The largest onshore windfarm in Europe goes fully on line today, and a massive offshore scheme in the Thames Estuary will now move ahead. But experts have warned that many hundreds more such projects will be required - at massive cost to electricity users - if the UK is to shake its dependence on fossil fuels. The onshore …
You forgot something
That you should have mentioned that these wind farms generate wonderful green electricity only when the wind blows...... and have a fossil fueled power station on stand by 100% of the time just in case it does not.
For the Whole UK to Go Wind-Powered....
.... during the same BBC News item the good professor stated that a wind farm the size of Wales would be needed. What are we waiting for?
So you are saying...
... that wind turbines only look good with spin?
*It now seems to be standard practice by those promoting renewable powerplants to pretend that supplying typical present-day electricity requirements is the same as supplying all the energy used in a home. But in fact most household energy is consumed in the form of gas or heating oil, for the purposes of heating, hot water and cooking. If we are ever going to move away from fossil fuels, we'll need to use electricity for those things as well - and for transport, too."
What a load of rubbish, never heard of log burners, pellet burners, incinerating rubbish in power stations etc. etc... you have created a very one sided article to suit your argument.
and while you are at it.. how about calculating against a newer house not one from 2001, ie. without a 80w on standby tv, old skool light bulbs etc. The electric products in homes now are massively more efficient that 8yrs ok! e.g 0.5w on standby tv.. 15w lightbulbs etc.
But it needs to be done
Irrespective of what it costs to break our dependency on the stuff, the fact remains that there is a finite and diminishing amount of oil in the ground. When it's gone, it's gone for good. The End.
We have exactly two choices. *Either* we make a serious start with the business of becoming independent of oil, taking whatever unpleasant decisions we have to along the way in the knowledge that the alternative is worse; *or* we face a future in which a series of increasingly-bloody battles are fought over the last few dregs of oil, followed by a return to a pre-Industrial Revolution lifestyle (assuming anywhere actually remains habitable; which is a big assumption, considering the nature and amount of weaponry at the disposal of the biggest oil-consuming nation on the planet).
I can remember them saying there was about enough oil left for another 30 years -- and that was 30 years ago.
pointlessly negative as usual
The usual anti-green bullshit from El Reg then.
Presumably you think we should keep using fossil fuels until we run out, and then start doing something about it. Except we won't be able to, because all our machinery runs off fossil fuels...
And the fact that most homes are heated by gas or oil is irrelevant when quoting how many home's electricity needs will be fulfilled by this power station. So the number is 180,000 not 35,000 as you pretend. Unless you think that everyone can instantly convert their central heating to use this wind-generated elecricity?
I'm all in favour of reducing our use of fossil fuels, but if you do it with wind power you need backup capacity for calm days, either gas fired (oops, still a fossil fuel) or some form of storage like pumped hydro. McKay was on the radio this morning saying we would need a wind farm the size of Wales to provide enough output, would we also need to convert every lake, loch and remote valley into a giant hydro plant?
That sounds like more environmental damage than global warming would cause.
Bet this doesn't take electric vehicles into account
When these figures are bandied about regarding the number of home that any given scheme can power, they alway assume average loadings, not the peak loads that occur when the electric cooker is on full-blaze cooking the dinner AND all the PCs, video games, power-showers, kettles, electric heaters and lights are on - such as early evening on a weekday in winter. Reckon on 10 - 20kW sucked out of the grid during these times and the number of houses supported drops rapidly - well below the 35,000 that LP calculates.
If you add into that load all the electric cars we are told to expect, all coming home from a commute and all being plugged in for a recharge at exactly the same time then you can predict the lights going dim over wide areas, even if the wind does do us a favour and blows hard every day from 5pm - 8pm.
Nuclear Power ?
Yes please and fast
So what subsidy to coal, oil and nuclear ?
Wind power seems cheap in comparison once you even begin think about it. The cost of quadrupling tropical storm damage and freak weather events is just a start. How about a few nuclear wars resulting from the proliferation of nuclear power ? Then we have to think about the cost of a rise in sea level by 20 meters flooding all the coastal megacities and much of the best farming land. Could El Reg come up with a few cost projections describing these subsidies to competing power sources please to put stories about politicians throwing a few pennies at renewable energy into perspective ?
