back to article Research: Wind power pricier, emits more CO2 than thought

Fresh contenders have entered the UK wind power debate, as a turbines expert funded by the Renewable Energy Foundation publishes an investigation into a hotly-disputed subject - the variability in output to be expected of a large UK windfarm base. In a just-released article for the journal Energy Policy, titled Will British …

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Title

@Tom: "It will displace some of the coal and gas burnt in power stations today."

Isn't that the point of this report to actually determine whether wind power will fulfill that goal. Its a very good question, 'payback' has already been mentioned; just how long will it take to payback the emissions caused by the massive large scale manufacture of a lot of wind turbines and will they do the job? It'd be nice to have a fair idea of the answer before we spend X billion pounds on the project.

"And Brown is just a money man, bless his little cotton socks"

Ol' prudent Brown, stop it you're killing me :o)

@AC11:28 "If you create a cheap fossil free energy source that happens to be intermittent, companies and people will find uses for that don't care that it's intermittent."

Ok its not fossil free but what about the percentage of natural gas that still gets burned off whilst pumping oil? And the gas coming off landfill that also gets burned? Companies and people *will* find a use if a beancounter says that there is a viable ROI certainly not simply for the sake of the environment/children. Shareholders need Bentleys too y'know.

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Unhappy

Winds of Change

Firstly, I'm saddened that this is the standard of reporting and debate on this subject. Quite literally, the fate of the world is at stake, and I would have thought that even El Reg would take it a bit more seriously instead of peddling narrow-minded and sensationalist tripe ... whether to boost its readership or for some other purpose, I can only guess. The article could have just as easily taken the tack, "New private study confirms view that wind can be a valuable contributor to greenhouse gas reduction, notwithstanding that peaks and troughs may be more significant than some have claimed."

The main point: I am not aware of *serious* advocation of a wind-only (everything else as a backup) approach to fixed power generation. Sure there are some extreme opinions out there, just as there are still climate change naysayers and those pushing their particular barrow, such as "only use nuclear", "only use geo-sequestration" and "we must use hydrogen in vehicles" ... especially when those opinion holders stand to gain from adoption of their approach.

Amongst my colleagues, the consensus (not that I claim it's the best informed opinion in the world) is that wind power is an important contributor to CO2-emission reduction but that it can rarely (anywhere) be considered the majority energy source ... and that seems more true for Blighty. But is that any reason not to exploit a valuable renewable energy resource that can quite significantly contribute to CO2-emission reduction? Of course not.

As for the info source being an engineer (and by extension, according to the author, infallible) I can assure there are many highly-qualified, senior engineers I know who are completely clueless on the subject of climate change and even a few whose published opinions curiously mirror those of large fossil-fuel producers ....

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reg in surprise anti renewable-energy article!

seriously, get balanced. It gets boring reading the same biased views every time.

In regards to this particular article - in a 25GW scenario you are assuming your average power supply is on the oder of 25% of this, 6.25GW. Power usage in the UK varies from 25GW to 50GW.

So in this situation you will *automatically* have at least 49 GW of alternative power available as there is a margin of at least 10% in the offline and offline power stations above.the peak load. In a situation where wind was dead flat for a long period of time there would *still* be far more energy being created during the off peak periods than actually being used which means the water storage etc can still be used.

For an engineer, this is an extremely poor piece. And Lewis, you really should stick to war - those articles of yours are much more interesting and (I hope) don't contain nearly as many holes as your energy pieces.

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Stop

Micro Pumped Storage?

I thought about this when reading the article, I'd be grateful if someone pointed out any deficiencies...

Given that pumped storage is an efficient way to store energy, is it possible to scale it *down* to the level of individual houses?

I live 2 floors up, and am wondering exactly how much electricity I'd be able to generate just by using water main pressure and the fall from 10-15m.

It would depend on the mass flow rate, but a quick estimate gives me 100-150J for every kg of water I can drop from my house to ground level (minus inefficiencies and plus energy from the main pressure).

I know this is just taking power from the water company's pumps, but my water isn't metered; maybe if I get one of those 2-way electric meters I can actually make something out of it...

(icon for what the water companies will say when they find out)

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@ Que by AC

What?

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Anonymous Coward

@AC Peaks

"People are now living a more 24/7 shift-based lifestyle so it's not a case of 5:30pm then the kettles across the nation go on to make the tea at home."

Really?

