Brits Blow Hundreds of £Millions Paying Wind Power Outfits Not to Deliver Unwanted Power

Brits will need a bigger bucket …

***

Britain is suffering from the same diabolical wind turbine syndrome that wrecked South Australia, Germany, Spain and the like. However, with the long-awaited announcement that the planned Hinkley Point nuclear power plant is to go ahead, it seems that Brits have finally worked out that you cannot hope to run an economy on wintery bluster and summer breezes.

The Geenblob that hijacked British energy policy were furious at the prospect of Hinkley Point getting the go-ahead – fuming, as only the wind cultist can, at what a meaningful power source (that can be delivered 24 x 365 and without producing a skerrick of the dreaded CO2 gas during operation) would do to their plans of carpeting Britain with hundreds of thousands of these things, while milking the subsidy cow for all she was worth along the way.

Theresa May’s plan to push ahead with Hinkley Point is a serious kick in the teeth to Britain’s wind cult. After a decade or more of lunatics driving Britain’s energy policy, common sense, engineering and economics have jumped back into the driver’s seat.

With a nuclear powered future being mapped out, there will be no need for any more deranged wind worship in Britain.

If the climate change Chicken Littles are truly serious about the threat posed by CO2, then having power delivered when and where it’s needed by a source that cannot generate CO2 gas during the process should find little criticism amongst their number: sparks delivered; and, on their case, Planet saved.

Then there’s the small matter of being able to deliver power on demand.  Which, as STT followers are well aware, is something that leaves wind power as a power source back in the dark ages (in every sense of that term).

As an example of how ludicrous is the attempt to run an economy on the weather, Britain is paying hundreds of £millions to wind power outfits for power that has no commercial value.

Wind power generators are getting guaranteed payments to “curtail” their delivery whenever there is too much wind and the delivery of wind power threatens to crash the grid. Over to Euan Mearns.

UK Wind Constraint Payments
Energy Matters
Euan Mearns
5 September 2016

Electricity generation from wind power has grown dramatically in the UK in recent years (Figure 2) and so has the challenge to balance the grid, especially when it is very windy. One of the balancing tactics deployed by National Grid is to pay wind farms to switch off when it is windy. This cost, borne by the consumer, is called a constraint payment. In 2015, UK consumers forked out £90 million to pay subsidy driven wind farms to switch off.

The amount of UK wind that is constrained is growing with the level of penetration. At 10% wind penetration, 6% of the wind power available is constrained (Figure 9).

All of the data presented in this post are from the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) [1] web site that provides a truly excellent database for UK power generation, especially renewables. REF provides daily, monthly and yearly figures for wind curtailment payments, the former behind a paywall. They were understandably reticent about me buying and then publishing their daily data, so this post is based on the public domain monthly data [2].

Let me begin with a look at total electricity supply that shows annual cycles with peaks centred in the winter months (Figure 1). But UK electricity supply (and demand) is falling. If we use electricity consumption as a marker of our level of civilisation and prosperity then this may give cause for concern.

Figure 1 There are many possible reasons for the decline in UK electricity consumption, among them 1) improved energy efficiency of appliances and homes, 2) high energy prices causing demand to fall and in some cases causing energy poverty, 3) offshoring of heavy industries and 4) embedded wind and solar generation that show up in statistics as reduced demand.

02ukwindgeneration

Figure 2 shows how metered wind generation has grown steadily: rapidly from 2011 to 2013 and more slowly since 2013. Only large wind farms are metered. Smaller wind farms and individual turbines are embedded in the low voltage transmission system and show up in statistics as reduced demand. Hence total wind generation is  higher than shown here. In 2015, roughly 73% was metered and 27% was embedded [3].

03windperecntoftotal

Figure 3 shows how monthly average wind generation has grown as a percentage of total generation. The current record is 12.4% in December 2015.

04ukwindconstrained

Figure 4 shows that the amount of wind constrained has grown steadily but as we shall see this growth is not linear with wind generation (Figure 9).

05percentofwindconstrained

Figure 5 shows wind constrained as a percent of total generation. In record production month of December 2015, 11.2% of wind generation was constrained.

06windconstraintpayment

Figure 6 shows that the cost of constraining wind has grown in line with the amount of wind constrained (Figure 4). The unit price has been fairly constant since 2013 (Figure 8).

07annualcostconstraint

Figure 7 In 2015, total wind constraint payments exceeded £90 million and have been increasing at around £30 million per year.

08priceofconstraint

Figure 8 The unit price of constraint fell rapidly until 2013 but has since largely flattened out. In 2015, the average price paid to wind producers to not produce was £71 / MWh. I am uncertain if producers are also paid the Renewable Obligation subsidy of roughly £45 / MWh for not producing. That would bring the total to £116 / MWh. This is an interesting number since it is similar to the price where storage is considered to become competitive [4].

09constraintvpenetration

Figure 9 Finally in Figure 9 we get to the chart I want to show the most. Plotting percent wind constrained against percent penetration we see that problems absorbing wind onto a balanced UK grid begin at 3% penetration. Below 3%,  little wind is constrained on a monthly basis, above 3% in certain circumstances, some wind is constrained. Above 6% penetration some wind is always constrained on a monthly basis. Constraint has grown along with the level of penetration but the relationship is unclear,  r^2 for linear and exponential fits are similar at around 0.4.

