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Thursday, 8 March 2012

Save the planet: Blow up a wind-turbine!

Many thanks to Chris Townsend for pointing me at this great article in “The Register” which is the techies’ news & opinion website. Here is the opening gambit:

“Two studies published this week calculate the astounding cost of Britain's go-it-alone obsession with using wind turbines to generate so much of the electricity the nation needs.

Both studies make remarkably generous concessions that favour wind technology; the true cost, critics could argue, will be higher in each set of calculations. One study reckons that the UK can still meet its carbon dioxide emissions targets and save £140bn – but only if it dumps today's inefficient hippie technology. The other puts the potential saving at £120bn – pointing out that the same amount of electricity could be generated using open cycle gas plants at one-tenth the cost of using wind turbines.

"There is nothing inherently good or bad about investing in renewable energy and green technology," writes economist Professor Gordon Hughes – formerly of the World Bank and now at the University of Edinburgh. "The problem is that the government has decided to back a technology that isn't ready for prime time, thus distorting the market."

Hughes' study – Why is Wind power so expensive? An economic analysis – is published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation today, and simply looks at the costs. The other study, by technical consulting group AF-Mercados, specifically looks at how to reduce CO2 in the cheapest manner – by incurring the least collateral economic damage. It's called Powerful Targets: Exploring the relative cost of meeting decarbonisation and renewables targets in the British power sector. KPMG originally commissioned the study, but then got cold feet. Both come to similar conclusions: wind is astronomically expensive compared to other sources of energy – and consumers and businesses must pay a high price for the privilege of subsidising such an inefficient technology.”

The article is in two parts and can be found HERE and HERE.

So that you can read the source material, the two papers it refers to, which are both readily understood, can be found in the links below:

POWERFUL TARGETS  and  WHY IS WIND POWER SO EXPENSIVE?

The mind boggles. We, the consumer, are paying for this economic madness!

32 comments:

  1. Wind is the like the future Man!
    Cos like it is FREE!
    And like far out and clean.

    So Wind Turbines are like the free-est cleanest most beautiful things that we can ever have Man.
    An' I just love to look at them like for hours and hours and hours and hours and .....
    And I love animals and the planet at the same time MAN!

    And like I am totally off my head man!

    Cool!

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  2. GAS?? where we going to get it from? Do you want to be at the mercy of Russia? No Thanks

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    Replies
    1. There's the rub, Perryn
      :-)

      The more wind turbines that are erected, the more we rely on gas (both CCGT's & OCGT's) to balance the grid.

      Actually, since the last big gas scare, less & less of our gas is coming from Russia. With shale gas now on the immediate horizon it is expected that gas availability will rise massively and the price to drop.

      Whether or not we have wind turbines, gas will play a bigger and bigger part in our energy mix.

      Sorry!

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    2. Why do we always go on about Russian Gas? We don't and have never bought gas from Russia. We buy ours mostly from Norway, from the North Sea and from the Gulf. The latest Gas power station gets all their gas from the operating companies own wells in the Nortn Sea. The Russian influence is that when they cut supplies off to Poland, Germany and other european countries it artificially inflates prices. Even such as SSE own gas producing wells in Norway. We don't have a gas supply problem and we may find that frakking will provide supplies for another five hundred years.

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  3. My numbers are a bit fuzzy but I recall we have 13 days gas storage and the French over a 100. We need more storage for gas and to buy in the summer when it less costly. Then again I am for building more Nuclear power plants and stopping the funding of wind turbines. Better way is solar and Geothermal heating. Ground pumps heat out and many houses now use it. Everyone I know who has the latest Solar Panels are finding it heats and runs all their needs well.

    So excusing my pro Nuke view there are two effective green alternatives that don't ruin the landscape and don't cost the tax payer a F&$@_ fortune.

    Another way to cut the green house whatever it is would be to make our homes more insulated and stop leaking heat. I shall now get my coat.

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    Replies
    1. Spot on Martin!
      I am entirely with you on nuclear, geothermal and more gas storage, but each must stand alone with fewer subsidies.

      A huge amount needs to be done on better building standards and insulation of existing buildings.

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    2. Totally with you on nuclear Martin but there is zero chance of any new stations up here in Scotland, at least not under Salmond.

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    3. As soon as Scotland gets independence there'll be no need for the SNP. It will fragment and then you will have hung parliaments (with no Alex) who will be far more realistic with their energy policies as by then there will have been a few power blackouts. That'll bring energy policy back into the real world! You can have some of our nuclear generated electricity then! I knew there was a reason for that new inter-connector!
      :-)

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    4. Scotland won't vote for independence.....but if we do, we'll gladly accept some of your nuclear generated electricity when your prediction is realised and, in turn, you can continue to come here for the Challenge. Not a bad deal?

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    5. It is interesting that more English want Scotland to be independent than Scots (as a percentage, obviously!)

      They see Scotland as "a problem" that could easily be shot of and Salmond as a rank opportunist. The English feel they would be better off without Scotland.

      It's a great pity, as all Salmond is doing is dividing something that should be stronger as a whole.

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    6. I agree Alan and if I were English I'd think the same way. It's a great pity that Salmond is creating this rift and, amongst some English people, animosity. Ironically I have far more English friends than Scottish.

