other sources that include geothermal, biomass, biogas, and others. (source: EIA and other reputable entities). For approximate percentages, in 2012 the world’s electric power was provided by Coal 39.6, Natural Gas 22, Hydroelectric 17.6, Nuclear 10.7, Oil 5, Wind 2.4, Solar 0.5, and Other 2.1. Figures for different countries are available from various references.

In the United States, however, the mix of energy sources is changing rapidly over the next two decades. The essential facts in the US are a great number of nuclear plants will retire; many coal-fired plants will retire, many natural gas plants will be built; and a great number of wind turbine generators will be built. Within 20 years, almost every one of the 98 nuclear plants in the US will retire. Half of those will be shut down within 10 years. That is most significant, because coal plants produce 30 percent and nuclear plants produce 18 to 19 percent of all the electricity in the US. With most of those shut down in 20 years, the US is facing a deficit of almost one-half of the electricity supply. In energy terms, coal and nuclear provide approximately 2,000 million MWh per year. (EIA for 2016). For the shorter term, ten years from now, one-half of those shutdowns will occur, leaving a shortfall of 1,000 million MWh per year.

An aside to look more closely at coal burning power plants and their rapid closures in the US. Coal is no longer king, no matter what anyone says about the matter. The fact is, as I have long stated and written, that coal burning power plants were intentionally given a pass on environmental issues. They were not forced to comply with many of the environmental requirements of the US Clean Air Act. Instead, the coal industry found ways to “perform maintenance” that added capacity, while retaining the grandfathered status. Only a few coal burning power plants were required to comply with the pollution laws. Recently, that all changed. Now, coal burning power plants are closing in record numbers because the owners cannot afford to install the expensive pollution control equipment. (Reference: MIT paper, 2016, MITEI-WP-2016-01; also see http://www.law.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/2016-ELI_Grandfathering.Coal_..Power_.Plant_.Regulation.Under_.the_.CAA_.pdf) I am aware that this is a controversial statement at WUWT, having made this statement before and receiving blistering comments on that. Yet, facts are very stubborn things; they do not care one bit what anyone thinks of them. Facts just are.

The facts of US nuclear power plants are just as plain: the fleet of 98 plants is aging. Almost half, 47 out of 98 still running, are between 40 and 47 years old. (reference: https://www.eia.gov/nuclear/spent_fuel/ussnftab2.php ) Within 10 years, it is almost certain that all of those reactors will be shut down permanently and retired. Many of the nuclear plants are losing money and have done so for a few years. Some have received direct government subsidies recently to keep running. These direct payments are in addition to the numerous other subsidies that US nuclear plants receive, such as for indemnity from radiation releases, federal guarantees on construction loans, softening of safety regulations, laws prohibiting lawsuits during construction, and others. .

In the arena of electricity generation at grid-scale, conventional and new technologies contend for market share. Over the past decade, new technologies that use renewable energy as the motive force have become more prevalent. Wind and solar technologies are two that are presently at the forefront of market share and development effort. As the traditional mix of generating technology changes in the next two decades, wind energy will certainly play a greater and greater role. In early 2017, combined output from hydroelectric and renewable sources slightly exceeded nuclear power plant output (Figure 1 from EIA, figures in billion kWh per month). Also notable from Figure 2 is the almost complete absence of energy from wind (dark green area) before 2010.

clip_image003

Figure 2 US Renewables with Hydro v Nuclear

The growth of wind energy has been substantial in only 7 years, from almost zero percent to 7.5 percent of US total electricity. The growth in wind energy is shown also in Figure 3, where wind energy, for the first time, was the same as the output of hydroelectric plants in 2014-2015. As an aside, Figure 3 is the real hockey stick. The data is from EIA, but the graph is my own. This graph made quite a splash on Twitter on 5/2/2016 among the #windenergy crowd. (@rsowell is my handle)

clip_image004

Figure 3 US Hydro v Wind Energy

The US has more than adequate wind resources and natural gas resources to fill the generating gap from retired nuclear and coal power plants. Onshore wind capacity at present stands at a bit more than 84,000 MW, (windexchange reference) with another 25,000 MW under construction. Natural gas power plants of 190 GW could easily be built to meet the need. Wind turbines of 170 GW could be installed and remain well below 20 percent of all electricity generated annually. The added 170 GW of wind is well below the estimated 11,000 GW of wind capacity that exists onshore in the US.(Lopez, A. et. al. Technical Report NREL/TP-6A20-51946, July 2012) These figures, 190 GW for natural gas, and 170 GW for wind energy are found as follows. The need is for new natural gas power plants to generate 1,000 million MWh per year. By dividing 1000 million by 8766 hours per year we obtain 114,076 MW (and multiply by 1 million). By then dividing by 0.6, the natural gas power plant capacity factor, we obtain 190,127 MW or 190 GW to install.

The 170 GW of wind capacity to install over the next decade is found similarly, but using 0.35 as the capacity factor. The desired result is to have wind energy make up 20 percent of the total electricity in the US annually, the “penetration” as it is known. With existing wind energy already at 7 percent penetration, the need then is for 13 percent from new wind turbines. Multiplying 0.13 times 4,000 million MWh/y we obtain 520 million MWh/y. As before, we divide by 8766 and multiply by 1 million to obtain 59,320 MW. This divided by the capacity factor of 0.35 gives 169,486 MW, which is rounded nicely to 170 GW of new wind capacity.

The nice result here is that total installed natural gas power plant capacity would exceed wind plant capacity. Therefore, when wind speed declines below generating speed, the natural gas power plants have plenty of capacity to make up the power deficit. Wind generating capacity at present is approximately 84 GW, and the new capacity to install is 170 GW. The total of 250 GW is less than existing natural gas power plant of approximately 260 GW. When the new natural gas power plant is added, there is 260 (old capacity) plus 190 (new capacity) which yields 450 GW of natural gas power plant capacity.

This gives a viable solution for the first ten years. Natural gas capacity would be 450 GW total, wind would be 250 GW total, and wind penetration would be a nice, round figure of 20 percent.

The second decade would require similar added capacity. An additional 170 GW of wind capacity would add 13 percent more to the penetration. That would then be 20 plus 13 for 33 percent total. That would present almost zero problems on the national grid. Total wind capacity would then be 250 GW plus 170 GW, which yields 420 GW. (reference DOE Wind Vision site states slightly more than 420 GW can be added by 2050 in their analysis. https://energy.gov/eere/wind/maps/wind-vision ) Natural gas capacity would be another 190 GW, for a total then of 450 plus 190 to yield 640 GW. With 640 being comfortably greater than 420, there is adequate natural gas power plant capacity to take over when the wind speed declines.

One question arises, then; can wind turbine generators be added at a rate necessary to achieve 170 GW over ten years? That is an average of 17 GW per year. From actual history, it is noted that in 2012, US wind capacity of a bit more than 13 GW was added. Also, 10 GW was added in 2009. It is clear, then, that 17 GW per year should be no problem. The US wind energy supply chain would be required to increase output by 4/13 or approximately 30 percent.

A second concern sometimes is expressed, as the land area required for a large number of wind turbines. That is not a problem, however. Studies of actual, modern, efficient wind farms found that on average, total land required is 85 acres per MW installed capacity. (Reference: Land Use for Wind Farms Technical Report NREL/TP-6A2-45834, August 2009 http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy09osti/45834.pdf ) The study used hectares, giving 34 h per MW. Converting appropriately, we obtain 85 acres per MW installed. The total land area, then, for 420 GW or 420,000 MW of wind capacity is 85 multiplied by 420,000 and divided by 640 acres per square mile. The result is then 55,800 square miles when rounded up a bit. For perspective, that is almost exactly the area of the state of Iowa, which has 56,272 square miles. Of course, the wind parks would be spread out over the states and not all concentrated in Iowa. Another consideration is almost all of the land with wind turbine generators can and would be used for its original purpose.

Why the focus on wind and natural gas? One might prefer to build sufficient nuclear plants or more coal power plants instead of wind and natural gas power plants. Nuclear and coal power plants are discussed below.

It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to build a sufficient number of nuclear power plants – 40 to 50 of them – in the next decade to replace those that retire. Recent news (7/31/2017) shows that the two new nuclear plants under construction in South Carolina at the V.C Summer plant have been halted with no intention to finish building them. (see https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-31/scana-to-cease-construction-of-two-reactors-in-south-carolina ) The South Carolina plants are approximately 35 percent complete, many years behind schedule and several $billion dollars over budget. The projects were halted when the revised estimate to complete showed $26 billion. In order to start up 40 to 50 nuclear plants ten years from this date, the 40 to 50 plants must be approved and under construction today also. Clearly, that has not happened. New nuclear plants also have a very high price for electricity produced.

It would also be unwise to build new coal-burning power plants since the remaining amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit is limited to 20-30 years or less at current prices. (Reference: Luppens, J.A., et al, 2015, Coal geology and assessment of coal resources and reserves in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming and Montana: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1809, 218 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/pp1809 ) If coal prices rise, perhaps by increased demand or subsidies, more coal can be mined. However, high coal prices require a coal burning power plant to have higher electricity sales prices. That simply would not occur with natural gas and wind power at such very low prices as today. New coal-fired plants would lose money, just like the new nuclear plants would.

World-wide, the numbers are similar. Coal production is limited to no more than 50 years, unless some force increases the price at the mine-mouth. (Rutledge, David, “Estimating long-term world coal production with logit and probit transforms,”  International Journal of Coal Geology, 85 (2011) 23-33  http://www.its.caltech.edu/~rutledge/DavidRutledgeCoalGeology.pdf )

Why onshore wind?

Why, then, the big push for wind technology? Below are listed a few reasons in support of wind power. Following that is a description in some detail the new 30 MW Hywind wind park being installed off the northeast coast of Scotland by Statoil.

Onshore wind farms have benefited greatly from private and public funding over the past decade. The wind turbine generators are already low-cost to install and operate. Projects are profitable in the Great Plains region of the US where the sales price for power is 4.3 cents per kWh. (source: 2015 Wind Technologies Market Report https://emp.lbl.gov/sites/default/files/2015-windtechreport.final_.pdf ) The federal subsidy is to end in 3-4 years. Most importantly, the installed cost has steadily decreased over the years, by a factor of 3 in the past 7 to 8 years. The low capital cost is the primary reason that wind power is being installed at 8 to 13 GW per year in the US. It must be acknowledged that the reductions in capital cost per kW occurred only because the federal and state subsidies for wind technology allowed developers to design, build, and install better and better designs. Whatever arguments there may be against subsidies, wind turbine generators have benefitted substantially from the subsidies.

Installed costs will continue to decrease as more improvements are made. Designers have several improvements yet to be implemented such as larger turbines, taller towers, and increased capacity factor. Oklahoma just announced a 2,000 MW project with 800 turbines of 2.5 MW each. Onshore wind farms will soon have the larger size at 4 MW then 6 MW turbines similar to those that are installed now in the ocean offshore.

Wind repower projects have even better economics. Repowering is the replacement of old, inefficient wind turbine generators with modern, usually much larger, and much more efficient systems. The wind will not have changed, was not used up, in the same location. In fact, the taller turbines reach higher and into better wind that typically has greater speed and more stability. The infrastructure is already in place for power lines and roads. Repowering may be able to incorporate legacy towers as the upper section of new, taller towers for larger wind turbine generators.

Wind power extends the life of natural gas wells. Wind power creates less demand for natural gas. This reduces the price of natural gas. That helps the entire economy, especially home heating bills, plus the price of electricity from burning natural gas. But, this also reduces the cost to make fertilizer that impacts food, since natural gas is the source of hydrogen that is used to make ammonia fertilizer.

Wind power is a great jobs creator. Today, there are more than 100,000 good jobs in the US wind energy industry. Many of the wind industry jobs are filled by aeronautical engineers. Instead of designing airplanes with two wings that fly in a straight line, they design wind rotors with three wings that turn in a circle. There are approximately 1.2 jobs per MW of installed capacity, with 84,000 MW and 100,000 jobs. That’s approximately the same ratio as in nuclear power plants, with 1 job per MW.

Wind provides security of energy supply. No one can impose an embargo on the wind. There are no foreign payments, and no foreign lands to protect with the US military.

Wind provides a good, drought-independent supplemental income via lease payments to thousands of families nationwide, due to the distributed nature of wind turbine projects. Almost 100 percent of the land can continue in its original activity, grazing cattle or farming. Marginal land with no economic activity now produces income for the landowner. 85 acres is required for 1 MW of WTG.

Wind power promotes grid-scale storage research and development. Wind energy generated at night during low demand periods can be stored then released when demand and prices are higher. As always, some losses occur when energy is stored and released later. Storage and release on demand has spinoff into electric car batteries. EVs will reduce or eventually eliminate gasoline consumption, and that will spell the end for OPEC. The entire world’s geopolitics will change as a result. Recently, the CEO of BP, the major international oil company, predicted that the next decade or two would bring such a surge of EVs that oil demand would peak, then decline. The CEO is right, too. When it becomes patriotic to drive an EV rather than a gas guzzler, EV sales will zoom. A gas guzzler will be seen as an OPEC enabler.

Wind power hastens nuclear plant retirements as electricity prices decline. Nuclear plants cannot compete with cheap electricity from cheap natural gas. As stated above, wind energy keeps natural gas prices low by reducing the demand for natural gas.

Power from wind is power without pollution. Wind power has no damaging health impacts from smoke, particulates, or noxious sulfur or nitrogen oxides. The American Lung Association encourages clean, pollution-free wind power.

Summary to this point.

The utility-scale power generation mix in the US will change substantially, even dramatically over the next ten and twenty years. Nuclear power will be almost non-existent. Coal power will also be greatly reduced or almost absent. Wind power will be four to five times as much capacity and generation compared to today. Natural gas power will grow to replace the nuclear and coal production, but will loaf along as wind generation occurs. Only when the wind dies down will natural gas power plants roar to life at full throttle. This describes the US situation.

Several other nations also have similar issues to face. Of the approximately 450 nuclear power plants still operating world-wide, roughly one-half will retire within 20 years, and for the same reasons as do those in the US. Old age, inability to compete, and safety concerns will shut them down. A similar analysis can be done for each major nuclear power country with aging reactors, including Japan, France, Canada, UK, and Germany. On average, with 20 years being exactly 240 months, that is roughly 1 reactor per month to be retired. The booming business of the future will be reactor decommissioning.

Next is part two, the specifics on offshore wind and the Hywind Scotland wind park.

Why, then, offshore wind?

In addition to all the benefits of onshore wind power listed above, offshore wind farms have a few benefits of their own. First, a couple of drawbacks that exist with offshore wind power. It is well-known that offshore wind power has higher costs to install, and higher operating costs due to accessibility issues when compared to onshore wind farms. However, these drawbacks are somewhat offset by the much larger wind turbine generators that can be installed, taller towers, and better wind as measured by both velocity and stability. Lease payments do not flow to private landowners, typically, but to the government that controls the local part of the ocean.

For areas that do not have the very good onshore wind that exists in the interior of the US, offshore may be an ideal place to develop wind energy.

Larger turbine designs for offshore wind projects can be evaluated and adapted for onshore projects.

Much of the world’s population lives in cities near the ocean. Transmission lines to bring the energy from the offshore wind turbine generators to the cities may be shorter, compared to running long distances overland.

For those who cannot see the beauty in a technologically advanced wind farm, an offshore wind farm can place the systems out of sight.

The marine industries get a boost with offshore wind farms.

Offshore wind farms are ideally situated for a few forms of grid-scale storage. In particular, one of those is pumped storage hydroelectric with the ocean as the lower reservoir and a dedicated lake higher up onshore. Another form is the MIT submerged storage spheres.

Offshore wind farms very recently, Spring of 2017, won an auction in Germany that contained zero government subsidy as part of the bid. With more and more advances in the technology, the era of subsidized offshore wind farms may be over. Time will tell.

Offshore wind farms bring additional capacity to play. Using the US for example, the government estimates 11,000 GW of wind capacity is economically feasible onshore. An additional 4,000 GW of wind capacity is economically feasible offshore. Offshore wind power increases the US total by a bit more than one-third.

Finally, offshore wind power brings affordable electricity to islands that presently have very expensive electricity due to burning oil in power plants, or diesel in piston-engine generators. Offshore wind power is a mainstay of Hawaii’s plan to obtain 100 percent of the electricity in the islands from renewable sources. Some storage will be necessary to balance out the fluctuations in demand.

The Hywind Scotland floating wind farm uses the moored spar technology, appropriately modified for the single-tower system of a wind turbine generator.

Hywind Scotland Project

clip_image006

Figure 4 Conceptual Layout From Hywind Environmental Statement

 

Technology

As depicted in Figure 4, Hywind Scotland has five floating, seabed-moored spar-type wind turbine generators rated at 6 MW each for 30 MW installed capacity. Note, these are the same size as the offshore wind park in Rhode Island in the US. Block Island system offshore Rhode Island started production in 2016. Note, however, the Block Island system’s towers are not floating, but are anchored to the ocean floor.

Each Hywind Scotland WTG has three mooring lines anchored to the seabed. These mooring lines split into two, so there are six anchor points on the floating tower. (ES 4-5) see Figure 5 below.

clip_image008

Figure 5 Undersea Mooring Schematic – from ES

WTG has a proprietary motion compensation system to ease the load on critical bearings. (ES 3-1)

WTG has three rotor blades. The rotor blades are pitch-controlled. Rotating speed varies with wind strength, from 4-13 RPM (ES 4-19).

The WTG are provided by Siemens, a major vendor of offshore wind turbine generators. The model is SWT-6.0-154. Access is available by boat and a ladder system inside each tower.

Hub height for the WTG is 101 meters above sealevel.

Cut-in wind speed where power generation begins is 3-4 m/s. Cut-out wind speed for WTG protection is higher than 25 m/s. (6.6 mph – 55 mph) (ES 4-19) See Figure 6 for wind direction and range of speeds at the site. Wind speed is higher than cut-in speed more than 95 percent of the time.

clip_image010

Figure 6 Wind Rose Showing Direction/Speed – from ES

Power is collected from the 5 WTGs and brought to shore via a single cable along the seabed, length approximately 25 to 35 km. The power is tied into the national grid. Power is at 33 KV, 50 HZ and AC. Undersea power cable to shore is armoured and 0.5 m diameter. Power can be drawn from shore if the need arises. Diesel-powered generators can also be used at any WTG (ES 4-6)

Each WTG is connected via inter-array cable, 33 kV at 50 HZ and AC. Cables are armoured and approximately 0.5 m diameter. The temporary loss of any one WTG for repairs or maintenance will not affect the output of the others. (ES 4-5)

A smaller floating WTG prototype operated 10 km off the west coast of Norway since 2009 to 2014 and withstood 20 m waves and 40 m/s winds (approximately 88 mph). The prototype was a single WTG with 2.3 MW capacity. (ES xi and 3-1)

Seafloor area required is 15 km-2. With capacity of 30 MW, the ratio is 2 MW per km-2. (ES 4-2)

Water depth is 95 – 120 meters (ES 8-8)

Each of the WTG Units will be equipped with code-compliant navigational lights for marine operations and aviation that will automatically turn on in the dark. (ES 4-7)

Statoil ASA, a Norwegian oil and gas company, is the designer, and investor. Statoil has more than 40 years of offshore oil and gas experience with more than 40 separate offshore installations, most of which are in the harsh conditions of the North Sea. Statoil designed and built the world’s largest object that was ever moved over the Earth’s surface, the Troll A platform. Troll A was designed in the late 1980s, approximately 30 years ago. It began operating in 1996. Troll A is a complex concrete and steel structure that sits on the ocean floor in more than 300 meter deep water. The platform itself is far above the ocean surface. Troll A is more than 470 meters from top to bottom. Statoil also has long experience with power cables along the ocean floor from shore to offshore structures.

Hywind Economics

Economics are improved over the initial one-turbine, 2.3 MW prototype. The prototype generated 40 GWh over several years and demonstrated a 50 percent annual capacity factor during one year. Lessons learned at Hywind Scotland’s 30 MW system will be employed in future, large-scale wind parks. Hywind Scotland’s installed cost is GB £210 million (approximately US$276 million. $/kW = 9210.) But, this includes undersea cables. Note, this is just a bit less than the Block Island 30 MW system in the US, which cost US$300 million.

The unsubsidized economics for the small, 30 MW Hywind Scotland system gives a sales price of electricity at $215 per MWh sold for a 12 year simple project payout. This is based on 45 percent annual capacity factor and investment as above. Revenue would be an average of $23 million per year. With public funding sources as described in the Environmental Statement, the economics are very likely substantially better. This price point, $215 per MWh, is competitive with peaker power prices.

With economy of scale and 60 percent reduction in installed cost for a larger 600 MW park, and 12 year simple project payout, no subsidies, the electricity could be sold at $89 per MWh. At that price point, offshore wind becomes competitive with baseload natural gas power with LNG at $10 per MMBtu as the fuel used.

