Former climate change alarmist Dr James Lovelock, famous for popularising the "Gaia" metaphor, continues his journey back to rationality. Lovelock is objecting to a "medium sized" (240ft high) erection planned for his neighbourhood in North Devon by infamous windfarm operator Ecotricity. The UK currently has 3,000 onshore …
When we finally invent fusion power plants, or some other magical power source, the wind turbine can be taken down. The materials can be recycled easily. The concrete base it sits on is small and easily removed. There is no chemical/nuclear pollution on the site at all. After a few years there would be no evidence it had ever existed. So the whole argument about "ecological heritage" is total bull****.
We already have magical power. It generates electricity when we need it with almost no emissions. It kills fewer people kWH than any other power source. Its plants emit less radiation than coal-fired power stations. There is plentiful fuel to last the world hundreds of years. And most magical of all, you can reuse its waste to make even more power.
That's good old fission for you. Nuclear power? Yes please.
Not quite. There are also the buried power cables within/near the farm to install and remove. And the grid connection cables (maybe not buried). I'm not sure the "no chemicals" is quite right either. There is high voltage equipment which can involve various toxic chemicals for cooling and there is "high mechanical load" machinery which certainly involves flamable liquids (find the youtube video where the overloaded turbine actually catches fire). So, the eco heritage argument might still be weak but I don't think it's fair to call it total bull...
They won't last long enough to become monuments, one gust of high wind and they blow down - that is when they are not exploding over school playgrounds.
"They won't last long enough to become monuments, one gust of high wind and they blow down - that is when they are not exploding over school playgrounds."
Finally, someone's thinking of the children!
There is no equivalence between wind and nuclear or any other proper energy source. Proper energy sources divide between those suitable for base load and those suitable for peak demand as well. Every wind turbine has to be backed up by gas because other power sources cannot be brought in fast enough to respond to the vagaries of the weather. Wind turbines are a monument to the greed of some and the congenital idiocy of politicians.
The fact that those who build wind turbines don't have to provide the back-up gas / unspecified-and-unlikely-energy-storage to cover their downtime is ANOTHER subsidy for wind power.
I've no problem with any power source (I just wish we'd use less of the stuff), but I get tired of the moaning about them being inefficient or useless when the wind isn't blowing. At least when they're sited the source of power (the wind) comes there naturally.
The same can't be said for obtaining and transporting all that coal or oil to the power stations, it doesn't just magically arrive there. A huge coal mound or spoil heap is just as unsightly as a wind turbine.
Re: Power source
and yet again, someone ignores the point that *wind turbines dont remove the need for other power stations* - in fact, they make it worse, because when the wind drops you have to use rapid-response power plants to fill the gap, which are less efficient than just running a high-efficiency plant at the high rate all the time.
Re: Power source
You'd soon have a problem with wind power if it was the only power source providing your electricity.
And how you end up considering that a farm of 3000 or 4000 wind turbines is less of an impact than the single coal power station that would replace them is beyond me!
building wind farms is literally destroying the planet
can you imagine the environmental damage it will do to decommission these things, after they've killed off all remaining wildlife in the area of course.
nuclears a bit iffy too when these are basically military reactor designs dressed up as power plants. and then we have the cheek to go around other countries saying their reactors are military spec even when they aren't.
Wind intermittency problem grossly exaggerated
Firstly the wind intermittency in a NIMBY back garden is not equivalent to the wind availability in the UK plus coastal waters taken as a whole. When considering UK wide supply and demand we also need to consider supply and demand balanced to some extent based on wherever we import and export electricity from and to. It becomes possible to increase wind to more than 20-30-% of UK electric demand to a greater extent also by the idea that less pumped storage is needed than otherwise when run of the river hydro can be made intermittent by raising and lowering water levels behind dams as required to fill the smaller gaps which exist than are imagined. If you can make the electric output of existing hydro dams intermittent so that the combined hydro and wind outputs are related to demand, the problem is largely solved using existing hydro capacity and some water supply dam repurposing, with a relatively small amount of pumped storage.
