If the pen is mightier than the sword, then maybe the calculator is deadlier than the shotgun! After all, it was the use (or misuse) of stats that originally allowed wind operators to bamboozle us all into believing their companies could “save the world”, in exactly the same way that the nice man who says he works for Microsoft calls and offers to “save your computer”…
Live by stats, however; die by stats too. The following snapshot, captured at 13:00 pm on Friday 13th July 2018, introduces this diary segment, in which I monitor the real-life performance of the UK’s wind industry and share with you the results. I’d love to be able to break down these figures even further, so we know specifically which wind turbines are generating power, and which turbines are doing absolutely nothing…
All in all, every wind turbine in the UK combined, both onshore and offshore, is currently generating less than 1% of our power! In real terms, that’s 0.19GW, out of our total current power demand of 38.62GW. By comparison, nuclear power is generating 6.59GW, and CCGT is generating 18.95GW.
This figure is even more pathetic when you look at it in terms of capacity factor (if I understand it correctly). The total installed capacity of all our turbines combined is approximately 19GW, which means our turbines are currently operating at 1% efficiency. People say, “Well, there’s no limit to the wind, what does it matter if we only harness a fraction of it?” But there IS a limit to our ever-decreasing amount of unspoilt, health-giving, natural landscapes.
When looked at in terms of LAND pollution rather than AIR pollution, suddenly the wind industry’s 1% efficiency rate reveals its vast, bloated, oversized and hugely destructive footprint: so much natural desecration for so, so little benefit to humanity.
Therefore when 10:10 Climate Action ask whether you would prefer to live next to a wind turbine or a nuclear power station, it’s not really like-for-like. A fairer question would be: are you happy with the current amount of turbine blight required to generate 0.19GW of power, or would you rather we replaced some (if not all) of these turbines, by generating the same amount of power via other technologies?
I’ll keep monitoring the stats over the next week and together we can analyse wind’s performance in real time. What we’re asking is: exactly how large or small is wind power’s contribution to our energy demands? How sustainable is our wind supply? Are there any wind farms that do especially well, or especially badly?!
SATURDAY 14 July 2018 16:30 pm:
Total demand is down to 30GW
Wind is currently generating 2.56GW (8.29%)
Nuclear is currently generating 6.39GW (20.69%)
CCGT is currently generating 12.30GW (39.62%)
Wind is producing significantly more power today than at the time of yesterday’s reading, but being a Saturday afternoon, demand is 8GW lower today than as of Friday lunchtime! Nuclear’s contribution remains more or less the same (now THAT’S what I call sustainable…) CCGT is significantly lower, in line with reduced demand.
Although wind’s 8% contribution looks reasonable, it appears as if its small total output has “queue-jumped” to the front of our energy mix, meaning power generated from wind turbines is being given priority over power generated by other methods. This decision needs investigating further: WHY? Is it cheaper? Cleaner? More efficient? Feel free to educate me if you have more info!
SUNDAY 15 July 2018 12:00 pm
Total demand is again 30GW
Wind is currently generating 1.33GW (4.36%)
Nuclear is currently generating 6.61GW (21.66%)
CCGT is currently generating 11.22GW (36.76%)
Wind power generation is back to half of what is was yesterday, whereas again nuclear and CCGT are more or less unchanged. Bearing in mind all the land pollution caused by our 19GW of installed wind power capacity, there must be something really special about that trickle of 1.33GW generated by turbines, to justify its continued use. It must surely be significantly cheaper or cleaner than any other form of power; or is it that maybe we simply don’t have the means to generate that 1.33GW by any other method?
If we could, eg by boosting our nuclear output by just a couple of GW, then surely it’d make sense to scrap wind power altogether and use a better alternative?
MONDAY 16 July 2018 14:00 pm
Total demand is back up to 37.79GW
Wind is currently generating 0.68GW (1.80%)
Nuclear is currently generating 6.42GW (16.99%)
CCGT is currently generating 19.12GW (50.60%)
Gas is steamrollering ahead today, basically powering the lion’s share of our economy. Nuclear power is as reliable and regular as ever. Wind has dropped right back to under 1GW, particularly poor for a business day, and raising serious questions about these advertised “capacity factors”. Scout Moor, for example, has a published capacity factor of 27%, meaning that in real-life conditions the turbines should be able to generate just over a quarter of their total capacity.
Based on the first four days of diary-keeping, the entire UK wind industry’s average performance has so far barely even averaged 10% of its overall capacity! Its high point in this research period so far has been 2.6GW, out of a total installed capacity of 19GW. I make that 13.6% AT BEST, not even half of the claimed capacity factor of Scout Moor. Surely in order to meet the capacity factor claims, there will have to be an equal and opposite period of seriously above-average wind power generation in order to bring up the mean?
I eagerly await the PROMISED (*based on the above stats) day that the UK wind industry is generating 7.6GW of power! Actually I don’t – the state of the country were we to have that many turbines would be uninhabitable.