Bird Collisions

The environmental impact on numerous species are included in the Environmental Statement. The impact on birds is summarized here.

Avian collision mortality was predicted in the Environmental Statement for species that commonly fly at rotor height (101 m) using a range of modelling scenarios. This showed that the predicted additional mortality was negligible compared to the numbers of birds that die from existing background mortality causes. (ES 11-1)

With one exception, predictions of the size and duration of potential impacts shows that for all species for all times of year effects would have negligible impact on receptor populations. The exception is razorbill, for which a potential disturbance effect of low impact for the breeding population is identified owing to the very high densities sometimes present in August, a period when individuals of this species have heightened vulnerability to disturbance. This impact is nevertheless judged not significant. (ES 11-1)

The negligible impact conclusion is consistent with studies in the US on bird mortality from wind turbines. In the US, approximately 1 billion birds die annually from various causes. Ninety-six percent of those are caused by collisions with buildings, power lines, automobiles, and encounters with cats. Less than 0.003 percent were due to wind turbine impacts. (Erickson et.al, USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PSW-GTR-191 (2005), Table 2 https://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/documents/psw_gtr191/psw_gtr191_1029-1042_erickson.pdf ) In addition, bird fatalities decline as older, truss-style support towers are demolished and modern, monopole support towers are installed.

Conclusion

There is a need for electric power generation technologies to replace the rapidly aging and retiring nuclear power plants in several countries within the next decade. Also, coal at today’s prices has a limited horizon of 20 to 50 years. In the US, coal power plants are shutting down due to pollution equipment costs. It is prudent to develop safe, reliable, and affordable means of generating power. Wind power has improved dramatically in the past decade to take its place as such – safe, reliable, and affordable. More improvements are identified and already in the pipeline. In addition, wind as an energy source is eternally renewable and sustainable. The benefits of reduced natural gas demand, lower natural gas price, less air pollution, improved human health from lung diseases, economic benefits for land owners with wind farm leases, increased jobs, increased domestic manufacturing and service businesses, all make wind energy desirable.

The offshore, 30 MW Hywind Scotland floating spar wind energy system is built and backed by the very experienced Norwegian company, Statoil ASA. Even though it has subsidies, the project’s unsubsidized economics would make it attractive against peaker power plants. The improved economics due to economy of scale will make this competitive with main gas-powered plants where LNG is imported for fuel. The Hywind Scotland technology for wind turbine generators, floating moored spar supports, and undersea power cables is already proven. The location chosen, off the eastern seaboard of Scotland, has excellent wind with 40 to 50 percent capacity factor.

A 600 MW or larger offshore wind farm using the Hywind Scotland design can be expected in the next decade. Wind energy technology continues to improve with demonstrated, year-over-year reductions in cost to install.

 

Additional References:

http://www.4coffshore.com/windfarms/hywind-scotland-pilot-park-united-kingdom-uk76.html

Abbreviated in this article as ES: https://www.statoil.com/content/dam/statoil/documents/impact-assessment/Hywind/Statoil-Environmental%20Statement%20April%202015.pdf

 

 

Footnotes

(1) Roger Sowell is an attorney in Science and Technology Law. Since earning a BS in Chemical Engineering in 1977, he has performed a great many engineering consulting assignments worldwide for independent and major energy companies, chemical companies, and governments. Cumulative benefits to clients from his consulting advice exceeds US$1.3 billion. Increased revenues to clients are at least five times that amount. He regularly makes public speeches to professional engineering groups and lay audiences. He is a regular speaker on a variety of topics to engineering students at University of California campuses – UCLA and UC-Irvine. He is a founding member of Chemical Engineers for Climate Realism, a “red-team” style think-tank for experienced chemical engineers in Southern California. He is also a Council Member with the Gerson Lehrman Group that provides advice to entities on Wall Street. He publishes SowellsLawBlog; which at present has more than 450 articles on technical and legal topics. His widely-heralded Truth About Nuclear Power series of 30 articles has garnered more than 25,000 views to date. Recently (2016), he was requested to defend climate-change skeptics against an action under the United States RICO statutes.

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
michael hart

Misleading title. Much of it has nothing to do with a Scottish wind project.

How is the title misleading?

Greg

Because most of the discussion is about US wind power and much of that about onshore. Not a big deal, but the title does not really say what the article is about which is “Wind power –A Positive Viewpoint”

A positive viewpoint of offshore wind power is a positive viewpoint of wind power in general because the economics of offshore wind are much weaker than onshore.

Greg

The main flaw in this presentation is the way it dismisses coal based on claims about “pollution” and the Clean air act. This wilfully confounds CO2 and REAL pollution. The endangerment finding and Obama’s clean power plan are both being contested. So presenting the current situation as a “fact” which should just be accepted, is not reasonable.
Many do not accept it’s fake logic and it may not remain a “fact” for long.

That’s one of the most common flaws in pro-renewables arguments.
They also fail to grasp the fact that coal & nuclear are only “on the ropes” due to the crash of natural gas prices.

Greg

Kudo to Roger for presenting his arguments in favour to what will certainly be a hostile audience. It’s interesting to have an alternative to the very biased views usually presented here on this subject.

Absolutely.

I Came I Saw I Left

The main flaw in this presentation is the way it dismisses coal based on claims about “pollution” and the Clean air act….
From a US national security standpoint coal beats natural gas (NG) hands down. Coal plants keep about a 30-day supply of feedstock on site making them less vulnerable to a disrupted supply chain. NG plants go offline as soon as the pipeline supply is interrupted (which could result from any number of scenarios).

Yep… Coal’s true value is currently totally obscured by abundant, cheap natural gas.

David A

Also not really addressed is the hidden subsidy to renewables; the laws that make conventional steady state considerably more expensive via not utilising their power production when wind and solar are contributing the most, requiring steady state producers to spin up and down, in affect stealing their business volume and increasing their costs, while granting wind and solar 100 percent sales on all their energy, even when not needed. I saw no solution for the variability issues here as well.

For Greg,
“The main flaw in this presentation is the way it dismisses coal based on claims about “pollution” and the Clean air act. This wilfully confounds CO2 and REAL pollution. The endangerment finding and Obama’s clean power plan are both being contested. So presenting the current situation as a “fact” which should just be accepted, is not reasonable.”
This article has zero to do with CO2 as pollution. I do mention actual pollutants that wind power does NOT produce. The argument posed here is that nuclear and coal power plants will soon be retired, that represents 25 percent of all US electricity sold in 10 years, and 50 percent by 20 years.
The merits of wind energy, both on and offshore, are the low installed costs (for onshore), high capacity factors, and most importantly, decreased demand and price for natural gas.
Also, coal for power generating fuel in the US is limited to 20 to 30 years at present prices. This is not controversial, it is a fact. References were given to support that fact.

“Greg August 5, 2017 at 8:02 am
The main flaw in this presentation is the way it dismisses coal based on claims about “pollution” and the Clean air act. This wilfully confounds CO2 and REAL pollution. The endangerment finding and Obama’s clean power plan are both being contested. So presenting the current situation as a “fact” which should just be accepted, is not reasonable.
Many do not accept it’s fake logic and it may not remain a “fact” for long.”

I wish the misrepresentations were so few in number.
Multiple sections gloss over details, supply off metrics, use absurd assumptions to dismiss valid criticism, etc.
Ooh! The twitterati were agog over this graph.comment image
The EIA graphs the numbers differently.comment image?dl=0comment image?dl=0
Note that wind follows biofuel and hydro. Even of the “renewables” category, actual wind electricity generation, not capacity, is rather minor.
Beefing up that “renewables” category is EIA’s “estimate” for all of the privately owned renewables, especially solar.
Regarding the entire “renewables” category, with the exception of hydro-electric; EIA states:

“Natural gas and coal are expected to fuel about the same amount of generation in 2018, with each providing slightly more than 31% of total U.S. generation. Renewable energy sources other than hydropower are forecast to supply nearly 10% of U.S. generation in 2018, up from slightly more than 8% in 2016. ”

That 10% includes biofuels, solar, geothermal, wood, waste and finally wind.
With Wind second to biofuels, that places wind below 5%.

MarkW

If we are going to discuss the alleged pollution problems with coal, why not also discuss the way in which wind turbines decimate bird populations, especially endangered raptors?

ATheoK, your figures are pretty far off.
“That 10% includes biofuels, solar, geothermal, wood, waste and finally wind.
With Wind second to biofuels, that places wind below 5%.”
I don’t know where you got your figures. The first, 10 percent for total renewables is not far off. For 2016, it was 11 percent.
The EIA website shows total biofuels as about half of wind energy production. For 2016, full year, wind was 5.6 percent and biomass plus wood products was 3.1 percent. Recently (March and April, 2017), wind energy has exceeded 8 percent on a monthly basis for the entire US.
The obvious point is that wind energy is growing very rapidly, while nuclear and coal are each declining, almost as rapidly. Wind is building capacity at 10 to 15 GW per year, while nuclear is dropping 1 to 1.5 GW per year.

george e. smith

The title IS misleading, since Roger and his “reputable sources”, spend a much greater portion of their essay; not presenting a “positive viewpoint ” of wind turbine generators (off Scotland) or elsewhere; but instead presenting a “Negative Viewpoint” of essentially ALL other existing power and energy sources. It’s a virtual bash job that the reader can’t avoid seeing.
That is why it is misleading.
I did have other more specific criticisms to make, but won’t bore the readers with a number of things I noticed. The emphasis on negatively portraying the competition, was too apparent to ignore.
G

At least he’s up front about it being a positive viewpoint.

George
Coal is not good because of the poisons, i.e. SO , SO2, SO3, NO, NO2, CO in the exhaust and Hg and other heavy metals in the ash. Then we have the dust when you mine the coal which is a killer.
Nuclear is going down in w-europe due to ageing reactors and prohibitive costing for repairs and maintenance. One of the graphs earlier on Germany should this quite clearly. It is being replaced with wind there, quite siccessfully. I am here in germany now for a visit.
Roger is merely stating the reality of what is and what will be. Live with it. Hydro is good. Wind is good. Gas is best.

Barbara

What a can of worms offshore wind is in the U.S.
Destroy the Great Lakes with offshore wind turbines. Great Lakes, one of the wonders of the world. And source of fresh drinking water for millions of people.
Is beginning with Lake Erie offshore Cleveland, Ohio.

Barbara

NREL/National Renewable Energy Laboratory
‘Offshore Wind Power in the United States’, Sept. 2010, 215 + pages.
“Assessment Of Opportunities and Barriers”
Reports such as this have been and are being used to promote offshore wind in the U.S.
Note the references used to prepare this report.
Report also contains Canadian content.
http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy10osti/40745.pdf

Barbara

U.S. DOE
Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
Re: ‘Offshore Wind Projects’ Fiscal Years 2006-2016
This report has a list of the projects and the amount of funding.
https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2016/10/f33/Offshore-Wind-Projects-2009-2016.pdf

Gary Hudson

7.4 people in the world. 6.2 billion are improving their lives installing the cheapest, most reliable sources of electricity available. The other 1.2 billion people (North America and Europe) are installing the most unreliable and expensive sources of electricity. The outcome must ultimately mean a lower standard of living for the 1.2 billion.

We can afford to backup “the most unreliable and expensive sources of electricity” with coal, natural gas & nuclear power. The other 6.2 billion are still working on being able to afford coal… /Sarc.

Ian W

David Middleton August 5, 2017 at 5:51 am

We can afford to backup “the most unreliable and expensive sources of electricity” with coal, natural gas & nuclear power.

YOU can afford to pay to “backup unreliable and expensive sources of electricity”. YOU can also afford to pay the expensive ‘feed in tariffs’ to those like YOU who can afford to put photovoltaic cells on their extensive roofs. However there are many in energy poverty who cannot afford the increases in costs of electricity to allow YOUR virtue signalling. Tens of thousands in UK alone die of cold in harsh winters because they cannot afford to keep warm as the power costs include taxes to pay to rich subsidy farmers and for feed in tariffs for those solar roofs. Several hundred thousand families in Germany are now living ‘off grid’ as they cannot afford power.
Living the Malthusian dream?

Did you not notice the “/Sarc” at the end of my comment?

Gerry, England

Lowering of living standards has already started in the UK with salary increases still low or non-existent for many as increased electricity costs impact on overheads and profits. Already many industries have closed down and relocated to somewhere cheaper.

Dave_G

…. a 12.5% increase in the price of electricity announced by British Gas recently. With zero justification.
The production of energy (electricity) should be ‘for everyone at the LOWEST possible cost’. A free market would make this so. As usual, political interference in any area of business only ever succeeds in increasing cost. Society exists on energy and cannot survive or grow without it. It is a STAPLE of modern life.
Forcing the price towards unaffordability puts more and more people at risk. It doesn’t raise anyone out of poverty – quite the reverse – and any justification whatsoever of systems of production that DO increase costs can NEVER be justified.

Ernest Bush

Do you think that maybe this is the green fascist plan? /sarc. Have you ever read Agenda 21 or Agenda 2030 documents? Obama spent 8 years trying to destroy the American economy while blathering on about job growth, etc. The Democrat congress passed legislation, including Obamacare, to facilitate the destruction. After the oil and gas boom took off faster than the left ever thought possible the next move was for EPA to declare the stuff of life on the planet a pollutant. The EPA has been forced to back off from closing plants as polluters because they produce CO2. I’m betting it is going to be “not so fast” on the closing of coal plants.
The Hywind project might actually work in this one situation. Most wind farms in the US, particularly in California, are too quickly approved and sited and anytime you drive past these things half are not even producing. That means an expensive standby generator is producing the power to keep them alive and supply the grid. California consumers are paying the price for that. For the rest of us, not so much.
California will soon be an example of what happens when you embrace green socialism. We have examples from Detroit and, and next up, Chicago/Illinois. I am one of those who says let California exit the union and have to negotiate expensive electricity from the neighboring US. Watch how fast businesses flee the coming disaster.
My advice for anyone who embraces Western culture and ideas and desires to improve their lives, never vote Globalist.

In New Zealand, fraud is the only way to get a wind farm. Mindboggling.
http://newzealandjusticeandpolitics.weebly.com/

HAS

In NZ onshore wind is a good addition to our generation mix. Being in the Roaring Forties we get about 20% higher utilisation than average, and after geothermal wind is the next cheapest new generation source given the high levels of hydro in the system.

Patrick MJD

And in many parts of NZ, such as Wellington and the Wairarapa it simply is too windy for significant amounts of time.

David Gregg

What could possibly be wrong with an energy supply that is intermittent, has a maintenance profile more akin to an aircraft at 200′ than a power plant, a short life expectancy, high vulnerability to storms, a big environmental foot print and kills a lot of birds?

Ernest Bush

LOL. You just laid the whole sustainability problem out in 3 lines and 1 word. Really impressive writing to be appreciated by English teachers who are actually teaching English.

oeman50

Mr. Sowell says, “It is clear, then, that 17 GW [of new wind turbines] per year should be no problem.”
I find this a very naive statement from an attorney practicing in the energy arena. In some areas of the county, placing a new wind turbine is an increasingly contentious endeavor. Or, if you find a place that has the resources and welcomes wind turbines, how do you get approvals to locate the transmission lines to get the power to the load centers?
And this is just one of the places that Mr. Sowell glosses over problems the more and more intense opposition to these new projects causes. Be skeptical.

george e. smith

Well thanks for the lesson, Henryp; I had no idea that coal was so bad. And to think I actually used to handle that stuff as a kid; and me with my asthma. I can’t breath on SO, SO2, SO3, SO4, NO, NO2, NO3, CO, CO2, CO3 , or any of those other poisonous gases.
Whoever it was who started people getting hooked on coal addiction should be shot.
I would wager, that COLD kills a damn side faster than COAL.
And ALL of those “heavy metals” that you mention, are actually elements in the periodic table, so we know all about them, and we USE virtually ALL of them for useful purposes, so knowing we can get them out of coal is a plus for coal.
Coal fired the industrial revolution, that got us to where we are today, and billions of persons on this planet, would give their eye teeth to get their hands on a lump of coal.
It’s much more useful than the dung of a Brahma Bull.
Have a good time in Germany; I did.
G

Well done Rog!

Thank you, David.

I might nitpick the economics when I get a chance… but this was a very thoughtful analysis.

NW sage

Very good article Roger. Well presented. The only question I had on my quick reading is the megawatt/gigawatt numbers you attach to the wind farm capacities early on. Are these nameplate ratings or expected actual output? Just like any other generation source the nameplate capacity is never achieved over the long haul and the nature of the windmills is inherently much more variable ie worse, than any other. even solar has a predictable 24 hr cycle.
Lots of very fancy engineering (and expensive back up power sources) has to be done to make sure system stability (over a large grid) is acceptable. The ONE thing ‘grandma’ wants is to make sure the electricity to her lift chair is available when she wants to get up go to the bathroom!

For NW sage, thank you.
Re the capacities and units for them. installed capacities are in MW or GW. Energy production is shown in MWh or GWh.

I see this as propaganda for the Renewable Industry – why wasn’t it headlined as to its real purpose. I won’t repost as first it is too long and no one has time to read long one-sided blogs; secondly I won’t be a conduit for promoting the false narrative of Al Gore.

I’m one of the biggest crirics of renewable energy on this blog, and I don’t see how you can call this propaganda.
Rog definitely comes at this from a pro-renewables perspective; but it’s a generally well-balanced analysis.

Kaiser Derden

its was still alot of cheerleading not facts backed up evidence … and stating facts not in evidence … such as “It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to build a sufficient number of nuclear power plants – 40 to 50 of them – in the next decade to replace those that retire.” gives no evidence that 40-50 nuclear plants are being retired in the next decade.
but building a sufficient number of windmills to cover the same energy wouldn’t be hard its assumed ????

Paul Courtney

Dave Middleton: I don’t agree that Sowell is balanced, he is a wind enthusiast who doesn’t hide his enthusiasm. He acknowledges a few problems (so as to give an appearance of balance) but does not address the fundamental facts proving wind power to be uneconomical and foolish. Try to pin him and he harks back to his main theme here: We’re closing and will keep closing coal and nuke, and we’re gonna need elec. so gotta be wind. I have not seen him address this point- can we meet our future needs without wind? The answer is yes, easily, cheaply and less environmental degradation than wind (19th cent tech) with 20th cent tech, coal and nuke, if only enviros would be reasonable. He talks about clean air act and coal, but does he ever address the historical fact that EPA purposefully tightened clean air act so as to kill coal? I say “fact” because I recall Obama could not get carbon tax, so EPA went after particulates far beyond any provable health affects, and they were quite open about it being a war on coal. Does he ever address that coal plants did meet clean air act standards which actually cleaned the air? In other words, if EPA went back to clean air standards that actually cleaned the air, coal plants would come right back and wind would be too costly. Mr. Sowell thinks that can’t happen, but it’s actually easy to foresee. Smart guys like W. Buffet will pick up coal assets at bankruptcy sales (thanks to EPA and wind enthusiasts), then lobby feds to back off particulate regs. and coal will be king again. Why? Because it will be far more profitable than wind. Pull these regs and end wind subsidies, and even Mr. Sowell will see what is perfectly obvious to others like me- it cost more to build and operate a wind farm (with necessary back up) than it costs to build and operate just the back up. I do appreciate that he is willing to post and comment here, and apologize for any abuse. I’m happy to abuse those who deserve it, especially Steve, who asks so nicely. But Mr. Sowell deserves respect.

I appreciate a balanced approach. Similar to US foreign policy I’ve always wanted to see the power point presentation where we think this is a good idea because….
My opinion is that it boggles the mind to take a stupid solution (to a non-problem) on land and then put it over salt water where it’s infinitely more corrosive and harder to maintain. And isn’t this in the North Sea where the weather is always ridiculous. The good news is when the sea reclaims (recycles) these, at least they will be good artificial reefs.

I Came I Saw I Left

I almost choked when I read that wind power will add 100,000 jobs, and then a mention was made of aeronautical engineers. Most of those 100K jobs are temporary installation jobs that require a person to be on the road most of the time.

