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back to article New mega offshore windfarms could supply 2% of UK energy

Licences have been awarded to develop nine massive new offshore wind farms which could - if fully exploited - deliver as much as two per cent of the UK's present day energy requirements. Developers have been encouraged to move ahead with expensive offshore wind projects by the government's promise to double the Renewables …

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Dogger Bank?

Of course no one can believe that all this expensive nonsense is motivated by a desire to replace the origin of 2% of electric power input to the National Grid.

I suggest that the real reason is that Miliband brothers are trying to stop German battleships once and for all where they've managed to escape from about 100 years ago. oh wait...

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Wind blows

A funny thing happened recently.

The UK has been in the grip of a cold snap (for any foreigners who follow El Reg). As you'd expect, energy consumption tends to go up in these circumstances. Now, there's a very nice website called www.bmreports.com which tracks, in near real-time, what our energy usage is, and also shows how much generating capacity is online.It also breaks down power generation by category: coal, nuclear, gas, wind, politicians and other forms of hot air.

As luck, or meteorology would have it, cold periods in winter often correspond to high pressure - which have the feature of being largely windless ..... Hopefully there's no need to continue down this thread.

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As much as 2%?

Wow. (not)

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Re: As much as 2%

As much as 2% - IF fully eploited!

So how much would it really produce 95% of the time?

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Read the article

No, honestly. I think this was very very clear that it DOESN'T assume it's outputting at full capacity. Look for the output factor. It's really quite realistic (i.e. low)

A quarter of our electrical requirements, from wind? Gladly.

Why do some people get so angry at any attempt to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels? Do you think the next step is to force you to eat quorn, listen to whalesong and wear sandals?

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WTF?

The ROC scheme...

... does nothing to ensure that turbines will be made in Blighty or even erected/maintained by British workers.

This is from the same Lewis Page who is constantly urging the British Government and Armed Forces to buy the best equipment from the best suppliers, even if they're foreign, rather than pander to the British jobs market?

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does anyone in Blighty....

just wondering with a move to a digital economy and imported manual labour if Blighty still actually makes turbines any more or if they are just imported from China and assembled by Poles?

It's all great bleating about Buy Blitish (ah, I remember Leyland Motors) but when successive Governments (politics aside) have done nothing to stem the errosion of Britains capabilities in place of fast buck financial schemes you end up where we are today...

a lot of hot air, and having to buy the turbines to harvest it overseas

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Flame

What's the source for that load factor Lewis?

I don't know of any modern windfarm that produces 0.3% of nominal capacity, has there been a decimal point slippage? Also you state that windfarms will be expensive and suggest without subsidies they won't provide any british jobs. Given your known fission bent is this a case of the nuclear pot calling the windy kettle black?

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decimal point misplaced.

Load Factor of 0.3, not 0.3% . Roughly, in other words generating power 30% of the time though it is a bit more complex. Personally I think expansion of nuclear generation is the only really feasible solution in the near to middle term but that does not sit well with politicians.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, because new nuclear plants just magically appear overnight,,,

Unless you mean buying it in from overseas (aka France) pray tell how nuclear power can expand at all in the near- to middle-term? Old plants are going to be decommissioned in the short to mid-term but new plants cannot be built to replace them within the same time scale - it is physically and practically impossible. Nuclear power is only ever going to be a long term solution, if it is one at all, regardless of the political situation.

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mwk

They'll end up foreign built whatever.

Even with the cost of transportation and whatever other import cost bollockry they can come up with, it's just significantly cheaper to import from abroad than it is to build anything here.

You could probably make money by setting up a British company, taking whatever government cash is available and then importing all the turbines and staff anyway. Then once it's built, you sell the whole thing to a French energy company, pay off your loans and have a croissant and a glass of white wine.

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Hot Air?

Gordo says "This announcement will make a significant and practical contribution to reducing our CO2 emissions."