Even without uprating and repurposing hydro, this report to Parliament based on Oxford University research of wind availability UK wide over a 20 year period shows the intermittency problem to be greatly exaggerated:
Re: Wind intermittency problem grossly exaggerated
I've read that report before, but sadly it isn't borne out in practice here in the real world. The company I work for is one of the world's largest operators of wind turbines (nice subsidies, y'see), and we expect on-land load factors in the mid twenties (%) year round, and sometimes down as low as 15% across an entire quarter. On the coldest hundred days of the year we reckon we get 6-8% of rated output.
There's no way you can fix such variability with pumped storage (ignoring the multiple conversion losses on such a scheme, or the lack of sites), and import and export doesn't really change the equation that much. It is possible to have virtually no wind output over most of Europe for days at a time. That report rather ignores the unfortunate costs associated with the fact that there are often long periods when there is little or no wind, and you therefore need a reliable back up capable of supporting all demand.
Wind power is a toy - a profitable one for operators, but one that it isn't going to keep your lights unless somebody can efficiently store the power, and you carpet both land and sea with the things. If you've been paying attention you'll have seen our idiot politicians have decided we don't have enough land nor sea, and have decided to sign an agreement to build yet more of their bloody toys in Ireland. But that won't alter the figures, and it's just a means of pouring yet more money into low carbon posturing.
Re: Wind intermittency problem grossly exaggerated
I read the report. It makes interesting reading.
Combining wind, solar and "domestic combined heat and power" allows you get away with <13% of the reserve capacity over you'd need over the 1980-2001 period to cover if say you relied on wind (or solar) alone.
As usual you need to check the assumptions
Firstly WTF is this "domestic combined heat and power"? Only AFAIK such units have just become available for use in cities, although I imagine some farmers have used them for years.
and on page 5 you've got a "capacity factor" for wind of 35%. Where did this come from as in the UK it's expected wind will run at most 25% on shore and 30% offshore?
And BTW the most that these renewables cover is 10% of the UK electricity demand, no more.
Could multiple renewable technologies working together over better capacity coverage than any single one?
Will they. No.
Cost of wind turbines
The next obvious step is to have the Chinese start manufacturing the wind turbines; that should drop the price by about 75%. It would also reveal the out-of-order approach... ...The Chinese would burn coal like mad to power the massive windmill factories.
Obviously humans need to stop burning coal....now. A new nuke plant takes 20 years from conception to power-up. Natural gas is the *obvious* transitional fuel for the next 30+ years; starting *now*.
wind is only 3rd tier anyway, solar and wave/tidal precede wind in importance.
wind turbines are easy to remove, WAY easier than a nuclear power station.
the ONLY nuclear that is acceptable is fusion, so let's get to it and get that developed.
"solar and wave/tidal precede wind in importance"
No they don't. They have exactly the same problems of intermittency and poor load factors. Solar doesn't work at all for fifty per cent of the time, and has very low output during winter, giving an annual load factor of around 10% in the UK, and tidal would be about the same, maybe up to 15%. Tidal can be predicted, which makes management easier, but it doesn't alter the costs by that much - tidal power at 02:00 is of little use, and you still have to have conventional plant to cover slack tide coinciding with demand peaks.
is this journalism ?
hardly qualifies as an article as it ignores to many facts to mention.
can only assume the hack that wrote this pointless drivel was having a thinly disguised rant based on misinformation.
the register should not be a place where anally retentive hacks can vent unfounded ill informed dogmatic opinions
Re: is this journalism ?
Hi Sara. If, as you allege, TFA "ignores to [sic] many facts to mention", could you at least mention the first few dozen of them to spring to mind?
Otherwise we will be tempted (quite wrongly, of course) to imagine that you are making them up.
Yes you! You behind the windmill! Stand still, lassy!
I do not think that having caught Windfarm Religion should excuse you from writing proper english.
