Posts Tagged ‘Wind farm’

Removing visual pollution

October 16, 2013

The wind turbines seem to have been replaced by sheep!

Four wind turbines in the Yorkshire Dales are the first in Britain to be torn down

The 150ft high turbines of Chelker Reservoir, near Ilkley, will not be replaced after the council refused permission for two even bigger machines. According to campaigners, the turbines have not worked in years. In an unprecedented move, the utility company sent in contractors at the end of last month to dismantle the rusting structures.

Chelker Reservoir, Addingham, Yorkshire - Chelker Reservoir wind turbines are dismantled

Chelker Reservoir, Addingham, Yorkshire – Daily Mail


UK PAC – Wind farm licences are “too generous for the limited risks”

January 14, 2013

The UK PAC calls the over-generous wind farm licences as being shocking. The consumer will just have to pay higher prices.

The problem with subsidies is that it nearly always leads to the subsidies being milked for the benefit of the few and the cost is borne by the many.  The purpose of the subsidy is never usually achieved (unless the benefit is taken to be the windfall that a few enjoy).  Now the UK Public Accounts Committee points out the many blunders in wind farm licencing which will cost the consumer some £17 billion — but the money goes to those investors who got in early!!

There is nothing wrong with wind power per se and it surely has a limited contribution to make. But it is just not commercial or practical for base-load power generation and no amount of subsidy will make it so. I can’t help thinking that the few investors who benefit – directly or indirectly – have close friends among the powers that be that establish the generous subsidy rules. The subsidies are justified on the basis of “reducing carbon footprint” which is meaningless.

The PAC has published its 20th report of this session on offshore electricity transmission (full report pdf here).  The Committee had taken evidence from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority, and industry representatives on the new licensing regime for offshore electricity transmission.

“Not only is it unlikely that this new licensing system for bringing electricity from offshore wind farms onto the national grid will deliver any savings for consumers, it could well lead to higher prices”. ……

….. Margaret Hodge was speaking as the Committee published its 20th Report of this Session. The Department and the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority (the Authority) have introduced an elaborate regime that licences operators of offshore electricity transmission assets following competitions. The terms of the transmission licences awarded so far appear heavily skewed towards attracting investors rather than securing a good deal for consumers.

The transmission operators receive their income from the National Grid which recovers its costs from electricity suppliers and generators. Although all concerned state that no public funds are directly involved, the future payments to licensees, which will amount to around £17 billion, will in fact be passed onto consumers through electricity bills.

The investors’ estimated returns of 10-11% on the initial licences look extremely generous given the limited risks the investors bear. Licensees are guaranteed a fully retail price index-linked income for 20 years regardless of the extent to which assets are used. Yet penalties are limited to 10% of expected income in any one year if the operators fail to provide the transmission facilities when required.

Wind farm performance declines by a third in just 10 years

December 20, 2012

The intermittent nature of wind and the speed restructions on wind turbines means that the load factor of wind farms is low to begin with (about 20 -25% for on-shore units and about 35-40% for off-shore units). But this is only when they are new. They seem to age very rapidly. This study of UK on-shore plants and Danish on-shore and off-shore plants shows that

  1. Wind farms age rapidly with on-shore plants declining in performance by about one-third in 10 years and off-shore plants declining by over 60% in 10 years, and
  2. The economic life of a wind farm is, at best, around 15 years and not the 25 years considered “normal” for a power plant

REF’s press release:

The Renewable Energy Foundation [1] today published a new study, The Performance of Wind Farms in the United Kingdom and Denmark,[2] showing that the economic life of onshore wind turbines is between 10 and 15 years, not the 20 to 25 years projected by the wind industry itself, and used for government projections.  

The work has been conducted by one of the UK’s leading energy & environmental economists, Professor Gordon Hughes of the University of Edinburgh[3], and has been anonymously peer-reviewed.  This groundbreaking study applies rigorous statistical analysis to years of actual wind farm performance data from wind farms in both the UK and in Denmark.

The full report is available here.

The Executive Summary states.

1. Onshore wind turbines represent a relatively mature technology, which ought to have achieved a satisfactory level of reliability in operation as plants age. Unfortunately, detailed analysis of the relationship between age and performance gives a rather different picture for both the United Kingdom and Denmark with a significant decline in the average load factor of onshore wind farms adjusted for wind availability as they get older. An even more dramatic decline is observed for offshore wind farms in Denmark, but this may be a reflection of the immaturity of the technology.

2. The study has used data on the monthly output of wind farms in the UK and Denmark reported under regulatory arrangements and schemes for subsidising renewable energy. Normalised age-performance curves have been estimated using standard statistical techniques which allow for differences between sites and over time in wind resources and other factors.

3. The normalised load factor for UK onshore wind farms declines from a peak of about 24% at age 1 to 15% at age 10 and 11% at age 15. The decline in the normalised load factor for Danish onshore wind farms is slower but still significant with a fall from a peak of 22% to 18% at age 15. On the other hand for offshore wind farms in Denmark the normalised load factor falls from 39% at age 0 to 15% at age 10. The reasons for the observed declines in normalised load factors cannot be fully assessed using the data available but outages due to mechanical breakdowns appear to be a contributory factor.

4. Analysis of site-specific performance reveals that the average normalised load factor of new UK onshore wind farms at age 1 (the peak year of operation) declined significantly from 2000 to 2011. In addition, larger wind farms have systematically worse performance than smaller wind farms. Adjusted for age and wind availability the overall performance of wind farms in the UK has deteriorated markedly since the beginning of the century.

5. These findings have important implications for policy towards wind generation in the UK. First, they suggest that the subsidy regime is extremely generous if investment in new wind farms is profitable despite the decline in performance due to age and over time. Second, meeting the UK Government’s targets for wind generation will require a much higher level of wind capacity – and, thus, capital investment – than current projections imply. Third, the structure of contracts offered to wind generators under the proposed reform of the electricity market should be modified since few wind farms will operate for more than 12–15 years.

New report: “wind cannot be relied upon to provide any significant level of generation at any defined time in the future”

April 6, 2011

It is a bit like belabouring the obvious for the upmpteenth time but it has the stamp of authority of  a Consulting firm supported by the John Muir Trust and it is reported in the main stream media. Perhaps – one can dream – some realism will return to the rose-tinted views prevailing about renewable energy.

Intermittent sources of energy cannot – by wishful thinking and pious platitudes alone – become continuous suppliers of electricity until the storage of electricity becomes real. And since electricity is itself energy in a state of flux, it is not amenable to any simple storage as a flux.

The BBC reports:

Wind farms are much less efficient than claimed, producing below 10% of capacity for more than a third of the time, according to a new report. The analysis also suggested output was low during the times of highest demand.

The report, supported by conservation charity the John Muir Trust, concluded turbines “cannot be relied upon” to produce significant levels of power generation.

… The research, carried out by Stuart Young Consulting, analysed electricity generated from UK wind farms between November 2008 to December 2010. Statements made by the wind industry and government agencies commonly assert that wind turbines will generate on average 30% of their rated capacity over a year, it said. But the research found wind generation was below 20% of capacity more than half the time and below 10% of capacity over one third of the time.

It also challenged industry claims that periods of widespread low wind were “infrequent”. The average frequency and duration of a “low wind event” was once every 6.38 days for 4.93 hours, it suggested. The report noted: “Very low wind events are not confined to periods of high pressure in winter. “They can occur at any time of the year.” During each of the four highest peak demands of 2010, wind output reached just 4.72%, 5.51%, 2.59% and 2.51% of capacity, according to the analysis.

It concluded wind behaves in a “quite different manner” from that suggested by average output figures or wind speed records.

The report said: “It is clear from this analysis that wind cannot be relied upon to provide any significant level of generation at any defined time in the future. There is an urgent need to re-evaluate the implications of reliance on wind for any significant proportion of our energy requirement.”

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