For Kaiser Derden,
” “It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to build a sufficient number of nuclear power plants – 40 to 50 of them – in the next decade to replace those that retire.” gives no evidence that 40-50 nuclear plants are being retired in the next decade.”
Here is a list of the 47 US nuclear plants, by reactor, that in 2017 are age 40 years or more. (source: EIA and nuclear plants, link from article above) The 21 retired reactors in the US all shut down at less than 40 years of operation, except three: Kewaunee, Vermont Yankee, and Fort Calhoun. Those were 40, 42, and 43 years old, respectively.
Your view may be different, but my view is that none of those 47 listed below will still be operating in ten years. That is based on the proven history of US nuclear reactor retirements. Twenty one plants all shut down, even some when the industry was making tremendous money. In this environment of great losses each year, it is doubtful that any will survive to see age 50, unless given huge subsidies by government.
Dresden 2…………. 48 yrs in 2017
Ginna……………….. 48
Nine Mile Point 1.. 48
Oyster Creek……. 48
Monticello……….. 47
Point Beach 1….. 47
Robinson 2……… 47
Dresden 3……….. 46
Palisades………… 46
Point Beach 2…… 46
Pilgrim 1………….. 45
Quad Cities 1……. 45
Quad Cities 2……. 45
Surry 1……………. 45
Turkey Point 3 …….45
Browns Ferry 1….. 44
Indian Point 2……. 44
Oconee 1……….. 44
Oconee 2………… 44
Peach Bottom 2…. 44
Prairie Island 1….. 44
Surry 2…………….. 44
Turkey Point 4….. 44
Arkansas Nuclear 1 .43
Browns Ferry 2….. 43
Brunswick 2….. 43
Calvert Cliffs 1.. 43
Cook 1……………. 43
Cooper Station…… 43
Duane Arnold…….. 43
Fitzpatrick……….. 43
Hatch 1…………… 43
Oconee 3…………. 43
Peach Bottom 3…. 43
Prairie Island 2…… 43
Three Mile Island 1. 43
Indian Point 3…… 42
Millstone 2……….. 42
Beaver Valley 1…. 41
Browns Ferry 3….. 41
Brunswick 1………. 41
Calvert Cliffs 2 ……..41
Salem 1……………… 41
St. Lucie 1…….. 41
Cook 2…………… 40
Davis-Besse…….. 40
Farley 1…………… 40

kaliforniakook

Kaiser, windmills do not receive the scrutiny that nuclear plants do. The former are relieved of many Federal rules and regs (including avian life protection, disposal planning, etc.), while the latter must defend against a barrage of dingbat suits for additional environmental impact studies, re-reviews of earthquake/tsunami/meteor/terrorist/(it never stops) plans, etc. Anyone can cause a stop of construction of nuclear, whereas windmills are protected by the Government.
Yes, it is possible to build thousands of windmills instead of nuke plants because the former are condoned/protected, and the latter is a target of liberals who hate mankind in general – just not themselves.

george e. smith

Particularly with this detailed and informative analysis:
“”””””…… Whatever arguments there may be against subsidies, wind turbine generators have benefitted substantially from the subsidies. …..”””””
Why would the subsidizers (AKA Taxpayers) have ANY arguments against subsidies ??
The fact that ” wind turbine generators have benefitted substantially”, is justification enough. No reason to air complaints of those forced to support those subsidees, against their will.
G

George,
I’ m not a fan of subsidies… But, right now, the existing regulatory and red tape environment has put us in a position where the only type of new power plant that can be built without subisidies, is natural gas combined cycle.
I infinitely prefer coal & nuclear power over wind… but until the regulatory regime is fixed, there aren’t going to be many coal or nuclear power plants built in the US.
On the “bright side,” the combination of regulatory relief that Trump can deliver without Congress and rising natural gas prices will enable existing coal-fired plants to operate at much higher utilization rates.
Given a choice between subsidizing wind or solar… I’ll take wind. Its capacity factor can at least hit 50% on good days, at the right time of the year.

george e. smith

David , Subsidies; ANY subsidies, simply divert capital from engaging in productive enterprise, and divert it to already proven unproductive enterprise, so it is a NET LOSS of resources to the economic system.
Nature herself does NOT tolerate inefficiency. Her rule selects against bad practices, in favor of ones proven successful.
Subsides are the offspring of the “Broken window” thesis.
You should describe your idea of the benefits of subsidies to Professor Walter E. Williams.
I’m sure he would really be interested in your arguments for subsidies.
Hint: Asset depreciation is NOT a subsidy. It is simply putting your pennies in a jar so you have money to buy a replacement, when a valuable asset, reaches the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced. And useful assets do need to be renewed if you want to stay in business.
The semi-conductor industry has an asset depreciation problem that would make your head spin. The way we put it is: “If it works; it’s obsolete !”
If the government allowed the semiconductor industry to recover 100% of their costs, the day they opened their new wafer fab plant for business, they would still need 10 times that amount of investment to build the next one they will need to replace it. All because the pace of technological advance is so fast, merely recovering your capital in five years of depreciation will leave your business in a land fill.
G

I congratulate Charles for seeking alternative views for WUWT, and I congratulate Roger for taking up the challenge. But the article is largely based on a false premise, namely that nuclear and coal plants that retire will not be replaced because they are not cost-effective or they pollute. Off-the-shelf nuclear and scrubbed coal generation are still cost-effective and acceptably non-polluting. If they are not used in future, the reason won’t be cost, it will be corruption. Well that’s what I call it when authorities make crony rules to favour ideologues. If authorities world-wide set proper level-playing-field rules for energy and for electricty generation, then wind power would certainly have a place, but natgas, coal and nuclear would still dominate electricity production.
The really nice aspect of my opinion is that if you think I am wrong, you should campaign hard for a level-playing-field for electricity production, because that’s what will prove me wrong.

Okay, with coal and nuclear being retired and/or shut down to be replaced by “wind powered generation”, what will the energy source be that powers the economic endeavors who provide the money with which to subsidize the “wind farm” installations and operations.? Is it anticipated that subsidies will be provided using the fantasy fiat currency that central banks magically conjure out of their fantastic magic money holes in the air? Such fantastic dreams make good reading as the basis of fantasy novels that are written by talented novelists but the problem is that there is a reality and there is just one version of reality.

For Mike Jonas,
“But the article is largely based on a false premise, namely that nuclear and coal plants that retire will not be replaced because they are not cost-effective or they pollute. Off-the-shelf nuclear and scrubbed coal generation are still cost-effective and acceptably non-polluting.:
I believe the article is based on a true, fact-based premise that I described in some detail above (to read some of the comments, using far too many words to do so).
If there are, as you assert, “off-the-shelf nuclear and scrubbed coal generation ” that are cost-effective and acceptably non-polluting, please provide a list of those power plants that are running in the US today and have been built recently.
I looked, and could not find any.
The four nuclear reactors under construction presently in South Carolina and Georgia are off-the shelf nuclear power designs, approved by the NRC and not unique designs. They are all from the same basic design. Yet, they each, all four, have failed spectacularly during the construction phase. That does not meet my definition of cost-effective.
And, the same for coal-fired plants. I looked, and could find none.
Perhaps you have a better source and can state the plant names and locations.

Reply to Roger Sowell:
New coal : http://www.theenergycollective.com/robertwilson190/328841/why-germanys-nuclear-phase-out-leading-more-coal-burning
Germany is building new coal plants.
One example of many.
SMRs (Small Modular Reactors): http://newatlas.com/small-modular-nuclear-reactors/20860/
One reason for government and private industry to take an interest in SMRs is that they’ve been successfully employed for much longer than most people realize. In fact, hundreds have been steaming around the world inside the hulls of nuclear submarines and other warships for sixty years. They’ve also been used in merchant ships, icebreakers and as research and medical isotope reactors at universities. There was even one installed in the Antarctic at McMurdo Station from 1962 to 1972. Now they’re being considered for domestic use.“. [my bold]
Coal and SMRs face far more cost and delay from determined ideologues than they do from any real cost or technological issue. Until recently, SMRs were ignored for domestic use because of “big” thinking. Now it is realised that SMRs can be used in a fleet, with considerable advantages.

PS. https://spectator.org/coal-is-1/
(The American Spectator)
“[in the U.S.] the single largest source of electric power for the first half of 2017 was… coal. []”
http://www.eiu.com/industry/Energy
(The Economist Intelligence Unit)
World energy mix 2017: Coal 29.9%, Petroleum products 29.3%, Natural gas 20.7%, Non-hydro renewables 11.7%, Nuclear 5.9%, Hydro 2.5%. (All energy, not just electricity generation)

Boels

Counting on averages is misleading, standard deviations gives you an idea how much capacity should be used for instant backup.

The use of conservative annual capacity factors, as I did here, provides for ample capacity. Even if all 250 GW of installed wind capacity ceased for a week, in the ten-years’ hence scenario, there would be more than adequate natural gas-fired capacity to compensate.

45% for a well-sited offshore wind farm is quite reasonable.

David Wells

“In addition, wind as an energy source is eternally renewable and sustainable”. Maybe Rog can tell me how wind turbines are sustainable when they are manufactured products that consume huge quantities of raw “finite” materials to generate electricity indirectly when it is more economical and cost effective to generate electricity directly from coal and gas. Once coal oil and gas expire then you cant have wind turbines or solar panels or any other manufactured product either so using the word “sustainable” related to wind and solar is a myth. Wind and solar only exist as a means to enforce the idea that coal oil and gas have the potential to devastate the planet but the truth is that without coal oil and gas you cant even have nuclear.
Unless Rog can tell me how we get iron ore from Australia across the oceans without bunker oil?
Sustainability is a euphemism created by Maurice Strong to define his and Paul Ehrlichs beliefs about the right size for the planets population and population control it had nothing whatsoever to do with identifying manufactured products as being in any way sustainable. All Manufactured products are sustainable up until the point at which there are no raw materials left.
Copper ore is just 1.7% copper and in one America mine it took 16 years to dig down to the next layer but when that doesn’t appear to matter.
Thousands of wind turbines equate to just one gas or coal fired super critical generator, cheap low cost and reliable why devastate millions of acres of land for no good reason?

David A

Roger says,
” Even if all 250 GW of installed wind capacity ceased for a week, in the ten-years’ hence scenario, there would be more than adequate natural gas-fired capacity to compensate.”
So the cost to maintain this capacity for immediate use is what?…and who pays?

For David Wells, with lots of questions. I will try to give an answer.
“Maybe Rog can tell me how wind turbines are sustainable when they are manufactured products that consume huge quantities of raw “finite” materials to generate electricity indirectly when it is more economical and cost effective to generate electricity directly from coal and gas. “
First, the wind is the energy for wind turbine generators, and wind is what is referred to as renewable and sustainable. As far as we can know, the wind will never end for the foreseeable future. Manufacturing the products is a different issue. To the extent the materials in the products are recyclable, the products are also sustainable. There are a few materials that cannot be recycled after use, that category includes neutron-bombarded steel and other alloys in a nuclear reactor. But, the steel, copper, and other metals in a wind turbine generator can be recycled. The fiber-glass blades probably cannot be recycled into new blades, but there may be other uses for the material.
Also, wind turbines generate electricity directly, not indirectly. And, in many instances, the electricity is more cost-effective than power from natural gas or coal.
“Once coal oil and gas expire then you cant have wind turbines or solar panels or any other manufactured product either so using the word “sustainable” related to wind and solar is a myth. Wind and solar only exist as a means to enforce the idea that coal oil and gas have the potential to devastate the planet but the truth is that without coal oil and gas you cant even have nuclear.”
The expiration date, or resource exhaustion date for coal, oil, and gas are not known with accuracy, but can be estimated. I did so for coal in this article by citing competent sources. Oil and gas have very long production lives measured in hundreds of years. Coal is more finite at less than 50 years worldwide. However, more coal is available at higher prices. As I stated in the article, natural gas price will remain low as long as wind energy is fed into the grid. That means coal prices will also remain low, and coal will be exhausted. No miner will bring up coal if he loses money doing so.
Now to the point of why wind and solar power exist at all. There was no contention that the fossil fuels would devastate the planet. In the US, the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act of 1978 (PURPA) laid out a number of new regulations, one of which was to promote the use of electric power from renewable sources. There was a false notion back then that the world was running out of natural gas. Also, that oil probably was a limited resource and on top of that, the price was far too high because a few producing countries had a cartel and gouged the world with high priced oil. All of that resource scarcity turned out to be false due to improved oil and gas exploration and production methods.
The idea behind PURPA was that smart people could be motivated, and would eventually find a way or ways to make cost-effective electricity from the sun and the wind, and a few other sustainable energy sources. Although it took a few decades, the goal was achieved for wind and solar, in about 2010.
“Unless Rog can tell me how we get iron ore from Australia across the oceans without bunker oil?”
Shipping will be a consumer of oil products for the foreseeable future, in my view. Atomic power was tried decades ago with the Savannah, but it was not cost-effective. Even the US Navy cannot justify nuclear power on all its ships, but only the submarines and the larger surface ships.
“Sustainability is a euphemism created by Maurice Strong to define his and Paul Ehrlichs beliefs about the right size for the planets population and population control it had nothing whatsoever to do with identifying manufactured products as being in any way sustainable. All Manufactured products are sustainable up until the point at which there are no raw materials left.”
As I said above, materials can be recycled for the most part. The molecules do not disappear from the Earth. With cheap energy, they can be recycled over and over again. The aluminum, steel, copper, and glass industries do this routinely.
“Copper ore is just 1.7% copper and in one America mine it took 16 years to dig down to the next layer but when that doesn’t appear to matter.”
I’m not clear on what this means.
“Thousands of wind turbines equate to just one gas or coal fired super critical generator, cheap low cost and reliable why devastate millions of acres of land for no good reason?”
Actually, the numbers are a bit off. Wind turbine generators onshore installed in 2015 were approximately 2 to 3 MW each. With a coal-fired plant at 400 MW, that requires only about 160 wind turbine generators. The land required, as stated in the article above, is 85 acres per MW. For 160 wind turbines, 34,000 acres or 53 square miles is required. However, more than 99 percent of the land in a wind farm is perfectly suited for its previous use, grazing, crops, or something else.
As I wrote above, there are more than 20 good reasons for wind energy. Primary among those is the reduced demand for natural gas, and therefore lower prices for natural gas. Many good things flow from that single benefit.

Even if all 250 GW of installed wind capacity ceased for a week, in the ten-years’ hence scenario, there would be more than adequate natural gas-fired capacity to compensate.“. Why does it always have to be stated this way round? If the market was open, ie. no subsidies and no mandates, would electricity companies choose to build both wind and gas (keeping gas idle on still days), or would they just build gas (and maybe coal and nuclear)? Let’s move to a level playing field and find out. I would think that gas etc would be heavily preferred, but I would be very happy to be proved wrong. While the market is heavily skewed, the logical perception is that consumers are being screwed.

As I wrote above, there are more than 20 good reasons for wind energy. Primary among those is the reduced demand for natural gas, and therefore lower prices for natural gas. Many good things flow from that single benefit.“. That’s tosh. Cheap gas is more beneficial the more it’s used. Forcing the price down by forcing people not to use gas is detrimental because they are denied the benefits. The only way it could be beneficial would be if wind was being preferred because it’s cheaper – but it’s easy to see that that’s not the case because greater wind generation is associated with higher electricity prices, not lower.

george e. smith

I don’t have ANY useful applications OR needs, that can utilize ” AVERAGE ENERGY ”
My life depends on having “suitable and sufficient” energy available NOW / instantly /On demand / when I step on the gas pedal / whatever.
When I turn a light switch on in the dark, and no light appears, I have an immediate and present problem, and I cannot wait until the supply catches up with the average.
No physical system responds to the average of anything.
“Average” does NOT mean “most likely” or any other euphemism. In fact I can describe in a few words, a very simple; the simplest kind of data set, where the “average” is NOT the most likely outcome of a future “test”, and in fact the “average” may be most unlikely to occur, and may in fact never occur except perhaps in the very first experiment.
The average value of any data set, might be a value that was NEVER observed by anybody, anywhere, at any time ! There is NO ASSURANCE that the average value of a data set is even a valid member of that data set, let alone a value likely to occur most often.

Capell

In the UK, the current price for offshore windmill generation is about £3.5m/MW; Hywind manages an absurd, eye-watering cost of £6.67m/MW. These costs have been rising over the last 17 years. In 2000, Blyth was £1m/MW, 2002 North Hoyle £1.3m/MW. But since then, costs have risen at 20 % per annum (nominal).
(Don’t believe me? try here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_offshore_wind_farms_in_the_United_Kingdom)
There’s no sign whatsoever of offshore wind getting cheaper. Any claims as such are baloney.
It’s little better onshore. 20 years ago you could manage to buy a windmill for £0.8m-£1m/MW; now it’s crept up to about £1.5m/MW.
Meanwhile, you can buy a 60 % efficient CCGT for £0.5m-£0.7m/MW. And gas is abundant, cheap as chips, and low on emissions.
The point of all of the above is to support the observation that we should cease renewable deployment, shift renewable energy back to the research lab, and only deal with the technologies that have a proven performance – gas, and perhaps even coal (fitted with ash scrubbers, and de-sulphurisers). I would also urge persistence with the new, type 3 nuclear generators (such as the AP1000, and the already operating Hitachi ABWR).
If renewables comes good: then deploy it. If not, bin them.

george e. smith

What does concrete recycle into besides landfill ??
I have bought Eveready rechargeable (AA) batteries (cells) that are built from recycled materials.
Yes they are somewhat more expensive than the ones from the exact same manufacturer, that do not include recycled materials.
These ones contain a whopping 4% of recycled materials.
I believe you can recycle aluminum cheaper than fresh from the ground.
A lot of paper is recyclable into paper products; but then a lot of it is not.
Precious metals like gold and copper or platinum are recyclable.
What do printed circuit boards and automobile tires recycle into.
G

scarletmacaw

I don’t buy the bird mortality study referenced.
1. It was by three people in a eco-energy company doing a survey of existing reports to defend wind farms. This is not exactly an unbiased summary, and no actual field research was done by the authors themselves.
2. In my fairly long lifetime I have seen just one instance of a bird being killed by a cat. I have also seen a cat chased by a blue jay that was on foot at the time. I think the bird mortality rate from cats (only “estimated” in the reference study) is grossly exaggerated. The same is true for building collisions. I have never seen a bird collide with a building or a bird carcass next to a building.
3. Birds killed by cats are small birds, not eagles. Conflating sparrow deaths with eagle deaths is equivalent to saying that the killing of elephants for ivory is insignificant because millions of rats are killed each year.

Jeff Cagle

I have to disagree with 2 on factual grounds and with 3 on value judgment.
~2: The studies of bird deaths from feral cats are only a google away.
Eg: http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms2380
The linked article estimates 1.3-4.0 bn birds killed in US annually.
~3: It’s nice that eagles are too large to be killed by cats. But many of us are concerned about ground such as quail and pheasant as well as warblers. Those are the ones particularly vulnerable to cats.
I like cats! But outdoor cats really clear out their territory of many species.

scarletmacaw

“estimates”

Jeff Cagle

Every measurement ever made is an estimate, and every quantity calculated from those measurements is likewise an estimate.
So?

I Came I Saw I Left

My cats have never killed a bird. I know because they bring everything they catch inside. So I estimate that the 1.3-4.0 billion figure is wrong.

Steve R

Wait just a minute. Are you actually suggesting that an area equivalent to the land area of Iowa is needed in wind farms? This is simply out of the question!

Steve R

My cat enjoys bringing live birds into the house and releasing them. He loves watching everyone run around trying to catch it.

catweazle666

“~2: The studies of bird deaths from feral cats are only a google away.”
Indeed they are. Here’s what the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has to say on the subject:

No scientific evidence
Despite the large numbers of birds killed, there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK-wide. This may be surprising, but many millions of birds die naturally every year, mainly through starvation, disease, or other forms of predation. There is evidence that cats tend to take weak or sickly birds.
We also know that of the millions of baby birds hatched each year, most will die before they reach breeding age. This is also quite natural, and each pair needs only to rear two young that survive to breeding age to replace themselves and maintain the population.
It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations. If their predation was additional to these other causes of mortality, this might have a serious impact on bird populations.
Those bird species that have undergone the most serious population declines in the UK (such as skylarks, tree sparrows and corn buntings) rarely encounter cats, so cats cannot be causing their declines. Research shows that these declines are usually caused by habitat change or loss, particularly on farmland.

https://ww2.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/gardening-for-wildlife/animal-deterrents/cats-and-garden-birds/are-cats-causing-bird-declines#yg4moErGCLGcfpUE.99

The Erickson reference itself has more than 100 references, perhaps you could read through those and see that a wide range of views are presented. Government agencies, environmental groups, and some consultants are included.
And for the record, the US Audubon Society is on record supporting wind turbine generators despite the small number of birds killed.

scarletmacaw

“Government agencies, environmental groups, consultants(?)” are not a diverse range of views.
And an environmental society willing to overlook the slaughter of endangered eagles is no surprise. The leadership of every environmental and scientific society has been taken over by the anti-CO2 crowd.
I do think it was good of you to present your views here. But I still question the way rare bird deaths are ignored because they are low compared to “estimates” of deaths to sparrows (and plentiful quail) by other human sources. Windmills are still the only legal way to kill a healthy eagle.

Trebla

When you hear the howls of dismay when a few ducks land in a tailing pond an have their feathers oiled, compare it to the strange silence following the death of a raptor that is minced my the blades of a wind turbine.