How's an *announcement* going to make any difference at all? Unless scientists have perfected a technique of harnessing energy from government hot air?

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UK not quite bereft of wind turbine manufacture

While there is no indigenous manufacture of the whole kit, there are still a lot of UK jobs tied up in some of more important components such as the generator itself which makes up a sizeable proportion of a wind turbine (e.g http://www.converteam.com/majic/pageServer/11040000zb/en/Wind-Business-Profile.html)

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Load factor of 0.3?

where does your criticism of a load factor of 0.3 come from? The nice thing about the big offshore arrays is that they are meant to be far more available than the inland stuff: its windier out there?

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Anonymous Coward

Load factor of 0.3?

Since its windier out there this also means that when the wind speed is low enough on land for the turbine to operate it could be to high offshore.

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FAIL

Classic Spin

The announcements of this over the weekend were full of spin with no questioning of the numbers that the government threw out. Seems the optimism has been turned up to 11 on this, wind turbines miles out to sea (much further than currently is the case), in deeper water, using larger wind turbines, etc (lots of firsts, therefore big risks involved and a need for really good project management).

Then there is new National Grid infrastructure required (no-one had the fore-sight to lay 100's miles of cable out to the middle of the North Sea?? What were they thinking?) and, even though the Oil Industry in this country has been building rigs, etc for the North Sea for decades, the industry association states that a new port is required. Surely you would want to make use of the experience and knowledge available in Scotland as the Oil Industry declines in the North Sea (protecting existing, highly paid jobs)? Even the statement that the wind turbines will be built here goes against the flow of the only factory in Britain closing down.

Given that the London Array is only just clinging on to life I think this can be safely labelled as hot air.

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WTF?

@DonC

Big tall structures out to see, now thats never been done before, I mean, next you'll be telling big things with lights in have been built out to see for over a hundred years. Ha Ha haa

Wow laying electric cables under water, must be difficult, ha, next we'll be laying massive pipleines from mainland europe and get this, we'll be laying a phoneline all the way across the Atalantic...God they are so thick..

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Explanation

Up to now wind turbines offshore have each been built as an individual column with the turbine on top but as the water gets deeper that becomes more and more difficult structurally. So more complex structures are likely to be needed. Oil rigs have coped with this by being multi-legged but there are less of them. This is all new for offshore wind farms, there may been solutions that worked for the oil industry but are they economical for the wind farms? Perhaps they could be made as a massive floating network, tied by cable to the sea bed and each other but allowances have to be made for the surface swell, stability, etc.

It is easy to say, ha! this has all been done before by the oil industry but engineering is always about compromise, the set of compromises that were acceptable for an oil rig may not be the same as those for wind farms (a benefit is that the wind farms won't be permanently manned unlike most oil rigs).

Combined with the additional cost of laying miles of undersea cable, apologies if I didn't make it clear I was talking about the cost of laying it by the way, makes the whole thing extremely expensive to do. And lots of expense needs a big return on capital.

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Weather

One other point I should have included in my earlier post, how will these wind turbines cope exposed to the worst of the North Sea? For years the North Sea has been a reference point for the Oil Industry when designing oil rigs for storms, bad weather and sea states. Which poor sucker will been sent out to fix them in the middle of the winter storms?

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Pint

In addition...

An article from the Beeb (before you lifted this one from them Lewis!) spoke of a huge European study to link all these renewal projects so that the electricity can be sent to wherever it is needed. ie. No wind in Blighty? Norwegian dams could send electricity down those underseas cables to fill in and vice versa. Denmark, France and Germany want in on this game too.

Of course, what this could mean is that these windfarms are built, UK taxpayer subsidises and guarantees demand and then the company goes and flogs off the electricity to Europe in order to obtain extra profits. Doubles all round!

So even if they do generate a decent amount of electricity, we possibly wont see it. Not unless the government grows more balls with the utlity companies than it has in the past...