I would say the number of people working shifts now is much lower than it was when we had heave and manufacturing industries worth speaking of. For blue collar workers in many parts of the UK shift working was the norm rather than the exception 30 years ago. While the situation you suggest is becoming more common among white collar workers it's still the exception rather than the rule, as demonstrated by the fact that we still have a rush hour.

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Silver badge
Heart

Load of hot air

As others have noted, wind power can only be part of the mix. While high pressure generally means less wind in the area this is usually combined with clearer skies and, therefore, better solar collection. Yes, you do get cold, foggy winter days in North and Western Europe so auxilary sources will be required. Plus, of course, the high pressure zones are not endless. Anybody watching the football recently will have noticed that Switzerland and Austria have a different weather pattern - they belong to the same metereological area as Poland and the Ukraine according to German television. So while the wind patterns across the North Sea might be constant, things will be different further South and East. So we'll end up with a co-ordinated European energy policy. Which is why the Commission is so keen on separating the energy transmission networks from the energy producers.

Where's my hippy badge!

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Silver badge

http://withouthotair.com/

About a week ago, the register linked to a free book by a physicist from the university of Cambridge. It does not advocate a specific reduced carbon or reduced oil dependency plan. Instead it allows you to estimate the consequences of your own plan. All the figures you need for rough estimates including CO2 costs of building windfarms are there.

Birds: An impractically large number of wind farms would kill a few birds. Banning cars and replacing them with bicycles would massively over compensate in favour of birds. Even the large avian death toll inflicted by motorists is dwarfed by the UK's bloodthirsty population of cats. Decide for yourself whether you would prefer to ban motorists, exterminate cats or carefully try to measure a miniscule decline in the bird population. (See page 64 of without hot air).

Hydrogen for energy storage: You only get back 25% of what you put in. Pumped water and lithum polymer batteries are much more effective. Ask again in a few years to see if hydrogen technology has improved.

Scraping CO2 from the air to store energy: even worse than hydrogen. There might possibly be a future in using captured CO2 from gas turbine emissions, but the research is not going to happen without a credible threat of massive huge carbon taxes.

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Car battery problems

The problem with using car batteries to help boost the load is that the peak time of load (5-6pm) is also probably the peak time for cars to be out driving around and not be plugged in!

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TIDAL!!!

Why does no-one, I mean bloody no-one! ever mention tidal power??? When Sarkozy was in Britain last schmoozing with Brown and cronies and generally greasing his way into the country trying to pave the way for more nuke-energy, tidal power was for the first time feeding the national grid. This is a consistent, predictable, and clean power source, but only scant attention was given in the press. And STILL all you ever hear about is wind-turbines and their bloody problems, and "oh I don't want one of them round here they're so ugly blah blah blah". Grrrr, makes me mmmaaaadd.

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Anonymous Coward

@@ Que by AC

I think there are plenty examples of Anons comment above.

Anyway the country should run with slightly different numbers it used to (becouse of the problems with getting gas and coal) 15% "green" renewable (wind/solar/hydro), 5% "non green" renewable (biomass/biofuel burning), 40% nuclear, 40% fossil fuel.

Sadly we stopped working on nuclear so long ago we don't have incountry tech anymore and are reduced to buying it off the Yanks or French (well maybe Iran will sell us their tech cheap if they're succesful?)

Also renewable much like nuclear has been ignored so long it's woefully inefficent. Heh we're in a sorry mess at the moment, need more power but just can't grow the balls to build it.

Just wait till our old nuclear stations go off line.

That'll be interesting.

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Alert

No one has ever proposed a single technology solution!

To look at any type of power in isolation is purely an academic exercise.

Similarly, nuclear generation makes electricity at a constant rate - Say 1GW. But the UK load varies by hour, by day and by season.

We (will) have: Wind, Tide, nuclear, hydro, storage and chemical thermal (Gas, Oil, Coal and biomass)

We can also to some extent vary the load, both by efficiency and by timing use. They all have advantages, costs and limitations. It is the mix that provides the solution.

The tragedy is that this type of report undermines a good technology that can make a major contribution!

Noah

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Dead Vulture

Tidal

The problem with tidal is that it effects the lifestyle of a few sea birds and mammals a little. And God help anyone with the audacity to suggest that the effect on man's life style is of any importance!

Peter Dawe

CEO, The Wash Tidal Barrier Corporation plc

Yes really!

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@Simon Neill

>"Why not use hydrogen"

>One word: Hindenburg.

The Hindenburg burnt because it was effectively painted with rocket fuel, as well as being filled with hydrogen. It almost certainly would have burnt if it had been filled with helium, but probably nowhere near as quickly or violently.