I visited a village pub recently with a friend, where the yokels with their 4x4s outside had notices on their homes opposing a proposed local wind farm because they didn't like the look of the turbines. So to wind them up we pretended to be planners from the Home Office and started discussing our spoof plans to build a refugee camp locally for half a million climate change refugees from Shanghai and Bangkok expecting to have their homes flooded.
granted this suxs, however
the bit about the bulk of energy being used for heating and cooking while surely true ignores the fact that a lot of energy falls as sunlight and can be used more-or-less directly.
Even more useful was if we actually bothered to insulate houses properly so we wouldn't use so much energy.
Pissing in an ocean of piss.
Nuclear or nothing imo.
I've always wondered
Are wind farms actually 'free' energy. As presumably the act of generating power from the wind, is extracting energy from it's movement. Extract enough of it and it's going to slow affecting the country's weather patterns.
Three ratings, all down?
Looks like Lewis's fan club follow him around these days. I thought this was an entirely reasonable article, especially the Mackay reference.
Obviously it doesn't pay to upset BAe. Shame they can't use some of their much-vaunted metalbashing and engineering skills (do they still own VSEL etc?) for something rather more constructive than "defence services", eg for the heavy offshore construction work involved with continental shelf wind farms and various forms of wave energy. But why do that on the free market when the revolving doors at the MoD Procurement Executive are a much easier way of making money.
@ AJ Stiles
wind power is not the only way of getting no fosile free energy there is sola bio mass wave hydro and nuclear just cos our gove seames to think wind is the best/only way dose not mean we all do
not ever hoiuse can use wood or pete (most eco pepol would prefer we did not use pete or chop trees at all) and burinign rubish is better done at proper incinrators (less local polution) and there for genrates electricity not local heat and yes we have less power intencive devices than in 2001 but we have moire of them I doute there is much change in household electricty usiges
Electricity (and energy in general) needs to be a lot more expensive. Only then will the selfish environment-deniers change their ways. All they understand is money and self interest, so hitting that is what it will take to change them.
We can get around problems of the poor dying of cold etc. by issuing vouchers that can only be redeemed against energy bills with a value of about as much as it costs to heat a home - there's always a solution to such problems and it's never a reason not to act.
People might complain about having to pay more for their Sky boxes, PCs, and whatever running all day, but really, how much electricity do we actually need? If it cost a lot and usage was therefore was a factor in the appliances people buy, manufacturers would do something about it. Until then nothing will change and energy demands will just keep increasing.
A wind farm the size of Wales?
That would mean either having more than one Wales or filling England with Welsh refugees. Neither of these strike me as a good idea.
As for the house power requirements, I'm with the author here. You can't ignore heating and such in order to make the figures look good. Burning gas is burning gas, no matter how or where it's burned. Wood pellet burners are a sensible option small scale, but expansion means trucking wood pellets to every home (yes, a bad idea). There's also a slight problem in sourcing the rather significant quantities of wood, not to mention the on-site pellet storage issue. Like it or not, it's a dash to 'leccy we're looking at here.
As for the efficiency improvements, if anyone really thinks that the savings available from changing light bulbs and tellies are any more significant than pissing in the wind in terms of overall energy use per house, they need to get out more.
180000 vs 35000
When I read "power" I understand it to mean "supply the electricity for". If it said "meets the energy needs for" or even "powers and heats", then your criticism might be valid - but it doesn't, so it's not.
Criticising this for not meeting total energy needs is a bit like criticising a bicycle for not being a good helicopter.
The very first thing to consider is that this article is not being negative - it's being realistic. On the basis that govt. figures say "such and such a scheme will power X number of houses", then it would be easy to say OK, therefore we just need Y more schemes like this.
However every hard problem has a solution that's simple, elegant and wrong. Hard problems have difficult solutions. The basic point is that saying an average house consumes 1kW*Hr and therefore a 1000kW generator can supply 1000 houses is criminally simplistic - but does make a nice, trite headline. If the govt. was to simply privide enough MWattage capacity to fill average consumptions, there's no chance ot could deal with peak loads, let alone supply businesses that only need power 9-5, 5 days a week. It's not averages that matter - but peaks.