Another question worth asking: was this paltry amount of wind power generated by just one in ten of our turbines actually doing a decent job, the other nine doing sweet FA? Or was it generated by all our turbines combined, ie hundreds, if not thousands of wind turbines each generating tiny, erratic amounts of energy: on, off, on, off, half what it was yesterday, twice what it will be tomorrow, unpredictable, unconservable, unsustainable?
How we deal with wind blight really depends on the answer: if some of our turbines have been doing all the work but the rest are a waste of space, then let’s study the successes and work out why they’re doing well. And once we’ve isolated those specific turbines that have done NOTHING, they’ll need to go. Like, yesterday. No ifs, no buts… if they’re not generating sufficient power then they’re not fit for purpose and need removing, pending legal action for gross fraud.
If however, almost all the turbines are doing a little, even if just a tenth of what they should be capable of, then that leaves us with another problem: is wind power innately, intrinsically dependent on far too much equipment, capable of generating far too little electricity… BY DESIGN?
If that is the case, and our turbine blight has been approved knowing full well just what an inefficient and wasteful use of land it really is, then we as a society have officially declared War On Nature…
… with Friends of the Earth and 10:10 Climate Action leading us into battle!
TUESDAY 17 July 2018 12:30pm
This week has been been full of non-stop media scaremongering about a giant whirlwind crashing into the UK from the direction of the Atlantic, obliterating everything in its path and leaving in its wake a path of pure destruction.
But enough about the press coverage of Trump’s visit… what about the weather?
Total demand is currently 36.22GW
Wind is currently generating 0.94GW (2.56%)
Nuclear is currently generating 6.44GW (17.78%)
CCGT is currently generating 18.01GW (49.72%)
Coal is currently generating 0.87 (2.4%)
For some reason coal is back in the mix today. I wonder why? Could it be that wind simply isn’t stepping up to the plate when it’s actually needed? What’s interesting about wind’s contribution is that in real terms it’s doing better than it was on Sunday, but in percentage terms it’s providing significantly less of the mix. That’s because demand is greater by approximately 6GW on a business day, but wind power has no correlation with demand whatsoever, so on a quiet day like a Sunday the wind could be going full-throttle, whereas the very next day, a Monday when we actually need considerably more power, there’s simply no way of relying on the wind. Hence the need for coal backup.
I would posit that the sole reason we are relying on coal today is because the wind has let us down just when we needed it most.
WEDNESDAY 18 July 2018 20:30pm
Total demand is currently 32.85GW
Wind is currently generating 0.45GW (1.37%)
Nuclear is currently generating 6.64GW (20.21%)
CCGT is currently generating 18.94GW (57.65%)
Coal is currently generating 0.89GW (2.71%)
Wind racks up another very low score indeed tonight, surpassed even by coal for the first time in this survey period. Exactly how many coal-fired power stations are currently contributing 0.89GW to the grid? We only have eight left: Drax, Eggborough, Fiddler’s Ferry, Ratcliffe-on-Soar, West Burton, Cottam, Aberthaw and Kinroot; whereas we have around 8,900 wind turbines.
You do the math:
8,900 wind turbines = 0.45GW
8 coal-fired power stations = 0.89GW
I make that 2,250 wind turbines (about 200 wind farms) for every coal-fired power station.
THURSDAY 19 July 2018 22:30pm
Total demand is currently 29.76GW
Wind is currently generating 1.40GW (4.70%)
Nuclear is currently generating 6.68GW (22.25%)
CCGT is currently generating 16.08GW (54.03%)
Coal is currently generating 0.21GW (0.71%)
A late-evening look at our power generation stats (the rock’n’roll lifestyle, eh!) reveals over three times as much wind power today compared with 20:30pm yesterday evening, a mahoosive 1.40GW woop woop. And yet our total demand is actually 3GW less than it was yesterday! Surprising to see a really, really small amount of coal power in the mix. I wonder what determines when we need coal: why tonight when demand is low, but not during peak hours earlier in the week?
SATURDAY 21 July 2018 12:00pm
Total demand is currently 31.08GW
Wind is currently generating 0.43GW (1.38%)
Nuclear is currently generating 7.17GW (23.07%)
CCGT is currently generating 14.28GW (45.94%)
Coal is currently generating 0.21GW (0.68%)
Wind power has dropped back once again to below 0.5GW, rounding off this week’s performance with another almost negligible contribution to our grid. Maybe if I just shut down my laptop, we could do without any wind power at all! Of course, if we all used just a little less electricity a day then we could easily do without wind blight, so it’s all of our responsibilities to use power as sparingly as possible.
Another interesting thing about today’s stats is the increase in nuclear generation to over 7% for the first time, on a low demand day to boot, PROVING that we have additional nuclear capacity that could easily displace wind power should we so desire. If today’s nuclear output of 7.17GW had been generated last Friday, we literally wouldn’t have needed a single wind turbine. So why oh why can’t we keep our nuclear generation nearer the 7GW mark than the 6GW, every day of the week, thus instantly removing the need for the <1GW routinely generated by wind turbines?