Archive for the ‘Renewable Energy’ Category

South Australian blackouts due to over-reliance on wind and solar were predicted 2 years ago

February 13, 2017

I see that in South Australia some people have been complaining about the “record” heat with temperatures of 44ºC. Of course they take this as “evidence” of global warming. Never mind that some 120 years ago without any urban heat effects and without any industrialisation, the temperature reached 48-49ºC. It wasn’t global warming then.

In any event, South Australians and their elected representatives must get used to the fact that they have only themselves – and their political correctness – to blame. Winning greenie points seems to take precedence over common sense.

The SA blackouts caused by unreliable solar and wind were predicted two years ago in the journal Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, and every MP in the Parliament was told.

The Telegraph: 

100,000 SA customers blacked out because of reliance on unreliable wind and solar power in our network – more than a third of SA’s generation capacity.

IT is hard to disagree with the blunt assessment of Business SA that South Australia has been caught on electricity planning like a frog in boiling water. The story goes, with mixed results in scientific experiments, that a frog suddenly put into hot water will jump out but if heated slowly it will not figure out the danger.

The state was warned of the electricity-shortage crisis – and consequent blackouts – yet ignored the warnings, according to Business SA executive Anthony Penney.

“The most frustrating aspect of this most recent event is that it was anticipated by many businesses and other energy industry experts well in advance but, like the frog in boiling water, nothing happened in time,” he says.

This week the SA frog boiled. About 100,000 customers were blacked out because of the reliance on unreliable wind and solar power in our network – more than a third of SA’s generation capacity. ……….

Ben Heard, a doctoral researcher at the University of Adelaide also runs environmental non-Government organisation Bright New World – which supports the use of nuclear – explains the problem. He says the SA blackouts caused by unreliable solar and wind were predicted two years ago in the journal Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, and every MP in the Parliament was told.

“Back when wind generation was providing only 28 per cent of SA’s electricity supply, we flagged the risk presented by low supply in extreme heat conditions,’’ he says. Mr Heard said it was well known that extreme heat conditions in SA were accompanied by very little wind. “Our expectation at the time was that this would make it impossible to retire other generators from the market because of the security risk. Instead, the generators were allowed to retire, we took the risk, and we have started paying the price.”

Trans. Royal Society of South Australia

sa-royal-society


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Record number of German households have electricity disconnected following high prices

November 18, 2015

The German Energiwende is proving to be an embarrassing  fiasco, at an enormous cost – to producers as well as consumers – and with no returns. The only plus that can be discerned is to the ego of the “green” parties. Germany has the highest electricity prices in Europe directly as a result of the renewable energy surcharges. There is one small group of people which has benefited hugely. That has been the developers of renewable energy projects who have managed to build plants with very little of their own equity. They have then transferred ownership to plant operators and have shortened their own payback periods and maximised their returns.  Equipment manufacturers have seen their prices tumble, plant operators have seen their returns decline and consumers have seen their prices increase. But the developers have walked away with huge returns.

And it has all been for nothing.

The correlation between residential electricity price and installed renewable capacity is compelling. From Energy Matters.

The Y-axis shows residential electricity prices for the second half of 2014 from Eurostat. The X-axis installed wind + solar capacity for 2014 as reported in the 2015 BP statistical review normalised to W per capita using population data for 2014 as reported by the UN.

Now Der Spiegel reports:

Because of rising prices, more and more German citizens are unable to pay their electricity bills. In 2014, 351,802 residential households were disconnected, reports the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) and the Federal Cartel Office in its new monitoring report. 

The number of disconnections  increased to the highest value ever recorded. In 2013, 344.798 cuts had been imposed and in 2012 there were approximately 320,000 disconnections. Yet far more households have problems with their electricity bill. According to the Federal Network Agency suppliers threatened their customers with disconnections a total of 6.3 million times.

The main reason for the increasing number of disconnections are the rapidly rising electricity prices. Since 2002, the costs for consumers almost doubled, partly because the levy for renewables rose, and because while the big power utilities reduced costs, these were not passed on to consumers.

The main victims are the households. Their electricity costs are around 45 percent higher than the EU average of 20.52 Euro cents per kilowatt hour. Adjusted for taxes industrial electricity price however is 6.27 cents per kilowatt hour, well below the EU average of 9.37 Euro cents per kilowatt hour.

For 2016, several utilities have already announced further increases. On average, this will be just over three per cent, which would mean an additional cost of approximately 40 euros per year for a four-person household.  .. Further increases are expected to be announced in the coming week. Customers must be notified of planned price changes for 2016 by November 20th. Experience has shown that many send these unpopular letters at the last minute.

The Energiwende has indeed been a revolution but it has not functioned as it was meant to. Costs have increased sharply and nothing has been achieved for the climate.

Because, of course, it couldn’t.

NoTricksZone comments:

It’s a glaring paradox of the Energiewende: On the production side, power plants are losing billions of euros because they can no longer even get a modest price for their power, while on the consumer side more and more households are unable to afford the skyrocketing prices brought on by the mandatory infusion of expensive and unstable green energies into the German power grid. The once mighty German power grid now teeters on the brink of crumbling.

A real correlation from a real causal relationship

August 31, 2015

A green fantasy rather than just a mirage. And I am afraid that the fantasy is intentionally malicious and not just the delusions of sanctimonious do-gooders. Just following the money reveals those who have gained the greatest benefit.

No doubt the Danes and the Germans have ensured a mild and benevolent climate for themselves?

Note that this is just the direct price paid by the consumer and does not include the cost of subsidies which are sourced from general taxation.

Chart by Euan Mearns.

The Y-axis shows residential electricity prices for the second half of 2014 from Eurostat. The X-axis is the installed wind + solar capacity for 2014 as reported in the 2015 BP statistical review normalised to W per capita using population data for 2014 as reported by the UN.

Renewable energy does have a niche where it makes very good sense – but it is not common sense which rules in Europe today.

 Eurostat

2015 BP statistical review 

UN population data.

Erectile dysfunction of a wind turbine

January 5, 2015

Environmentalists like wind turbines mainly for their phallic symbolism. The sight of multiple phalluses sticking up all over the countryside  makes them feel good about the virility of their “movement”.

The erectile dysfunction problem is probably psychological. As it is, wind turbines are subsidised because they cannot perform with no wind or with high winds. But this collapse was in light winds. A rapid infusion of subsidies would probably help.

Turbine collapse County Tyrone 2nd January 2015 The Independant

Wind turbine No. 3 at the Screggagh wind farm, Northern Ireland (Nordex N80, 2.5MW, 80m rotor) collapsed in light winds – image The Independent

The Nordex N80 wind turbine has an 80m diameter rotor and the tower, from ground level to hub, is also 80m tall. It is supposed to operate between wind speeds of 3 m/s and 25 m/s and its power rating of 2.5 MW is for a wind speed of 15 m/s. It is supposed to be able to withstand a wind speed of 70 m/s (but I suspect that this is just an optimistic calculation and not based on any realistic trials).

The design is with a modular tubular steel lattice tower. From the pictures I would speculate that it is a tower design failure. Possibly the fatigue conditions (caused by rotor imbalance or wind gusts) have been underestimated such that some strength (thickness) has been sacrificed for keeping the weight down.

The Guardian: The cause of the collapse is unclear as winds were light on Friday. It is understood the rotor blades spun out of control and the sound of the mechanical structure crashing to the ground could be heard up to seven miles away.

 

Bats attracted to wind turbines because they think they are tall trees?

October 26, 2014

A new study published in PNAS has used thermal imaging to test the the hypotheses that wind speed and blade rotation speed influenced the way that bats interacted with turbines.  They found that the air currents around slow speed turbines could be fooling the bats into thinking they were the air currents associated with tall trees. It is suggested that around trees the air currents led to the bats searching for roosts and nocturnal insect prey that could accumulate in such air flows. Thus bat behaviour which had evolved as being advantageous around tall trees might now be the reason why many bats die at wind turbines.

“Fatalities of tree bats at turbines may be the consequence of behaviors that evolved to provide selective advantages when elicited by tall trees, but are now maladaptive when elicited by wind turbines”.