On your other point, you seem to have forgotten that heating oil and gas are fossil fuels too. When the gas that fuels the majority of britain's power stations runs out - guess what? The gas to heat people's houses runs out too! In that case the inhabitants will be forced to change to electric heating as there won't be any other kind (ok, wood burners, for the tiny majority of people with access to the necessary acres to sustainably provide heat).
Wind is AN Answer...
..but not THE answer. I doubt we'll ever see much more than 5% of UK power generated by wind farms, but they are are pretty low-impact solution. As for reducing CO2 emissions by 80%, isn't it sad we don't have someone in No 10 who understands basic maths and science?
the output of any one power station will look a bit pants compared to an annual national demand. However, the overall point that wind farms can never be the single answer to renewable energy is a good one the environmentalistrs should take notice of
Why no nuke plants?
Oh, that is right. Nuclear is cheap and very efficient. Can't be having that. Wind and solar is not cheap, which means it will lower the cost of living, which means the greens attain their goal of destroying our way of life. Meltdowns is a made up fear just like climate change to scare people. In reality, with a modern nuclear reactor, you have a better chance of seeing a flying unicorn than seeing a meltdown. Nuclear power plants exist in earthquake prone areas, and these have never had a meltdown. Furthermore, modern nuclear reactors produce 3 cubic meters of waste per year after reprocessing. We do not have more nuclear plants because the greens do not want them because cheap energy equals prosperity.
Lets suppose a solar panel converted 100% of the sunlight into energy. It never will, but lets assume that for this argument. Then the amount of energy produce by a solar plant the size of a modern nuclear reactor would still be far less.
@A J Stiles - Yes oil is finite resource. However, we have enough known reserves of oil to last decades at current consumption. This is KNOWN reserves with new reserves being discovered often. Right now off California oil is leaking naturally into the ocean. A reserve off Brazil was discovered which may have enough oil to satisfy the Americas for a decade. Oil is finite, but the end of it is nowhere near. Add to this, natural gas reserves exceed oil reserves. 30 years ago they said we would run out of oil in 30 years. Guess what? That wasn't true then just it isn't true now. Now, we should wean off it. Remember, however, that something will not succeed unless it is better, and wind and solar is not better. Solar may be better in the future, but not now. Really, we must be balanced and never dogmatic. We should wean off our use of oil and not cut off our use of oil.
If I want delusional ranting on climate change I'll go google for Christopher Monckton. Please stop ruining El Reg with this crap? Pretty please???
To all the hippy types like Dominic above. So you're willing to cover most of the landmass and most of the coastal areas with wind turbines then. Obviously think nothing of the emission and raw materials cost of all that aluminium and steel construction and infrastructure. Think nothing of the year on year cost of maintaining and servicing all this countrywide engineering gear. Think nothing of the regular blackouts when we do actually get nice hot still summer days.
Sure, mix some wind power (amongst others) into the total energy provision but only where its appropriate, i.e. foster R&D into improving the efficiency/output of the things.
However, large scale centralised power output is most likely the only way we will be able to achieve independence from fossil fuel whilst maintaining current demand. (Ensuring every tom, dick and harry has their own wind turbine/solar power system is again a massive manufacturing effort to churn out product + spares, again something the greenies are not keen on)
As for future demand, a previous poster mentions electric cars which no doubt the hippies are raving about. Get on your exercise bike + dynamo if you want to use that car in the morning.
With hindsight its a damn shame we haven't invested more time and effort into researching nuclear. Even worse that we've effectively sold it all off. Come back all is forgiven!
Oh and Dominic raising the price of electricity merely penalises those who are struggling to afford it anyway, the elite energy abusers will barely bat an eyelid.
 or attach wheels.
" we'll need to use electricity for those things as well"
Really? So solar, geothermal, wood burning are all out as options then, silly me?
El -Reg as ever with its bunkum anti wind stories.
1. read http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/5354
and yes, i suspect your thinking, ah oil drum rubbish. Well at least its founded on facts than pure rumour as most reg postings are.
Oh and I love the idea that in high wind you'll here the turbines whooshing around, with the wind blowing past. Down wind only, and then only if the are no trees/plants with rustling leaves.