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Flame

so coal leccy is cheaper ?

Without all this wind power I could be having cheaper coal generated electricity yet not be able to afford to insure my home against flooding or hurricanes. Lewis Page tells us to think of wind leccy as expensive so coal leccy must be cheaper ?

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Anonymous Coward

Only while there is coal

Unless it has escaped your attention, the amount of coal that is easily and *cheaply* available for mining is reducing every year, especially in the Western world. It might be cheaper now, but it sure as hell won't be in 10, 20, 30 years time.

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el reg seems to get worse

with every article I read on the environment or energy (especially by Orlowski, who is a troll, but Page is getting just as bad). It's already past the stage where I assume it's going to be a biased article, and into the stage where the only question is how biased.....

This one is pretty damn biased. Only 9% of the uk's energy supply ends up being used as Electricity? FAIL....

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El Reg Propaganda

Absolutely right DaWolf, I'm a big El Reg fan but this constant anti Global warming and anti Renewable Energy Spin is beyond a joke. I don't mind skeptics, but this is propaganda!

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Trolling in the 'Reg.

There seems to be a particular micro-climate in the IT world. No wind or hot air (AKA Global warming) allowed unless it's the cooler of some mighty abacus.

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Anonymous Coward

Just more silliness by the One Eyed Trouser Earwig that is Gordon Brown

when is this plonker going to give up the ghost and just call a general election. We don't need to be wasting more money on Gordon Brown's Don Quixote style politicking. No one is fooled Gordon, we all know you don't have a clue about anything apart from getting the economy into more of a mess.

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@Pete 2

I suppose you're not a big fan of solar powered torches either?

The more (renewable) resources we can tap, the longer we can go before murdering each other over the last few drops of oil. However far away this might be from now, pushing that out even a little bit would be a good thing, right?

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Cognratulations

Congrats on not using "Windustry" instead of Wind-industry

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support up to 70,000 jobs by 2020

FFS Finding new more expensive ways to do what we already do (generate electricity) does not create jobs or prosperity. Paying more for electricity makes us poorer. The money either stays in our pockets, or, if it has to be taken out would be better spent paying people to do something useful.

Prosperity could come from building this eco crap and flogging it to foreigners (making them poorer) but our manufacturing industry is so crippled we can't even build stuff for ourselves never mind export it.

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Commentards demonstrate endless cheap energy without emissions

Clearly slagging off Lewis Page solves all our problems - although I have yet to see an explanation of how this works.

People who prefer checking the numbers to ad hominem attacks should read David MacKay's site (if they have not already): http://www.withouthotair.com/

Although David MacKay is a Professor in the department of physics at the university of Cambridge, understanding his site only requires knowledge of arithmetic. Unfortunately basic arithmetic is beyond the ability of many commentards and politicians.

Gordon Brown can honestly say that "The offshore wind industry ...could... support up to 70,000 jobs by 2020" but it would be nice if he added: almost all of those jobs will be for foreigners, and will be payed for by high electricity prices.

The reason we have ROC's at all is because wind turbines are not competitive with other sources of electricity.

Few a few days of most years, Europe has very little wind. A European electricity grid is not big enough to solve that. Energy storage is good for hours, and is used every day. Energy storage that lasts days and is used once a year is something only windfools should have to pay for.

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No need

You don't need energy storage for single day a year requirements. Just have a wind holiday, planned a couple of days in advance based on the weather forecast. Cheaper and more fun.

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2% down, now what about that other 24% of old nuclear

IIRC The UK gets 26% of its electricity supply from various kinds of nuclear reactor. These range from ropey Magnox (I *think* most have been or are *near* to being shut down) and a bunch of sundry tech others.

Most of the rest of these are getting a bit long in the tooth so where is that *very* big hole going to get filled?

