CO2 avoidance cost with wind energy in Australia and carbon price implications

The following post is intended as a working paper for discussion. (It builds on work started by Peter Lang back in 2009, Does wind power reduce carbon emissions?) This current work is based on the methods and conclusions from the recently published work by Herbert Inhaber in the peer-reviewed journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, entitled: “Why wind power does not deliver the expected emissions reductions“, and is applied to the Australian situation as a case study.

Clearly, there are large uncertainties on the Inhaber equation and they are not quantified. Discussion will almost certainly take place in the scientific literature about the Inhaber equation over the next few months to years. Inhaber, does point out that the chart is schematic, we do not have the emissions data needed and the many major uncertainties.

Peter and I look forward to your feedback. This is an important technical matter to resolve, with potentially strong implications for energy policy.

I note that there may be circumstances where some or most of these problems can be overcome, where the grid is ‘evolved’ or set up in a specially configured manner (unknown cost) — the below findings are most applicable to existing grids which are having wind added incrementally (i.e. all current [real-world] jurisdictions).

A 7-page printable PDF version of this paper can be downloaded here.

Addendum: Peter Lang’s Response to the American Wind Energy Association’s reply

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CO2 avoidance cost with wind energy in Australia and carbon price implications

Guest Post by Peter LangPeter is a retired geologist and engineer with 40 years experience on a wide range of energy projects throughout the world, including managing energy R&D and providing policy advice for government and opposition. His experience includes: coal, oil, gas, hydro, geothermal, nuclear power plants, nuclear waste disposal, and a wide range of energy end use management projects.

Introduction

This paper presents a simple analysis to estimate the amount of CO2 emissions avoided by wind generation and the cost per tonne avoided as wind penetration increases from 0% to 20%. The carbon price implications are discussed. The analysis is based on a paper by Herbert Inhaber (2011)1. The analysis is for Australia’s National Electricity Market.

Emissions Avoided by wind generation

Herbert Inhaber (2011) reviewed eleven studies of CO2 savings by wind generation and concludes wind generation becomes less effective at reducing CO2 emissions as wind penetration increases. That is, wind generation avoids less CO2 as wind energy’s share of total generation increases. Inhaber explains:

as wind penetration increases, the CO2 reduction will gradually decrease due to cycling of the fossil fuel plants that make up the balance of the grid.

Below is an extract from the “Conclusions” and “Uncertainties” sections of Inhaber’s paper [in this extract, references to ‘Fig. 3’ are to the figure in Inhaber’s paper, which is reformatted and called ‘Figure 1’ here):

There are considerable uncertainties about how fast this decrease occurs, and the curve in Fig. 3 should be taken as only suggestive. However, the arc seems to be a mirror image of a sigmoid curve, with an equation:

where Q is the CO2 reduction in percent, x is the wind or intermittent renewable penetration of the grid in percent, and c is a constant, of the order of 0.2 in Fig. 3.

Figure 1: [Inhaber’s Fig. 3 reformatted to make it easier to interpret. In Inhaber’s paper, Fig. 3 is presented with log-scale on the vertical axis.]

Figure 1. (Inhaber Fig. 3.) A schematic graph of CO2 reductions as a function of wind (or other intermittent renewables) penetration into an electrical grid. Penetration is defined as the average fraction of energy contributed by wind to overall energy consumption...

5. Uncertainties There are considerable uncertainties in developing a curve of this type. A few of the many, not necessarily in order of importance, are:(a) The mix of fossil fuels used in the grid and the type of gas turbines in particular;

(b) Some of the literature on wind is of a polemic nature, either advocating its widespread use or pointing out its deficiencies. Care has to be taken to concentrate on the facts and leave opinions aside;

(c) Whether renewable energy is exported to other countries, as in the case of Denmark. This could skew results;

(d) The number of cycles of the fossil fuel sources that take place over time;

(e) What fraction of fossil fuel plants in the grid are relatively inefficient open-cycle gas turbines (as opposed to more efficient closed cycle gas turbines);

(f) The carbon dioxide intensity emitted from the fossil fuels used in the grid;

(g) The degree of variability of wind resources over a period of time, and a host of others.

(h) Funding sources for some literature is sometimes from proponents or opponents of the energy source;

(i) Some of the literature is not peer reviewed, posing potential problems in quality control.

For simplicity, let’s assume the average CO2 emissions intensity of Australia’s electricity generation is 1 tonne per MWh (The figure varies by state and by year ).2
From Inhaber’s chart, at 1% wind energy penetration, emissions are reduced by 90% per MWh of wind generation. This equates to a reduction of 0.9 tonne per MWh of wind energy. However, at 20% wind energy penetration the CO2 reduction is just 3.6%, or 0.036 tonne per MWh of wind energy.

CO2 Avoidance Cost

For wind power to be viable the price for electricity would need to be about $120/MWh. The current average wholesale price of electricity is about $30/MWh3. So wind energy must be subsidised by about $90/MWh. If we have a carbon price of $25/MWh then the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) need to reach $65/MWh to make wind viable. (That means the consumer must subsidise wind by $90/MWh, or three times the current wholesale price of electricity.). The figures are summarised in Table 1.

Let’s calculate the cost of emissions avoided by wind generation at 1% and 20% wind energy penetration.

From Inhaber’s chart, at 1% wind energy penetration, CO2 reduction is 90%. Using the emissions intensity for electricity of 1 t/MWh this equates to 0.9 tonnes per MWh. Wind energy costs $90/MWh more than the current average cost of electricity. This is the cost we must pay to avoid CO2 emissions with wind energy.

At 1% wind energy penetration, the cost per tonne CO2 avoided is:

$90/MWh / 0.9 t/MWh = $100/t CO2 avoided.

At 20% wind energy penetration the cost per tonne CO2 avoided is:

$90/MWh / 0.036 t/MWh = $2,500/t CO2 avoided.

These figures are for the cost to avoid an additional tonne of CO2 by increasing wind penetration.

Figure 2 shows the CO2 avoided and the cost of avoidance versus wind energy penetration.

Figure 2

Sensitivity Analysis

The CO2 avoidance cost is sensitive to the wholesale electricity price and to the minimum price needed for wind power to be a viable investment. Figure 3 shows the results for six scenarios. The inputs for the six scenarios are listed in Table 2:

Figure 3

The greatest uncertainty is the Inhaber equation. As Inhaber states “There are considerable uncertainties in developing a curve of this type.” However, to conduct meaningful sensitivity analyses on the range of possible values for the Inhaber equation is beyond the scope of this simple analysis. Inhaber’s paper does not include ranges for the constants in the equation.