You are partly right though - raw hydrogen is a bitch to store safely for any length of time.

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Stop

Poor article

The assumption that wind power is a substitute for peak gas plants is a pretty basic error. The whole market/pricing for renewable power is completely different:

Fossil fuel = cost per megawatt-hour. Plant is relatively cheap. But you pay for the fuel

Renewable = cost per megawatt. Once you've built it, the energy is effectively "free"

At the moment, electricity is more or less the same price regardless of when you want it (Economy 7 excepted), mostly because we get most of it from fossil fuel. If we get a lot of electricity from renewables, this changes. Want power when it's windy? Heck, have all you want. Want it on a calm day? Sorry, gonna cost ya.

Over time, you'll see new & interesting uses for the "spare" power e.g. charging plug-in hybrid cars, together with intelligent appliances that modify their behaviour to minimse your electricity bill e.g. fridges.

As fossil fuel prices go up (hello, Gordon), renewables become more attractive - despite all the drawbacks. Nothing is going to get solved overnight, which is why some currently "uneconomic" technologies are being pursued anyway. This is just sensible planning - it's not rocket science!

PS @david: PV cells can last from around 10 years (early stuff) to at least 30 years (current thin-film). They don't stop working at this point, but they do produce less power (~80% of the original output). Other things to consider: there's a tiny amount of cadmium in them, so you ought to recycle them when you do finally chuck them away. Even if you don't it's a lot better than burning coal for electricity and putting the cadmium up the chimney (~10x less). Greenhouse gas emissions are around 30g/kWh (current tech), vs. 10g/kWh (nuclear), 400g/kWh (combined cycle gas), 900+ g/kWh (coal). Solar cells don't appear to be very efficient (10-20%), but this is approx 10x better than sun -> biomass -> fuel -> electricity. So, PV is a long way from perfect but probably a useful improvement on some of the ways we currently produce power.

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Go

Government's renewable consulation

Not sure why so much time is being spent commenting on a document that has been commissioned by an anti-wind campaign group.

More interestingly, a week earlier, the government started a major consultation on renewables at http://renewableconsultation.berr.gov.uk/

There are several supporting documents including grid analysis with different levels of wind power.

"Growth Scenarios for UK Renewables Generation and Implications for future Developments and Operation of Electricity Networks" SKM

http://renewableconsultation.berr.gov.uk/download?filename=growth-scenarios-for-uk-renewables-generation-and

John

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Anonymous Coward

apologies for linking to youtube

but: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u14tBwO5QVQ

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Anonymous Coward

@StaudN

Read the context... I was talking about *gas* turbines - not wind. Should wind turbines become a serious part of of our energy generation capacity then we will need some serious backup generation (most likely gas turbine) or storage capacity which would go unused for most of the time - except for the entirely forseeable 5-10day periods mid-winter when the wind drops below usable levels.

As for the existing wind farms, they represent a tiny proportion of our overall capacity and only exist because the govt distorts the "market". Wind only works now because there is always something behind it to pick up the slack when it fails. I would not call the a sensible or practical basis on which to plan an energy policy for the next 20 years.

K.

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Alert

Putting all of one's eggs in one basket

is never a good idea. So what is so alien to you Brits about the thought of diversifying your renewable energy options? I realize you have little hydroelectric power potential, but you do have Tide potential as well as some solar & biomass potential.

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Dinorwig Power Station, Llanberis

The Dinorwig Power Station was built with a specific purpose, it helps deliver quick and copious amounts of electricity, within seconds, to the grid to cope with peaks in demand.

It is very expensive electricity as the energy used to pump the water to the upper lake is greater than is gained from the generators when the same water is allowed to fall to the lower lake. Therefore, to store energy to cope with calm days would significantly lessen the power generation potential from wind farms especially if calm conditions are frequent.

Wind generation cannot deliver the UK's power requirements. Even if we deployed wind farms from Land's End to John O'Groats the resulting output would not be sufficient to reliably deliver the required power.

As to predicting wind strength, thats a giggle, look what happened to Texas a few months back when a sudden, unexpected dip in wind generation coincided with an upswing in usage. A disaster very narrowly averted.

Therefore wind can only represent a fraction of our power generating capacity. See "Without Hot Air" that was quite nicely reviewed by El Reg last week.

Given that we are left with other renewables, tidal is my favourite but that has limited scope, fossil fuels (increasingly expensive) but the greeny brigade do not like Co2 or nuclear. As far as I can see the solution is a one horse race.