David A

…bits of prey are the issue

Curious George

For the record: Every year, an estimated 75 to 110 Golden Eagles are killed by the wind turbines in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA). Some lose their wings, others are decapitated, and still others are cut in half. The lethal turbines, numbering roughly 6,000, are arrayed across 50,000 acres of rolling hills in northeastern Alameda and southeastern Contra Costa counties.
https://goldengateaudubon.org/conservation/birds-at-risk/avian-mortality-at-altamont-pass/

David A

Birds , not bits.
Although if the green fanatics are to be consistent ” all birds life’s matter”.

Perhaps the Audubon Society and government regulators could put their support behind HAWT – Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines. They are less efficient to date, but birds can see them. (Not sure about bats).
http://www.windpowerengineering.com/design/vertical-axis-wind-turbines/

scarletmacaw
I read an article about estimating bird deaths from coastal windfarms. It seems it’s almost impossible to gauge because the carcasses just get washed away.
However, personally I think it’s’ a relatively minor problem and birds will eventually get wise to the fact that turbine blades are hazardous to their health.
And my final point is that picking it as a subject of objection to windfarms makes we sceptics start to sound like rabid greens of old.

I Came I Saw I Left

Birds aren’t the only wildlife affected. Low pressure caused by rotor blades causes barotrauma – exploding lungs
Wind turbines make bat lungs explode
https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14593-wind-turbines-make-bat-lungs-explode/

I Came I Saw I Left
Like I said, those arguments make sceptics look like rabid greens of old. They are as inconsequential, and likely as exaggerated as the worlds entire population of pimple spotted, forked tongued newts being wiped out because a nuclear power station was built on an otherwise useless area of reclaimed marsh.
We are still discovering species we had no idea existed. And like the birds, the bats will eventually wise up to exploding lung syndrome, they’re not one of the oldest existing flying creatures for nothing.

Phaedrus

Hear hear!

Steve R

“However, personally I think it’s’ a relatively minor problem and birds will eventually get wise to the fact that turbine blades are hazardous to their health.”
Unless you believe in reincarnation, a fatal mistake leaves little chance to learn anything about the encounter.

Steve R
So why don’t birds eat poisonous berries?

Bartemis

“Conflating sparrow deaths with eagle deaths is equivalent to saying that the killing of elephants for ivory is insignificant because millions of rats are killed each year.”
+1e9
It’s the usual legerdemain. We stopped DDT production, consigning millions of people to premature death, because it might, possibly, maybe thin the eagles’ eggshells. Now, we’ve just said to hell with the eagles to get some a pittance of intermittent, low quality power.

TA

“I don’t buy the bird mortality study referenced”
I don’t either. Secretary Ryan Zinke of the Interior Department said just a couple of weeks ago that the estimated bird deaths from windmills was between 650,000 and 750,000 per year in the U.S.
This article seriously downplays the evironmental harm caused by windmills. And the environmental effects of off-shore windmills is just now starting to be studied.
I personally don’t see a future for windmills. My home state of Oklahoma just passed a law eliminating windmill subsidies because it was going to bankrupt the state if they did not. Let’s see how many new windmill farms go up in Oklahoma in the future.
One of these days people will come to their senses and realize windmills were the wrong path to follow.

Jer0me

Cats kill things. I live in the countryside and we always have cats or get overwhelmed by rodents.
Strangely, cats seem to have a strong instinct for killing, even when removed from their mothers early and are fed, so it is not taught. They are also superb killing machines. The combination is devastating to anything that is small enough.
The only things our current cat has not attacked is a 2m python (resting after a large meal) and a continually annoying bush turkey. They were both too big, although the cat definitely considered both.

BCBill

The bird deaths are reported in total not per unit. There are massively more buildings, powerlines, cars etc than there are wind turbines. What we would really like to know is how wind turbines compare to equal cross sectional area of other structures or something like that. Wind turbines are equivalent to buildings and they result in more transmission line. One presumes they they have all the problems of existing structures plus those that stem from having a giant spinning chopper.

Ancient Mariner

When I Pass a wind farm I think, “The wave of the future.” But it’s an H.G. Wells future.

Eustace Cranch

And George Orwell, and Aldous Huxley.

Eustace Cranch

The premise is that coal and nuclear are being phased out, so we have no choice but to look elsewhere. But there is absolutely no reason other than political to phase them out!!!
Insanity.

Spot on, Eustace Cranch.

joel

Yes. That was my impression, too. Very misleading, IMHO.

For Eustace Cranch,
Bringing this point to the fore is a main purpose of me writing this piece. Most people do not know that the US nuclear power industry is dying off rapidly. The existing reactors simply lose too much money to continue operating. There is nothing political about that, but it is an economic result of low natural gas prices.
It is an absolute fact that nuclear power plants are closing in the US. Only a few have persuaded their state legislatures to give them subsidies to continue losing money for a few more years. That part is, I agree, entirely political. The population of each state has to pay more taxes to support the high-paying jobs of a privileged few who work in the nuclear plants.
One must wonder how that works in the race for votes. Tax a few million, lose their votes, and subsidize a few thousand?

Kamikazedave

I believe the point Eustace is making that wind power as well as other renewables are being encouraged is in response to a climate crisis. Please correct me if I’m wrong about this, Eustace. Most of us who view and respond on this blog question the supposed science supporting the conclusion that burning fossil fuels is causing any catastrophic changes in our climate.
FWIW, I believe someday we will be forced to switch to another form of energy. I question whether wind and solar will play a large part due to its intermittent nature, and certainly politics is a poor judge to make this decision. However, thanks for your thoughtful analysis.

JD

One reason nuclear is dying is because it is tasked as a spinning reserve for renewables. As more renewables go on line, nuclear facilities are squeezed financially. They have the same operating costs, but sell less electricity. The same is true for coal, gas, and hydro. This is the insidious hidden cost of renewables. But there’s no free lunch, so the hidden cost gets passed to the consumer. Or else the nuclear, gas, coal, hydro facility is shut down.

nc

That is in the US and death by regulation, you left that part out. Nuclear is building all over the world.

Eustace Cranch

Kami-Dave, that was exactly my point.
I strongly disagree with the insidious idea that pretty soon we will have no choice but to bulldoze millions of acres of natural environment & habitat and/or fill the ocean with thrumming grinding pylons and/or crank out billions of solar cell with all the poisonous nastiness that entails.
There are other less intrusive/disruptive choices.

Catcracking

We seem to be ignoring the mandates for renewables. Cost is not an issue for the politicians, it is not a free market but one where various credits, subsidies and environmental requirements on coal and Nuclear have tilted the table.
I know from extensive experience in the oil and chemical business that properly maintained plants just don’t wear out. Periodic shutdowns, repairs and upgrades can allow a well maintained plant for extended periods. Some of the most profitable plants in the refineries were built in the 40’s and 50’s and are upgraded with latest technology. Look at the age of most refineries.
Both my neighboring Nuclear plant and nearby coal fired plants are being shut down by environmentalist not by end of useful life.
The canard is comparing the cost for a new plant rather than looking at the maintenance cost for keeping the existing plant safe and efficient.
The Nuclear plant which is the oldest operating in the US survived Sandy but is being shut down because their option was to add cooling towers instead of getting cooling water from the large nearby Bay. One of the best winter fishing spots will soon be gone

Roger Sowell
My understanding is that it takes 70 renewable workers to produce the same energy as a single coal worker.
Which makes the entire, already heavily subsidised renewables industry look like a massive job creation scheme.
I would also draw your attention to Matt Ridley’s analysis of wind power http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/wind-still-making-zero-energy/
And whilst I accept your numbers on energy production, a mass move towards Electric Vehicles and a growing population will place considerably more of a burden on electricity supplies than seems to be calculated for in your figures, but my maths is pants so forgive me if that’s wrong.
There is also the question of energy provision in the event of windfarms becoming becalmed. Battery technology as it stands now would probably require storage areas of the same physical area as the windfarms themselves to supply a city with sufficient energy for, perhaps, a day. And whilst the mix of energy supplies must also be borne in mind, my understanding is that even gas powered turbines are required to run at something like 80% or 90% capacity to be efficient and profitable. So are these expensive options to be left idling, producing no energy and earning their owners no profit, just to be there for the periods wind can’t provide enough power and batteries are exhausted after a day?
No privately held energy provider will go for that, which then points to the socialist idyll of nationalisation and the associated gross waste and mismanagement inherent within that. And as a Brit of the 60’s/70’s and 80’s generation I can attest to the civil disturbances that caused.
The UK has been told it will be forced into EV’s by 2040 and, amazingly, almost the entire MSM said in unison, but where’s the 30% extra energy coming from to facilitate that? And that’s without the growth in population, the probable banning of cheap to run gas appliances in home and industry, which includes the vast majority of central heating systems switching over to expensive electric systems, even at today’s prices.
These changes will also hit the poor hardest, which will in turn lead to increases in welfare to help with energy bills, which once again, must be met by the taxpayer.
Crunching the numbers, as you have, on the pure output aspects of windfarms (which I must also question as my understanding is the actual output is invariably considerably lower than the stated capacity, even without transmission losses) fails to acknowledge the political, social and unacknowledged knock on expenses an arbitrary march to renewables will incur.
Not to mention that the science isn’t even in place for half of what’s proposed at anything but extortionate prices. £100,000+ for a Tesla that can achieve 300 miles isn’t going to convince many people to switch, and 300 miles is about the maximum, most others are 100 miles or so on a charge. Excellent for commuting, assuming one has a driveway to park in, but a large proportion of Brits don’t. Nor does it address the question of traffic congestion as people will still be buying family saloon cars to take one person to work every day.
In the UK and France the move to EV’s by 2040 is a socialist command from high. The problem is, the UK didn’t vote for a socialist government, but we seem to have one.

Roger
PS
I don’t think it was necessary to include the veiled threat about libellous remarks.
Unless you know something we don’t, this is an anonymous forum and you enter it at your peril.
Griff does daily and if anyone had any cause to complain about libellous remarks, it might be him.

I Came I Saw I Left

That nuclear power (in its current form) will be gone in 20 years is music to my ears. Trump needs to be made aware of this and declare coal to be a national security issue. Wind and solar are much too unreliable.

Roger,
Eustace remarked:
“The premise is that coal and nuclear are being phased out, so we have no choice but to look elsewhere. But there is absolutely no reason other than political to phase them out!!!”
Which sat me up with a jolt. Your piece is entirely US centric other than a blithe reference to Scotland’s as yet unproven success with offshore floating windfarms.
The Chinese and Indians alone are planning, I believe, in excess of 1,200 coal fired power stations over the coming decades. Germany is shutting down it’s nuclear power stations and replacing them with brown coal burning facilities, and it’s the self acknowledged green nation of the EU.
What you’re supporting is US industrial, commercial, social and economic Hari Kari for an idealistic principle.
It’s my understanding that Europe at least, has sufficient coal for the next 300 years. I’m not convinced the US has only 30 years.
Nor is there a single, credible, empirical study that demonstrates CO2 causes atmospheric warming in the last 40 years of this claim. Being that the alarmist climate change community demand 30 years of evidence from sceptics to demonstrate the planet isn’t warming, I think they should apply their principles to their own claims.
And being that the entire principle of renewables is predicted upon CO2 driving up atmospheric temperatures, time’s well overdue for them to put up, or shut up.

Catcracking, good observations. I’m in the SOB myself, analyzed and debottlenecked many an FCC over the years.
Re your comments, “Both my neighboring Nuclear plant and nearby coal fired plants are being shut down by environmentalist not by end of useful life.”
I don’t know which plants those are, and don’t want to know here online. But, many industrial plants have the same issues, not just nuclear plants and coal fired power plants. As environmental regulations are implemented, a number of facilities close rather than spend the money to comply.
“The canard is comparing the cost for a new plant rather than looking at the maintenance cost for keeping the existing plant safe and efficient.
The Nuclear plant which is the oldest operating in the US survived Sandy but is being shut down because their option was to add cooling towers instead of getting cooling water from the large nearby Bay.”

The coal fired and nuclear plants many times cannot justify the very expensive stay-in-business costs to replace critical equipment. This is particularly true of nuclear plants, where they know they will shut down within 10 to 15 years. They can not obtain a payout for the replacement equipment, so they shut down early. That is also the case for many of the coal fired power plants that recently shut down, but the issue was new pollution controls.

Curious George

“The existing reactors simply lose too much money to continue operating.”
The total system cost of an advanced nuclear energy facility is $108 per megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity produced. This cost reflects capital investment, operating and maintenance costs, transmission investment and efficiency. The total system cost for a natural gas combined cycle plant is $65.60 per MWh; onshore wind is $86.60 per MWh; offshore wind, $221.50; and solar, $144.30. Unlike renewable sources, however, nuclear energy facilities produce electricity around the clock.
Roger is an excellent lawyer. As an engineer .. what kind of engineer argues to replace a money losing plant by something twice as expensive?

For JD, re August 5, 2017 at 8:21 am
“One reason nuclear is dying is because it is tasked as a spinning reserve for renewables. As more renewables go on line, nuclear facilities are squeezed financially. They have the same operating costs, but sell less electricity.”
Actually, in the US nuclear plants do not reduce load as wind or solar generate power. The US nuclear plants run at a constant rate, usually 100 percent unless they have a mechanical problem or are down for refueling. The problem the nuclear plants face is the wholesale price of electricity is below their operating cost. In fact, a few nuclear plants lately have failed to sell any power at auction to their respective grids. They lose money by selling power at a loss, sometimes for year after year. Then, they either shut down permanently or beg for subsidy money from their state government.
“The same is true for coal, gas, and hydro. This is the insidious hidden cost of renewables. But there’s no free lunch, so the hidden cost gets passed to the consumer. Or else the nuclear, gas, coal, hydro facility is shut down.”
Here, you are closer to the mark. Gas and hydro certainly can follow the load, and do so when the wind and solar are fluctuating. But, there is no insidious hidden cost. Those plants are designed to change loads frequently. The benefit, as I wrote in the article, is less natural gas is burned while the wind turbines are generating,
The consumer actually benefited in Nebraska after the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant shut down. That’s usually the case when an old, inefficient and uncompetitive plant is forced out of business. The more efficient, low-cost plants continue operating and the consumer wins.

Brett Keane

It is not only that it is political, Roger, but also that that time is now over. Anti-coal etc is and always was nuts, given modern techniques. Wind must be subsidised and backed up. These factors are unsustainable if we wish to survive. So I am glad to see the worm has turned. Nice try though…..

Jtom

“Bringing this point to the fore is a main purpose of me writing this piece. Most people do not know that the US nuclear power industry is dying off rapidly. The existing reactors simply lose too much money to continue operating. There is nothing political about that, but it is an economic result of low natural gas prices.”
Ok,stop. This is why wind turbines will lose out to new ng facilities. Economics are in favor of ng. As far as off-shore: that would require use of federal lands. There wll be lawsuits – by those on nearby coasts, boaters, shippers, fishing concerns, as well as eco-groups that fight any ocean development. I see no way many off-shore turbines will be put online in less than a decade.
Finally, wind turbines extract energy out of the atmosphere; the energy that drives weather systems which results in the world’s climate. Somewhere, someone has a computer model that shows…..

Paul

The model that shows an increase in co2 is causing an increase in global temperatures is false.

vukcevic

up to date UK’s electricity generation
http://clivebest.com/rgraph/Wind.html
from Clive Best website

Rosco

Gridwatch is by far the better of the two since it has run charts, which belie Roger Sowell’s whole argument.

vukcevic

Thanks for the link

Carlo Del Corso

Paul,
that’s probably a bit too strong. But certainly climate models have proved to be inaccurate to predict the change of the so called average surface temperature of the planet. On this subject there is a lot of literature and is out of the theme of this discussion. Certainly. model forecasts should not be used as main targets to be achieved in the electricity transition plans.

RonLS

This, to me is an eye opener piece. Gotta read it several times. Thanks for writing and posting.

Thank you, RonLS.

Claude Harvey

“With economy of scale and 60 percent reduction in installed cost for a larger 600 MW park, and 12 year simple project payout, no subsidies, the electricity could be sold at $89 per MWh. At that price point, offshore wind becomes competitive with baseload natural gas power with LNG at $10 per MMBtu as the fuel used.”
Assuming we could ever get the unsubsidized cost of wind down to $89 per MWh (which I do not believe), comparing it with base load gas using $10 per gallon LNG is ludicrous for the U.S., which is awash in piped natural gas currently selling at the Henry Hub for $3 per MMBtu. The simple fact is that a new CCGT plant operating at current U.S. natural gas prices pencils out at about half the (wildly optimistic, in my opinion) $89 figure cited for the idealized wind farm.

For Claude Harvey,
Note that the economics in that part of the article are strictly for the Hywind Scotland offshore project, and projected reductions due to economy of scale.
The $10 for LNG is $10 per million Btu, which is stated in the article. That is not the US price, but is typical of landed costs for Europe.
I agree that a modern CCGT in the US has much lower operating costs. I write on this regularly on my blog.

Roger
Surely the correct cost comparison is not total cost v total cost, but total cost of wind v the Levelized Avoided Cost of Energy (LACE) (effectively the marginal cost) of the dispatchable source (say CCGT).
This is what the EIA recommends.
https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/wind-power-avoided-energy-costs/
The logic is that we still need CCGT as back up, and therefore will still need to pay all of the fixed and capital costs.
Only if the total cost pf wind power is less than the marginal cost of gas (effectively just fuel) does wind make sense

For Paul Homewood,
“The logic is that we still need CCGT as back up, and therefore will still need to pay all of the fixed and capital costs.
Only if the total cost pf wind power is less than the marginal cost of gas (effectively just fuel) does wind make sense”

Well, that’s one way of looking at it. My preferred analysis is what can anyone do to reduce the highest cost events, for example simple-cycle gas turbines as peaker plants. Those run only rarely, but when they do, they cost enormous amounts to supply power. Here in California, where wind is small and solar is great, we find that peaker plants are not run as often when the wind cooperates and generates during the evening peak period. Here, that is typically 4 pm to 6 pm. Having wind projects that require 10 to 15 cents per kWh generated is far better than those simple-cycle gas turbines. Also, the cost of the peaker plants does include capital, operations, maintenance, and fuel costs. Because they run so few hours in a year, their amortized capital costs are large. So, we built wind out here, pay the owners 15 cents per kWh, and don’t run peakers at 50 to 90 cents per kWh. That’s a winning situation.
Even when the wind does not cooperate, we still have to run the gas-fired peaker plants. But, in CA the state (sometimes is not a total idiot; rare but true) legislated the removal of simple-cycle gas turbines. We must now have combined cycle gas turbine plants, each with a maximum heat rate. That corresponds to approximately 59 percent thermal efficiency. Wind costs cannot beat that, at least not out here and not yet.
A long answer, but my point is we must compare apples to apples. If the total cost of wind energy plants is one one side of the equation, we cannot simply use the fuel costs for the gas-fired plants. It would make more sense to use just fuel costs for both technologies. But, if one did that, wind would clearly win due to absolutely zero fuel costs.

Roger
“My preferred analysis”
Sorry, that’s really not good enough. Analysis is not chosen as a preference to suit ones particular argument.

Frank

Paul: “The logic is that we still need CCGT as back up, and therefore will still need to pay all of the fixed and capital costs.
Only if the total cost pf wind power is less than the marginal cost of gas (effectively just fuel) does wind make sense”
Roger: “Well, that’s one way of looking at it.”
Then let’s look more carefully, starting with those OC-Gas Peaker plants that CA is or has gotten rid of. The reason that technology was used for peak power production is that their capital and other fixed costs needed to be recouped from a plant that is only run perhaps 10% of the year. That makes capital cost far more important FOR THIS APPLICATION that fuel cost. OC-Gas is the cheapest plant to build. Now that CA has or will replace then with CC-Gas, the capital cost will double and be slightly off-set by lower fuel cost. CA customers will pay an extremely high price to reduce CO2 emissions using these plant – probably well above estimates of the SCC.
Hopefully, those peaker plants will help you recognize that there isn’t a single market for electricity: All kWh are not created equal. When meet base load demand, you can afford a plant with a high capital cost (whose capital costs can be recoup by operating nearly 100% of the time) with low fuel and variable cost (which are also charged nearly 100% of the time). As plants produce for a smaller fraction of the time, their capital and fixed costs become more important their fuel cost becomes less important. Furthermore, these factors are mostly local, because high capacity transmission lines are expensive to build and have limited capacity.
So where does wind (and solar) fit into this picture. They clearly have high capital cost, no fuel cost and low variable cost; so they compete most directly with nuclear. However, they aren’t dispatchable – we need to have a fossil fuel (or perhaps hydroelectric) plant waiting to take over. Customers are paying the fixed cost of that plant, in addition to the cost of the wind farm, the PTC, the feed-in tariffs, the subsidized financing, the guaranteed share of the market and other incentives offered by the government. This drives up the cost of electricity for everyone. Those incentives allegedly provide Warren Buffett a 4.5% annual return on invested capital in Iowa before he receives a penny from customers.
The LCOE of wind power is a joke. Apply the law of supply and demand. The more wind farms that are built and the greater the market penetration of wind, the less valuable electricity from wind becomes. And the more valuable electricity from dispatchable sources will become. As a the owner of a decommissioned Alberta wind farm recently told the local newpaper: No one wants to buy electricity in Alberta when the wind is blowing. He is waiting for government incentives to guarantee him a market for his power before installing new turbines.