Carbon Price Implications

A carbon price of $2,435 per tonne CO2 would be required for wind power to be viable at 20% penetration. This is for Scenario 1. The carbon price required for the six scenarios is plotted in Figure 4.

A carbon price of $2,435 per tonne is one hundred times the expected initial carbon price of about $25 per tonne CO2. This indicates how much the carbon price would need to increase to make wind power reach 20% penetration based on carbon price with an REC price about double what it is now. The Australian Renewable Energy Target is 20% renewables by 2020 and most of this is expected to be provided by wind power. The carbon price would have to increase by a factor of nearly one hundred above the likely initial carbon price to achieve the target.

For the carbon price to stay below $100/tonne CO2, wind energy penetration would have to be less than about 5% and the Renewable Energy Certificates price above $65 (for Scenario 1).

Another issue is that the carbon price will be paid by the back-up generator owners not the wind farm owners. This is clearly unreasonable since wind is contributing to reduced efficiency of the back-up plant.

Figure 4

Conclusions

As wind energy penetration increases from 1% to 20% the CO2 avoidance cost increases from $100 to $2,500 per tonne.

The quantities and costs calculated are sensitive to the input assumptions and input data but the broad conclusions are robust to the range of input values tested.

Considerable uncertainties apply to the inputs for the Inhaber equation upon which this analysis is based and therefore to the results. However, these uncertainties have not been quantified.

A carbon price of around $2,500 per tonne would be needed for wind power to reach 20% penetration. The Renewable Energy Target is 20% renewables by 2020 and most of this is expected to be provided by wind power. Therefore, the expected initial carbon price of about $25 per tonne would have to increase by a factor of one hundred to achieve the Renewable Energy Target.

For the carbon price to be below $100 per tonne wind energy penetration would have to be less than about 5% (and Renewable Energy Certificates price above $65 per tonne).

Wind energy is a high cost way to avoid CO2 emissions.

Australia is paying a high price for policies that mandate renewable energy while at the same time prohibiting other low emissions electricity generation options.

References

1. Herbert Inhaber (2011). Why wind power does not deliver the expected emissions reductions. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 15, 2557–2562

2. Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (2010). National Greenhouse Account (NGA) Factors, Table 5.

3. Matt Chambers, “Force of the near future”, article in “The Renewable Energy Special Report”, The Australian, 16 May 2011; figures attributed to Tim Nielsen, head of economic policy at AGL.

4. ABARES (2011). Energy in Australia 2011. p22

5. EPRI (2010). Australian electricity generation technology costs, – Reference Case 2010. Table 10-9 to Table 10-11, p10-4

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365 Comments

  1. I’m really struggling with this deep curvature, because it suggests power plants become abominably inefficient. While I can understand a 50% penalty for throttling, simply by looking at turbo genset design specs, I fail to see how it can get to 95% at just 19 percent penetration, except perhaps if all the rest of the grid consists of pulverized coal plants. This would suggest that a 40% efficient coal plant goes to 4%, a little incredible I think. If you assume a sluggish pulverized coal boiler then the heat has to be wasted mostly to throttle, so yes perhaps you can get very low efficiencies this way. But if you assume a single cycle gas turbine grid then I fail to see how you can get more than about 50% inefficiency compared to a 100% combined cycle turbine grid. It would mean that the CCGT is 60% efficient and the single cycle peakers in the wind grid would be 3% efficient, which is nonsense. More like 30% if you throttle the things like crazy (low cost peak 46 percent efficiency single cycle gas turbines are available on the market).

    At higher penetrations than 20%, there’s a lot of energy mismatch causing dumping of wind energy (overproduction). This easily doubles the cost of wind at >50% penetration; almost all the wind costs are capital and fixed O&M, so being able to sell only half your energy generated doubles the cost as compared to being able to sell everything.

    But below 20% the effect doesn’t dominate that much.

    Comments anyone?

  2. Peter I am wondering about the left axis which shows 100% CO2 reduction for 0% wind penetration. Wouldn’t it be 0% CO2 reduction for 0% wind? Maybe you meant there would be 100% CO2 emissions for 0% wind penetration.

  3. Gene, the figures are correct. The y-axis means the % of possible CO2 emissions that are avoided. This means nothing when there is 0% wind, of course, but when there is even 0.1% wind, then basically all the energy generated goes to full (100%) CO2 abatement. Then, as penetration increases, this abatement role decreases as gas is called upon more frequently and in various cycling modes, as explained in the main post.

  4. Making a fairly technical study, especially about a possibly-controversial subject, easily understood and accessible, is quite a challenge. This one does require some head-scratching to get the concepts clear.

    To that end, would it help at all if the axes that are currently labelled “CO2 avoided (%)” be re-labelled “CO2 abatement efficiency of wind (%)” ? The first implies at first glance (to me) that 100% of the CO2 emissions were avoided with just a bit of wind generation, which is fundamentally nonsensical.

  5. i don t think that this graph can be right. at 1%, it gives already only around 90% CO2 reduction, and at 3% just 70%!

    i see a reduced CO2 reduction at high wind penetration (like Cyril said above, for example above 50% wind), when you get production high above 100% often and have to waste it because the system can not store it.
    you might also get significant transmission costs at such high levels.

    but at 3%? can anyone describe te mechanism that loses 30% of CO2 reduction?

  6. And, maybe things would be made clearer still with an additional graph showing “CO2 emissions per MWh (kg)” versus “wind penetration (%)”. This would clearly show the diminishing returns as penetration increased.

  7. Frankly I believe that 20% penetration by wind and solar will never happen, as reality in the form of technical. and financial impediments will felt far earlier.

    This whole argument is taking on the flavor of the evolution vs. creationism debate. In that case those on the side of evolution make stronger and stronger points based on logic and science, while the other side attempts to deflect them with poorer and poorer points without giving ground.

    (personal opinion of other’s motivations deleted)only renewable energy is “good” and all other energy is “bad.” Their definitions of good and bad are in their minds. They are the useful (pejorative deleted), if you will, of those who wish to continue the status quo of carbon-based fuels. Wind and solar are stupid little toys; they will forever remain toys. They will never power an advanced civilization. They are a waste of our economic resources, our attention and our time.

  8. Cyril, I think the confusion is that the y-axis is not “efficiency penalty (100%=max efficiency) of fossil balancing plant” (is this what you meant?) Rather, it’s the proportion of the grams of CO2 produced by burning a kWh of fossil fuel which is saved when you instead generate that same kWh with wind (I think).