      Unfortunately a Scottish friend visiting a major English walking area recently (I won't mention which)received a quite hostile reception from a few people, not something that is often experienced by English people visiting Scotland - I don't think anyway.

      Salmond has so much to answer for. I feel uneasy even writing 'English people', 'Scottish friend'. I certainly won't be voting for independence.

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    7. This is desperately sad, Gibson. The English have always been proud to be "British". Recently I have noticed that "English" and "Scottish" are being put in B&B registers instead of "British".

      Split communities up and nationalism rears its ugly head once more. I wonder what will happen when the Euro finally collapses? Will the Germans revert? Mind you, the French have always remained aloof!
      :-)

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    8. I've never really minded people writing "Scottish" or "English" in hotel or B&B registers. In fact it's not something that registered (!) with me before. Now though, with all the independence nonsense (in my view) there's the feeling that people are making a statement.

      I'm more than happy to be British and Scottish. It's the independence issue that's becoming so divisive. Ah, the French! (We have French friends too, just in case anyone takes offence....)

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    9. I tend to write 'English' when nationality is asked for; not for any reasons of nationalism, simply because 'British' doesn't actually resonate much with me.
      Personally I'm not fussed either way though and certainly don't see people putting 'Welsh' or 'Scottish' as some statement of anti-English separatism.

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    10. I wonder what will happen to the "British" passport, should Scotland vote for independence? Will I need a new one? I seem to remember it was hugely expensive last time I got a new one... Will Alex pay for my new English passport I wonder?
      Will Alex pay for Scotland's share of the National Debt, I also wonder...
      :-)

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  4. Spot on again Alan. The colossal costs of windpower are routinely glossed over, if not wilfully misrepresented, by many in the media, particularly the taxpayer-funded BBC.

    Shale gas needs to be exploited ASAP as the enforced (by the EU) closure of perfectly viable power stations begins to lead to regular city-sized power outtages. There are huge reserves of shale gas in Lancashire alone. The use of shale gas in the USA has actually led to a decrease in fuel bills.

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    Replies
    1. Since Japan's Earthquake, the Germans have shut down eight nuclear plants and have committed to not building any more. However! They are not increasing their programme of more wind turbines than are already planned. NO: They are building more... wait for it.... Coal fired plants. The additional German emissions alone could add up to more than 300 million tonnes by 2020, which, according to the World Nuclear Association, would "virtually cancel out the 335-million-tonne savings intended to be achieved in the entire European Union by the 2011 Energy Efficiency Directive".
      Sound, eh?
      Oh - and they will be importing a whole load of electricity from France, which is produced from.... Nuclear power stations.

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  5. I support nuclear energy too, Martin :-)

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    Replies
    1. I think the Israelis might have something to say about that, Mahmoud...
      :-)

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  6. Pro nulclear? Moi aussi! Sacred Blue, my old! The feather of my aunt is on table.

    Cent jours du gaz et 80% nuclear! Nous rirons aux crises d'energie! Ah, vos anglais. Toujours vous misez sur le cheval perdant.

    Bonne chance

    Nic.

    Palais de l'Elysée (en ce moment).

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  7. I’m totally with Martin. The only REAL way to go.
    Shale gas will have more opposition than windfarms. It will never get of the ground. No pun intended. KPMG, well. They must have realised this was not going to be good for business. Thy like only to win.

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    Replies
    1. I picked up on that as well. I would imagine that KPMG's thought it would have gone down well with business leaders but probably very poorly with government - a large client. I do believe they showed a distinctly yellow streak by not following it though.

      Business leaders should take note of that.

      I think shale gas will get the go-ahead and quite quickly, as whether or not turbines continue to be built, gas will still be needed in greater quantities than before and with more security.

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  8. I see a problem. The problem I see is getting those who have publicly thrown their weight behind windrush to acknowledge they might have been wrong all along. That and getting those with their snouts still in the trough to admit that the party might be over, or at least winding down.

    There's a lot of reputation and money riding on this for some.

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    Replies
    1. The solution lies with the Treasury. Cut the subsidies and it'll stop the developers in their tracks. George Osborne could fix this overnight. It will help with the cuts and help with fuel poverty.

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    2. I could see this being one of those issues where a government would try to surreptitiously distance itself over time, rather than confront the adverse publicity of an overt U-turn.

      Much as I like the idea of a politician addressing us in something resembling our own language - "This has been a shit idea; it stops now" for instance - I can't really picture it somehow.

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    3. Little George has already tried to cut the subsidies to solar (in fact is Still Trying) and so it is only a short step to cut further back on wind subsidies, for the economy's sake...

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    4. We can hope Alan. Have you heard about the proposed extension to Fairburn Wind Farm at Strathconon by SSE? Probably the most inefficient wind farm you could find at less than 20%. SSE are hoping to more than double the size of the original development. Can you imagine a business in the 'normal' world trying to get funding/subsidy on such an appalling record? As I wrote to my 'friend' Fergus Ewing if an employee worked at a fifth of their capacity they would be sacked and sent home!

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  9. Save the planet: Blow up a wind-turbine!
    WHY STOP AT ONE? ;-)

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    Replies
    1. A very good point.
      If they were spaced a little closer together it might be possible to take them all down like dominoes after blowing up just the one...

      Delete

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