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Anonymous Coward

@John Ackers

I love how people blindly follow one group (in this case backed by the ever reliable government) and then ignore the others claiming that they're evil and heretics.

It's all very interesting, and may I add - funny.

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On the plug-in car storage concept

I'd love to see some estimates on how much this will shorten the life of your battery, since they are lumbered with a limited number of charge cycles, as well as how toxic (I genuinely don't know, as opposed to inferring that the answer is very) disposing of / recycling a dead Lithium Ion battery is.

And while I do pretty much agree with the concept that wind is a rubbish way to meet national energy demands (and fully support it for microgeneration), I can't help feeling the report isn't entirely balanced. For example, gas turbines may be one of the few ways to handle sudden dips in wind generation, but surely you can cover most of a 5-day lull with coal or nuclear...

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@Bill

"is very expensive electricity as the energy used to pump the water to the upper lake is greater than is gained from the generators"

You're thinking about it from the fossil fuel point of view. Fossil fuel power costs money to make, but you can have it whenever you want it.

Wind power costs "nothing" to make, but you get it regardless of when you want it.

It makes sense to store it when you don't need it ready for when you do. The fact that some of the energy is lost during the storage/recovery process is irrelevant, because (provided you didn't need the electricity for something else) you might as well store it.

It's the same for nuclear. Nukes are happiest producing power 24/7, whether you want it or not. So when demand is low, you store it. That is why we built Dinorwig. And it's why we'll continue need to build expensive complexities into the system - whether we have nuclear or wind or both.

It's just physics, man.

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Thumb Up

Real time national grid data

if you go here ..............>

http://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/Electricity/Data/Realtime/Demand/Demand8.htm

you can see how energy is being pushed around the country (and bought in from abroad) to meet demand

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Boffin

Lack of foresight....

If only we'd had the foresight to leave London docklands alone! Why oh why did we have to build City Airport and Canary Wharf?

Just imagine harnessing the potential of those old gated docks as inner-city tidal barrages.

None of the usual environmental concerns, because we've already killed practically the entire Thames ecosystem!

If the government wants a few kilowatts as a "quick win", it should be picking out disused docks and replacing the gates with barrage turbines. As with any barrage, they could also be pressed into service as pumped storage if required.

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Dinorwig buys cheap electricity . . . .

to pump water to the holding lakes up the mountain. It then generates electicity when demand is high - it then sells this for a much greater price than is paid for the electricity to pump the water.

IIRC it uses more electricity than it generates, it is just that it can provide an almost immediate response to a surge in demand.

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It DOES use more electricity than it generates!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinorwig_power_station

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start time

I think the fast-start time to baseload is about 7.5 minutes average.

The reliability of the system if it has to be run on a fast start/run/stop routine will be considerably lower than a continuous run....

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Anonymous Coward

Waves

When it's calm and not windy it's not wavy either, so wave power isn't a backup for wind.

@Chris Gregory

Dinorwig is a storage facility of course it uses power to store power.

Just like a battery charger uses more electricity than the batteries will generate.

Is this not f'ing obvious?

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Silver badge

Renewables

You have to remember that Europe is actually pretty compact geographically, so if there are calm conditions in Britain you shouldn't be surprised that the wind is not blowing nicely in Denmark or Germany.

As for pumped storage, it has its own environmental issues (takes up scenic mountaintops, requires a lot of canals and huge pipes) and most pumped storage reservoirs only hold enough water to run the turbines for 24 hours or so. Building enough pumped storage to keep Britain going for 2-3 days would be environmentally very difficult, especially considering that the mountainsides would already be prime real estate for the wind turbines.

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Some creativity needed...

1. People complain about the amout of methane produced by cows. Keep them in tents and collect the methane.

2. Joggers hould not be allowed to waste energy. Make the run in big hamster wheels.

3. Peope who are being 'made' to repay their debts to society are sitting on their arses in jails all over the country. Make them turn dynamos – might bring down crime rates as well!

5. Fit turbines to kettle spouts.

6. Fit helmets over politicians heads and harvest the hot air.

7. Fly kites in thunderstorms.

8. Fit big rubber discs to the front of tube trains and push all the hot air through turbines.

9. Put thermocouples into volcanoes.

10. Reduce the need for energy and improve the gene pool at the same time by culling idiots, spammers, scammers, hoodies, people who keep dogs and cats, people who wear blue shirts with fawn trousers, Robert Mugabe and his cronies, programmers who introduce more than 3.872 bugs per day into their software...etc

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Go

Time for HHO supplementing

Isn't it about time that fuel burning powerplants made use of HHO supplements derived from excess electricity generated to assist the combustion process and as a side-effect the powerplants would have less nasty emissions. This technology has been around since the 1800's.