    At very low penetration, you get 100% of the amount of abatement you expect, as the wind generation directly replaces the fuel burned by the replaced amount of the spinning reserve (assuming this is fossil).

    (Digression: Of course, if it’s hydro, although there is no immediate carbon benefit, you will save water in your dam which can then offset fossil in an efficient dispatchable manner at another time.)

    As wind penetration increases, so do the irregular variations, until they exceed the regulation range of the standard spinning reserve (often hydro). This then requires other generation that suffers more inefficiency penalty when varied (e.g. coal or CC gas) or which is more inefficient to begin with (open-cycle gas) to be pressed into service. (You understand this already, I’m sure.)

    (Digression 2: It can end up that at high penetrations adding wind actually increases the nett CO2/kWh if the added variable-capable generation is a lot more inefficient that the base or spinning reserve generation – the plot’s curvature is so deep that it sinks below the x axis into negative territory. Inhaber’s formula does not model this, however. Such effects can only be avoided with active demand management aka “smart grid”).

  9. “Such effects can only be avoided with active demand management aka “smart grid”).”

    Or magic of course.

    It is just not good enough to wave away engineering issues by invoking the magic words ‘Smart Grid.’ The term is meaningless without a full description of how it will work, and the costs of implementing it.

  10. I’ve tried to rework the figure using averages not marginal values. Take the case of 20% wind. The average cost of a Mwh will be
    .2 (120) + .8 (30) = $48 versus
    1.0 (30) = $30 difference $18

    For CO2 displacement I treat the figure 1 curve as a straight line with tCO2 on the vertical axis and take the midpoint, called it say 0.45. This $18 average cost difference divided by .45t gives $40 per tCO2 avoided.

    Coincidentally I believe CO2 avoided per Mwh windpower is around 0.4t for both the UK and Texas. It is clear from the words of Combet that RECs will continue after carbon tax despite the wishes of Garnaut.

  11. Thank you everyone for your comments. All points are well taken. I’ll see what I can do about improving the explanation and may offer an improved version later. But I’ll collect the comments for a while first.

    My greatest concern with the actual figures is the Inhaber equation, or perhaps my possibe misapplication of it. I’ve received an email overnight with a quote from Inhaber where he explains:

    Figure 3 of my paper is, as mentioned in the caption, schematic in nature. I did not know of any other way (other than listing a boring table) to show the diversity of data, much of which is confused. In my past papers, I have found that a graph is worth a thousand words. So the figure is meant only to show the lay of the land – that is why there are no data points on it. The data is, as I said, too confused to show directly.

    It may be worth reading, for background, the de Groot & C. le Pair paper “The hidden fuel costs of wind generated electricity” http://www.clepair.net/windsecret.html

    I’ll be back later to respond to comments.

  12. I don’t have access to the Inhaber paper, but it seems that one assumption is that the electrical load is constant, both in time of day and season of the year. This is not the case, of course. In the U.S., the peak loads are typically in the late afternoons of summer days, and the peak season is in the summertime. Power plants must be built to supply the peak, and the lull in wintertime is convenient for planned maintenance.

    Here in California, one of the initially touted advantages of building wind farms in several areas (Altamont & San Bernardino) was that the most-reliable winds blew pretty much in sync with the summer-day peaks. Thus wind power capacity would offset the much more expensive construction (not to mention mere operation) of conventional power plants. It would seem that only when wind-power capacity exceeds the day-night fluctuation (or loses sync) would lower-efficiency cycling of conventional power plants cause a less-than-100% CO2 offset. I wonder how this promoted scenario has actually played out over the last decade or two.

    I can imagine that in many other parts of the world, the timing of reliable wind resources may not be as fortuitous as they are in many parts of California. But I think it does go to show that at least in some cases, Inhaber’s relations may not be applicable toward every MW of wind power produced.

  13. While I am not Australian, in fact an Irish technical specialist who for over a decade implemented EU environmental legislation into the new Member States, I would like to offer a different perspective.

    Firstly, wind energy is a poor quality energy supply with massive costs. One may have different variations on the assesment, but the conclusion does not alter. Secondly, why are we doing it? If it is to save carbon, then how much carbon and at what cost. Thirdly, why is Peter Lang and other people in their spare time trying to answer this question?

    Let’s start with the last question, is it not realistic to expect that if Australia is to embark on a massively expensive renewable programme that such a detailed analysis of the costs / benefits and alternatives would be available from Government sources?

    Let me introduce the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, which derived from Principle 10 of the 1992 UN Rio Declaration. Many of you may be aware that Member State law defers to EU law. So too does the EU to the UNECE Convention since it ratified it in February 2005.

    Getting back to renewable energy, it was a legal requirement under the Aarhus Convention for the EU and Member States to assess the EU’s renewable energy programme / policy. For instance:

    (i) What were the environmental objectives, such as in tonnes of CO2 avoided.
    (ii) What were the alternatives considered to achieve those objectives.
    (iii) What was the current state of the environment and how would it evolve without implementation of the programme.

    Environmental information, which is transparent has to be actively disseminated, in other words the public properly informed so that they can understand what is going on in the environment around them and be able to participate in an informed manner. Then there is the public participation in decision-making requiring effective notice, adequate information, proper procedures and appropriate taking-account of the public participation. Finally the public has to have access to a legal system, which is ‘fair, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive’ to challenge potential violations of the two previous principles on access to information and public participation in decision-making.

    Unfortunately with regard to the EU’s ’20-20-20 by 2020′ programme (20% carbon savings, 20% renewables and 20% savings in energy efficiency) the whole thing was based solely on ‘political consensus’. Nobody did the legally binding assessments, what information that was disseminated to the public was non-transparent and inadequate, and what passed for public participation is best described as a ‘vox pop’.

    So with regard to the renewable energy programme in Ireland, there is now a compliance case at UNECE against the EU:

    http://www.unece.org/env/pp/compliance/Compliance%20Committee/54TableEU.htm

    Some interesting questions have to be answered by the end of June (see last two pdfs).

    While it is not my role to tell Australia what to do, all I can point out is that it makes sense before a massively expensive programme such as this is started, that the proper assessments, dissemination of information and public participation in decision-making is completed.

  14. Gene Preston and turnages,

    Just a quick comment to try to clarify the meaning of the % scale on the vertical axis.

    1 MWh of wind generated energy displaces 1MWh of energy generated by the other generators, but it does not displace 100% of the emissions from the other generators.

    When wind penetration is very low the wind generation avoids nearly 100% of the emissions from the 1 MWh of other generation that has been displaced by wind. But at 20% penetration the wind generation displaces much less – just 3.6% from the Inhaber equation (however, note all the caveats and uncertainties on the application of this equation).