Sommer

Here’a recently published article on the harm from industrial scale wind turbines sited in proximity to peoples’ homes.
http://ulsterherald.com/2017/07/30/expert-warns-adverse-health-effects-turbines/.
This harm to innocent people has serious ramifications.
Is forced relocation of rural residents, to ‘human settlements’, part of the agenda of onshore industrial scale wind? Some are also calling it a ‘land grab’.

Sommer

Here’s another recently published article:
https://patch.com/massachusetts/falmouth/wind-turbines-killing-whales-save-polar-bears
Please, Roger Sowell, provide your argument to both of these articles.

Sommer, I fear that Roger has left the building. He got tired of having to ignore serious questions such as those you have raised. Oh, he’d answer the softball questions, but he never answered a single one of my objections, or Forrest’s or yours …
Sad.
w.

For Sommer August 5, 2017 at 6:28 am
My part of the continuing conversation is now at my blog. Post your comments there, if you like, and I will respond.
https://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2017/08/offshore-wind-turbine-project-statoils.html

Sommer

Thank you Roger, but I do not have a google account.
I think it would be helpful to readers here to see your response to the information I’ve brought forth.

Thanks very much for this clear, well written, summary and for the most part avoids being a wind sales pitch.
If WTG’s can actually compete economically without ongoing subsidies, and if our (U.S.) grids can effectively integrate their intermittent production and if the green blob doesn’t end up raising their costs outlandishly (as they have done for nuclear power) then it will happen. Frankly I hope it does happen. Your outlook is rational and optimistic and if it comes to pass provides a sound foundation for US economic growth.

Thank you, Mark Silbert.
My optimism is based only on the facts of the past decade, during which wind energy designers and innovators demonstrated their ability to bring down the installed costs, and bring up the annual capacity factors. However, 10 years ago I was not a fan of wind turbine generators solely based on the economics.
Back then, US based onshore projects achieved break-even pricing of $300 per MWh (30 cents per kWh).
I wrote a comment a few months back on WUWT about nuclear power, and the demonstrated results there are just the opposite. Nuclear engineers and designers have been unable to reduce the costs of their new plant designs even after 50 years of massive effort worldwide.

Thanks for the reply.
I have been disappointed by the lack of progress in cost reduction in nuclear. My preconceived notion is that this is driven by staggering burdensome regulation and virulent opposition by the greens that has demoralized the industry. I would hope that this doesn’t happen to wind as well.

Alex

What a lovely vision of our Utopian future. BTW, you forgot to add ‘ and they all lived happily after’, at the end

George Tetley

For Sale ( at Auction )
25kg of “quality ” candles.

1. “The growth of wind energy has been substantial in only 7 years, from almost zero percent to 7.5 percent of US total electricity.”
Please source your claims. The usual number I see for ALL renewables (excluding hydro) is 4-5% (http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2014/ph240/co1/), yet you claim wind alone is 7.5%? Is that based on nameplate capacity of every wind genny in the US, regardless of operational status and actual output to the grid?
2. RE: Figure 3.
Wind is providing 25 TERAWatt/hours (25,000 GW/h, per graph) per month? If US electricity production is around 4,100 TW/h (again: http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2014/ph240/co1/), that puts wind at 0.61%.
3. “Wind generating capacity at present is approximately 84 GW”
Wait. 84 GW x 24 hours per day x 30 days is 60,480 GW/h or 60.4 TW/h, right? But your Figure 3 says wind is 25,000 GW/h. I’m confused. Or you may be confusing nameplate capacities with actual production.
4. “Onshore wind capacity at present stands at a bit more than 84,000 MW”
and
” the estimated 11,000 GW of wind capacity that exists onshore in the US”
Is installed onshore wind 84 GW or 11 TW? Maybe that 11,000 GW is estimated available WIND energy rather than installed TURBINE capacity.
5. “With 640 being comfortably greater than 420, there is adequate natural gas power plant capacity to take over when the wind speed declines.”
OK, if wind power is scaled to hold the load at the average wind speed, and gas makes up the loss when winds are below average, what happens to the surge when wind is above average? Are your plans including a surge-regulating storage capacity such as batteries? Id so, wouldn’t that ameliorate at least some need for supplemental gas?
6. “Onshore wind farms have benefited greatly from private and public funding over the past decade. The wind turbine generators are already low-cost to install and operate. Projects are profitable in the Great Plains region of the US where the sales price for power is 4.3 cents per kWh.”
Something that’s profitable so long as it gets subsidized is only profitable for the company, not the customers who are paying electric bills AND subsidy tax bills.
And speaking of operating costs, turbines typically of an expected lifespan of 25 years(http://www.renewableenergyfocus.com/view/43817/the-end-of-the-line-for-today-s-wind-turbines/). The sad reality is that actual lifespans average maybe half of that (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/windpower/9770837/Wind-farm-turbines-wear-sooner-than-expected-says-study.html). And they’re lossing genarating capacity every year that they manage to stay in service (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960148113005727). Are you counting turbine replacement and repair in operating costs?
7. Bird kills
http://savetheeaglesinternational.org/new/us-windfarms-kill-10-20-times-more-than-previously-thought.html
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-many-birds-do-wind-turbines-really-kill-180948154/
The feds estimated 1.4 million birds kills per year by 2030. Studies around the world suggest that estimate low by at least an order of magnitude, and doesn’t count non-avians like bats.

For Bear, I’ll try to make some sense with all the figures. My apologies for any confusion.
Almost all the figures in the article on Electricity in the US are from the US EIA, Energy Information Agency. see e.g. https://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/browser/
1 EIA gives annual total wind energy for 2016 as 5.6 percent of 4,079 TWh/y. My article states 7.5 percent, which is for a monthly average recently (February, 2017). All renewables (excluding hydroelectric) for 2016 amounted to 10.4 percent for the year. Those numbers are in MWh generated, either annually or monthly.
2 Here, you are confusing monthly with annual energy quantities. 25,000 for wind is monthly GWh. For that month, US amount was approximately 320,000 GWh. Multiply your 0.61 by 12, and get a ballpark figure of 7.2 percent.
3 On this one, multiply the wind nameplate capacity by the appropriate capacity factor, usually around 0.35. That is the amount of electricity actually delivered. That should result in around 21,170 GWh/month.
4 No, both statements are accurate. There are approximately 11,000 GW of wind capacity, installed nameplate generating, in the onshore US. To date, first quarter of 2017, we have installed only a small part of that. There are 84,000 MW installed, or 84 GW of nameplate wind power installed at this time. So, 11,000 GW total we could install, and 84 GW actually installed at this time.
5 Actually, wind turbine generators can never exceed the nameplate capacity. So, if 84 GW are installed, the most we will ever see is 84 GW in a moment’s time. That is an unrealistic number, because at least some of the turbines will be offline for repair or maintenance. The US entire grid would peak at approximately 600 to 700 GW, although I don’t think I’ve ever seen that figure published. It’s not what we worry about, as each separate grid worries about that. In California, for example, the grid operator, CAISO does annual capacity studies to ensure we have at least 50 to 55 MW of capacity each summer when the peak occurs. Other grids have different numbers, depending on their size. In the scenarios I describe in the post, wind never runs the entire country. After ten years, wind max capacity is 250 GW, far below the 700 GW for the entire country. It gets a bit closer in twenty years, with 420 GW wind and still 700 GW for the entire country. Still, it would be extremely unlikely for every wind turbine to be operating, and operating at maximum output at the same time. More realistically, on the windiest day 20 years from now, wind might produce 80 percent of the maximum possible, so about 325 GW.
6 This one is about operating costs and maintenance. The published report for US for 2015 shows new turbines have approximately 0.3 to 0.5 cents per kWh O&M. That increases over the years to approximately 4 cents per kWh after 20 years. At that point, most of the wind turbine’s revenue is spent on O&M, so the owner shuts it down. See the 2015 Wind Technology report referenced in the article. Lots of good, factual information in there.
7 There is a lot of hysteria in the bird killed figures for wind farms. Here are the facts. Early wind towers, the support for the blades and generator, were made with trusses or derrick-style that had hundreds of nice perches for birds to sit on. So, they sat. And watched for gophers or whatever ran across the ground. The birds, not knowing that blades were whizzing through the air in front of them, jumped off the perch to hunt the prey, but some got whacked by a rotor blade. Bad design.
Wind designers like birds, too. So, they built all the new turbine towers out of a single, smooth pole that has zero places for birds to perch. Bird losses dropped to almost zero. The only place they can perch is on the top of the nacelle, and those now have anti-bird provisions to dissuade the birds from perching there.
Still, a few birds that are flying through a wind farm are still hit by the rotating blades. We can’t do much about that, except put noise-makers on the towers and blade tips. Those work well to scare away the birds, especially with recordings of bird enemies.
It must be discussed that all forms of power generation kill some birds. Coal fired plants, nuclear plants, they all do. It’s just a matter of degree and who hates wind farms in the first place.

Leo Smith

After the 4th ‘misstatement’ of the truth I gave up.

Gary Palmgren

Most of the disagreement about windmills comes from the lies and deceit used by promoters to get government handouts in the form of subsidies and mandates. Windmills are not an economical source of power. They are not a reliable source of power. They will have no significant effect on the climate or the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, a trace gas essential for life on the planet.
The article states, “The negligible impact conclusion is consistent with studies in the US on bird mortality from wind turbines.”
This is a perfect example of government/corporate corruption. Just contrast this statement to what happens to anyone else who kills a few birds. Example:
“One of seven oil companies charged with killing migratory birds during drilling operations in North Dakota has agreed to plead guilty and pay $12,000.Slawson Exploration Co. Inc., of Wichita, Kan., was charged under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for killing 12 birds that died after allegedly landing in oil waste pits in western North Dakota from May 6 through June 20. Under a plea agreement filed in federal court Monday, Slawson will pay $12,000 – or $1,000 per bird – to the nonprofit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.” By JAMES MacPherson | Associated Press Oct 24, 2011
We have negligible impact for windmills but $1000 fines per bird from an oil company given to a NGO. Fines given to a NGO favored by a bankrupt government is more corruption.
One isolated windmill is interesting and can be picturesque. Wind farms with blades turning at different speeds and phases with some stopped is distracting and ugly. Every time I see a windmill I think of the government subsidies, mandates, lies, corruption, and environmental damage.
If you want to sell your windmills stop relying on the government. Operate in the free market.

Having said all I did earlier in this thread about sceptics sounding like greens if we play the bird card, this is a brilliant, and relevant example of the distortion of principles from the green brigade.
So windfarms ought to add $1,000 dollars for every migratory bird killed, to their operating costs. Then conservation comes down to a simple case of economic viability of windfarms.
I will add that to my list of unintended consequences Roger.

Dodgy Geezer

First, let me congratulate both Mr Sowell on being prepared to pen an article for WUWT, and WUWT on being prepared to host it. We will surely only arrive at an answer to the energy problem when both sides can sit down at the same table, and the ‘Climate Scientists’ show no wish to move in that direction at all.
Now, the bad news. First, you are posting under the assumption that our energy mix will have to drop nuclear, coal and oil rapidly, in order to drop CO2 emissions. This is not the assumption of most of the readers here. They would point out that the science – what there is of it – does not support the view that CO2 is harmful (rather, the opposite) and that the policy requirement to cut CO2 is being pushed by activists who treat their cause as a religion rather than a science. They would further state that when push comes to shove, as it is doing in Germany and South Australia, renewable energy will be found to fail due to intermittency, and the resulting collapse of the Grid system and hike in electricity prices will force a reversal of this policy.
However, assuming that we do decide to move ahead with wind power, what will happen? Well, I note that you do not mention EROEI, which is a critical issue. EROEI shows that Wind and Solar are capable of supporting a culture somewhere between Mediaeval and Victorian, but not the more sophisticated one we have today, and certainly not the numbers of people we have today. So there are two fundamental flaws in the ‘renewables’ dream before we get off the ground.
I note that you use the standard technique of stating ‘capacity’ without specifying the capacity factor. You must know that this is small, and will fall further as more turbines are built. The belief that a large installation ‘evens out’ generation has been disproven by the German experience, so intermittency and poor delivery will remain a feature of a wind-powered system.
Your uptake figures are quoted as if they were heralding the start of a ‘wind revolution’. But they depend entirely on ever more generous taxpayer grants. if these were to drop, your ‘hockey stick’ would simply go into reverse.
The fact that you have left all the negative points out and presented an apparent rosy picture belies your true position – that of an advocate. But you are speaking, not to an untutored jury, but to an audience of persons well-educated in the kind of propaganda which the green activists present. We will happily listen to proposals which address our concerns. But in fact you have no answer to the problems that we know about, and therefore simply overlook them. This may work in a courtroom, but it does not in an engineering exercise. Perhaps you need reminding of the following quotation:
” For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled…”
Richard P. Feynman

Old England

Richard,
I couldn’t agree more and you have saved me from stating that this is entirely predicated on CO2 being harmful.
There are two things which currently make me think that despite all the rhetoric and hand-wringing the ‘powers that be’ don’t actually believe that CO2 is harmful or presents any kind of a problem for global temperatures.
The first is the Paris Climate Agreement which provided for global CO2 emissions to be increased by some 46% a year by 2030.
The second is the recently announced policies in the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands to ban the sale of internal combustion engine cars and only allow electric cars to be sold. Netherlands from 2025, France from 2030 and UK and Germany from 2040.
Calculations based on the IVL research into CO2 emissions from the manufacture of electric car batteries show that the UK’s policy will increase CO2 emissions by 2048 by some 37% over 2015 levels. That number reduces to ~19% if 50% renewable energy is used in the battery manufacture.
The CO2 emissions from the manufacture of each new electric car battery, with no use of renewables in manufacture, equals16 Years of driving a petrol or diesel engine car ! So it appears that European nations either don’t care about the increased CO2 emissions or, possibly, have simply not thought through the effects of these policies.
Now consider the CO2 emissions from the manufacture of battery farms large enough to store the electricity needed to buffer times when the wind isn’t blowing or is too strong and you realise that CO2 emissions cannot matter to anyone proposing this as a ‘solution’. The IVL study found these to be 150 – 200 kilos of CO2 per kWh and hence why a Tesla may have emitted 15 – 20 tonnes of CO2 just from manufacturing the battery.
The drivers of every Tesla are responsible for More CO2 emissions on the day they purchase than had they kept driving a petrol or diesel car for the next 16-20 years !

Dodgy Geezer

Alas, I am DG.
If Richard Feynman were posting it would be more of a miracle than a country working off wind power…

Griff

But DG, renewable energy certainly has NOT been found to fail in Germany due to intermittency.. what concrete examples do you have of this? The German grid is considered very reliable, even with parts of it working regularly on 70% renewable energy.
SA is also being consistently misrepresented: failures there were due to extreme weather hitting the grid: if European standards had been applied the wind farms would not have tripped and with battery storage in place, not only would a trip have been less likely, as grid storage has very fast frequency response capability, but it would have enabled more rapid black start.

observa

I’ll go along with the trip settings and we all learn by experience but when you say- ‘and with battery storage in place, not only would a trip have been less likely, as grid storage has very fast frequency response capability, but it would have enabled more rapid black start.’ it’s like saying plane flights are uneventful with the right amount of fuel on board. Why do unreliable fans simply assume one day it will all be rosy and not to worry in the interim as it’s all under control?
http://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2017/august
In South Australia we’re now paying AUD 50c/kwhr peak and we haven’t paid for the really BIG battery yet. Meanwhile the brains trust is busy installing diesel gennys-http://www.skynews.com.au/news/politics/state/2017/08/01/sa-beefs-up-energy-capacity.html
Why not more precious windmills and solar panels Griff?

Catcracking

Germany, at 26 cents per kilowatt hour 3 times that in the US, what can go wrong, the elites like Gore don’t care but what about the peons that have to sacrifice somewhere or go cold.

Griff, Germany almost went dark last January. What saved them was the Norwegian hydro interconnect. And Gemany renewable surpluses are exported to severely stress the Polish and Austrian grids. SA went dark when wind tripped off because of high wind speeds and there was not sufficient grid inertia to bridge, so the Victoria interconnect tripped off. You do know about grid inertia, and that wind supplies none?

Reg Nelson

A major blackout almost occurred Jan. 24 and was only prevented when German energy suppliers “also took the last reserve power plant,” Michael Vassiliadis, head of the union which represents power plants IG Bergbauchemie Energie, told reporters. The country’s power grid was strained to the absolute limit and could have gone offline entirely, triggering a national blackout, if just one power plant had gone offline, according to Vassiliadis.
“The renewables could not even offer five percent [of total power demand.] Coal, gas and nuclear power kept the country almost in the first place under the electric current,” Vassiliadis said.
As a result of green energy’s rampant unreliability, Germany plans to cap the total amount of wind energy at 40 to 45 percent of national capacity, according to a report published by the German newspaper Berliner Zeitung. Germany will get rid of 6,000 megawatts of wind power capacity by 2019.

Pierre DM

Within this article I did not see CO2 directly mentioned as the driver to go from coal and nuclear, to wind and gas. I clearly got the impression his argument was economically driven. Politics may play a role in that economics but I did not get the impression his justification was save the planet.
He did use some form of capacity factor in his calculations of around 35%.
This article as well written and appreciated by me. I still think the problems lay in baseload and storage capacity.
The second problem I have is with creating more jobs. Increasing jobs per unit of anything is a recipe for lower standards of living.

Bill Treuren

In reality if half the wind generation had not been installed there would only be more gas burnt.
So a massive reduction in investment.
The CCGT would also have a lower average cost so the conclusion is all about who pays for the backup. If it is the gas generators wind works if its the wind generators it fails.
Watch the price of electricity fall as wind comes in the value of wind power is thus much lower than despatchable gas generation.
I have a great regard for the technology’s of the future but not building those wind farms and just having cheaper electricity would produce far more that 100K in jobs in the US.

Steve R

Redefining “clean coal” to mean include CO2 emissions instead of just pollutants is the driver to replace coal plants. Unless the EPA can be persuaded to rescind its endangerment finding it looks like we will have to live with it.

