Taking the wind out of their sails

It’s another cold one in the UK today, with temperatures barely getting above 5 degrees celsius (41F) on mainland Britain.  And as Richard North points out on EU Referendum, coal fired power is providing most of our energy.

But the real story here is that at 11.30am, wind power was providing just 51 megawatts of energy.  That means wind is contributing a derisory 0.1% of the UK’s current energy.  Since Richard posted his piece, it has got even worse as you can see below:

At a measley generation of just 45MW wind power is contributing virtually nothing to the grid.  This is what we get for £400m per annum on top of the money that has been lifted from our pockets to facilitate the installation of the turbines.

While the wind generation companies are getting rich soaking up huge amounts of our money and the politicians are busy supping the kool aid,  the turbines are failing to make energy exactly when we need it.  But this is no surprise to those of us who have long argued against the – there is no other word for it – insanity of increasing our reliance on wind as part of the energy mix, at gigantic cost.  It is the politics of delusion.

It seems to have only recently dawned on some MPs that this fetish for wind energy is not only fundamentally flawed by incredibly damaging.  But as Richard points out elsewhere, even this recently acquired awareness is tempered by a startling lack of knowledge:

But, if these 101 Dalmatians MPs are so concerned about consumers having to pay subsidies, why are they only talking about in-shore turbines, when off-shore windmills get twice the amount, and are set to take the greater proportion of the subsidy pot?

Lavishly paid, well expensed, and deeply immersed in the trappings of imagined power, even when they grandstand to give the impression of heading in a worthy direction they still manage to demonstrate their ignorance of the situation they and their predecessors have dragged us into.

9 Responses to “Taking the wind out of their sails”


  1. 1 Oldrightie 06/02/2012 at 1:24 pm

    “It is the politics of delusion.” Sorry to disagree. It’s not delusion but corruption and greed. Behind the scenes will be a significant number of beneficiaries donating money to certain coffers. Chief amongst them boy racers.

  2. 2 dave ward 06/02/2012 at 2:14 pm

    Now 42MW (and screenshot taken), so not only is it down to 0.1% of UK requirements, it’s just 1% of installed capacity. Imagine the outcry if a Bentley owner found his luxury car to be producing the same power as a 50cc moped!

    There’s another aspect of the onshore/offshore argument – the study carried out on the Danish Horns Rev windfarm, which showed that wake vortices had a dramatic effect on the efficiency of any turbines behind the most upwind units. This negates any claimed benefits of having them installed away from land/buildings/trees etc. You can largely dis-regard the simple multiples of output quoted in the publicity blurb. Unless the “farm” is installed in a long line, and at right angles to the prevailing wind, there will always be a progressive reduction in output from the turbines sitting in disturbed air.

  3. 3 Letmethink 06/02/2012 at 10:42 pm

    I note that the coal value increased from 20.2 to 23.8 in less than 24 hours.

    Does anyone know whether coal-powered stations are this flexible in their delivery or do they constantly produce maximum amounts and it’s just the demand of the grid is flexible and some of the generated power gets wasted?

  4. 4 Autonomous Mind 07/02/2012 at 12:46 pm

    Letmethink, the beauty of coal (and gas) fired power is that very flexibility. It can quickly react to a surge in demand by burning more coal to generate more electricity. Nuclear is much slower to crank up and therefore is really only suitable as baseload power.

    If the amount of nuclear (which is currently almost always around 7900MW) was increased to produce a steady 25000MW for example, the demand for coal and gas would be dramatically reduced and used to top up supply at times of sudden increased demand.

    Wind turbines are incapable of providing baseload or being able to react to surges in demand because it is conditional on prevailing weather conditions, therefore it is a grossly expensive white elephant.

  5. 5 Brian H 08/02/2012 at 7:45 am

    Edit: “not only fundamentally flawed by incredibly damaging.” That would be “but”, I wot.

    BUT the substantive point is core, and correct. Windpower has always been flawed and the case for it is revealed to be incredibly damaged by its performance. It is in itself, in addition, “incredibly damaging”, since it subverts the entire structure and basis of the electric power system.

  6. 6 AJC 08/02/2012 at 11:06 am

    I have never understood why, in Scotland in particular, wind power is paid to not supply the grid when there is an oversupply.

    It seems a no-brainer to adapt some of the existing hydro schemes to pump-storage to absorb this unreliable generating capacity.

  7. 7 cosmic 08/02/2012 at 2:48 pm

    There’s limited potential for pumped storage, it’s inefficient and it’s expensive to install. There isn’t enough capacity to be useful when we have a lack of wind in January.

    Another idea which is sometimes floated is electrolysis to turn surplus wind generated power into hydrogen. It has the same problems. It’s inefficient and requires investment in the plant and infrastructure to use hydrogen.

    There is no effective means to store electrical energy on the scale required by a national grid and there are no technical developments suggesting the problem will be solved any time soon.

    Generating capacity which starts and stops whenever it likes, and is very often not running during the coldest months of the year when there’s a blocking high, is worse than useless.

  8. 8 AJC 08/02/2012 at 3:30 pm

    “There’s limited potential for pumped storage,”

    Indeed but a few of the existing hydro sites would be suitable for conversion.

    “it’s inefficient and it’s expensive to install.”

    Indeed but it’s clearly preferable to utilise unwanted wind capacity to pump rather than pay the owners not to supply the grid.

    Hydro plant can go on-line very quickly.

    “There isn’t enough capacity to be useful when we have a lack of wind in January.”

    The hydro part already exists!

    Hydro – at least in Wales – was installed to utilise the projected excess nuclear supply over night but that nuclear build was curtailed. I believe it worked very well for decades albeit as a short term reserve supply rather then to meet peak demand as was originally planned.

  9. 9 Gallovidian 08/02/2012 at 6:44 pm

    There must be another half dozen sites that were in the running against Dinorwic, More pumped storage would be a valuable national asset, unlike that windpower crap.

    Dinorwic incidentally is a valuable national asset for the French, who own it.


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