    The % scale on the vertical axis is the percentage of the emissions avoided by wind generation; it applies to only the MWh of winds generation (or the MWh of other generation substituted by wind generation, which is the same thing).

    Hope this helps.

  15. @DV
    (was edited)only renewable energy is “good” and all other energy is “bad.” Their definitions of good and bad are in their minds. They are the useful (was edited ), if you will, of those who wish to continue the status quo of carbon-based fuels. Wind and solar are stupid little toys; they will forever remain toys. They will never power an advanced civilization. They are a waste of our economic resources, our attention and our time.

    Geez, you don’t hold back DV, talking about calling a spade a spade ! I totally agree though. It is depressing, the Greens hold the balance of power in Australia. As for Peter Langs post, it is rather confusing for me, sorry Pete.
    MODERATOR
    Some of DV8’s comment has been toned down as per BNC Comments Policy

  16. @DV (this quote has been edited from DV8’s comment)
    The article quotes a list of uncertainties in producing such a curve, them Peter seems to break most of them in using it.
    The theory that the incremental displacement of fossil fuels with wind will drop as % wind increases is reasonable, but I would want to see a lot more peer reviewed analysis behind the numbers before I would see this article as worth a second glance.
    Typical of what the anti-renewables I have come to expect Peter (and I am afraid, much of this page).

  17. While the approach is interesting by taking the inefficiencies of the standard coal boiler as a permanent frame work the approach is putting on to wind and other alternatives what is really the problem of the coal boiler.

    It can appear to a confused reader that there is some thing about the alternative energy source that is broken in some way.

    The real situation is that the coal boiler cant share power generation if it’s a major part of base load with out becoming very inefficient.

    The combined cycle gas turbines as an interim to phasing out of fossil fuel power make this approach redundant! Having base load “adjustable” is a solution.

    A large part of base load needs to be removed from the coal boilers as a starting point for re-mewables penetration to be efficient.

    The whole analysis is based on a rigid exclusion of gas. Since the carbon tax is designed to force the replacement of coal with gas the approach is basically a broken approach and a source of confusion. Climate change deniers can leap to the faulty logic to find evidence that coal can’t be replaced.

    Actually the analysis shows clearly that gas must be used to get rid of coal first before large scale penetration of wind can yield efficient lowering of CO2 emissions at higher penitrations.

  18. @unclepete, – Yes I calls it as I sees it. Most people are attracted to some intuitive (and wrong) notion of epistemic fairness: you are making one claim, the other guy is making another claim, the two of you are therefore on equal footing. I do not suffer from that illusion. There are many instances when there is only one right side of the story, one right path to follow, and bending over backwards to pander to alternate views in the name of fairness is a waste of time and effort.

    When idiots push the masses to embark on a course of action which is driven by wishful thinking, all may seem to go well for a time, in what may be called the “dream stage”. But because this make-believe can never be reconciled with reality, it leads to a “frustration stage” as things start to go wrong, prompting a more determined effort to keep the fantasy in being. As reality presses in, it leads to a “nightmare stage” as everything goes wrong, culminating in an “explosion into reality”, when the fantasy finally falls apart. Unfortunately we cannot wait for reality to rub the truth into the faces of those that support intermittent renewable energy, the consequences are just too great.

    So yes, I do not pretend that those that do not join me in support of a full nuclear revolution, are somehow entitled to their opinion, and that I am somehow obligated to give it weight. They are wrong, Point finale and I will tell them so in no uncertain terms.

    This has often led to having had some parts of my comments redacted by the moderator, and that’s OK too. I would rather that then attempt to write mealy-mouthed prose suggesting that I have any thing but contempt for the other side.

  19. @Peter Whyte, Couldn’t agree more.
    In the electricty market we have some inflexible load (smelters etc) and lots of variable loads. We have a good histary of these so can (usually) predict them.
    We also have inflexible generators (coal and oin some places nuclear), flexible generators (hydro and OCGT) and now variable generators (wind and solar). With growing experience we are larning to predict the wind (The australian wind forcasting system is working very well). We also have networks that sometimes have faults.
    So where do the problems come from? I would say all of the above, and not just single out wind. It is only through balancing it all that we manage the power system and with improving forecasting systems and hopeffully some smart grids to increase demandside participation, we can get high penetrations of wind and other renewables at a reasonable cost. And even in the longer term in Oz we may get nuclear.

  20. @Hawkmon. I don’t know what redacted passage of mine you were referring to so I cannot respond. I’ll note though that the main thrust of your argument depends on the same tactics that creationists tend to use when confronted by something they can’t argue around: implying that the burden of proof has not been properly met.

    Clinging to a poor position by demanding higher and higher degrees of proof that some other truth displaces the one you believe in is likely to cause more damage than not to your stand. That’s because each time the bar is raised, and surmounted, you take a greater loss. In the end, it is just a delaying tactic that belongs to the “frustration stage” that I referred to up thread, an attempt to keep the fantasy alive by dialectic maneuvering.

  21. I understand that the material as presented seems confusing. Another way to look at the issue is to consider the change in wind capacity credit with wind penetration and I think the issue may become clearer.

    For those that don’t know, the ‘capacity credit’ or ‘capacity value’ of a generator is the amount of additional demand or load that can be serviced by that generator at the required reliability level. It is a measure of the contribution that a generator makes to system reliability. Another way to express it is the amount of ‘guaranteed’ capacity from a generator that does not impact reliability. This is sometimes called the ‘firm’ capacity. It is important that we don’t confuse capacity credit with capacity factor.

    With a relatively small amount of wind power the capacity credit can be close to the capacity factor, but as the penetration increases, the capacity credit falls because the total network impact from the loss of the wind will be that much greater. The amount of CO2 abatement from wind is related to the amount of fossil fuel generation that is replaced. The capacity credit is theoretically the amount of generation that can be replaced.

    It seems to becoming accepted that once the wind energy penetration gets to around 20% there is limited value in adding more wind because it has no additional capacity credit. In other words the additional wind capacity will not replace further fossil fuel capacity. Clearly at this point the marginal cost of CO2 abatement using wind is infinite.

    This discussion does not show that Inhaber’s equation is correct but it does offer an explanation as to why the concept may be correct.

  22. @ Paul Whyte, on 22 May 2011 at 11:32 AM:

    I see nowhere in Peter’s work a statement to the effect that the wind power is in a wholly-coal system, yet you ahev made an heroic assumption that this is the case.