For Dodgy Geezer, I will attempt to address you multiple concerns.
Now, the bad news. First, you are posting under the assumption that our energy mix will have to drop nuclear, coal and oil rapidly, in order to drop CO2 emissions.
No. I make no mention of CO2, nor carbon dioxide. The driving force for more wind is to prolong the life of natural gas, and to reduce the price of natural gas.
This is not the assumption of most of the readers here. They would point out that the science – what there is of it – does not support the view that CO2 is harmful (rather, the opposite) and that the policy requirement to cut CO2 is being pushed by activists who treat their cause as a religion rather than a science. They would further state that when push comes to shove, as it is doing in Germany and South Australia, renewable energy will be found to fail due to intermittency, and the resulting collapse of the Grid system and hike in electricity prices will force a reversal of this policy.
I fully agree that alarmism over global warming is unjustified. As stated in my brief bio above, I am a founding member of Chemical Engineers for Climate Realism, a “red-team” style think-tank for experienced chemical engineers in Southern California. Our group has met regularly for a decade, and exchanges views almost daily on how fellows with our experience can refute the false alarmism of unstoppable, catastrophic global warming due to human activities.
However, assuming that we do decide to move ahead with wind power, what will happen? Well, I note that you do not mention EROEI, which is a critical issue. EROEI shows that Wind and Solar are capable of supporting a culture somewhere between Mediaeval and Victorian, but not the more sophisticated one we have today, and certainly not the numbers of people we have today. So there are two fundamental flaws in the ‘renewables’ dream before we get off the ground.”
I do not agree that EROEI is a critical issue. After more than 40 years in the energy industry, EROEI is simply an academic ratio that industry professionals view as an idle curiosity. We deal instead with economics. For example, we simply do not care how much energy is required to extract the next 100 barrels of oil out of the ground. It is entirely immaterial. What matters is how much it costs to bring up that 100 barrels of oil, relative to the market price for the oil.
The stark facts of wind energy in the US show that several entire states obtain more than 20 percent of their annual electricity from wind. With zero adverse affects; nobody is forced to live like a peasant in Medieval Europe. As an engineer, I can assure you that we know exactly how to proceed to keep the grid safe, reliable, and power affordable with 30 percent wind, even 40 percent and 50 percent wind energy.
I note that you use the standard technique of stating ‘capacity’ without specifying the capacity factor. You must know that this is small, and will fall further as more turbines are built. The belief that a large installation ‘evens out’ generation has been disproven by the German experience, so intermittency and poor delivery will remain a feature of a wind-powered system.
No, I most assuredly do specify the capacity factor for both the wind turbines and the gas-fired power plants. The US wind experience is an increase in average annual capacity factor, not a decrease. An increase year-over-year will continue as older, smaller, inefficient projects are torn down and replaced with turbines that have much higher capacity factors.
Your uptake figures are quoted as if they were heralding the start of a ‘wind revolution’. But they depend entirely on ever more generous taxpayer grants. if these were to drop, your ‘hockey stick’ would simply go into reverse.
The wind hockey stick graph is simply a visible and understandable way of conveying the new truth: wind power is not a dream, it is not a fad, and it is not a minor player. The fact that wind energy has met and at times exceeded the output of large hydroelectric power in the US is something that should be widely stated. The proof is there, in the graph.
As to ever more generous taxpayer grants, that too is part of my article. Those subsidies were put to good use, in bringing down the cost to install, and increasing the capacity factor of wind projects. The fact is that the subsidies disappear soon, as I stated in the article. The wind industry will forge ahead on its own.
The fact that you have left all the negative points out and presented an apparent rosy picture belies your true position – that of an advocate. But you are speaking, not to an untutored jury, but to an audience of persons well-educated in the kind of propaganda which the green activists present. We will happily listen to proposals which address our concerns. But in fact you have no answer to the problems that we know about, and therefore simply overlook them. This may work in a courtroom, but it does not in an engineering exercise. Perhaps you need reminding of the following quotation:
I stated at the outset that my piece would be positive, and the negatives were presented earlier. As ctm described the intent to me, this is a sort of Point-CounterPoint article. My presentation is of facts, well supported by references. If this were a courtroom, the jurors would be able to judge for themselves which facts are true, and which are not. Instead, this is for a wide audience (many anonymous) who have different opinions, that are many times not based on the facts. So many people blindly accept the words they hear without checking the truth.
I am more than familiar with the usual litany of negatives about intermittent renewables; and I am confident that every single objection either has been satisfactorily addressed already, or soon will be.
I do note that you make no specifics about your concerns, and “the problems that we know about.” If you care to write those out in a comment, I will try to address them with facts.

artslap9

Why did you lump hydroelectric into the non-renewables category? It definitely doesn’t generate the eeeeevill CO2 gas, which is the foundational belief of the renewables cabal. Nor does nuclear power, which generates waste of a different category, but certainly not that clear, odorless gas that plants need to survive. As other commentators have pointed out, it appears that these “renewable energy” projects need massive transfers of wealth in order to be even close to economically feasible, and even then they require duplication of the power output from conventional generation for when they just aren’t producing any power. I also disagree with your contention that wind turbines have no negative impact on the environment. Firstly with the requisite mining of rare earth minerals for the generator magnets and also with the fact that in the US, the US Fish & Wildlife Service allows wind farms to kill raptors in numbers that far exceed any other industry. Couple that with the “streamers” of fried birds killed at solar sites like Ivanpah, the claim of zero impact to the environment is ludicrous.

Rog,
I never realized how many issues in which I agree with you.

For artslap9,
“Why did you lump hydroelectric into the non-renewables category? It definitely doesn’t generate the eeeeevill CO2 gas, which is the foundational belief of the renewables cabal. Nor does nuclear power, which generates waste of a different category, but certainly not that clear, odorless gas that plants need to survive.”
Good question on defining hydroelectric as non-renewable. Definitions of this vary. In the post, Figure 2 shows hydro as renewable, along with wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal. I’m not sure I lumped hydro into non-renewables, although the official position of the State of California does that. Actually, California has a complicated definition, where Size matters. Large hydroelectric generators do not count toward the state’s renewable portfolio standard, but small ones do.
“As other commentators have pointed out, it appears that these “renewable energy” projects need massive transfers of wealth in order to be even close to economically feasible, and even then they require duplication of the power output from conventional generation for when they just aren’t producing any power. I also disagree with your contention that wind turbines have no negative impact on the environment.”
The “massive transfers of wealth” simply do not happen here in the US. The fact is, for wind projects, the federal government allows a tax credit on the income tax return, of 2.3 cents per kWh generated. That only kicks in if the plant owner has a tax liability from some source. Then, it only lasts for the first 10 years of operation. The way this is set up, the US government increases the federal deficit by the amount of the tax credits claimed. That deficit spending is by issuance of Federal Treasury notes, that have interest rates of less than 1 percent (depending on the year of issuance). The point is, the taxpayers end up paying almost nothing for the wind tax credit subsidy.
About the wind turbines’ impact on the environment: the Statoil ES concludes the bird mortality is insignificant, but did not say zero impact. Regarding my statement on the spoiled views, that depends on one’s standard of beauty. I like the wilderness, too. But, I can see the beauty in a wind farm, just like I can see the beauty in a chemical plant, and a power plant, near the ocean. Some coastal lands were converted from pristine condition to allow those power plants and chemical plants to be built. Somehow, that environmental degradation gets no mention.

Tsk Tsk

“That deficit spending is by issuance of Federal Treasury notes, that have interest rates of less than 1 percent (depending on the year of issuance). The point is, the taxpayers end up paying almost nothing for the wind tax credit subsidy. ”
This is from the Robert Reich/Paul Krugman school of economics. Unless that debt is retired you are paying interest on it in perpetuity. And just because the rate is 1% now (actually the weighted average rate is higher than that), doesn’t mean that it will remain there forever, so essentially tax payers are on the hook indefinitely for interest payments as well as the principle (until we default/debase anyway)
And to trivialize the 2.3c WPTC takes a bit of brass given that that’s about 20-25% of the retail price of electricity (less in the greentopia of California). Further, wind prior to 2020 is permitted to take the ITC instead of the WPTC.
Wind farms remain subsidy farms. Eliminate them all and let the real market decide.

Claude Harvey

“The ‘massive transfers of wealth’ simply do not happen here in the US. The fact is, for wind projects, the federal government allows a tax credit on the income tax return, of 2.3 cents per kWh generated.” – Roger
Surely you know this “production tax credit” is only a fraction of the wind subsidy. A 30% investment tax credit plus 5-year accelerated depreciation is where the great raid on the federal treasury (massive transfer of wealth) occurs.

steven F

It should be pointed out that the amount of subsidy to the US government supplies to wind has been almost constant during the entire time period of the wind Hockey stick graph. We are not budgeting more money to wind subsidies. In fact the current version of the subsidy as written in the law will slowly ramp down over time. Most subsidies for nuclear, coal , oil and gas have been constant for over 50 years. And a lot of non subsidy money has been spent via the military budget to secure a constant supply of oil from unstable rejoins of the world. The US wind subsidy is quite small when compared to other energy subsidies that wind does not receive.

Tsk Tsk

Wind and solar have massive subsidies in the US compared to conventional energy sources.
The military spending canard is tiresome. How much coal or oil have we imported from South Korea or Afghanistan?

Dodgy Geezer

1 – The ‘driving force for wind is NOT to ‘reduce the price and prolong the life of natural gas’. We already have more than we know what to do with. I direct you to Julian Simon’s views on the false idea that we will run out of resources. https://www.wired.com/1997/02/the-doomslayer-2/
2 – I am glad to see you working to quell alarmism, but so long as CO2 is seen as a pollutant rather than a beneficial gas the activists will still have a hold.
3 – I see that you reject the concept of EROEI, and instead claim that as an engineer you can see how to run a Grid with 50% wind energy. As an engineer, that would be simple – you shape demand. When I was an energy trader, I couldn’t see how to do it without that. You might like to look at his ‘fact-filled’ paper from Eleanor Denny – http://erc.ucd.ie/files/theses/Eleanor%20Denny%20-%20A%20Cost-Benefit%20Analysis%20of%20Wind%20Power.pdf
4 – ” wind power is not a dream, it is not a fad, and it is not a minor player. ” Strawman. Who is claiming that it is a ‘fad’? I claim that it is a highly inefficient waste of taxpayers money, and will collapse as soon as the teat is withdrawn. The wind industry thinks so too – it complains that it will collapse without subsidy and preferential purchase support. I see that your ‘fact’ here is the unsupported assertion that the ‘wind industry will forge ahead on its own. I would be happy to see them do that without CFDs.
5 – I see facts in your piece, but not facts which address problems! For instance, you deal with the space requirements by happily claiming that allocating an area approximating Iowa would not be an issue. Maybe not in the US (though I doubt it) but it certainly would be in Europe. And have you considered the huge increase in Grid carrying capacity which will be needed to handle the irregular injections of power?
5 – I see that you are confident that every objection ‘will soon be met’. That is not good enough for government work, and it is certainly not a ‘fact’. I see no mass storage technology capable of doing the job of smoothing renewable power inputs, I see no justification for the allocation of land to support incredibly low power generation densities, I suffer extortionate energy prices while you tell me that this energy will be cheap, and I hold that your belief is not a ‘fact’, and no substitute for proof.

Roger
“No. I make no mention of CO2, nor carbon dioxide. The driving force for more wind is to prolong the life of natural gas, and to reduce the price of natural gas.”
By subsidising renewables to price coal, gas and nuclear out the market? What possible reason can their be for that other than a phantom belief in something that makes renewables perceptibly acceptable to the gullible?
Perhaps longevity of coal, gas and nuclear power? But there is limitless nuclear energy, and of all the power sources available, which has caused the least deaths despite Fukushima and Chernobyl?
Why, nuclear, what a surprise!
But of course greens don’t like nuclear because it’s beyond their simple comprehension of burning stuff. They eat green crap, and insist we all do the same, because they can’t be bothered to get off their backsides to hunt dangerous animals, the very source of protein that helped man evolve from veggie munching thicko’s to the worlds, and possibly the universes most advanced species.
Yet they demand their share of the communities produce.
Meanwhile, they invent the ridiculouse proposal that a trace atmospheric gas, vital to the plant and human existence, and currently around its lowest point ever in the planets history, is suddenly a poison.
Please Roger. Most people on this forum have gone innumerable rounds with argument far more convincing than yours.
Please don’t insult their intelligence by hiding behind the statement that you didn’t mention CO2. It’s what drives this whole subject.

Roger,
Thanks for a very interesting article and good thoughtful replies to questions raised…this is what WUWT should be all about. Not sure if I agree with everything you have said but it is all useful food for thought.

For Alastair Brickel, re August 6, 2017 at 2:46 am
“Thanks for a very interesting article and good thoughtful replies to questions raised…this is what WUWT should be all about. Not sure if I agree with everything you have said but it is all useful food for thought.”
Thank you.

Dave_G

Your uptake figures are quoted as if they were heralding the start of a ‘wind revolution’. But they depend entirely on ever more generous taxpayer grants. if these were to drop, your ‘hockey stick’ would simply go into reverse.
I wonder how much of the ‘hockey stick’ upward movement is as a result of the potential for the collapse in subsidies? Getting ‘in’ whilst the going’s good??? The state of many countries’ economies is now such that subsidies ‘must’ be addressed and soon.

Thanks Roger, good post. Maybe I missed it, but what is the lifetime of a windmill? Is the lifetime offshore the same as onshore?

Most deepwater oil platforms have a 20-30 year design life. This can be extended if economically justified.
Hywind’s realistic operating life is probably 20-30 years, with an escalating maintenance cost.
If they obtain 45% output and lock in $0.22/kWh, they’ll make a little money. But the NPV at a 7% discount rate would be as negative as coal with CCS or nuclear.

Brian H

CCS; another self-destructive boondoggle.

When the “S” is used for enhanced recovery in old oilfields, it can make sense.

steven F

The design life of a oil platforms is not based on how long the equipment will last. Instead it is based on how long the project must stay running to produce a little more money then was spent to make it. This is to insure the investors get their money back plus interest. It is the same for wind nuclear, coal, and oil. Many of California’s wind and solar thermal project built in the 80’s have now exceeded there design life. And yet all of the solar projects from the 80’s are still one line and producing power. And to my knowledge only one of California original wind projects has been torn down and replacement turbines were installed. The main reason for the turbine replacement was fewer bird deaths and more power productions with fewer turbines.
A 60 year design life is often sited by supporters of nuclear as a big advantage over renewables 20 to 30 year design life. However once you realize how the calculation was made the long design life for nuclear is not any advantage but a problem due to the enormous cost need the build, maintain, and operate them. If we found some magical way to eliminate these high cost the design life of nuclear would drop to 20 to 30 years. In fact many of todays reactors were designed with a 20 to 30 year design life when they were made. A sadly some didn’t even last that long.

The design life of a deepwater is not based on how long the project muat be kept running. That is not known at the time of sanctioning.
The size and type of platform is based on the estimated volume of resource, the number of wells required and the water depth.
If the design life was based on how long the project must be kept running, it would be infinite… because we do everything we can to postpone P&A costs.
The design life is based on how long the platform can be safely operated. For deepwater platforms, this is generally 20-30 years. Which can be extended with extensive maintenance and service life extension work.

Griff

The first offshore wind farm was dismantled this year are operating for its 25 year design life from 1991.

Roger
I believe the maximum capacity of windmills has been reached, according to a simple scientific principle I can’t member, but I’m sure someone on this blog will remind us of.
In short, windmills have reached their maximum capacity by all but a few %.

Dave_G

Any figures available to compare fabrication, installation and maintenance costs with actual income received from their energy production?

For Andy May, thank you. The wind turbine generators have an expected life that varies depending on the local environment. An interesting point is the physical life is almost never achieved because economics bring the operation to a halt. I wrote on this on my blog. http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2016/04/wind-turbines-operations-and.html
The onshore operating and maintenance costs increase year over year, until the wind turbine generator cannot operate profitably. That occurs usually around year 20 to 25. However, reductions in O&M are also occurring. That will extend the life to 30 years or more. What is also interesting is that after 25 years, an operator finds it much more attractive to tear out the old and repower with new technology. The economics for repowering are simply staggering. Therefore, the facts of wind energy suggest that stating “they only last for 20 years” is entirely beside the point, even if true. Note, I do not suggest that you have said that, but am just making the general point.
The Statoil Hywind Scotland project states they expect to run for 20 years. Quoting the ES, page 1-4:
. . . installation, operational and decommissioning periods of the Project, which is estimated to be 25 years. The operational phase of the project is 20 years.
So, 25 years onsite, of which the middle 20 is for operations.

Brian H

Examples of cleaned-out windmill graveyards are less common than the abandoned ones.

Over its life, the Scottish project will receive £170m in subsidies.
Enough said
If projects like these can survive without subsidies and preferential access to the market place, then fine. But the fact is they cannot

Griff

But didn’t you see the reference to the German auction tenders this year which have come in without subsidy for offshore wind?
New onshore wind in the UK, according to engineering firm Arup, is now cheaper than gas.

Tsk Tsk

Then you’ll have no problem eliminating those subsidies today, right?

This is all typical nonsense and (intentionally?) misleading!
When making comparisons between the unit power costs using different power generation systems you have to compare like with like! In this case it means comparing base load power systems which always provide power as needed. Wind Turbines will never be base load systems as their output is always governed by the capricious wind which when available gives 0-100% of its rated output!
We are not interested in the unit power cost to the Operating Company but the resultant overall unit cost to the consumer! Where WT’s are used they need absolutely necessary ancillary works, solely because of the WT’s in-built engineering inefficiencies, inefficiencies that no amount of R&D study and investment will ever significantly reduce. As a result using WT’s involves massive additional direct costs of ancillary works expressly provided to overcome these inefficiencies. These extra costs are never mentioned by WT Suppliers and supporters:
1. By their very nature, most WT’s are remote from areas of actual power demand. It is therefore necessary to provide extended and enhanced Power Transmission Works to connect the WT’s to consumers.
2. Typically WT’s produce only 20-30% of their rated output of power every year due to no/low wind conditions and sometimes even too higher winds – the variation being largely the difference between off-shore and on-shore WT’s. That means 70-80% of WT’s rated output has to be provided by base load standby capacity power plants. Government studies have confirmed that only Gas Turbines can provide such a standby facility which, particularly where as now available WT outputs are given priority usage, regardless of cost, need to always be available and feathered running in anticipation of usage and capable of being flexible enough to be able to continually match varying shortfalls in WT output as dictated by the capricious wind and to meet ongoing power demands. Possible hydro-electric standby back up could possibly be used but at an even higher cost and this is not available in very many countries including the UK. As high power demands for considerable periods occur frequently during winter periods of extended low and even no wind, effectively these GT standby’s need to be of 100% WT rated capacity within any overall national Power Generation System. In other words, replacing 100 units of retired or replaced base load power system by WT’s requires not only 100 units of WT’s but also effectively 100 units of GT’s!
3. These GT standby’s will operate very inefficiently, simply because they are required to operate with ever varying outputs well off peak efficiency. As such their unit power costs are very much higher, to the extent that GT operators demand and are paid subsidies. This is a bizarre situation, as these same GT’s could be used as base load units operating on their own, without subsidies and without WT’s which themselves are subsidised.
4. The standby GT’s generate their own CO2 emissions, so using WT’s, to replace GT’s, as renewables to reduce CO2 emissions – even if this was necessary, would reduce CO2 emissions by only 20-30% of the GT’s previous emissions per unit power generated, and probably even less given their inefficient standby operation.
All this is basic simple maths and engineering systems – something even our totally technologically ignorant politicians should be able to understand! Why, oh why, have we ongoing problems with this mission. Cut all subsidies, tax breaks and minimum guaranteed prices in the Power markets and re-introduce open and competitive free markets and the market itself will generate the increased efficiencies and lower power costs needed. For the UK, UK fracked gas will hopefully copy the US market and so drive down power prices to the consumer!

I personally would trust anything Arup told us!

Griff
So if the Germans tenders can be submitted without subsidy, why couldn’t the Scottish one?
Perhaps because the German tender documents included a calculation for massive increases in electricity prices as coal, gas and nuclear are systematically priced out the market by windfarm subsidies, making for a profitable enterprise once they are gone and energy prices hit an all time high in 23 years time when the whole of Europe is running off electricity, including cars and central heating systems.
Your comprehension of the tender process is, as with most of your comprehension, woefully inadequate.
Must try harder.

Einstein would never have considered trying to explain his theories to the village idiots in his town, so why should you still attempt dialogue with people such as this?

Solomon Green

It is an excellent article but the really salient comment is that of Mr. Homewood. Worth repeating:
If projects like these can survive without subsidies and preferential access to the market place, then fine. But the fact is they cannot

Tom Halla

The relative economics of wind largely depend on mandated purchase rules giving priority to wind. Wind currently, and for the foreseeable future, requires “conventional” backup, and the cost of that backup is not allocated to the cost of using wind. The costs of that backup are dumped onto the “conventional” electricity suppliers, making them comparatively less “economic”.
Failure by regulators to price suppliers on just how dispatchable their product is amounts to much of the “subsidy” to wind, using “subsidy” loosely to include policy effectively changing the pricing of one product over another.

David A

Bingo.

rwoollaston

An interesting piece, but I don’t understand the comment on the economics of the project: “The unsubsidized economics for the small, 30 MW Hywind Scotland system gives a sales price of electricity at $215 per MWh sold for a 12 year simple project payout.” Well the wholesale price of electricity is currently £42 ($55) per MWh so the Hywind price implies an uplift of nearly 400%. Most renewable and nuclear projects are currently subsidised (via ‘strike prices’ by around 100% which is already having newsworthy consequences for consumer electricity prices, as strike prices are meant to be funded by the ‘green levy’ imposed upon power companies. Even if not funded by the green levy, they would need to be funded via general taxation.

rwoollaston
Whichever way you look at it, the green levy is consumer taxation.

Leo Smith

A rather good summery by Gail Tverberg of all the things this poster omitted to mention…
https://ourfiniteworld.com/2017/07/22/researchers-have-been-underestimating-the-cost-of-wind-and-solar/
And from Roger Andrews…
http://euanmearns.com/can-offshore-wind-be-integrated-with-the-grid/

ClimateOtter

Molten-Salt Thorium reactors. Hundreds of them. ASAP.
Wind turbines, not so much.

Dan_Kurt

Amen,
Dan Kurt

jclarke341

Yes…this will be the eventual solution to the world needing more, cheap electricity, but there are still engineering problems that are significant. From what I understand, the Chinese seem to be in the best position to solve the issues.
Will we have viable thorium reactors in the next 10-20 years? If we do, it completely changes the playing field for all electricity suppliers, and not in their favor. Wind, solar, coal and traditional nuclear will fade away, but the idiotic practice of converting food to fuel will hopefully stop immediately.
The biggest issue with thorium may be the resistance of the current energy suppliers, from big oil all the way down to your local farmer. The propaganda and lobbying against thorium may be extremely intense for a while.