Discussion

In 2015 the UK consumed 283,092,000 MWh of electricity. At a retail price of £167 / MWh, the UK electricity market has a notional value of £47 billion per year. Against this backdrop it is to be anticipated that RE enthusiasts and the pedlars of wind power might argue that the £90 million spent on constraint payments is an irrelevant 0.2% of the market.

The real issues here are economic and social ones. Our economies thrive and are based upon efficiency and competitiveness. Here we have acceptance of £90 million being spent in a single year to pay heavily subsidised companies to not do what they are established to do and that is to provide low carbon electricity to the British people. This is Orwellian (or Soviet) economics of the worst kind. In 2015, £90 million pounds was transferred from the pockets of the poor to the pockets of the rich in order to sustain an unsustainable electricity production mirage.

The official Green / Government narrative says that at times of surplus wind production, it will be stored for use at times of scarcity. OR alternatively surpluses may be exported. AND a third option is to balance wind off hydro generation combing the two to provide dispatchable supply.

The reality is that little if any surplus UK wind is stored. The investment decision on the main but puny storage scheme at Coire Glas appears indefinitely delayed [5]. Exporting surplus wind to Europe is a fantasy, not because we don’t have sufficient interconnectivity but because when it is windy in the UK it is also likely to be windy in Europe [6] hence there will be no demand for our surplus. Atlantic depressions are continent sized. And UK hydro is woefully under-dimensioned to have capacity to balance UK wind output. UK hydro is instead used to provide some base load and some diurnal load-following capability [7].

Hence, the official narrative is simply fantastical rubbish. The reality is that on windy days in the UK wind producers are paid by you and I to not produce their heavily subsidised electricity.

References

[1] Renewable Energy Foundation
[2] REF monthly constraint payments
[3] The Changing Face of UK Power Supply
[4] The Holy Grail of Battery Storage
[5] The Coire Glas pumped storage scheme – a massive but puny beast
[6] The Wind in Spain Blows
[7] Hydro Balancing Wind in the UK

Footnote added 14:00 on 5th September.

In the caption to Figure 8 I leave an open question about the exact structure of constraint and subsidy payments. Dr Lee Moroney of the Renewable Energy Foundation has provided this clarification:

The producers are not paid the RO but, in addition to the constraint payment, they do get whatever they would earn under their PPA for the constrained-off generation, i.e. something around the wholesale electricity price, so your point still holds. In other words, the constraint payment is just to compensate them for the RO foregone, and prior to August 2015, the LEC foregone, plus – we are told – the additional costs inherent in reducing output. We have struggled to understand how the latter can be as much as they have been. For what it is worth we have been told there are, for example, costs associated with the risk of not being able to power up again. We incline to think they are charging what the market will take. Ofgem is looking at the constraint price issue at the moment – see http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/extension-transmission-constraint-licence-condition and REF’s response to the Ofgem consultation at http://www.ref.org.uk/publications/332-transmission-constraint-licence-condition-consultation

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About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Hi,

    I started a petition “SA PREMIER JAY WEATHERILL : Demand the RESIGNATION of the Energy Minister for HIGH POWER PRICES CAUSING SA’s JOBS CRISIS and 15,000 household POWER DISCONNECTIONS, frequent POWER BLACKOUTS and the JULY 2016 POWER CRISIS” and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.

    Our goal is to reach 100 signatures and we need more support.

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    Please share this petition with anyone you think may be interested in signing it.

    Thankyou for your time.

  2. Great post STT and great intro WEA. I look at the wind supporting politicians from, it has to be said, most political parties and wonder what we and the environment did that was so bad as to deserve them and their mindless ecobabble.
    To those that vote for them ‘Wake up’ they are destroying our country and they don’t even know why.

  3. Reblogged this on Jaffer's blog.

  4. Reblogged this on citizenpoweralliance.

  5. Crispin Trist says:

    And we know who set up the Renewable Energy Foundation.

    UK TV personality Noel Edmonds who’s anti wind.

    Mr. Blobby takes on the Green Blob!

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_Energy_Foundation

    A contact in the UK has told me that the Greenpeace charity muggers, or ‘Chuggers’ are frantically out and about the streets of Bristol already, trying to get the public to sign up to a campaign objecting to the new Hinkley nuclear power station. Some things never change. Greenpeace are clearly not serious about cutting real emissions or creating long term jobs.

    • Crispin, I thought you might enjoy a letter I had published in the Scotsman this week that exposes more facts about the lunatic ‘environmentalists’ that hoodwink the great unresearched.
      Always good to name and shame the wind developers who lecture us on emissions savings and why we should embrace their toxic industry.

      Sir

      Congratulations to Brenda Herrick for her excellent letter exposing the hypocrisy regarding fracking and industrial wind development. The green lobby promote wind as a clean energy when in reality most of those who support it know nothing about the pollution it is responsible for or its reliance on fossil fuels. Nicola Sturgeon herself has said people living near proposed fracking sites should be given a say – unlike those who are threatened with industrial wind development apparently.