God only knows what is going through the brains(?) or pockets (most likely) of politicians
Wind farms were never a sensible 'solution' even if you pretend the CO2 problem exists.
Wind is NOT constant, even at reasonable height over the UK, it doesn't generate electricity in the reliable form required.
Further it is damned expensive, intrusive and ugly.
Indeed, it is quite possible to predict that most wind turbines will never produce as much energy as was expended in creating them.
Wave/tidal I could live with, nuclear seems perfectly acceptable.
Heavens, given the economic mess we are in I would abandon the EU just to let us keep all the coal fired power stations they are forcing us to close open. (Yes the EU really is forcing closure of coal power stations in order to have us buy French nuclear power or Russian gas.... you couldn't make it up for Yes Minister).
Just as long as filthy black cancercoal is abandoned. Say no to fossil coal!
As previously mentioned, I grew up in the Selby area with is surrounded on all sides by coal-fired power stations. As far as I'm aware Selby cancer rates are not abnormal.
Now if you'd made a joke about it turning local residents into boozy, fighty near-humans I could have laughed along with you but you didn't.
So I'm not.
"As previously mentioned, I grew up in the Selby area with is surrounded on all sides by coal-fired power stations. As far as I'm aware Selby cancer rates are not abnormal."
I think you'll find he's an American.
BTW is it true there are gate signs saying "Do not enter. Feral children" in that area?
Surely a larger part of that US drop is factories closing down and/or moving to china?
I get electricity from a 'responsible' supplier, they buy it from windmills.
And it is the second cheapest supplier in the comparison tables. Just think of the subsidy my laptop is burning.
Re: Advice please
It's very hard to keep a straight face when these suppliers talk about where their electricity is generated when you actually stop to think how electricity works.
Re: Advice please
Lol yes I have the same.
I ASSUME they mean "We sell X gigawatts of power, and buy X gigawatts of power from the windyman, as and when he has it available.".
That is VERY DIFFERENT to saying "We have this demand curve, and we fill it completely with wind power"
Re: Advice please
"I get electricity from a 'responsible' supplier, they buy it from windmills."
And you get common sense from nowhere.
How do you think they keep your laptop running when there's an anticyclone over most of Europe, and pitiful windpower output? Do they pay for some magical low-emissions backup? Or are you swallowing their ridiculous marketing?
Answers on a postcard, please.
Re: Advice please
I thank commentards. And no-one suggested that I shift to the nation's cheapest supplier - perhaps too obvious.
Let's say it is 3000 or 5000 turbines. So what? We aren't told why I should care about it. Is it cost? Environmental impact? Just spouting a number, by itself doesn't prove anything.
Calculation is wrong:
4.7 terawatt-hours / ((0.1 megawatt)*(365*24 hours))
4.7 terawatt-hours / ((0.125 megawatt)*(365*24 hours))
or if you prefer
4.7 terawatt-hours / ((0.5 megawatt)*25%*(365*24 hours))
So the correct answer is 4,290 turbines.
Forget Wind Farms -
Harness Parliament - the most consistent and voluminous high output source of hot air available anywhere.
He can now point Tiverton CC over to Bradworthy as one blew down over the weekend.. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jan/30/wind-turbine-blown-down-devon
I am somewhat amazed that in 135 comments no-one has pointed out just how wrong this sentence is: "The UK currently has 3,000 onshore turbines and 6,000 are planned: this is the main reason why electricity bills are soaring out of control ".
The reason electricity bills have risen a great deal is because gas prices have risen a great deal. That's about 70% of the rise. Less than 20% can be attributed to renewable energy subsidies. (The rest is various other things, inlcuding insulation scheme subsidy). I know Orlowski hates wind turbines, but we should at least hold him to get his facts right. It's not a hard thing to discover.
In fact wind turbines generally act to reduce (wholesale) prices because their power has very low marginal cost. How that affects consumer prices is up to the power companies...
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