My car at the moment makes use of 8amps of unused electricity from the alternator when driving to power a HHO booster filled with vinegar and water. This gives off HHO gas, which when fed back in through the air-intake increases my MPG by 40% as the HHO makes the fuel burn more efficiently.

It's unlikely that fossil fuels will ever be replaced, not in my lifetime (unless we run out), but there is a lot of unused technology out there that makes the burning of fossil fuels much more efficient.

No single fossil fuel replacement will solve the problem either, we need a mixture of renewable energy from multiple sources, of which fossil fuel will be the backup on a day where it's simultaneously a solar-eclipse/not windy/calm sea'd/empty-reserviored

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Flame

Basic economics

Let's ask a wind-power advocate "why don't you,personally, give up your job & invest everything in buying land & putting up wind turbines?"

The answer for nuclear, gas or anything else is "economies of scale". But wind.....Buy a small one from B&Q. Your argument is that the energy it produces (which you can sell for MONEY) exceeds the initial energy requirement (which you have to PAY FOR). You will make a profit. According to someone above, 80x over 25 years. Or 4x over the next year. Invest £10k. Reap £40k at the end of year 1. Invest that in more wind turbines. Reap £160k at the end of year 2. You should be a comfortable billionaire at year 8. Hell, you don't even need to give up your job - it's less than the cost of a car, and this is one of those magic bits of kit that don't take any resources to service over its lifetime.

Or does it only work that way when it is taxpayers money (a.k.a. green taxes) rather than your own?

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Boffin

Something James Pickett should know

"Gas turbines are so called because their blades are turned by hot exhaust gas (as opposed to steam). They don't run on gas, they run on kerosene..."

You are correct that the blades are turned by hot gas, but they don't much care what they burn to get the gas hot. Lots of gas turbines do run on gas; natural, propane, methane, biogas, whatever....

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Anonymous Coward

"It's just physics, man"

Very true. In fact there's not much that matters that isn't "just physics, man". That's why UK physicists are in such demand, and why so many UK pupils are queueing up to get physics qualifications from highly qualified and motivated physics teachers, rather than get on X Factor or Big Brother or getting a Media Studies and Sociology degree.

Or am I confusing the UK with a different country, one with an economic clue and an economic future?

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Coat

regulations

they used to have a 'govenor' doo-hicky on steam engines, couldn't something of equal effect be built into turbines for when the wind blows too fast? or maybe the blades could turn more perpendicular to the wind above a certain rpm so there is less surface area for the wind to hit,... or shall i just stay in the kitchen?

sarah

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Silver badge

It will never work

I work in manufacturing

My job is to program industrial robots to make things

Currently a machine has a 12 kw 3 phase motor on it, and the tooling and programming is designed to use all of that 12kw in making widgets.

The least amount of power drop and I could be looking at either stalled machine at best or pranged tooling/ parts as well

If I'm powered by wind, then a winter dropout could have disastous effects for the company I work at, the effects for a major power consumer like the aluminium smelters in North Wales would be even worse.

Its not a case like a fridge detecting the frequency drop and not turning on for the next hour, its like 7000 tonnes of aluminium that should be molten and is'nt any more.

The UK needs a steady base load of power.

Wind by its very nature cannot supply that

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Paris Hilton

Opt out for the Greenies

If this Gas turbine engineer is correct then there is one obvious solution to allow the Greenies to live by their beliefs.

When the renewable output drops below a certain level, cut them off. That way they can be happy that they aren't chucking CO2 into the atmosphere while their evil neighbours in their warm, brightly lit house, who are sitting in their front room supping coco and watching Eastenders kill the earth.

Since none of the renewable options can produce a constant output in the same way coal, oil and gas and nuclear can (until the fuel source runs out of course) it has to be a choice between nuclear and blackouts for CO2 "neutral" electricity.

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TANSTAAFL

That's it. Tanstaafl.

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Boffin

@Dick

Thanks for the clarification. I only mentioned because there seemed to be an assumption that gas turbine powerplants were so called because of what they ran on. We have a 'backup' power station here on the Isle of Wight, which has two modified Olympus engines (half a Concorde, if you like) that very definitely do not run on gas! They don't generate steam with the heat either (as someone else mentioned, but why use a jet engine to do that?) - they have reduction gearboxes to drive the generators.