    Further, you assume that CCGT is the backup/balancing power source, where this is extremely unlikely to be the case. You should consider several other factors:
    1. OCGT is cheaper and more responsive than CCGT and thus is present in large quantities in many systems. OCGT is LESS thermally efficient than coal.
    2. CCGT is less responsive than OCGT because it includes a steam portion which takes time to respond.
    3. Assumptions and statements about 100% hydro backup or 100% CCGT or any other type of generating plant used as backup are nonsense, because in the real world, backup will come from all available sources, to varying degrees as availability and price operate within the marketplace.
    4. Steam systems, including solar thermal with storage, are able to be wound up and down, within limits of time and steam availability, etc.
    5. It is not only the ability af backup units to rise to meet increased load or decreased wind that matters. Energy losses are also experienced when load drops or wind power available increases rapidly, or at times of low demand.

    I applaud the authors of the parent paper and Peter for his attempt to present it to us in a meaningful way, because the concepts are not intuitive.

    In particular, any rational marketplace should/must include costs for running generating plant at less than optimal efficiency. Whatever the loss of efficiency, it is inequitable for the cause of the loss (wind and SPV intermittency and inability to be scheduled) not to bear the financial burden of these inefficiencies.

    I believe that the South-Eastern Australian NEM does part of this task reasonably well, vbut that there is a long way to go.

    Perhaps in the near future, we might find a layman’s description of the NEM on BNC, so that some of the guesswork and confusion can be eliminated through having better-informed readership.

  23. I am not sure that capacity credits are relevant to this discussion. Capacity credits are all aout guarrenteed output at times of maximum demand, while emssions reductions are more about energy and the displacement of fossel fuels over the longer period.

  24. Paul Whyte @ 11:32 am

    You have made many assumptions about Herbert Inhabers paper that are not correct. It would be best to read it first before making assumptions. Inhaber reviewed studies with empirical data. The main studies that were useful were:

    Gross
    BPA
    E.On Netz
    Danish
    Bentek: Colarado
    Bentek: Texas
    White
    NAS
    German
    Ireland
    Estonia

    These include systems with various mixes of generating technologies.

    I’ll attach below his list of references so you can see what systems he reviewed.

    References
    [1] Greenspon J. Here comes the sun. David (Las Vegas); July 30–31, 2010. p. 48.
    [2] Proudfoot J. Good company (Oregon); July 2010.
    [3] Cancel D. Venezuela’s Chavez extends electricity decree for 60 days.
    Bloomberg.com; April 8, 2010.
    [4] Axtmann RC. Emission control of gas effluents from geothermal power plants.
    Environ Lett 1975;8:135–46.
    [5] Bergfeld D, et al. Elevated carbon dioxide flux at the Dixie Valley geothermal
    field, Nevada; relations between surface phenomena and the geothermal
    reservoir. Chem Geol 2001;177:43–66.
    [6] Telkes M. Storage of solar heating/cooling. ASHRAE Trans 1974;80:382–92.
    [7] Anonymous. Pumped-storage plants in the USA; 2010. Data courtesy
    of Robert Margolis and Kelly Taylor of Florida Power and light

    http://www.industcards.com/ps-usa.htm.

    [8] Wang C, Prinn RG. Potential climatic impacts and reliability of very large-scale
    wind farms. Atmos Chem Phys 2010;10:2053–61.
    [9] Baker E, Chon H, Keisler J. Advanced solar R&D: applying expert
    elicitations to inform climate policy; February 28, 2007. p. 10

    http://www.internationalenergyworkshop.org/pappdf/Baker.pdf.

    [10] Simpson J. Wind means more CO2,NewCivil Eng. (Britain); November 26, 2008.
    [11] Fox News. California turbines reportedly frozen in harsh Minnesota Winter;
    February 4, 2010.
    [12] Mendick R. Firms paid to shut down wind farms when the wind is blowing.
    Saturday Telegraph (Britain); June 26, 2010.
    [13] Gross R, et al. The costs and impacts of intermittency. London: Imperial College;
    March 2006.
    [14] Lowe E., http://www.masterresource.org, July 22, 2010.
    [15] Center for Politiske Studier. Wind energy: the case of Denmark, Copenhagen;
    September 2009. Part 1.
    [16] Bentek Energy LLC. How less became more: wind, power and unintended consequences
    in the Colorado energy market. Evergreen, CO: Bentek Energy LLC;
    April 16, 2010.
    [17] White DJ. Danish wind: too good to be true? Util J 2004;(July):37–9.
    [18] Tolley D.Paper presented to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. January
    2003.
    [19] Droz Jr J. Wind power has appeal, but it’s foiled by facts. Ashville (North Carolina)
    Citizen-Times; May 19, 2010.
    [20] Committee on Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects. Environmental
    Impacts of Wind Energy Projects. Washington: National Research Council,
    National Academies Press; 2007. p. 5–6.
    [21] Planning of the grid integration of wind energy in Germany onshore and offshore
    up to the year 2020. Cologne; February 13 and 16, 2005.
    [22] Waldermann A. Wind turbines in Europe do nothing for emissionsreduction
    goals. Spiegel Online International; October 12, 2010,

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,k-6975,00.html.

    [23] Byrne SE. ESB National Grid, Impact of Wind Power Generation In Ireland on
    the Operation of Conventional Plant and the Economic Implications; February
    2004. EirGrid-WindImpact-Main.pdf.
    [24] Backman M. Gas fired back-up power—back-up power for wind: striking the
    right balance. Power Eng Int 2010;18:52–4.
    [25] de Groot K, le Pair C. Hidden fuel costs of wind generated electricity.

    http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/hidden-fuel-costs-of-windgenerated-

    electricity/ and http://www.clepair.net/windefficiency.html.
    [26] German Institute for Economic Research. Berlin. Week Rep
    2005;1(March (9)). Table 4. http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/
    73/diw 01.c.43012.de/diw wr 2005-9.pdf.
    [27] USEIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration). International energy statistics.
    Washington: USEIA; 2007–2010. Note that the years quoted do not overlap
    precisely for the statistics quoted from this source, partly because different
    data sets have different final years. However, the change in years does not
    affect the results significantly.
    [28] Liik O, Oidram R, Keel M. Estimation of real emissions reduction caused by wind
    generators. Tallinn, Estonia: Tallinn Technical University; 2003. Presented at
    International Energy Workshop at Laxenburg, Austria. Quoted in Keith Stelling,
    Calculating the Real Cost of Industrial Wind Power, November 2007, Bruce
    County, Ontario.
    [29] E.On Netz GmbH. Wind report 2005. Bayreuth, Germany: E.On Netz GmbH;
    2005.