The economics of wind power are simple(there maintence and start ups costs very low). It will force electricity price down real low. To the point with large capital projects will have to funded by the government. As for nuclear, we are building old style N power, it will take 100,000 - 500,000 years for that end fuel to save again. Pay to keep that safe...No way. The people of this nation have voted time and time again for the same old political parties. what they need to do is shake them up. Shake them up so that energy security in the UK is dealt with. I'd hope the UK gains 40% of its power from wind. Even if we do cover wales.
greens lack of knowledge
Many years ago I used to design wind turbines for a living so I know all the tricks used to try and show they are better than they are. There is only one use for them - as an electricity supply for a dwelling in a remote VERY windy place, even then you are looking at one with at least 10 metre long blades which might just supply the average power to the average dwelling. Then you would need a thumping great diesel generator as a backup and be prepared for it to be working for 60% to 70% of the year.
The only way that a nation can supply enough electricity in this day and age is to use nuclear power stations.
Near where I live there is a wind farm - 20 turbines - that manages to supply power to a village of about 100 homes for about 45% of the time the shortfall is supplied by the grid.
Yes, wind turbines give the green a 'good' feeling - it's a pity so fwe of them have any concept of science and engineering.
How are these wind generators built?
Can they be built using less energy than they produce? If not, then it seems pretty pointless.
They want to ruin the area around where I live, Orkney, so that the good folk of Edinburgh can have 50" plasma TVs. A government that actually had any balls would ban all excessive consumer toys and legislate for all cars have engines no greater than one litre. Obviously this will never happen so we will all end up going to hell in a handcart when all the world's resources are used up.
As for good info on the uselessness of wind farms see here:
@El -Reg as ever with its bunkum anti wind stories.
I have a true story of a office site near a wind farm and every sunny day in the after noon they had to shut the wind farm down as the sun trough the spinning blades caused migraines to the pepol in the office so they are not as free from environmental impact as you calm
It's feckin massive...
I drive past it every day of the week and it is vast (and going to get bigger). The disturbing thing for me is that something this size produces such a small amount of the required energy.
Boris, as an aside, i haven't seen one day where these turbines haven't been turning. This area always seems windy. A rare anomally to the windfarm rule.
It has also horribly disfigured the landscape. You don't appreciate how much it has spoiled it until you see it.
To be fair to the protesters mentioned in previous comments, I doubt you'd want something like this on your doorstep either.
And before anyone starts with the 'its a small price to pay' guff, let me make a few points....
In principle, I support the massive reduction of our relience on fossil fuels (not for 'green' reasons, but geo-political reasons). However, the wind farm solution seems to be the modern day 'Saucepans for Spitfires'.
Could we not have made massive inroads into this area if we had let the bankers rot and instead invested the money in alternative solutions?
Maybe investing in massive insulation projects would be a good place to start. And what about tidal and wave power? Even putting solar panels on all houses could provide a substantial contribution to reduction of energy use (even in relatively sunless Scotland, a friends solar panel provides all their required hot water from about April to September).
With such investment, perhaps UK companies could have regained control over some UK utilities, allowing profits to stay in the UK and be re-invested in the UK. Not to mention the excellent opportunities for exporting such technology.
Instead we'll see foreign companies monopolise the renewable market and charge us a princly sum for converting things that are free into energy.
All a load of (hot?) air...
While we do have to break our dependency of fossil fuels wind farms are not the way forward, they generate a tiny fraction of leccy at a massive environmental and finincial cost and has anyone got the slightest notion of the carbon footprint these turbines have (in terms of building them) because I'll bet good money it outweighs the emissions reduction from the power they generate.
Nuclear power for standby power when it's not windy because of all the fossil fuels it's most efficient and dump the expensive inefficient wind farms for more wave, hydro and solar power. The sooner the cost of mass-produced photovoltaic panels comes down the sooner anyone is even allowed to claim they're making a significant change.
Oh and how about all businesses slammed with massive fines for leaving entire buildings running overnight every night?? Efficient appliances and light bulbs do make a difference but not more than turning things off altogether when they're not in use.
A solar plant the size of one nuclear reactor will indeed produce sod all electricity. But a million solar plants, each the size of an average houses roof, will produce a considerable amout more.
What puzzles me is why we aren't investing more in tidal energy in preference to wind. I mean obviously there's the risk of slowing the moon down until it crashes into us destroying all life on the planet some point in the next trillion years or so, but other than that it would seem rather more reliable than the wind.