I really like anerobic digestion. More or less carbon neutral (animal slurry + animal parts *all* originating from plants) stops lots of direct Methane release and converts it to CO2 (1/30 the global warming power). Given the amount of rain and the number of rivers in the UK it still astonishes me there is *very* little micro hydro in the UK. why the UK has *never* made any serious use of its coastline for tidal or wave power is beyond me.

Note *all* the above are (or can be configured to be) 24/7 generators with (properly design and sited) *no* thermal backup needed.

For some reason every few decades the UK Civil Service gets an infection of "Alternative energy-itis" but they seem to handle one *kind* of AE at a time and they *always* seem outmanouvered by the nuclear (the ghost of Lord Marshal I suspect) supporters.

*only* UK photovoltaic solar would (IMHO) be a less suitable option to push for in the UK.

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FAIL

Some thoughts...

There is nothing wrong, per se, with wind power. I like wind power. It's nice and woooshi. Not exceptionally effective or efficient, but still nice and wooshi.

I suspect, however, that the Crown Estates interest in this is the site license and tolling revenue. It certainly can't be technical or commercial.

If electricity is to be generated effectively and economically with modest pollution a mixture of onshore and offshore windfarms, Ponded tidal barrages, wave energy, and PE solar and Solar furnaces is required. In Britain we're not really well equipped for the last two (at the moment - but lets see what climate change does for us...) but as an Island nation on the edge of a continent we can certainly do the rest very effectively. The more electricity we use the more the economies of scale will work to the advantage of large capital investment but ONLY a Government is capable of financing at economic rates the capital investment required. PPP & PFI not required here and doesn't generally work anyway.

If we start to invest in Pumping gas or water into sealed holes like gas and Oil wells then the excess energy can be held temporarily for load balancing (- a bit like Dinorwig?) If there is major excess then electrolyse seawater hydrogen and chlorine? Both are valuable chemicals.

Nuclear is a dangerous joke in the short, medium or long term - IMHO.

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Dinorwig

Thanks. That's the name I've been struggling to find.

OK, energy's 'lost' but surely schoolboy physics comes into mind. "Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but merely changed from one form to another" - a rule my Physics teacher drilled into us. (Potential, Kinetic, yada yada yada)

So, if the energy from the wind/sun/moon - tidal power, natch - isn't turned into hydroelectric, it'll still be dissipated in our clime.

Near my house, there's a 60-year-old hydroelectric plant. So near in fact, I walk over it's dam several times a week. (looks like this, if you care: http://issuu.com/darwinbeagle/docs/sulake_0208_net) Not pretty, but functional. Same as my missus, I guess ;-)

So, if it wasn't there, the energy would be released into the rapids below as, er, heat.. Net effect on the world? 0.

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Expensive energy

Don't forget that *this round* of the Gulf War in Iraq has cost £6.5Bn in direct costs.

Then there's the cost in blood.

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/FactSheets/OperationsFactsheets/OperationsIniraqBritishFatalities.htm

A quick glance at the history books tells me that we've been fighting in the desert every decade or two for much of the last century, one way or t'other.

That's quite a subsidy.

What price our lads' lives?

Compared to that, tbh, the 'higher price' of renewables seems well worth paying.

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Anonymous Coward

energy storage

as Pete 2 points out in the second post, this has little use until we have the technology to store huge amounts of electrical energy in an environmentally friendly way. The only real solution is nuclear power but our politicians cancelled our nuclear program many years ago and it takes a while to build these things.

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IT Angle

Buried

on the beebs report of the same report were the costs per Kw of the various power sources

On shore gas powered generating plant came in at the cheapest (no surprise there really), but the costs for on-shore nuclear power were the same as the costs of the off-shore windfarms, with the added advantage that the nuclear plants generated power 100% of the time(barring outages.. refueling etc) where the wind farms would be down 30% of the time.

Plus on shore has the advantage of if a transformer goes down the maintance people can say "we'll have a new one delivered Tuesday" , but the windfarm at dogger bank has the same problem

"When is the weather gonna be enough to send a repair crew out to dogger bank?"

