In a new article on www.businessgreen.com, renewables researcher Reg Platt asserts that the effectiveness of wind power is proven, and that the Chancellor should stop trying to undermine a "UK success story". (for full article, see http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/opinion/2204979/huff-puff-and-wind-power)
He says in the article "One report has made the somewhat surprising claim that wind power is not an effective way to reduce carbon emissions...we decided to get to the bottom of these claims and assess the evidence...."
"The conclusions of the report were unambiguous. Wind power is an effective way for reducing carbon emissions. The UK has the greatest wind resource, both onshore and offshore, in Europe."
George Wood, ex-grid Controller, replies ....
In your reference to quotations of recent posts and HM Government departments becoming aware that there is a serious question mark over wind-turbine outputs being unreliable and possibly result in the UK’s carbon emissions increasing with the further deployment of wind-turbines.
You have been skeptical about such comments and indeed quote that you have researches to the contrary. Well, I for one doubt the validity of your references and colleague’s analyses. None of the studies that you have quoted can seriously have compared the full impact of deploying 'more-and-more' wind turbines to supply intermittent energy to an islanded grid system, such as the UK.
You have quoted the relationship to the American power system operations. This is entirely futile and meaningless. The American Power System covers a vast area and more than six-times the size of the UK and it factors varying loads across several time zones which smooth’s out the peaks and troughs in demand and is therefore not as significant proportionately that we experience here in the UK from day-to-day.
In the UK the wind-turbines on many occasions in mid-winter do not provide any significant output energies at the highest peak demands and therefore, ‘for starters’, there has to be doubling of the carbon footprint capacity factors resulting from manufacture, build and the real operations involved in balancing the UK Grid. Just look at the volatility of wind turbine outputs that we currently have and this will actually grow in magnitude of variability, not diminish as you infer. The UK, currently, has over 5GW of wind-turbines installed and yet it is evidence for us all to see that outputs have varied from almost zero output to just over 3GW maximum, and more to the point, we now have a great proportion of these ‘off-shore’ wind-turbines and we see an overall average of less than 1.5GW for the past year. I believe the average capacity to output would not be significantly above 22% over the past 12-months.
Secondly, as the level of wind-turbine deployment on the UK grid system increases, so does the part-loading and shut downs increase of other generation sources. This results in their inefficiencies becoming worse and worse. If you know anything about conventional generating plants you will realise that frequent start ups and shut downs of conventional plants result in huge carbon emissions occurrences and many of these are just to accommodate the ‘must-run’ wind-turbines, just to balance the electricity Grid. Now if we consider the part-loading, your expert compatriots should analyse the carbon emission increases that occur in operating these conventional power plants in various loading ranges from 40% to 80% or more outputs. It will soon become apparent that significant increases in carbon emissions result for operating in these de-loaded operational states and most significantly at the lower load outputs.
It is obvious to any experienced power system operator, who has a knowledge of generating plant outputs and efficiencies, that as the proportions of wind-turbines, installed and operated, increase on the UK Grid that a threshold will be reached when the deployment of more wind-turbines will yield absolutely no carbon emission savings, if ‘all factors’ of carbon footprint and carbon emissions are analysed accurately. I personally believe that we are fast approaching the point when absolutely no carbon savings can be demonstrated by the further deployment of wind-turbines, i.e. a knee point when such costly implementation of wind turbines shows an infinite cost to carbon savings has been breached. You could call it the point of ‘no-return’ or more realistically when these effective carbon tax penalties are ‘all for absolutely nothing’. A sheer waste of our old-age pensioners monies, what an indictment to pursue a ‘Green Agenda On’ just for the sake of doing so.
So in conclusion, I would say that our Chancellor has his ‘head screwed on’ and knows that the cost of each fraction of carbon saving is getting ‘more-and-more’ expensive and unachievable by the further deployment of wind-turbines. What he also is aware of is that many of our competitors are changing tack and going for a new ‘dash-for-gas’ resulting, as in America, electrical energy prices falling significantly and gas by as much as 50%. What is more to the point deploying more and more cheap, clean, efficient combined cycle gas-turbines actually lowers carbon emissions, not increase them. Now come on, Mr. Platt; be professional and be honest with the real truth.
George Wood, retired Grid Operator and Manager responsible for all the start-up analyses for generating plant interactions on the UK Power System for frequency response and reserve activities.