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Anonymous Coward

Idle Wind Turbines

Drive along the "Acle Straight" towards Gt Yarmouth on the A47.

To the north in view for much of the journey, is a clearly visible wind farm, with many turbines.

I don't drive on that road every day, but I've yet to see all turbines rotating simultaneously. Sometimes only about 50% rotate; sometimes fewer than 25%.

A disgraceful waste of capital equipment.

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Alien

@Boris

Yes, it's impossilble to get electricity.

It's a big green conspiracy to enable the alien mothership to approach the UK and be hidden from radar by the windmills.

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Offshore farms

He seems to only be talking about wind turbines on land. Offshore winds tend to be both stronger and more consistent. It still wouldn't work as a sole power source, but it would be better than what his analysis suggests.

@ Joey:

Jonathan Swift would be proud.

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Flame

Good Thing That Global Warming is Just Hot Gas

... for then we can just stick to what works: nuclear and gas-turbines.

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Anonymous Coward

"aluminium smelter in North Wales"

That'll be the one on Anglesey, presumably. I like Anglesey, wish I could be there.

If that is the one you mean, it's right next door to Wylfa nuclear power station.

Wylfa power station is due to close in a few years. When Wylfa closes, so does the smelter. Before Wylfa power station opened, there was no smelter. The smelter only exists because Wylfa power station exists (and because it's a nuclear power station); the infrastructure to supply the huge quantity of electricity needed by something like a smelter that size is just too expensive, UNLESS it's right next to a power station which is able to offer "cheap" electricity, one whose costs (unlike fossil-fueled stations) are largely independent of the demand for electricity. (Nuclear electricity's costs are largely dependent on accounting techniques, not energy costs; unfortunately the "free, unmetered, electricity" which nuclear power was going to bring never quite arrived did it...).

There are other similar examples like this, hugely distorting the electricity supply and demand figures. Smelters don't *need* to be in the UK; wouldn't it make sense to smelt the aluminium closer to where it's mined, and ship a lower quantity of refined aluminium around the world?? Obviously not if you're a Wylfa employee, but...

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Coat

Let Virgin Media run the National Grid

They are, after all, experts on managing supply and demand on a network.

Suppose, for instance, that you opt for the Virgin XL Mains Package. This is advertised as giving you 230 volts and unlimited current.

You will find that this generally gives you about 110 volts and if you exceed your energy quota during a peak period, the voltage is reduced to 24 volts for the next six hours.

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Dan

really long HVDC

Another solution would be to think further than Germany and France and build 3000 km long HVDC lines all across Europe, from Sevilla to Tromsoe, and from Aberdeen to Kiev. Yes, they would lose 10-20% of the power but that's better than not even using 50% of the power when it's a particularly windy day.

If you network the whole continent, there is always somewhere where the wind is blowing, and wind isn't the only source. Norway has enough pumped storage capacity to supply the whole of Europe for weeks. Spain and Morocco are building thermal solar power plants.

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Flabbergasted

I'd heard that physics teaching was in decline in this country, but I had no idea how bad the problem was. The quality of this debate - presumably dominated by people in broadly numerate and scientific professions - really, really scares me.

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Water power

Water power

Most towns and cities are built near running water.

Therefore, most towns and cities have a cheap source of local energy.

It really wouldn't take much to harness these local sources and produce local electricity.

Why do we need vast and expensive nuclear power stations, that create pollution for thousands of years?

Power is lost by being transmitted over distance.

Local water power would be cheap and effective.

http://ourbootlesscries.blogspot.com/

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RW
Jobs Halo

It's a systems problem

Some power sources are very variable (wind), demand is very variable on an entirely different schedule, other sources prefer no variation at all (nuclear), and some sources vary output fairly well (turbines). What's missing is a high-capacity, efficient, highly responsive energy storage method that will buffer these variations in input and output. Pumped storage is one kick at the cat, hydrogen generation another, car batteries yet another, but none of them appear to be up to snuff.

Can someone tell us what the total electricity consumption of Britain is during a 10-day winter calm? That gives us an order of magnitude estimate of the required capacity of any proposed energy storage system.

I have a funny idea that the answer far exceeds the exemplars' capacity.

@Simon Neill: "Hydrogen atoms are pesky buggers"

You forget that stable hydrogen is in the form of diatomic molecules, H2, not atoms. I presume your misstatement is just a brain fart and not a symptom of stupidity or lack of education.

Ballmer because hydrogen atoms have a series of characteristic spectral emission lines known as the Balmer series. That's an electron orbiting his head like in a hydrogen atom.

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