"March"

"When can you refine that guess?"

"Ask me in April"

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FAIL

F**K OFF Eco mentalists

I'm sick and tired of all this Green energy crap. It's going to cost me more so I don't want it. Just build some damn Nuclear power plants and be done with it, they're as green as they come!!

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It's more than 9%

>>However, just nine per cent of British energy is today supplied in the form of electricity - the rest is used mainly as fossil fuels such as gas, petrol, oil<<

I don't think that figure is right, or at least it is misleading. Are you ignoring all the energy that escapes as heat in fossil fueled power stations during the electricity generation process?

All the same I'm highly suspicious of this anouncement. If it was such a good idea what was stopping them doing it ten years ago? Instead the government are announcing a gradiose plan just as they are on their way out of office. They know they won't have to implement it. They've just put a marker down so they can say "this is what we would have done" when they are in opposition.

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Wind power seems to work in Finland

(Even though we're building a seriously BIG nuclear power station near Helsinki)

We have a company here - WinWind (www.winwind.fi) - that makes* 1 and 3MW turbines. I can see one of the latter from our balcony. Experimental/prototype I guess, as it doesn't run often, even when there's a stiff breeze blowing. Probably run it up to lube the bearings periodically. Rotates about 10*/min, 5* when I guess it's in 'maintenance mode'

However, on a nearby island called "Hailuoto" there's several of the spinny-things.

WinWind reckons they can provide 24MW to Estonia, and 30MW to Sweden in a recent press statement.

Previous poster got it right about 'sharing' power, as UK and France do and as Nokia Siemens Networks is looking to managing 'smart grids' - power, not computing - it's starting to make sense, even though that's a hell of a diversification from the core business. Why, even the ex-CEO of NSN (Simon Beresford-Wylie) has moved to a 'smart grid' company, Elster Group, so I think there's a bit of a move afoot.

Oh, they don't make much noise either, contrary to press statements.

*OK, designed here. New factory in Chennai, India, naturally.

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Stop

The 2% solution

You'd probably save more than that by simply turning off a few lights.

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reading between the lines

[quote]...support up to 70,000 jobs by 2020," added Prime Minister Gordon Brown. "This announcement will...[/quote]

Look favourably on us come election time

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Anonymous Coward

wind power hilarious

@ Andus McCoatover

the French are smart enough to generate 80% of their electricity through nuclear power which we buy from them.

This has the advantage of not going off when it is most needed (cold weather/high pressure weather system such as now).

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Joke

I used to have two girlfriends:

One, I'll recommend to the Energy Commission:

Wendy Winblows.

The other to Gordon Brown:

Mandy Lifeboats.

(OK, it's getting late)

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@angus

err , the fins liked wind 'so much' that after a horrific cold spell that froze hydro and there was no wind, they decided to revoke laws and build nuclear.

The problems are that nobody has build the things for so long that the engineers are retired. Or at least that's some of the potential excuses as to why the new plant is sooo late!

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er, it's Andus, akchewally (As Student Grant would say)

Dunno. Had a REAL winter in '99, where it got to -41 here in Oulu for a couple of days, and the hydro station was still working. The expended water was still 'hot' enough to be 'runny' and keep the nearby area clear of ice downstream for a bit*

I agree with 'Pete 2' about cold, and lack of wind. We had -32 last Friday and it was totally calm. saturday was -5, and practically blowing a gale - felt much worse.

* Finns are odd. When the water is 'runny' - no ice on the surface, they go upstream and chain-saw another 'avanto' - ice-hole - so they can jump in it. Then sit around stark-bollock-naked eating sausages and ice cream. With a 6-pack, natch, marvelling as to how the cold amazingly makes "all men equal"...

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just build....

...more feckin nukes.....this green crap has been going on for too long....I met it in the seventies when the world was going to freeze....wot's wrong with nukes anyway ?

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