      It was brought home to me how misguided the likes of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are when I watched a documentary on lignite mining.

      Lignite is a filthy soft brown coal and Germany has had to increase its use massively due to their refusal to use nuclear and their overreliance on weather dependent energy like wind and solar.

      ‘Environmental’ groups were filmed standing alongside local people holding turbine promoting placards demonstrating against the proposed relocation of the community and the bulldozing of their historic village. Why the relocation?

      Because a highly toxic lignite mine needed expansion and the village was in the way. The reporter stated 130 communities had, so far, been relocated due to lignite mining.

      Not only do the green worshippers not understand that the wind energy they are promoting has played a very large part in the necessity for this increased coal mining to keep the lights on, two of the main lignite mining and burning companies are also two of the largest wind developers (RWE and Vattenfall) who advise us here in Scotland to accept their wind farms to reduce CO2 emissions to save the planet. Hypocrisy is running riot!

      Why does the Scottish Government refuse to open its eyes to the truth instead of believing everything the very wealthy wind industry is telling them?
      Lyndsey Ward

      • Crispin Trist says:

        Great letter Lyndsey. We should always ask questions.

        I think the Hinkley C nuclear power station in the UK is a good idea especially if it changes energy focus away from industrial wind. With a power output of around 3200MW of base load power on demand or 7% of the UK’s energy needs plus reduced emissions and long term jobs, it has to be included in the energy mix. Besides, they need to replace the old one, and Bristol should also benefit from it. Bristol is the largest city in the West of England.

        The employment stats are quite interesting too when compared to a wind project.

        https://www.edfenergy.com/energy/nuclear-new-build-projects/hinkley-point-c/opportunities

  6. The vast majority of these payments are in Scotland where, as you know, the government is completely obsessed beyond all reason. Even windfarms receiving huge payments to switch off are allowed to construct extensions to get even more payments. Pointing this out to the decision makers has no effect.

  7. Son of a Goat says:

    The stewardship of the Clean Energy Council in Australia should be brought into question. Advocating for the wind industry they have allowed a “free for all” policy in regards to the placement of wind farms. South Australia being led by a left wing ideological government in economic disrepair bought into this deluded green scheme as some sort of green economic salvation.

    The majority of wind farms are now placed in that state, as such all the inherent problems of wind energy which are now being so capably illustrated are amplified. If I was a narcissist with deluded green fantasies and a desire to rort the system I would be asking the CEC why they did not push the wind industry for a more dispersed placement of wind farms throughout Australia, surely that would have allowed more wind farms to be built and not magnify wind energy’s fatal flaws in one area.

    If I was on the CEC board in the solar and battery storage game, I would think the time is ripe to break away from the wind energy dominant board of the CEC and form my own solar advocacy group. With the need for grid stability and limited funding to upgrade the grid with either interconnectors or ancillary equipment further damaging the credentials of wind, now is the time to ditch the wind industry. With investor confidence damaged and what little money is left in the renewables kitty the solar industry with a more favourable public persona could be the winner.

    With the economic and social vandalism done to South Australia the wind industry and CEC have shot themselves in the foot. The public and media are baying for public hangings and as my old man would say “let’em fight the rope.”

  8. Thanks for highlighting to the world the obscene sums of money paid on constraints, STT.

    This is our introduction to your piece, which is today’s pinned one on our facebook page.

    ‘The caption under the photo in today’s STT piece is ‘Brits will need a bigger bucket …’ Yes it will, and a bigger loo to chuck the money down.

    The piece is on the eye-watering sums of money paid by way of constraints and money paid for not generating the electricity at times of constraint and includes the excellent article from Euan Mearns which, as Alan Sloman said, ‘This may look long & technical, but it’s written so everyone can understand it.
    It describes why wind power is such a disaster, with comments from power and grid engineers that nail the green lies that the general public have been force fed for years.’

    It should always be remembered that not all constraint payments are made public. We are putting a link here to the Renewable Energy Foundation’s press release on that subject. Who knows the true figure which is paid out?

    We should, as REF say, because it’s coming out of consumer pockets.

    http://www.ref.org.uk/…/249-ref-calls-for-transparency-over…

    A footnote to the STT piece, and returning to the picture.

    ‘With a nuclear powered future being mapped out, there will be no need for any more deranged wind worship in Britain.’

    That may be the case south of the border, and we wish it were so in Scotland, but in fact it’s the deranged mindset of the Scottish Government, determined to pincushion our country with turbines, which will be the cause of that very large bucket and overflowing toilet.

    In Scotland, no nuclear; no fracking; no underground coal gasification process – and a rampant push for wind.

    • Noted, WEA. We do try to keep spirits up with every crushing blow to wind weasels wherever they ply their stinking trade. Hinkley is a step in the right direction, and should send a signal to the idiots in charge of derelict states, like South Australia and elsewhere. Scotland may have a harder fight on its hands than some, but ye Scots are a tenacious bunch. Keep at them. We will win this. Slàinte mhath!

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