Saturday, 1 December 2012

ONSHORE WIND POWER DELIVERED versus WIND INDUSTRY ASSERTIONS

Is energy from onshore wind competitive? The industry claims it is on the basis of 5 common assertions. If these assertions are wildly over-optimistic, to the point of misleading, then wind power fails, because offshore wind will never be able to compete. 

For a 26 month period (November 2008 to December 2010) daily wind generation was examined and collated into this report: ANALYSIS OF UK WIND POWER GENERATION
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Assertion No 1: “Wind turbines will generate on average 30% of their rated capacity over a year.”

Conclusion No 1: This assertion is 25% (a) over-optimistic.
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Assertion No 2: “The wind is always blowing somewhere.”

Conclusion No 2: On average, once every 3½ days, only negligible power was delivered from the available 1600 MW average capacity.
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Assertion No 3: “Periods of widespread low wind are infrequent.”

Conclusion No 3: On average, once every 6.38 days, for a period of 4.93 hours, only negligible power was delivered from the available 1600 MW average capacity.
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Assertion No 4: “The probability of very low wind output coinciding with peak electricity demand is slight.”

Conclusion No 4: At each of the four highest peak demands of 2010 wind output was low being respectively 4.72%, 5.51%, 2.59% and 2.51% of capacity at peak demand.
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Assertion No 5: “Pumped storage hydro can fill the generation gap during prolonged low wind periods.”

Conclusion No 5: The entire pumped storage hydro capacity in the UK can provide up to 2788MW for only 5 hours then it drops to 1060MW, and finally runs out of water after 22 hours.
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Note (a) Quoting percentages, is beloved by wind power enthusiasts to make things look
               so much better (or worse)

Onshore wind power technology fails miserably on all 5 assertions, which underpin the claims of the industry and its supporters.

What is the point of building anymore onshore wind farms when such dismal levels of generation punctuate their actual performance so frequently? Nuclear power, the only other zero-emissions form of generation, cannot correct the problem, so it's left to carbon-emitting technologies to do so. 

Wind power is inextricably linked to the extra cost of duplicating its capacity with fossil-fuel burning technologies, to provide our electricity, when the wind doesn't blow. It's that simple!


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