Wind power requires ~100% conventional backup due to intermittency and lack of practical grid-scale storage.
I do not believe grid-connected wind power is practical or economic at this time, because of intermittency, lack of economic storage and other problems.
Forcing expensive, intermittent, non-dispatchable wind power into the grid ahead of cheaper, more reliable and dispatchable conventional power appears to be nonsensical.
I would be pleased if someone could prove that I am wrong – but I require credible evidence, not the usual arm-waving.
Regards, Allan

You are 100% correct.

observa
nc

Then recently as only one example which you may or may not be aware of. Australia has a wind capacity of over 4000 mws. it has dipped to low as 25 mws total with existing coal power flat out to keep the lights on.

observa wrote on August 5, 2017 at 9:05 am
“In South Australia they’re beginning to work that out”
I read your reference and I see this as just more energy nonsense. If they want to drive up electricity cost and reduce grid reliability, this is a good way to accomplish that dubious achievement.
The entire scheme does not make sense – it should be scrapped, not tweaked.

Let wind prove itself in a market free from renewable mandates and other ham fisted government interventions.
If wind is competitive, it will not need any help to dominate the market.
But I strongly suspect the only thing keeping the wind turbines operating is BS, policy favouritism and taxpayer subsidies.

gnomish

and the same is true of salty thoriums.

Wind supporters and bird poachers always cite bird kills by cats as justification for bird kills. Cats don’t kill eagles wind turbines do.
Wind farms have overtaken all other causes for mass mortality events for bats since 2000. Bats are the primary natural defense against mosquitoes as diseases like Zika, West Nile Virus etc. spread across the US and Europe.
Wind farms are a subsidy driven environmental disaster.

Jeff Cagle

Support for your bat claim:
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bat-killings-by-wind-energy-turbines-continue/
But on birds, cats kill ~2bn small birds per year. Even in America, eagles are not the only birds that matter.

I agree – all birds matter – outdoor cats and feral cats are a separate problem. Support for my claim about wind farms have overtaken all other causes for mass mortality events is from a Mammal Review paper in Jan. 2016″Multiple Mortality Events in Bats – A Global review”, O’Shea, Cryan, et al.

Leo Smith

If the cats didn’t get them something else would.
Two points:
1/. I t needs around a 90% mortality of birds before breeding age to keep the populations stable.
2/. A cat with a dead bird in its mouth doesn’t mean it killed it.

Tom in Florida

My cat prefers to kill rabbits, easier to catch and no doubt much tastier.

nc

Leo does that apply to raptors? So a bird dies in a settling pound all hell breaks out. Let a bird especially a raptor gets sliced and diced well nothing to see here but it may feed a fox. A positive in world.

Bartemis

Small birds are plentiful, and reproduce rapidly. Eagles are not, and do not.

Griff sounds like a PR guy for big wind companies.
After working for years trying to get wind farms to reduce cut in speeds (to reduce mortality of birds and bats) and then watching as nothing changed.
He said this:
“Distortions of truth are rampant. For example, in 2015 AWEA announced a voluntary plan to raise turbine cut-in speads in a manner that was made to sound like it would solve the problem of bats, which primarly occur on low-wind nights. But the moment I saw the word “voluntary” I knew that the largest companies would ignore it.

Griff

you may have missed an important element hidden in the article re bird deaths:
“In addition, bird fatalities decline as older, truss-style support towers are demolished and modern, monopole support towers are installed.”
The high bird fatalities in the US are only in a very small number of old multiple small turbine on trestle tower 1980s designs -principly the extraordinarily badly site Altamont Pass.
The bird deaths from this well studied site are extrapolated to all US wind turbines, when newer, better sited, non trestle designs have very low bird mortality indeed.
Additionally it may not be obvious from sections of the Statoil farm quoted that in UK waters detailed surveys have to be made to ensure siting does not harm birds…

steven F

Currently the Aliment wind farm is being reworked. Older turbines are being replaced with new once with monopoles. The wind farm exceeded its design life. In addition to killing fewer bird the new turbines will produce more power, need less maintenance and fewer wind turbines will be needed.

Griff
We leave the harming of birds to cats….
Tonyb

Griff,
please stop presenting your ignorance for all to see.
Bird deaths from offshore windfarms can’t be established because the carcasses either float away or sink.
And birds are well acquainted with static trusses, multiple or otherwise, it’s the moving turbine blades they have a problem with.
However, personally, I think it’s a non problem and not worth discussing. The real problem is that wind power is presented as the solution to the non problem of CO2 killing humans, not birds.
Tweetie Pie will be around long after humans have gone, they survived the dinosaurs, in fact, I believe they are dinosaurs.

Griff what you miss is that killing birds is bad, killing bats is worse from a disease prevention viewpoint.
Bats are the primary natural defense that keeps mosquito populations in check.
Have you heard about Zika , West Nile Virus etc.
Larger more powerful wind turbines are not safer for birds and kill greater numbers of bats and birds,about 2 bats for each bird murder. The latest wind turbine blade tip speed is faster than a table saw blade tip at 180 mph.
Greenies have created a frankenstein monster that’s destroying wildlife.
Really sick!

New Obama Admin. Death Panel – for Eagles
The Fish and Wildlife concluded that the population of roughly 40,000 golden eagles in the United States could withstand the loss of about 2,000 birds annually. Bald eagles, estimated at more than 140,000, could sustain as many as 4,200 fatalities a year without endangering the species, it found.
They gave wind farms a 30 year waiver for killing eagles – unbelievable!

Griff

hot scot
There has been a detailed study using both observers and lidar of 2 offshore wind farms in Denmark…
Here are the results:
http://www.folkecenter.net/mediafiles/folkecenter/pdf/final_results_of_bird_studies_at_the_offshore_wind_farms_at_nysted_and_horns_rev_denmark.pdf
In addition, before a UK/EU wind farm goes up offshore, there have to be detailed year long surveys of the bird life: several wind farms refused or modified due to potential bird impact (to pass, you need to have low/no impact)
The pylon type wind turbines caused casualties because birds perched on them… shown by studies in California and Spain.
tom
wind is more of a potential problem in the Us because of the nature of its migratory bat population – nevertheless, mitigation strategies are already in place.

Steve Case

Read the whole thing and picked off the following:

There are approximately 1.2 jobs per MW of installed capacity, with 84,000 MW and 100,000 jobs. That’s approximately the same ratio as in nuclear power plants, with 1 job per MW.

The fewer jobs it provides translates into less expensive power. Can you say spin? Besides, what’s the comparison to natural gas and coal, not just nuclear?

Wind energy generated at night during low demand periods can be stored then released when demand and prices are higher.

Easier said than done.

When it becomes patriotic to drive an EV rather than a gas guzzler, EV sales will zoom. A gas guzzler will be seen as an OPEC enabler.

I’ll drive one when it makes sense, not because I want to wave a flag.
I would love to have a small two door electric hatch back to zip around in.

Power from wind is power without pollution. Wind power has no damaging health impacts from smoke, particulates, or noxious sulfur or nitrogen oxides. The American Lung Association encourages clean, pollution-free wind power.

Yes, wind is free but giant wind mills are not.

Another form is the MIT submerged storage spheres.

No link to whatever those are.
Other than that, it was a well written sales pitch.

MIT submerged storage = giant underwater gas tanks, using sea water to provide pressure and a thermal reservoir.
Not easy to build. Not easy to maintain. Pitiful energy density. Likely problems with ice buildup when drawing down the reservoir.

Steve Case

Fill ’em with gas and they would float or at least lose much of their anchoring mass. That’s so simple that I would think the egg heads who came up with the idea considered that, but you never know.

Steve Case

We are told at the link for the Storage Spheres:
The spheres with their 3-meter thick concrete walls would weigh thousands of tons each, which would also make them suitable to anchor the wind turbines in place.
Filled with compressed gas they would have only 15% of the weight of the concrete for anchoring due to buoyancy.

Steve Case

After a short search:

Concrete spheres could deliver feasible
energy storage for offshore wind turbines

Key word is could as in might maybe perhaps etc.

scarletmacaw

I “could” find a winning powerball ticket on the ground.

Brian H

The manufacture of all the 100-ton concrete anchors for windmills already makes a mockery of the above fantasies.

It’s hard to believe that this poster seems to consider himself someone who’s knowledgeable about energy, present and future, considering his ignorant, misleading statements about nuclear power. As an aside, he seems to consider hydroelectric a “non-renewable” for some reason. “Renewability” is an almost meaningless characteristic to use in selecting energy sources. If the article wants low carbon emission sources, then it should say so, and not equate renewable with low (or no) carbon. Renewables certainly are nowhere near being no-carbon. Agreed that one might argue that renewable energy (wind,solar,hydro) will be around always, but that doesn’t have any particular significance when selecting an energy producer when their fuel will outlast the lifespan of the extraction apparatus. We select on the basis of emissions (harmful emissions, not CO2) and especially , economics. Actually, solar and wind generators have particularly short lifespans compared to the typical 60 plus years for a nuclear plant, for example. Back to nuclear. The article makes the claim that nuclear plants are receiving govt subsidies and have been losing money the past several years. As a general statement that is pure fiction. SOME nuclear plants have been losing money, always because the utilities have been forced to accept solar and wind into the grid whenever available (toxifying, potentially destabilizing the grid in the process). This means that the grid does not buy all of the power a baseload nuclear plant produces. These plants were designed and have always been operated as baseload plants – their typical operating capacities are over 90% overall and often at or above 100% during time spans when they are not shut down for refueling (during low-demand periods) So not buying their ooutput does not lower their operating costs, it only redcues their income, hence the losses.
Our state’s nuclear plants for the most recent quarter, produced power cheaper than our coal and gas fired plants. Not only does the unasked-for acceptance of wind/solar power into the grid result in losses for nuclear plants, but it also increases the costs of the power they produce, sicne they are not operating at their normal capacity , caapcity having an enormous effect on output costs, especaily for nuclear.
So THAT is the reason some nuclear plants (those on a grid that accepts large amounts of wind/solar) lose money. And the reason govts (NY state, for one) had to subsidize these nuclear plants is not from the goodness of their heart, but because the nuclear plant owners threatened to shut them down and force the grid to rely heavilly on wind/solar – Yikes !!! Notice that it was wind and solar power and stupid rules that force the grid to accept any and all solar/wind power and reject nuclear power that caused all these all of these problems. And the higher costs this all creates is yet another delightful side effect on allowing unreliable power onto the grid – in this case mainly wind and solar. While I believe that the LWR (Light Water Reactor) nuclear technology is about to be replaced by molten salt uranium/Thorium reactors for a whole host of reasons (speed of factory built construction, minor site preparation,safety,energy extraction from fuel, ability to load-follow, and ESPECIALLY low cost – levelized cost of less than 4 cents per kWhr, build costs less than $2 per watt), that DOES NOT mean that traditional LWR reactors are out of the picture. While the article is more or less in line with reality as to this country’s nuclear plants, that situation is quite different elsewhere on our planet. China and India and Russia and Korea are building LWR plants both for themselves and others. As I recall, currently over 70 plants are under construction, only a few plagued by the cost overruns that have killed our Westinghouse AP1000 reactors (due ,not to the nuclear company, but to this country’s inability to fabricate and weld steel, a century old-technology that has been lost by our non-manufacturing country). China and Russia can guarantee (and finance) reactors as low as $4 to $5 billion per 1 1/2 gigawatt and are contracted to build thoughout the Middle East. I would guess that plans are for well over 200 reactors, although I fully expect the majority of those contracts will disappear with the appearance of a commercialized molten salt reactor.
Both China and India, and half a dozen private companies are developing various versions of molten salt reactors. Our Dept of Energy recently provided lab assistance and outright grants to two of these companies. Amongst the experts, discussions of future energy technologies does not include wind/solar or hydro, all of which embody 18th century technology. It is all about molten salt technology, which might commercialize as early as 2020 (Moltex Energy). I have to smile at the recent enthusiasm for batteries by the wind/solar folks, who foolishly believe that this will make their non-dispatchable power dispatchable. Someone please inform these folks that batteries only store (finite amounts) of energy – they cannot produce energy, nor recharge themselves. They also aren’t cheap and don’t last very long,as power generation equipment goes. Economics alone will result in molten salt reactor dominance in the energy arena. The same is true of electric cars – they will dominate and it has nothing to do with emissions.
This isn’t rocket science, you know.

They better build a lot of those 600 MW off shore wind farms, 20 times larger than the one in Scotland, to replace those retiring nuclear plants. The “average” nuclear plant produces 508 MW in a 24hr period.
https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=104&t=3

u.k.(us)

In the end, the most efficient sources of energy will win.
No amount of subsidies, guilt or other backwards thinking will change that fact.
Attempts to harness the fickle flow of the wind, pale in comparison to the energy released by splitting the atom.
Why are we even still discussing this ?

u.k.(us)
+

Geoff Sherrington

Roger,
Do you concede that the estimated construction cost of new nuclear has been artificially inflated by bureaucratic regulatory imposts?
Would you reach a different conclusion to your essay if you modelled new nuclear on actual, present Chinese construction costs? The issue is not academic, since it is plausible that the Trump government has been making noises consistent with such a scenario.
Geoff

Well, hello, Geoff Sherrington! Hopefully, today we can exchange views without the rancor.
“Do you concede that the estimated construction cost of new nuclear has been artificially inflated by bureaucratic regulatory imposts?”
No. After decades of study and actual experience, the facts are that regulatory requirements for nuclear power plants, as currently licensed, built, and operated, are not excessive. A few things should be noted on this. First, I highly recommend all the nuclear proponents to read the study on nuclear construction costs by Craig Severance from 2009. And, my article TANP – part six http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-truth-about-nuclear-power-part-six.html
The Severance article is referenced here: http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-truth-about-nuclear-power-part-three.html
“Would you reach a different conclusion to your essay if you modelled new nuclear on actual, present Chinese construction costs? The issue is not academic, since it is plausible that the Trump government has been making noises consistent with such a scenario.”
It must be noted that Chinese costs for building new nuclear power plants are lower than in EU, UK, and the US. The reasons for that are the lower labor rates in China, and the lower material costs in China. And, it may be that the Chinese’ total control of government information does not disclose the true costs of anything over there. Finally, my Chinese-American engineering associates, and I, all shudder when we are reminded that China is building new nuclear plants. We can only hope that their nuclear plants use appropriate materials, construction techniques, and competent, impartial inspectors with authority to reject substandard work. Based on some of the recent disasters in other areas of their infrastructure, the world should be holding its collective breath over the Chinese nuclear plants. The fact is, everybody may need a full face mask to filter out the radioactive particles, and very soon.
It would be be illegal for President Trump to bring Chinese laborers to the US, pay them Chinese wages, and import Chinese-built parts to make nuclear plants in the US. The best the US can find, Westinghouse and their subcontractors, just botched 4 reactors under construction in South Carolina and Georgia.
Even if Trump did authorize Chinese-designed nuclear plants (and the NRC must take years to give approval), the workers would be paid according to US labor laws. But, it would be fun to watch. A Chinese construction force working in Georgia.
The point of this essay is, we simply do not have any time left to build nuclear. Not of any type. In 10 years, 50,000 MW of nuclear power will be off the grid. In 20 years, 100,000 MW are gone. We would need to license, get financed, and start construction on 100 nuclear power plants within the next 5 years to change that. Not even the Chinese have such an ambitious nuclear building program. More importantly, we would need to finish building 100 plants within 20 years.

Griff

Roger, I suspect you are right about safety at Chinese nuclear plants…
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/25/china-nuclear-power-plants-expansion-he-zuoxiu

Roger
“The fact is, everybody may need a full face mask to filter out the radioactive particles, and very soon.”
Oh dear God, the next green supported scare story.

Griff
The Guardian? Seriously?
Both you and I know they are at the top of the list for Politburo propaganda of the SSUK.
Even you visit the right wing WUWT party to have some sense knocked into you.

Hey, Griff! re August 5, 2017 at 10:10 am
Keep up the good work. You know you are winning, when the other side resorts to slings and arrows.
I don’t usually respond, but would like you to know that I agree with just about everything I have read that you wrote.
All the best,
Roger

Geoff Sherrington

Roger
The lower labour costs are aided in China because there are fewer people involved at levels like law, approval, lawyering, regulatory enforcement, legal matters, regulatory compliance, illegal objection, legality, insurance, forward provisions for spent fuel management, legal compliance with international conventions, forward provision for hypothetical damage and the like. This is part of my earlier cost assertion, that China does it better.
On the occasions when I did business in China, I quickly formed an impression that the overall intelligence at the levels I worked, was higher there than in western countries. I guess it is a mild proof that they in China have conducted an economic revolution, including an energy revolution, far more efficiently than elsewhere. Thus, China has a vibrant nuclear industry while the USA struggles, France is about to suicide, UK is constipated and my home Australia remains virginal.
Seen in this context, where energy policy is a measure of National success, now do you understand my earlier questions better?
The Chinese are on track for 100 plants in 20 years. Is this what concerns you?
Geoff
PS. Face masks for filtering radioactivity? Aphysical for much that matters. Radioactivity safety is built on distance separation.

Griff

hotscot
The guardian reports that stuff, while the Mail or the Sun or Fox news doesn’t. Which is why so often it gets cited.
The fact that’s where the report is does not mean it is any less reliable.
And you can find similar reports elsewhere, if you bothered to look instead of the tired old ‘its the Guardian/BBC/etc’ response.

For Geoff Sherrington, re August 6, 2017 at 5:43 am
“PS. Face masks for filtering radioactivity? Aphysical for much that matters. Radioactivity safety is built on distance separation.”
Are they? Then, do you conclude the NRC’s 166 page “Manual of Respiratory Protection against Airborne Radioactive Material” was just a waste of time and paper and ink?
https://www.orau.org/documents/ivhp/health-physics/nureg0041.PDF
The NRC seems to have great concern about radiation exposure due to humans inhaling airborne particles of “radioactive material.”
Are they concerned about a phantom, a non-issue?

It would be simpler, cheaper and better for the environment to build gas fired power stations and forget all about wind and solar. They are just unnecessary redundant generators.

Steve Case

They are just unnecessary redundant generators.
The Greens are like kids who want the toy they’ve seen advertised on TV for Christmas. Once they get it and discover that it really isn’t that much fun, it sits in the bottom of the toy chest and finally tossed.

Brian H

Do the dead condors and bats and robins revive? Save some DNA samples.

steven F

Cheaper to build yes. But it is not cheap fuel them over the next 40 years. Adding wind to take at least some of the load would reduce the need for gas substantially.

Grant

One beef I have about solar and wind cost calculations is that the cost for back up power is ignored. I have heard estimates that this nearly doubles the cost of renewables.
Natural gas turbines seem to be the best solution for back up power. Hopefully a good storage solution will come along.

Griff

Well, rather than looking at backup, look at how the UK manages its grid around renewables.
Remember in the UK the available wind power (and solar) is reliably calculated 24 hours in advance… this allows planned spin up or down of gas plant, plus deployment of pumped storage and hydro and in the near future grid storage. The need for spinning reserve and extra load on the gas plant is minimised.
Wind is not the only available power -there’s also 10GW of installed UK solar power (and rising) plus interconnectors to France, Netherlands and (building) Norway, Germany and additional link to France.
The UK already has the gas plant – much of which is idle outside 4 winter months – and which is paid for under the ‘contract for difference’ system.

Tsk Tsk

Which explains the sudden rush for dirty diesel backup power in the UK.

Griff

The STOR programme was originally intended for grid outages… when a cable goes or a power station shuts down – and much of the diesel is still dedicated to that, not to demand surge or frequency response. It has extremely limited operating hours…
anyway, grid storage does a better, quicker job on demand/frequency response and the diesel will, I predict, rapidly become history.

Tsk Tsk

You mean when wind power failed 2 years ago?
And how much of that storage cost is included in the cost of wind and solar? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

nc

So the power imported on those interconnectors is only wind and solar sourced, okay then.

Griff
stop being a pillock.
A couple of weeks ago I was told by the BBC at 9am on a Sunday morning that the second British Superbike race at Brands Hatch less than 7 hours later would be a washout, thunderstorms etc.
It was dry as a bone.
The Met office employed a multi million pound computer to manufacture that forecast. My wife went out our back door at 8am and told me to take sun block.
“Remember in the UK the available wind power (and solar) is reliably calculated 24 hours in advance… ”
Hah!
“there’s also 10GW of installed UK solar power (and rising)”
Which barely works north of the Watford Gap, and is attracting the attention of regulators for miss selling, already!
“plus interconnectors to France, Netherlands and (building) Norway, Germany and additional link to France.”
So much for British energy security.
“The UK already has the gas plant – much of which is idle outside 4 winter months – and which is paid for under the ‘contract for difference’ system.”
Good example. Gas plants, designed to run 24/7/365 at 85% capacity forced to lie idle to accommodate windfarms. And the ‘contract for difference’? yet another taxpayer funded means of supporting an idle gas power station to make windfarms seem a viable solution.