Power generation is really not the issue.
All this environmental bull-crap is just that, if we're really serious about long term survival we need to start talking seriously about population control.
We as a human race are going to control our population one way or another, either by forced sterilization after 2 children or by warfare and genocide (I know which option I prefer).
No amount of green power is going to alter the fact that the true evil is being done by those who have more than 2 children. In the long term having a 3rd child is going to do far more damage than any amount of gas guzzling 4x4s.
"and while you are at it.. how about calculating against a newer house not one from 2001, ie. without a 80w on standby tv, old skool light bulbs etc. The electric products in homes now are massively more efficient that 8yrs ok! e.g 0.5w on standby tv.. 15w lightbulbs etc."
So in your world EVERY home is a new build with the latest appliances? I would like to appy to live in your world where every citizen is given a new house and appliances (and presumably electric cars) whenever new technology becomes available, where do I get the forms?
A large nuke station is rated around 1250MW, so maybe about 15 times this wind station, representing (presumably) 0.45% of the UK's total energy needs.
When you write it out like that even a massive nuclear plant looks pointless too.
It's funny how people get lost in the scale of things.
sort out demand first.
It would make more sense to subsidise every household with £1000 to reduce their power consumption by 1kWh. They can put it towards a new heating system, or save up for an OLED telly or whatever. If people can reduce their power consumption by another 1kWh then give them another £1000 to do it. And so on. They can keep the resulting savings on their electricity / gas bills. Then the consumer demand from comes down and stays down. Smart metering can be used for verification and differential pricing to recover the subsidy if they go too far back over the agreed level.
Then with that sorted we can get on with the real environmental problem. Fresh water.
"A solar plant the size of one nuclear reactor will indeed produce sod all electricity. But a million solar plants, each the size of an average houses roof, will produce a considerable amout more."
And how many years will you need to generate electricity from those million solar plants to repay the initial massive outlay in emissions and materials required to manufacture them and accompanying spare parts in the first place, before you start saving the world?
@ more pepol
nuke plants are on all the time so they produce what they say wind are on when the wind blows and so they prduce a fraction of what they say
yes a solar cell on every roof in the country would produce more than a nuke plant but 1 it will cost much more and 2 I am not going to put one on my roof till the gov diliver it to me
fresh water is not a problem if we have power
it is not the mount of children that is killing the planet it is the fact we all live till after we are 50-60-70 and we retire and stop being a contributor
sarah is there a way we can stop so menyt pepol posting ac it is getting confusing to reply to them
To all the Anonymous Cowards
The author of this article is spot on - he's not being 'anti-green'. Read David Mackay's book if you want to understand the issues. David Mackay is 'pro-green' if it matters. Actually, what matters is actually working out the numbers involved, rather than reverting to tired old propaganda from either side of the eco-fence.
What's all this WindFarm Building Lark About?
I haven't seen any reports of TeleTubbies becoming an endangered species or running out of habitat. Is this some move by that Huggy bloke from the BBC to carve up big swathes of National Trust land as retirement estates for him and his mates at Phorm?
From one of the Anonymous Cowards.
Yes, I have read David's book. And yes, some of us actually do real R&D projects with real numbers that make real savings in real energy and real money. Actually one of my project leaders had a very nice conversation with Prof. MacKay only yesterday... And so did one of my customers.
Whilst we're recommending books, you could try "Cradle to Cradle" by Prof. Michael Braungart and William McDonaugh.
Been through this all before
Back in the 1950s when Electricity companies started put massive pylons all over the British countryside there were campaigns to get them banned or moved as no one wanted these ugly wires or support pylons draped near their homes.
It's just history repeating itself.
Live with it kids...
Fun with numbers!
First to be clear the 0.028% figure from El Reg is for Total energy use in the UK. Everything including cars, heating and all the wastage in getting the fuel/energy there.
Or we could say the wind farm produces 0.14% of Total domestic use including heating.
Or we could say about 1% of Scotland total electricity consumption.
An interesting comparison with nuclear is for some recent proposals in the US they come to $3376 to $5144 per kW. Whitelee wind farm comes in at $5797. However this is upfront costs and does not include running costs and some other hidden costs like financing or decommissioning which will increase the nuclear figures more than the wind. So wind power is not too expensive, the truth is that nuclear is not cheap.
