Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The real impact of wind farms

Consulting group Pöyry have produced a study called "Impact of Intermittency" for various power generators and others such as the National Grid and Centrica at a cost of more than £1m. This report examines the electricity generating state of play in 2030 after a huge increase in wind power generating capacity.

James Cox, one of the report's authors says:
"Our worry at the outset of the study that the very dynamics of variable wind output would challenge the system operators, has moved to concern that the economic environment for thermal plant will be highly challenging."

One problem is that huge and unpredictable variations in the amount of energy being produced by wind farms would combine with much more regular changes in demand to produce an energy market described in the study as "volatile". If there were enough traditional power stations to cope with the rare (but certain) calm periods then some of these power stations would almost never be in use. They could go long periods of time without running in a producing mode for more than a few hours.

So in order for energy companies to build the thermal plants who need to exist just to cover the calm periods when wind farms will be unproductive, they will need to be able to charge outrageous prices during the brief periods when they were actually in operation. According to the report's authors:
"In our opinion, it is likely that the sort of price 'spikes' needed to reward the risks for such plant will stretch the market design to its utmost... Equally a market with spiky and volatile prices is one where the risk of operation is greatly increased: it is unlikely to send clear economic signals to new investors."

A translation would be that nobody would want to build and maintain a power station with no reliable idea as to how how much income it would generate in any year. How much would the spot price for electricity be allowed to increase before the government of the day had to intervene?

So why would anyone build a new fossil fuel power station? When the inevitable early-evening winter calms hit in the 2030s, there will not be the spare fossil fuel generating power stations to provide the backup and so there will be reduced voltages and then power-cuts.

Wind power is a scam; it is being used to generate money for the wind power producers but little reliable electricity for the public. The fear of man Made Climate Change has so warped our priorities that we face electricity shortfalls just to satisfy the Green movement who will never be satisfied. The only ways to ensure electricity production are to increase the funding to find oil (a hint, look in Uganda), increase nuclear power generation, increase power saving measures and stop wasting money on wind power.


Alex said...

I am afraid I have to disagree. Wind power will never be a substantial part of our total power generation and the hourly variations in total wind power supply to the grid are less than the current daily variations in demand. An expansion of pumped storage in Snowdonia or a similar scheme between Loch Sloy and Loch Lomond would handle most of the variation.

Energy is going to become scarcer and more expensive. Wind is free and like solar and ground source heat we would be foolish not to use it.

Anonymous said...

Keep an eye out on local neighbourhood Planning applications.
The European wind farms are now disposing of their medium size ie 100 foot high old windmill stock, and there are many entrepreneurs out there with second hand turbines to sell. Go Google.
These are mainly Nordtank and early Vestas with possibly 20 years on the clock.
Go Google things like Turbine explosion, Ice throwing, Blade flicker , woosh woosh and so on, and decide whether beasts like these would not be better kept on the mountain farm than erected in a neighbour`s backyard.
The financial and tariff offers are tempting at present but all that can change overnight. The blot on the landscape, of course, will not go away.
Windpower people should invest their cash in BIG turbines on BIG farms FAR AWAY from mankind.