    The de Groot & C. le Pair paper “The hidden fuel costs of wind generated electricity” http://www.clepair.net/windsecret.html may help to understand why intermittent wind power causes cycling of the non wind generators which reduces their efficency and increases CO2 emissions per MWh generated by the non-wind generators.

    By the way, I am not intending to defend Inhaber’s work, just apply it. As Barry pointed out in his covering note, Inhaber’s paper will be critiqued in the scientific literature over the coming months and years.

  25. Cyril R @ 11:36 (First post on this thread!)

    Thank you for your comment, and for opening the discussion.

    You say: “I’m really struggling with this deep curvature, because it suggests power plants become abominably inefficient.”

    I agree, I was surprised by the rate of reduction CO2 abatement capability that the Inhaber curve indicates. However, I am in no position to question it. We simply do not have the emissions measurements data available. No one does. And this is Inhaber’s main point. We need the data before we make massively costly investments in renewable energy programs that may not do what we are predicating they will do based purely on assumptions and modelling.

    I’ve have also addressed the concern you raised in my earlier comments here:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-127939

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-127946

  26. It seems clear that Australia’s current installed wind capacity of ~2 GW will not expand without continued RECs

    http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/between-rec-and-hard-place

    Garnaut wants the carbon tax to eliminate RECs. In contrast the Greens Party want a national feed-in tariff as well as carbon tax.

    If carbon tax penalises most black coal fired electricity 2-3c per kwh then RECs could add 3-5c to wind power at recent prices. That is two bites at the cherry. If Garnaut got his wish I wonder how much of the installed wind capacity would actually be used based on carbon tax alone. The wonderful thing about a 20% quota is when you’re only on 8% (half from post WW2 hydro) is that you have guaranteed sales.

    I believe the correct approach is to drop the RET and its enforcement mechanism the REC. Impose nontrivial CO2 constraints but allow all technologies to compete. The short term winner would still be gas. Provided those conditions held (CO2 penalties, no RET) as the years went by gas would appear too expensive and cheaper low carbon options would be sought. .

  27. John Newlands @ 6:35 am

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-127936

    It is clear from the words of Combet that RECs will continue after carbon tax despite the wishes of Garnaut.

    I agree and I think this is a really important point to take from this analysis.

    We can only have wind power if it is mandated by Renewable Energy Targets, and funded by Renewable Energy Certificates, OR by Carbon Price, OR a mixture.

    However, whichever way we do it is going to cost in the order of $2,500 per tonne CO2 avoided (at 20% wind energy penetration based on the Inhaber curve and cognisant of the many uncertainties in this curve).

    That is about 100 times the starting carbon price being discussed at the moment.

    If all this is correct, then we are paying an enormous price for wind energy if the purpose is to cut CO2 emissions.

  28. @ Hawkmoon:

    You challenge why capacity credits are relevant to a discussion of wind power. Clearly, you do not understand the notion of capacity credits as the term is commonly used. I suggest that you look the term up on Wikipedia and/or the following (not free) reference: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960148105000716 .

    Capacity credits are not an undefined concept that can be turned on or off at anybody’s whim. They are an essential tool for dealing with the variability of intermittent sources of supply, such as SPV and wind.

    My interpretation of your concept is that you want wind and solar PV to be always allocated a place at the head of the queue, regardless of the cost of alternatives and regardless of the disruptive effects and, hence costs, of unreliability of wind. How is this reasonable or fair or even least environmental cost? Please consider consequential dollar and carbon emission costs, which are the subject of this thread.

  29. John Newlands @ 1:54 pm

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-127962

    I believe the correct approach is to drop the RET and its enforcement mechanism the REC. Impose nontrivial CO2 constraints but allow all technologies to compete. The short term winner would still be gas.

    This is high level, policy level thinking. Excellent.

    I agree with what you say here. However, I’d reiterate what we’ve discussed elsewhere that the very best reform we could apply would be to identify and then remove the many impediments and incentives that favour one type of energy over another.

  30. Interesting read. I wonder how these numbers stack up against the real world example of Denmark (it is always quoted they derive ~20% of their electricity from wind)?

    Barry, I haven’t had a proper read of the Inhaber paper yet, but have you considered inviting him to do a guest post on BNC regarding his research/general opinions on the matter? It could serve as a bit of a media accompaniment to the paper, for which I have found nothing else on.

  31. @ Tom Keen:
    You mentioned that you have not found much along these lines before.

    I suggest that you chase up a few of the references cited above by Peter.

    Try deGroot [25] for starters.

    [25] de Groot K, le Pair C. Hidden fuel costs of wind generated electricity.

    http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/hidden-fuel-costs-of-windgenerated-

    electricity/ and http://www.clepair.net/windefficiency.html.

    Also, as cited by Peter, The de Groot & C. le Pair paper “The hidden fuel costs of wind generated electricity” http://www.clepair.net/windsecret.html may help to understand why intermittent wind power causes cycling of the non wind generators which reduces their efficency and increases CO2 emissions per MWh generated by the non-wind generators.

    I found deGroot’s pieces less than totally convincing, but that is only my opinion. They are good starters for a worthy subject.

  32. Thanks John,

    I was actually referring to not having found any media-related stuff specific to the Inhaber paper.

    I will do as you suggest and read the de Groot & le Pair paper though.

  33. @unclepete on 22 may 2011 at 10:42AM

    The Greens don’t hold the balance of power in Australia.In the House of Representatives 2 independents + 1 Green have given the Gillard government their conditional support.This is a fragile minority government.

    In the Senate,after the new senators take their seats in June, the Greens will hold the balance of power.This does not mean that the Greens will dictate policy which is what a lot of people tend to think.Legislation which is opposed by the Greens can still get through the Senate if a sufficient number of independents and opposition Senators support it.

    I suspect (and hope) that the Greens are approaching or have already passed their apogee in popular support. It is sad that some people are so fed up with the major parties that they feel compelled to vote (ad hom deleted)

  34. @Peter Lang thanks for your comments.

    I take your points and have downloaded the Inhaber paper.

    I’m involved with the Greens and the party is well short of where I’d like it to be on energy issues. There are Greens members who appreciate the need to move towards IFRs.

    This issue raised by Inhaber and posted by yourself needs to be faced to make the most sensible way forward to lower CO2 emissions. Thanks for posting it.

    Development of grid “smarts” look like being essential to larger shares of the grid powered by intermittent re-newables.

