If the Wind’s not Blowing – the Fans aren’t Going

yacht

Sails safely stowed as the wind takes another well earned break.

****

STT has – once or twice – pointed out the bald meteorological FACT that the wind can be safely relied on for one thing only – that, at some point, it will inevitably stop blowing.

Just when, and for how long, is the fundamental and insoluble problem with wind power.

We’ve reported on the fine efforts of Paul Miskelly to tip a bucket on the well-worn MYTH that – with fans spread far and wide across 4 Australian States (NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and SA) – the wind will always be blowing somewhere, such that wind power can be considered a substitute for on-demand power sources, like hydro. See our posts here and here and here.

Now here’s a summary of a great little study done by Derek Partington on the intermittency of wind power in the UK.

Intermittency of UK Wind Power Generation 2011 and 2012
Derek Partington
May 2013

Executive Summary

This summary covers the principal findings of an analysis of electricity generation from all the UK wind turbine farms which are metered by National Grid, from January 2011 to December 2012.

The analysis shows:

  • The total output of the monitored wind turbines (as measured by the National Grid) increased from 2,430MW to 5,705MW over the period.
  • The average capacity factor for all monitored wind turbines, onshore and offshore, across the whole of the UK was 33.2% and 30.7% in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
  • The average capacity factor in any given month varied from 16.2% (July 2011) to 50.8% (December 2011) with 9 months having an average output of <25% of monitored capacity and 12 months <30%.
  • The time during which the wind turbines produced <10% of their rated capacity totalled 3,165 hours or 131.9 days – 18% of the two year time span studied.
  • The time during which the wind turbines produced <5% of their rated capacity totalled 1,200 hours or 50 days – almost 7% of the two year period.
  • The output from wind turbines is extremely intermittent, with output varying by a factor of 10 over very short periods.

Three assertions are commonly used to support industrial wind turbine installations:

  • Wind turbines generate on average 30% of their rated capacity over a year
  • The wind is always blowing somewhere in the UK
  • Periods of low wind across the UK are infrequent

However, the conclusions to be drawn from the evidence are:

  • In windy years such as 2011 and 2012 turbines can, on average, produce over 30% of their rated capacity, but this is certainly not the case every year.
  • The assumption that the wind is blowing somewhere in the UK at any given time is, in practical terms, false: there are regular periods when there is not enough wind to contribute to any meaningful power generation.
  • Periods of low wind are so frequent that wind turbines cannot be relied on as a steady source of power, even given two-fold increase in installed capacity over the period studied.
  • Wind turbines must be backed up by the equivalent capacity of conventional fossil – fired power stations, thus largely negating any fuel savings or reductions in CO2 emissions.

Derek Partington has a degree in Physics. He was formerly a Chartered Engineer and a member of both the Institute of Physics and the Institute of Measurement and Control.

He worked for British Steel for 30 years and Local Government for 10 years, in both cases as a Project Manager and Business Analyst.

He has been undertaking research into wind turbines for over 4 years.

Here’s a link to the full paper: Intermittency of UK Wind Power Generation 2011 and 2012

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Wind power is like your job – it blows in the morning and it sucks in the afternoon.

    From the study:

    “Wind turbines must be backed up by the equivalent capacity of conventional fossil – fired power stations, thus largely negating any fuel savings or reductions in CO2 emissions.”

    So all industrial wind farms do is destroy pristine landscapes, make rent-seeking corporates very rich while creating widespread energy poverty.

  2. It is of course the ‘iron jib’, the diesel engine that is driving that lovely vessel in the absence of wind.

    Just as the Industrial Wind Factories rely on diesel and gas backup when the wind fails, over 100 days a year.

    If owning a sailboat is like standing in the shower tearing up $100 notes, one can only guess the cost of running IWFs, without the subsidies. They would never float.

    It is well past time that this rort was sunk, just like the ‘bottom of the harbour’ tax avoidance schemes of the 1970’s with which it shares spirit if not substance.

  3. Noel Dean says:

    It is great to see the likes of Derek Partington who has a degree in physics having input. He also would be aware that as has happened at the Waubra wind farm. They have used turbines with different length blades on the same wind farm – creating an annoying beating sound. This would have to be the stupidest act a wind farm engineer could do – however, this mixing was done after the wind farm received its planning permit.

    Derek would also know that the positioning of turbines is critical. Placement impacts the creation of anti-nodal and nodal lines, radiating from the turbines, producing variations in air pressure. When turbines are placed too close to each other, they create considerably more sound emissions than what would normally be predicted. When turbines are in line, and you end up in that line, you too will be impacted by the pulsing effect. It adversely impacts your health. These impacts are not new. They are well known to well educated people as well as some of these people who are in the wind farm industry.

    Noel Dean.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Australia’s fans (on the Eastern Grid) are spread over the largest area of any fan network in the world and still fail to produce any sparks at all at least 100 times each year (see our posts here and here and – for the same story told in Britain – here). […]

  2. […] Paul Miskelly and Derek Partington have spelt it out in clear and simple terms – see our posts here and here and here. […]

  3. […] Paul Miskelly and Derek Partington have spelt it out in clear and simple terms – see our posts here and here and here. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: