A new study in the Netherlands by retired physicist Dr C le Pair has found that turning gas power stations on and off to cover spells when there is little wind uses more fuel than producing a steady supply of energy from an efficient modern gas station.
The research is cited in a new report by the Civitas think tank. It points out that Britain will use a larger amount of fossil fuel if the grid relies too much on wind.
Wind turbines only produce energy around 30 per cent of the time. When the wind is not blowing at the appropriate speed, other sources of electricity have to be used; mostly gas and coal.
“You keep having to switch these gas fired power stations on and off, whereas if you just have highly efficient modern gas turbines and let it run all the time, it will use less gas,” said Ruth Lea, an economic adviser to Arbuthnot Banking Group and the author of the Civitas report.
My own article Spinning Reserve explains how the back-up process works.
The Dutch report, published at the end of last year also points out that wind turbines have a relatively short lifetime compared to conventional power stations. (....typically 15 years; conventional stations last about twice as long - Ed)
It concludes that the wind projects do not fulfill 'sustainable' objectives; they cost more fuel than they save and they cause no CO2 saving.
The report describes wind power as “horrendously expensive”, especially offshore wind, because of the cost of taking the turbines out to sea and installing the structures.
Nevertheless the UK Government still wants to build enormous numbers of wind turbines over the next 20 years. This will impact on domestic energy bills, enormously.
The scientific and economic reasons for pursuing this policy remain unclear.
Professor J.C.Dearden, in a letter to the Daily Telegraph (10 Jan) mentions a more extensive study by Dr. Fred Udo, which makes the same point. The Irish National Grid publishes realtime data on wind energy and CO2 emissions every 15 minutes. Fred Udo uses this to show that as the % of wind energy increases, overall CO2 emissions increase when coal-fired stations provide the spinning reserve. They decrease marginally when gas provides the spinning reserve.
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