  35. i have some trouble with this part from the de Groot article:

    “However, the wind generated production has priority and forces the conventional stations to reactively ramp up and down. In the extreme case of the use of rapidly reacting open-cycle gasturbines only to achieve this, the efficiency falls from 55% to 30%. ”

    http://www.clepair.net/windsecret.html

    the source rules out gas power, because it has a low efficiency. then it assumes that coal will have to run at lower output, reducing efficiency.

    and finally these reduced efficiency is transformed into a lack of CO2 reduction.

    the problem with this approach is, that gas plants produce LESS Co2 than coal, not more! (the efficiency is not comparable, when transformed into CO2 produced)

    the situation is more complicated than described by de Groot.

    short term lack of power will be provided by gas plants. a longer pause of wind will be covered by old coal plants, but these will run at high efficiency.

    my question remains: what mechanism drops CO2 reduction to 70% already at 3% wind penetration?

  36. Paul Whyte,

    I hope you can influence the leaders of the Greens.

    What the analysis means to me is that wind power is uneconomic and the more we build the more uneconomic it becomes.

    The fact that we would need a carbon price and or RET/REC which is approaching 100 times the proposed initial carbon price + REC price, exposes just how bad are the policies that have been picking renewable energy as the winners.

  37. As far as the comment above by DV8X2L:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-127950

    I can only add to his position about the ‘dream phase’ and reconcilling with reality. This is now what is happening in Europe with regard to this month’s financial ‘bail out’ of Portugal:

    When one examines the May 2011 Memorandum of Understanding between Portugal and the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanisms , it can be seen in Section 5 that significant reviews are required in relation to the support schemes for renewable energy, which has to address “their rationale, their levels, and other relevant design elements”.

    http://static.publico.pt/docs/economia/mou20110503.doc

    If one does go down this road of massive costs to society, for little if any proven environmental benefit, which anyhow could have been achieved by other technical means at a fraction of the cost, then there is only one outcome. Sooner or later the costs, like the chickens, come home to roost.

  38. Increasing amounts of wind power must be increasingly remote from the consumer, so any accounting of their cost should include the extra transmission capacity they require.

    Considering that the existing transmission lines were only build with a maximum capacity to convey power from centralised power stations to wherever their maximum consumers are, any extra (wind) generation would require installing extra capacity all the way from the distant windfarms to the industrial areas. That is likely to be a long way further than the “connection to the nearest grid” in the proposals.

  39. @Pat Swords

    Thank you for the briefing on Ireland and the EU. I’ve read some of the communications that you linked — my brain is melting at the personal effort required to introduce some cost-benefit realities into the EU process.

    Were you working inside the Brussels apparatus?

    “You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile”.

  40. @ Sod, 8:02pm today:

    Are you sure that you have read deGroot’s paper correctly?

    You seem to think that the term “conventional” means coal fired. I am sure that the reference to gasturbine means OCGT, in which case the efficiency quoted makes sense. You need to understand that the OCGT units are not 3% efficient – it is only that part of the OCGT output which is frantically chasing the fluctuating shortfall or oversupply of wind energy which ends up being 3% (or whatever) efficient. It’s a bit like the difference between driving along a highway at a steady speed and driving at rapidly varying speeds between nothing and flat out.

    Surely, you don’t suppose that the slowest responding units (CCGT and coal) will be used to chase the peaks and troughs of the most variable generator (wind or SPV). This is done by OCGT, a cheap and nasty fossil fuel generation technology which has but two positive attributes:
    * Low capital cost
    * Rapid load follow ing capability.

    Against this, consider 30% or less efficiency and high CO2-e emissions.

    If you are pro wind because of low CO2 output, then you should also be with anti OCGT, because of its inefficiency and CO2 emissions. It’s cheap and nasty.

    The second sentence of your quote says it all
    “In the extreme case of the use of rapidly reacting open-cycle gasturbines only to achieve this, the efficiency falls from 55% to 30%. ”

    To say 30% is generous. Load-following OCGT’s will not be so efficient. The energy produced at 55% efficiency (CCGT) is thus replaced by energy produced at 30% efficiency or lower – ie at twice the carbon cost of the supplanted CCGT. Thus, wind has no net positive effect at all.

    If nuclear generating plant is driven down by a mix of wind plus OCGT, the carbon effect is in fact an increase from zero to whatever the gas turbines output. This is certainly going backwards.

    If you blindly support wind or SPV, then higher production from these sources may seem to be a good outcome. The whole reason for this thread is to prompt people to consider that wind (or SPV) supported by fluctuating carbon-based generation, quite probably generates more carbon dioxide than traditional coal, nuclear and CCGT which has been supplanted.

    I consider that, provided that wind is used to provide a steady output by spilling some availability, then it may not have this deleterious effect. To achieve this, wind would need to be scheduled at its LOWEST predicted availability, say 24 hours ahead. Wind would be controlled within its guaranteed capacity, thus improving its reliability and causing less load chasing by other generators.

    However, wind already costs about 7 times as much as coal-fired or nuclear, so we are pushing up the price of an already hugely uneconomic generating technology. Why not just go straight to nuclear and avoid the cost, duplication and flow-on inefficiencies which are inherent in unreliable sources of supply?

  41. Also keep in mind that if you throttle gas turbines (in fact any combustion engine) a lot, the amount of fuel unburned increases. If you use natural gas, that means methane emissions increase. Methane is roughly 20x more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2, molecule for molecule. Add to that the production methane emissions which increase because more fuel is needed in the gas turbine and you’ve got even more added greenhouse gas emissions.

    You can see that these methane emissions have a big impact even on normal operation; making natural gas at least as bad as coal:

    Single cycle gas turbines throttling all the time would be a lot worse than coal in terms of total greenhouse gas emissions…

  42. @Steve Darden

    Thank you for the compliment. Cost benefit realities are the key to the issue, to which the public must be informed of in a transparent manner; that is the law.

    My role was primarily in implementing the EU’s pollution control and major industrial accident hazards legislation, which is part of the 300 or so Directives in the Environment sphere, called the Environmental Acquis. To this is linked the Large Combustion Plant Directive, which is a major challenge not only to Eastern Europe, but to the UK as well. In this role I worked for a private company, which was tasked with delivering these technical assistance projects.

    If we take such matters as air quality, and its relation to emission standards for cars, domestic boiler, power plants, etc, its development at EU level has followed a rigourous, transparent process, such as under the CAFE (Clean Air for Europe) and ExternE (External costs of Energy) research projects. So to has the bulk of the Environmental Acquis, such as with water, industrial risk, etc.