David A

Birds , not bits.
Although if the green fanatics are to be consistent ” all birds life’s matter”.

Jim Gorman

Griff,
Are the interconnectors you reference supplied only by wind and solar? If not, is your motto, renewables for me but not for thee? How are you going to insure that these countries don’t max out their renewables also and won’t be available to “backup” your renewables?

Another Doug

Wind power is a great jobs creator.

For some reason you seem to present that as a positive.

Steve Case

BINGO!

Brian H

Like, famously, issuing ditch-diggers teaspoons instead of shovels.

I gather it takes 70 renewable workers to produce the same energy as a single coal worker.
Break out the teaspoons.

sarastro92

There’s an ongoing assumption of virtually limitless fracked natural gas… this is a dubious assumption.
https://www.nature.com/news/natural-gas-the-fracking-fallacy-1.16430
Coal- nuclear seems the best net. But there has to be economies of scale. Building an artisan nuclear power plant will, naturally, be enormously expensive. There has to be a guaranteed demand stream for prices to fall. Spent rods need to be recycled.
There are also new designs for fusion energy that are extremely cheap. Some effort has to be made in this direction.
lppfusion.com

Why wind power for Hawaii? It would seem geothermal would be simpler and the infrastructure would outlast any wind power install.

steven F

Only the big island has geothermal energy . The volcanos on the other island have been extinct for a very long time. They are no longer over the volcanic hot spot that supplies geothermal every to the big island. It is possible to export some via submerged cables to the other islands but at a cost and with some limitations.. And it is an open question as to how much Geothermal energy can be extracted on the big island.

The wind is extremely stable and fairly strong in Hawaii. Of all 50 states, Hawaii has the best annual capacity factor. That, high capacity factor, is a crucial variable in making wind power economic. The state has a 100 percent renewable energy plan with the various elements described. They give themselves a bit more than 20 years to do this, with 100 percent renewables by 2040.

whiten

Hello Roger.
To be fair I have to say that I did not go through all of your article.
So in the case of any wrong understanding or a guff of mine in this comment please do accept my beforehand apology, and please do not mind and do tolerate any grammar or linguistic errors.
Said all this, I must point out that your position and stand as per your blog post seems to me to be biased, significantly enough, which could get the whole argument to enough imbalance over time where the highlighted and proposed solution to the highlighted problem will end up and rendered as a “no solution”, with no much chance to be accepted as a possibly of solving the problem.
And from this approached prospect ending up rejected instead of it being accepted as possibly realistic.
It is obvious that your position favors wind turbines as a significant part of a solution to such a problem.
Simply favoring or being in favor of something, whatever that be, is not a problem or wrong, or unacceptable, or biased. And simply looking only from that angle does not help much with a detection of any possible biases or significant problems.
In a way favoring leads to biases, and the degree of favoring and the feverishness about it dictates to how much biased is a position towards a given condition….
In a perfect world the biases suppose to be perfectly small and with no any consequences or side effect.
But far we are still from that perfect world…….which actually makes our real one even more beautiful, so to speak…. 🙂
And I know trying to evaluate the degree of favoring and favoritism seems to be complicated and may end up to be very complicated and messy, very much so indeed……….but I still use this simple mechanism to “analyze’ through it, with as less possible mess and complexity….
You see, too me, favoritism and discrimination are Yin and Yang of each other, for not saying the same thing……
So if I identify a position of favor towards the solution, I just have to check for any possibility of any discrimination in or towards the problem as per the way of it’s description…..
And in the case of this blog post I find a discriminatory position in the highlighting of the problem,
a significant
enough one that may point to unacceptable biased position, when considering such as proposed solution, as in your case.
Saying that coal is no “King” any longer, does not necessary mean that coal is dead……..and still it is more efficient, far much more stable, and much more realistic as a part of a solution for the energy problem than wind turbines….under any circumstances.
So getting to a discriminatory position towards coal as to favor wind turbines, may render your proposed solution as too biased to be accepted, from the outset, without any further down the road real technical and economical aspects.
And sparing both of us the pain of a hypothetical argument over this, I will point to a real life social “experiment” that has some results already out there.
It is called Germany, which was pressed to solve such or a similar problem, for not saying far more serious.
Germany did not rely on a solution of building or constructing more wind turbines as a means to fill the gap created by the Nuclear energy termination………the last time I checked…..so to speak…
Am not quite sure what actually is built or constructed to fill that gap, but definitely, as far as I know and can tell, is not in the terms of wind mills and wind power……. 🙂
Hope some one can help here with this…:)
Now all this said, I honestly recognize the value of any point and any position taken in any given aspect.
Only trying to forward my point of “criticism” about this blog post, if I may call it that.
Still my general position about it is in favor of it being a good and informative blog post, honestly……..
Thanks.
cheers

Brian H

The Germans contributed mightily to the continuance of the 120 years of CO2 greening and agricultural bounty that now feeds us with their bounty of lignite-burners! Danke schön.

scarletmacaw

No external fire damage is a plus factor for offshore turbines. 🙂

john

Wait till salt moisture gets into the transformers on offshore wind plant substations. It will get in via seals around bushings, explosion ports and radiators.
Lights out….

Griff

John, offshore wind farms have already run continuously for as long as 25 years with no such problems…

nc

So the toxic fire elements falling into the ocean is off no concern to greenies, okay then.

john

scarletmacaw
this is like the bird killing argument. It makes one sound like a rabid green of the 70’s complaining spiders were killed because a road was built.
The incidence of wind turbine fires is minuscule and easy to refute. It’s a distraction.

john

About one per week per my findings. And that doesn’t include the non reported ones or media blackout in various countries.
P.S. I worked in the industry for years and served as a Fire Chief/ Forest Fire Warden. There is a really big and dangerous problem here. Everything from mechanical/electrical fires to lightning strikes, which include met towers.
Rural and other departments are ill equipped to deal with these issues and always will be. I know of quite a few fires that the plant operators were aware of and never notified fire services. Fortunately, passers by reported them and major forest fires were prevented.
Feel free to use industry talking points but we know professionally that fires are not rare, pose a danger to first responders who have no choice but to stand back and let it burn, and companies nit reporting them in a timely manner causing wildfires.
john

john

In this case the operator knew a turbine caught fire…and sent a crew out the NEXT morning. Fire officials learned of this fire later.
https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.bangordailynews.com/2013/04/23/news/mid-maine/regulators-advocates-opponents-of-wind-energy-take-sides-after-fire-destroys-a-4-million-turbine-at-maines-largest-wind-farm/

Grant

The reason nuclear power is so expensive is because we don’t haven’t built plants for 40 years. If we built plants at the rate to replace current nuclear plants and replace coal plants, the costs would fall dramatically. It is the only current feasible method of producing enough reasonably priced electricity that is CO2 free.
if we had continued to built nuclear plants we wouldn’t be facing any of these problems and the technology would be light years from where it is today.

Gerald Cooper

++ for the same reasons that wind turbines have progressed in the last 10 years –

nc

and gas turbines to back up the wind generation.

E. Martin

All this predicated on the claim that co2 emissions cause warming but why do we never see published, the clear definitive scientific evidence of this.

jclarke341

I give Roger credit for not making CO2 emissions an important factor in his discussion. It was mostly argued from the standpoint of the competitive cost of the various energy sources and the impending reduction in nuclear and coal generated electricity. Even when he was taking about pollution from burning coal and oil, he left CO2 out of it. That was wise.
It is true that increasing wind power is driven by a fear of CO2, but Mr. Sowell tried to argue in favor of wind without that bogeyman, which I found refreshing and commendable. Still, I remain unconvinced that wind can compete with other sources on a level playing field. I just wish we had level playing fields (no government machinations) to help make that determination.

jclarke341
Oh come on!
Roger comes onto WUWT, a forum predicated on the myth that CO2 causes global warming, and simply because he doesn’t mention CO2 in his submission means he’s not including it in his rational?
The concept is ridiculous as the rational for windmills themselves is based on the mistaken assumption that CO2 causes global warming.

For HotScot,
Re “Roger comes onto WUWT, a forum predicated on the myth that CO2 causes global warming, and simply because he doesn’t mention CO2 in his submission means he’s not including it in his rational?”
You may want to go back and re-read the brief bio sketch at the end of the article. Play close attention to this bit: He is a founding member of Chemical Engineers for Climate Realism, a “red-team” style think-tank for experienced chemical engineers in Southern California. and this final bit: Recently (2016), he was requested to defend climate-change skeptics against an action under the United States RICO statutes.
Then, to see my stance on global warming, try reading through this article: http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/from-man-made-global-warmist-to-skeptic.html
I have had roughly a dozen or so guest posts on WUWT over the years. You might go through the archives and read some of those, too.
Legally speaking, “CO2 is Innocent.” – Roger Sowell

Chris4692

From the article: “Now, coal burning power plants are closing in record numbers because the owners cannot afford to install the expensive pollution control equipment. (Reference: MIT paper, 2016, MITEI-WP-2016-01”
Part of the question is whether the regulations on coal are justified. Mercury or particulates, maybe. CO2 not likely. Even if the standards are justified, retrofitting an old plant for its remaining life is something very different economically than building new: one would not add equipment with an expected life of 30 years to a plant with a remaining expected life of 10 or 15.
If a new plant is faced with additional, unjustified CO2 standards as well as the others, it could very well be priced out of the market by the addition of very expensive technology of little value.

For Chris4692,
Well -said. I agree entirely. Toxic emissions should be scrubbed and removed. CO2 is not in any way a pollutant, not at those concentrations. It can be lethal in higher doses, of course.
Not many people understand the concept of “retrofitting an old plant for its remaining life is something very different economically than building new: one would not add equipment with an expected life of 30 years to a plant with a remaining expected life of 10 or 15.”
One cannot justify the expense, typically, and it becomes a matter of throwing away good money.

Paul

So can nitrogen

For ctm, and Anthony (wherever you are!), many thanks for posting this. I look forward to the comments and being able to respond.

If you prefer renewable then go off grid. Install your own system at your own expense and leave the rest of us poor fools to live our lives unencumbered by your expensive and out moded fantasies.

Even though it has subsidies, the project’s unsubsidized economics would make it attractive against peaker power plants.
You are not comparing like with like.
The whole point of peaker plants is that they can be quickly brought on line at times of high demand.
Wind farms cannot do that.
With economy of scale and 60 percent reduction in installed cost for a larger 600 MW park, and 12 year simple project payout, no subsidies, the electricity could be sold at $89 per MWh.
Pure guesswork. If Statoil are so confident of this , they would be buidling Hywind without subsidy, in effect writing off the cost as R&D work. Other companies do that sort of thing all the time, eg drug companies
At that price point, offshore wind becomes competitive with baseload natural gas power with LNG at $10 per MMBtu as the fuel used
Again , you are not comparing like with like. Regardless of the “cost”, wind power is intrinsically worth less than baseload power

Griff

No, but the UK has pumped storage and (incresingly) grid storage batteries to replace peaker plant.

Griff
Where is the pumped storage and the grid storage batteries? Any we do have are minuscule in comparison to the energy needed
Tonyb

climatereason
Griff’s reason facility off on it’s usual ramble.

richard verney

Presently the UK has just 1 pump storage facility (Dinorwig in Wales) with an installed capacity of 1,650 GW and cost just short of £1/2 billion. It was built in 1974 to 84, and it would cost far more than that today, if it had to be built today. Another 50MW facility is presently under construction at a cost of about £120 million (assuming no over runs) and will open in 2018.
Rather expensive and unnecessary if the UK had kept to just coal and gas. Simply there are few sites that have the topography to make pump storage feasible. and the costs are prohibitive.
Likewise batteries. These are not needed if the UK kept to fossil fuel generation and are another expense that is being incurred purely because of the pursuit of unreliable and intermittent wind and solar. Grid sized batteries are hugely expensive and provide very little amount of storage.
If I remember correctly the grid battery being installed in Southern Australia is about US$1/2 billion and can supply full demand (ie., if the grid goes completely down as it did earlier this year) for just 4 minutes! More detail can be found on Jo Nova’s site where this has been discussed.
,b>For every 10 GW of wind, it on average only delivers some 2.3 GW of energy, and because of its intermittent and non despatchable nature requires a mixture of 10 GW of back up energy, by way of gas and/or coal generation and/or pumped storage and/or batteries, plus diesel STOR for balancing the grid.
One has to create twice the infrastructure at huge additional expense, and in view of all the back up there is little if any saving in CO2 emissions. One might like to envisage just how much CO2 was emitted in the construction of Dinorwig..

Griff

climate here is a new small plant
https://www.theengineer.co.uk/first-new-uk-pumped-hydro-scheme-for-30-years-given-go-ahead/
and this is still progressing (see panel at bottom for increased size proposed)
http://sse.com/whatwedo/ourprojectsandassets/renewables/CoireGlas/
Here’s a report on the grid storage ‘pipeline’ in the UK
https://www.cleanenergynews.co.uk/blogs/storage/the-uks-fast-moving-grid-scale-storage-pipeline
This covers how National Grid is thinking about storage:
http://nationalgridconnecting.com/thinking-positively-battery-storage/

observa

And to compare like with like costs the only true way to establish that would be to only permit generators to ever tender electrons to the communal grid they can reasonably guarantee (ie short of unforeseen mechanical breakdown) 24/7 all year round. That would stop the unreliables engaging in what is now a pure form of dumping and relying on thermals to be their insurers without paying them their just insurance premiums. With a legislated level playing field the unreliables would either have to incur the storage costs to lift their average tender rates, or partner with thermals and pay them their required insurance premiums (actually the cost of lowering their average tender amounts). That would be a complete cost game changer as you can readily see here-
http://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2017/june

For Paul Homewood,
“You are not comparing like with like.
The whole point of peaker plants is that they can be quickly brought on line at times of high demand.
Wind farms cannot do that.”

This misses the point entirely. With wind power online, peaker plants do not have to run as much, and many times not at all. We see this over and over again here in California. Using yesterday (4 August, 2017) as a convenient example, the grid demand peaked at 1800 hours Wind power here was increasing steadily, and producing 3400 to 4000 MW between 1700 and 1900 hours. That represented 3400 to 4000 MW of incremental power, that would have been provide by the most inefficient or perhaps even peaker power plants ten years ago. And, with the wind farms being paid a flat fee, the utility pays them perhaps 12 cents per kWh, and avoids running a peaker plant at multiples of that.
“Pure guesswork. If Statoil are so confident of this , they would be buidling Hywind without subsidy, in effect writing off the cost as R&D work. Other companies do that sort of thing all the time, eg drug companies”
No. Statoil are no fools. The government has the subsidy program in place for their own reasons, and the 30 MW was deliberately chosen because the government limits the projects to that capacity. Statoil accepts the money because the government is offering it.
“Again , you are not comparing like with like. Regardless of the “cost”, wind power is intrinsically worth less than baseload power.”
That brings up a very complicated issue. Grid operators, and utilities in many areas, devote considerable time and money into computer software that tries to model and optimize their grid – generators, transmission, and loads, all over various times of the day. Part of that exercise is to determine what each generating increment is worth. It is well-known that baseload power is “worth” the least, typically commanding 4 or 5 cents per kWh. It is also true that peaking power is “worth” the most, sometimes 80 or 90 cents per kWh. One point of view is, what are my alternative means to provide power at that moment? If the only way to provide that last bit of power to avoid a blackout in a high-demand period is to fire up a simple-cycle gas turbine, then that is what the grid operator does. Wind turbine generators allow the grid operator to keep the peaker plant shut down.
There is a reason that wind power in the US is sold for 4.3 cents per kWh delivered, in the Great Plains states. The utilities use that power to avoid running costly peaker plants. The wind turbine owners use that money to make a small but reasonable profit on their investment. Less natural gas is used overall, and the utility pays less than otherwise for natural gas. Everyone wins.

Tsk Tsk

Now add in the 2.3c WPTC and you begin to get the real cost of wind (still missing the intermittency subsidies due to the low CF). And my utility rates certainly haven’t benefited from added wind even aside from the option to may extra for a dedicated wind buy.

nc

You left out tie lines to other states to rely on their thermal and what some consider non renewable hydro.

Roger Sowell
“We see this over and over again here in California.”
And so the West US bias continues. Most of Northern Europe, indeed much of Europe, and in fact probably the rest of the world doesn’t have your wonderful climatic conditions favourable to skateboarding, bikini clad bimbo’s and well tanned, six pack hunks walking on the beach waiting for a beautiful sunset with a gentle breeze and lots of sunshine most of the year.
We have winters in the UK when darkness descends at 4pm and the lights don’t go back on until 9am. And when the lights do go on in winter, it is invariably overcast, if not snowing or raining.
Our summers are an event to be enjoyed between July and August, in between summer thunderstorms. Our times of glorious sunbathing sunlight are counted in hours, not months! Our wind frequently varies between nothing, and 80mph gales, with periods in between of, well, nothing.
And what you need to appreciate is that an average of anything need not ever be actually achieved. We could swing between nothing and 80mph gales on any given day, over any given year, giving an average of an acceptable wind speed. The reality is that turbines never turn because the wind is either to low or too high.
‘Average’ is politico speak for ‘what I want things to be in my world’.
Clearly, you just don’t get that the rest of the world is not the California idyll.

rd50

To HotScot
Proper reply.
Not that I don’t like what Roger Sowell prepared.
Nice to have a civil discussion.

For HotScot,
Why the bitter comment? I’ve lived in lots of places, some quite harsh. Central Poland in the dead of winter is just one of the places. And worked for many months over several years in much of the rest of Europe, from Spain to England. I know what the weather is like over there. I add comments about California, as appropriate, to illustrate that even in this wacky place, renewable intermittent power supplies work quite well. But, as I have said already elsewhere on this piece, each country and state must deal with what nature has given to them.
We don’t have much wind at all out here. We do have lots of sunshine, though. So, we build solar panels and not many wind turbines. It works for us. It would be idiotic for Scotland or England to install massive solar panels. But, the local oceans apparently have some very steady winds at good speed to drive wind turbines.
The Statoil guys appear to be showing the Brits how to build a robust wind farm offshore. I’ll be following the Hywind Scotland project with great interest over the next few years. Cheering on the Norwegians, as it were.

richard verney

No. Statoil are no fools. The government has the subsidy program in place for their own reasons, and the 30 MW was deliberately chosen because the government limits the projects to that capacity. Statoil accepts the money because the government is offering it.

What clearer statement can there be that these are just subsidy farms.

observa

Well Roger your individual arguments stack up on their own but there’s one big macro problem with the lot of them all adding up to this-
https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=xQpKB3jM&id=CD923C2063577A72223E62E1867606957CFAE066&thid=OIP.xQpKB3jM8DBGssSp7WprvAEsDG&q=map+of+australia+over+usa&simid=607997775390967391&selectedIndex=1&ajaxhist=0
and here’s you brave new world in a nutshell-
http://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2017/august
and in June there was notable low wind right across Australia, albeit most wind farms are concentrated in my State of South Australia and you can uncheck various States and compare the outputs-
http://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2017/june
Here’s a more normal July which helps give the wind turbine industry their typical 30% of installed capacity over a year-
http://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2017/july
Now ask yourself what sort of storage would you need to simply guarantee that average 30% of installed capacity annually? Like your country we’ve already plucked the low hanging fruit of hydro dams and I’d remind you mankind’s history of storing energy is pitiful apart from in the form of pumping water uphill or in the form of calories. That largely leaves electrochemical storage and I’d remind you our cars still sport essentially the same lead acid battery Henry was plonking in the Model T. Good luck affording portable electronics or cordless power tools with your lithium battery based electrical world on such a massive scale you envisage.

MikeW

The only “improvements” in wind power economics are in their increasingly inflated capacity claims that are never realized in actual power production. Wind turbines continue to lose money even in their most favorable sitings, unless they are given subsidies or set-asides. In addition, they are a blight on the landscape, destroy acres of wildlife habitat, kill millions of birds and bats each year, cause health problems for people and animals that live nearby, and their open pit mining operations for lithium and rare-earth metals poison millions of gallons of ground water. There is nothing economic nor environmental about wind power.

Tom in Florida

Unless I missed it, I fail to see a comprehensive analysis of a routine maintenance budget along with an emergency plan for weather related destruction of these structures. Also not addressed is a security plan to protect against some nefarious leader of an evil empire who will certainly have a military plan in place to create havoc with these off shore projects.

jorgekafkazar

If we install enough of these gizmos, there will be no more CO2, and soon, no weather to speak of. But does Nefarious Leader have cool, color-coordinated uniforms? What about his retirement plan? And full medical?