Paul Cryan et al, Behavior of bats at wind turbines, PNAS, Vol. 111 no. 42,  15126–15131, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1406672111

Significance

Bats are dying in unprecedented numbers at wind turbines, but causes of their susceptibility are unknown. Fatalities peak during low-wind conditions in late summer and autumn and primarily involve species that evolved to roost in trees. Common behaviors of “tree bats” might put them at risk, yet the difficulty of observing high-flying nocturnal animals has limited our understanding of their behaviors around tall structures. We used thermal surveillance cameras for, to our knowledge, the first time to observe behaviors of bats at experimentally manipulated wind turbines over several months. We discovered previously undescribed patterns in the ways bats approach and interact with turbines, suggesting behaviors that evolved at tall trees might be the reason why many bats die at wind turbines.

Fig. 1.

Fig. 1 Still images of night-flying bats (green arrows) at wind turbines that were detected in thermal-infrared video footage. Cameras were positioned 12 m from the base of the turbine, looking up the 80-m monopole toward the nacelle (rectangular machinery enclosure) and rotor, to which three 40-m blades attach. Red circles represent the object identified as a bat by the automated software used for finding their presence in nightly (∼10 h) video recordings. A variety of detection conditions are illustrated, including a bat approaching fast-rotating (14 rpm) …

Abstract

Wind turbines are causing unprecedented numbers of bat fatalities. Many fatalities involve tree-roosting bats, but reasons for this higher susceptibility remain unknown. To better understand behaviors associated with risk, we monitored bats at three experimentally manipulated wind turbines in Indiana, United States, from July 29 to October 1, 2012, using thermal cameras and other methods. We observed bats on 993 occasions and saw many behaviors, including close approaches, flight loops and dives, hovering, and chases. Most bats altered course toward turbines during observation. Based on these new observations, we tested the hypotheses that wind speed and blade rotation speed influenced the way that bats interacted with turbines. We found that bats were detected more frequently at lower wind speeds and typically approached turbines on the leeward (downwind) side. The proportion of leeward approaches increased with wind speed when blades were prevented from turning, yet decreased when blades could turn. Bats were observed more frequently at turbines on moonlit nights. Taken together, these observations suggest that bats may orient toward turbines by sensing air currents and using vision, and that air turbulence caused by fast-moving blades creates conditions that are less attractive to bats passing in close proximity. Tree bats may respond to streams of air flowing downwind from trees at night while searching for roosts, conspecifics, and nocturnal insect prey that could accumulate in such flows. Fatalities of tree bats at turbines may be the consequence of behaviors that evolved to provide selective advantages when elicited by tall trees, but are now maladaptive when elicited by wind turbines.

 

Swedish investment in wind power collapses while waiting for new subsidies

September 22, 2014

The simple fact is that wind power investment depends upon subsidies. The greater the subsidy offered the greater the investment. The higher the electricity price the greater the value of any subsidies and the greater the investment.

Subsidies just don’t work.

And in the meantime the world has begun to cool.

From Swedish Radio:

During the second quarter of this year, decisions were made to invest in future wind power totaling 37 megawatts, down 83 percent compared with the same period last year according to statistics from the Swedish Federation of Wind Energy.

One reason for the decline is the low price of electricity, another is that the industry is waiting for next year’s so-called checkpoint in parliament on changes to the certificate system, a decision which, according to Annika Helker Lundström, CEO of Swedish Wind Energy, will be of great importance for Swedish wind power company.

……

The certificate system was introduced in 2003 and means that the government supp…orts producers of renewable electricity by handing out certificates worth one megawatt per piece which can then be sold to electricity suppliers. Electricity suppliers are in turn obliged to buy a certain amount of renewable electricity.

The current system is certified to award equivalent to 25 terawatt-hours by 2020, and already has a certificate for over 20 terra watt hours distributed. The Agency has proposed to the government that more certificates to be awarded and the dividend period is extended to 2030.

This should increase the willingness to invest in the electricity generators.

Adapting to climate change requires the further development and use of fossil fuels

July 31, 2014

The single thing that differentiates the human species from every other known species on earth has been the control and use of fire.The step change then from primitive to modern humans has been due not least to the control and development of the combustion process and the utilisation of fossil fuels. This in turn has multiplied many times the intensity of energy available to be harnessed by man. I would suggest that the human capability of handling change is largely a function of the power intensity available.

power intensity

power intensity

Fossil fuels have been demonised (by association with carbon dioxide emissions) for the last 30 years. In spite of that most  of the growth in the developing world has been – and continues to be – powered by fossil fuels. Fortunately the lack of evidence of any significant linkage between man-made carbon dioxide and global warming  (which is still the politically correct ideology) is beginning to be realised. The unnecessary, misplaced and ineffective increase of electricity prices in countries which have curtailed their use of fossil fuels has prolonged the recession and has cost many millions of jobs.