In short the problem is not with wind power, it's a problem with numbers. There are 60 million people in the UK. A car is terribly inefficient, have you felt how much they weigh? The typical house is a leaky bucket for heat and do we need street lights everywhere?
The human race have been asleep and now we are just beginning to wake up to what will be doing in 1000 years. Not fossils, nor fission there are really only renewable and fusion left. Well we could raid the cookie jar now and leave nothing for our children but hey we have been doing that for the last 200 hundred years.
"So in your world EVERY home is a new build with the latest appliances? I would like to appy to live in your world where every citizen is given a new house and appliances (and presumably electric cars) whenever new technology becomes available, where do I get the forms?"
Nope my house is over 200yrs old.. but my elec equipment certainly isnt! Replaced the clapped out windows and put in loft insulation... so your theory that only new houses can be efficient is complete baloney....
>nuke plants are on all the time
I allowed for that by including the load factor in the article.
>a solar cell on every roof in the country
Not sure about this, I'm in flats 5 deep so we have very little roof space per flat, although energy consumption is lower as well...
>it is not the mount of children that is killing the planet it is the fact we all live till after
>we are 50-60-70 and we retire and stop being a contributor
People consume resources irrespective of age and working people consume more than retired.
Oh completely agree. Even ignoring the fact that (photovoltaic) solar panels struggle to make 10% efficiency at the moment and cost an absolute packet and so even ignoring the environmental question mark they're too expensive to economically viable anyway.
At the moment!
Solution to NIMBYs
I think the best solution for those who do not want "unsightly" wind turbines around would be unilaterally to get themselves disconnected from the National Grid. Sure, they'll have to make their own arrangements for getting electricity; but the existing power plants will have less work to do, and there will be no need to build anymore of those "ugly, unsightly" wind turbines until after the objectors are dead and buried.
Get your facts straight please
The average annual household electricity usage is 3-5MWh. You have converted the average annual ENERGY usage of 24GWh. If you take (a high) 5MWh as the average annual electricity usage and use a load factor of 30%, this would be enough electricity for 169,243 homes-very much in line with that stated by the company....
"nuke plants are on all the time so they produce what they say"
Maybe. You can't turn them up and down, that's true. But they do fail, and sometimes *lots* fail at the same time eg when a previously unspotted failure mode is observed and declared a safety hazard. All eggs, one complicated basket => bad idea. You need reserve capacity for when that happens. And/Or to be able to do clever demand management (eg remotely operated "smart meters", hmm, now where have I read about that lately).
"It would make more sense to subsidise every household with £1000 to reduce their power consumption by 1kWh."
YOU don't make any sense. You can't even clearly express the difference between power and energy. You may have had a good point. But I couldn't tell. Read Mackay's SEWTHA , and try again.
@Wade Burchette: "oil won't run out": maybe it won't run out, but it will become **unaffordable** for the stuff we routinely expect to use it for today. Peak Oil mean anything to you?
@tidal power: Odd isn't it. The country that pioneered undersea engineering for oil rigs and underground engineering for pumped storage electricity is afraid to reuse those skills for tidal power generation. The tides run 24x7, either by locating the generators in the right places, or by designing the storage right. The recent proposals for the Severn barrier were appalling in so many respects, and yet they're the best we've had so far. Where did it all go wrong? What would Brunel have done? Stephenson? Etc.
Hydrogen? Generate hydrogen in equatorial areas which have plenty of water and plenty of solar power. Natural resources to get them some work and then earn then some ongoing cash. Ship the hydrogen around in liquid form, like is already done with natural gas from North Africa to the UK. Use it initially instead of oil or coal in power stations, then as time goes by maybe use it in transport. No carbon to speak of! It's not rocket science, Iceland has shown it already (from geothermal rather than solar power).
It's time to stop moaning and act 
- Hi-torque tank engines: EXTREME car hacking with The Register
- Review What's MISSING on Amazon Fire Phone... and why it WON'T set the world alight
- Product round-up Ten excellent FREE PC apps to brighten your Windows
- Product round-up Trousers down for six of the best affordable Androids
- Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...