We have now had almost 20 years with the highest level ever of fossil fuel utilisation but “global temperature” has remained stubbornly static. In the last decade global temperatures have declined slightly. The hypothesised link between man-made carbon dioxide (which constitutes only about 3% of carbon dioxide emissions) and global temperature is well and truly broken. All the various climate computer models – which build on this link being amplified – have failed miserably.

The indicators of a global cooling cycle having started are piling up.

  1. There is more ice in the antarctic than has ever been measured
  2. There is more ice in the arctic than about a decade ago
  3. Total ice cover is higher now than has ever been measured
  4. Ice cover on the Great Lakes reached levels not seen for over 50 years and has persisted into the spring (even summer) later than has been observed for at least 40 years.
  5. The expected super El Nino forecast for this year has been dampened by a cooling Pacific and only a mild El Nino event – if at all – is now to be expected
  6. Sea level rises are no different to the long term average for sea level recovery since the last glacial minimum and may even have slowed.
  7. The deep oceans are cooling and are no repository of “hidden heat”
  8. The net cooling effect of clouds has been underestimated in nearly all models and cloud cover over the world is increasing (slightly).
  9. Man made water vapour is of greater significance than man made carbon dioxide for climate effects. But man made water vapour is almost insignificant compared to the water vapour flux due to evaporation and respiration.
  10. Solar effects are virtually ignored by all climate models but the sun does not much care for models and is reaching a low level of activity comparable to the Dalton or Maunder Minima.

Crying wolf about global warming has been the politically correct thing to do for 3 decades. Before that it was politically correct to be alarmist about the coming ice age. No doubt all the old fears about an ice age can be dusted off and recycled.

Climate change has been the most powerful force which has shaped human evolution and expansion. Sea level changes and patterns of precipitation and desertification have driven both evolution and migrations. Sea level during an ice age is about 120 m lower than it is today. More land is exposed in equatorial and tropical regions during a glacial period while land is rendered uninhabitable by the ice sheets of the north. But even primitive humanity survived during the glacials.

It is the global cooling cycles and not global warming cycles which will place the greatest demands on farming and energy. The greatest sea level change that humanity has had to – and will have to – adapt to  is the 120 m difference between glacial and interglacial conditions. During an ice age precipitation will drop sharply and river water flows will decline. Hydro power will all but dry up. It is the inevitable coming of the next ice age that will pose the real challenge – not the 1 m sea level rise that may come with another warming cycle. And when the ice age comes again it will be fossil fuels which will keep the home fires burning. It is the further exploitation of nuclear energy and fossil fuels in all its forms – coal, oil, natural gas, shale gas, gas from methane hydrates – that will be needed. It is the availability of power at the intensities provided by nuclear power and fossil fuel combustion which is what will provide humans with the wherewithal to cope with climate change, whether warming or cooling, but especially when the next ice age begins.

Whatever the alarmists would have us do in the short term, reality will eventually bite. The use of fossil fuels will – thankfully – continue as will the exploration for new sources of gas. The next generation of nuclear power plant will be developed – even though nuclear alarmism has led to a dearth of nuclear engineers. No doubt some market niches will be filled by wind and solar power but that will not be very significant in the large picture.

 

Chinese corporate bonds no longer have a government backstop as solar cell firm defaults

March 7, 2014

Overseas investors have so far assumed that Chinese corporations would be bailed out by banks and the government if there was any danger of them defaulting. That assumption has now gone up in smoke as the Chinese Government – probably intentionally and as a signal – has allowed Chaori Solar to default. Chinese corporate bonds are now going to get a lot less attractive.

The strange fact about solar subsidies – around the world – is that the equipment manufacturers and the consumers have not benefited. Only plant developers have effectively walked away with the subsidies and they are usually very good at milking subsidies. As subsidies dry up it makes more sense for them to just walk-away. Solar (and wind) equipment manufacturers ramped up their production capabilities – sometimes by very expensive acquisitions – and are now in dire straits as subsidy reductions has caused the market to dive.

Bloomberg:Chaori Can’t Make Payment in China’s First Onshore Default

A Chinese solar-cell maker failed to pay full interest on its bonds, leading to the country’s first onshore default and signaling the government will back off its practice of bailing out companies with bad debt.

Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science & Technology Co. (002506) is trying to sell some of its overseas plants to raise money to repay the debt, Vice President Liu Tielong said in an interview today at the company’s Shanghai headquarters. The company said March 4 it will only be able to pay 4 million yuan ($653,990) of an 89.8 million yuan coupon due today.

The BBC warns:

Up until now, the Chinese government and state-owned banks have helped bail out or provide last-minute loans to Chinese firms in trouble. That has led many investors to park their funds in the corporate bonds of many Chinese firms, on the belief that the government would help ensure that these firms could continue to repay their debts.

However, a significant portion of this debt is set to mature in 2014 – with more than $1.5 trillion of corporate bonds outstanding at the end of January. …… That is why the Chinese government may be making a strategic decision to let some firms fail – particularly those, like Chaori, that may not have a huge knock-on effect in the market.

China’s solar industry has been suffering from an overcapacity problem for some time, as cheap financing and local government support led to a glut of firms entering the industry. That has led to a sharp fall in price, and the Chinese government has since hinted that it supports consolidation in the industry. ……… 

Yet while some see the default as a good thing for China’s corporate bond market, others worry it could be a sign of a wave of defaults to come. Bank of America analysts wrote in a recent note that the default could be “China’s Bear Stearns moment”. “In the US, it took about a year to reach the Lehman stage when the market panicked and the shadow banking sector froze,” they wrote. “We assess that it may take less time in China, as the market here is less transparent.”

Wind Turbines by xkcd (but who will be Don Quixote?)

February 6, 2014

Among xkcd‘s better ones.

Alternative Energy Revolution

Alternative Energy Revolution

But who can take the role of Don Quixote?

and will he repair the turbines or just kill them all off?

Greens fail in Berlin referendum

November 4, 2013

In Germany the greens believe that it is worthwhile to pay exorbitant prices for electricity if it is from renewable sources. That “feel-good” view does not quite pass muster in not so good times. It is beginning to sink in through the German electorate that the shift away from nuclear and coal is not only very expensive, it also achieves nothing.  A referendum called in Berlin to satisfy the Greens’ needs to reduce coal utilisation has failed to garner enough votes to go forward.

BBCA bid to renationalise the electricity grid in the German capital Berlin has narrowly failed in a referendum. 

The measure was backed by 24% of those eligible to vote, but a quorum of 25% was needed for it to pass. It had been supported by green groups, who believe the current provider relies too much on coal. Opponents said it would burden Berlin with debt.

The wording had called for Berlin to set up a public enterprise to trade in electricity from green sources and sell it to residents. Voters were also asked to decide whether the city government should open the way for the grid to be taken back into public ownership.

There has been disappointment in Germany that privatisation of the energy grid has not always led to the hoped-for falls in prices and improvements in quality. The switch from nuclear to solar and wind power has also led to a steep rise in electricity costs.

But the authorities in Berlin – which is already 60bn euros (£50bn; $80bn) in debt – said the city could not afford to renationalise the grid.

Berlin has the dubious pleasure of paying the highest electricity prices in Europe (which may ensure a place for some residents in their imagined green heaven but may lead them to bankruptcy in this life). Berlin residents pay more than twice the price that Helsinki residents pay.

Forbes: 

Residential-Energy-Prices-by-City-EU-2013

The good people of Berlin pay more for electricity than residents of any other major city in the European Union, according to the Household Energy Price Index for Europe.

VaasaETT, an energy think tank based in Helsinki, Finland, tracks monthly prices of electricity and natural gas for utility customers in the capital cities of 23 European countries.

The price customers pay per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity varies by as much as 127% across these 23 countries.

After adjusting for purchasing power, Berlin becomes the place with the most expensive electricity in Europe followed by Prague and Lisbon.

Meanwhile, Helsinki has the cheapest electricity followed by Stockholm. …

 


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