    However, along came climate change and its offspring, renewable energy and all these principles got thrown out. Indeed the 2007 EU Commission’s “Renewable Energy Road Map: Renewable energies in the 21st century; building a more sustainable future” gives an indication of what happened:

    The document states with regard to the EU working since 1997 towards a target of a 12% share of renewable energy in gross inland energy consumption by 2010:

    • “The target of a 12% share for renewable energy was based on the expectation that 68% of the increase in renewable electricity would come from biomass and 24% from wind power. With the successful development of wind power, this technology will instead account for at least 50% of the increase in renewables”

    As every engineer would point out, biomass combustion gives a steady high quality power input to the grid, i.e. it is dispatchable as it is available on demand, while wind is a highly variable intermittent non-dispatchable source, which has to be full backed up by other thermal plants. Clearly, the ball was set rolling without any proper analysis or control of the programme and as a result a ‘pig in the poke’ evolved.

  43. I am hesitant to fully support wind (ie worst case its just expensive power), its evident that hydro storage is key for a carbon free goal, otherwise CO2 emissions could rise just be as predicted here.

    That said people are starting to pay attention to storage

    http://www.sustainablebusinessoregon.com/articles/2011/04/gridflex-plans-grid-scale-power.html

    Look at these projects in the NW, with Hawaii building a pumped seawater storage project.

    Pumped Hydro competes with NG turbines. Which is stupid and a no brainer, NG only wins because it is nearly all operating costs and LCOE calculations give a ridiculous discount rate of 10% This is why governments should be involved with renewables, the market honestly expects 10% growth each year for it to be worthwhile. And infrastructure that will stand for hundreds of years is bypassed for quick profit.

    In general it should not be the enemy of the only-nuclear crowd either.

  44. Hi guys,

    This myth that wind energy doesn’t significantly reduce emissions has already been conclusively shot down – the data and studies are summarized here and here:

    http://archive.awea.org/newsroom/pdf/04_05_2010_Colorado_emissions_response.pdf http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2010/09/the-facts-about-wind-energy-and-emissions

    It’s unfortunate to see the paper by Inhaber being given any credibility at all. If you actually look at Inhaber’s paper you’ll see that it’s just an anti-wind diatribe that summarizes previous fossil-funded attacks on wind energy. It simply cobbles together things like the fossil lobby’s discredited Bentek report and anti-wind letters to the editor in obscure newspapers to make equally unsupported attacks on wind energy.

    Michael Goggin
    American Wind Energy Association

  45. Pumped hydro does not compete with gas turbines; its complementary. You have some pumped hydro and still need the gas turbine investment (plus fixed O&M crew contracts) for when the pumped hydro is too short. Happens all the time with wind.

    Its different with nuclear power – you don’t need the natural gas turbine with nuclear + pumped storage, because you can meet all load with this combo. Very high effective load carrying capacity, unlike wind which is pathetic.

    Pumped hydro *IS* competitive – when coupled to a nuclear or coal baseload grid. So IF pumped hydro is indeed competitive, again the question is, will you use offpeak coal or offpeak nuclear to charge it? Wind simply doesn’t come into this choice, being marginal (ie merely add-on energy source to a coal/natural gas/nuclear choice).

  46. Michael Goggin, you’re with the AWEA so you’re equally non-credible in this regard. Unless you can come up with a sound plan to get to 80-90% renewables/wind/solar/whatever you’ve got no argument but ad-hominems.

    Looking at your links, they pose a different argument; wind clearly does reduce pollution (actually only CO2; NOx and particulate is highly questionable with increased throttling turbines) but it doesn’t do it linearly. To the contrary, there are serious diminishing returns all things considered. Peter Lang’s argument is that it’s a lot even with little wind; I’m not sure of that, but we do know its a lot with lots of wind (eg DeCarolis and Keith study which is very very optimistic) you get big penalties.

    It is typical for lobbying organisations such as AWEA to call the kettle black, using half-truth arguments and twisted logic. Let’s not get into that on this site please.

    The question is not how do we accomodate 20% wind, it’s how to get rid of fossil fuels ASAP. Wind is at best marginal and at worst completely useless, dangerous natural gas lock-in technology.

  47. One solution would be require all wind projects to have two hours of peak output matched with associated green storage ( hydro, pumped hydro, batteries, flywheels etc)

    With pumped Hydro that would add about $2B/Gw to the current $12B/Gw cost of wind power.

    When the green storage is down to one hour the CCGT plants fire up and replenish. No need for fast spooling OCGT plant and associated emissions.

  48. NG would only be needed for extraordinary lulls, 1 in 100 or 1 in 1000 depending on how well you plan it, average wind power is accurately and precisely predictable, the intermittence is fixed with hydro.

    Nuclear power in Japan has caused enormous crippling blackouts from a 1 in a 100 year event. Its not as a reliable a power source as assumed.

    My problem with Wind + storage is that other sources may be cheaper, but that is it.
    MODERATOR
    In future, please supply references for technical statements such as yours above, otherwise the figures stand as your personal opinion. This violates BNC Comments Policy and you may have your comments deleted.

  49. I continue to be amazed at the extent of discussion that I have seen on this site. Some of which is very well informed and insightful, and some…well, isn’t. But that is the nature of the public debate on this important subject.

    Peter Lang correctly points out the uncertainties in Inhaber’s paper. These are based on errors (which in interests of space I will not go into here) in developing Inhaber’s Fig. 3, which I have discussed with Inhaber. He characterizes his development of this figure as having “considerable uncertainties”, and indicative only, or in Inhaber’s words to me, that it only describes “the lay of the land”. I would caution over-reliance on it.

    Assuming Inhaber’s approach is correct (I emphasize that it is a questionable assumption) Peter has developed the analysis further, and this provides interesting insights into the issue of the value of utility-scale wind plants. Do not lose sight of this in evaluating Peter’s work. I do not suggest that this line of reasoning is the one I would take in the discussion however.

    I would argue that the effect of wind on emissions is not significantly dependent on wind penetration (although it definitively becomes more noticeable as wind penetration increases). The more important considerations are (1) the heat rate penalty incurred by the wind balancing plants (which is the result of being constantly “jerked” by wind’s short term – in the range of minutes – volatility and by having to operate at lower than normal efficiencies), (2) substitution of production from the more efficient but slower reacting fossil fuel plants (coal and CCGT) with faster reacting, less efficient gas turbines (aka OCGT and SCGT) and this is the big “kicker” in any analysis, (3) type of plant that is balancing wind – for example is hydro entering the picture, (4) export of wind production – reducing the need for domestic wind balancing, and (5) wind curtailment and how it is accounted for – curtailment does not mean that wind plants owners are not paid, and payment may be made on the basis of “production” under the guise of a stand-by fee (the logic here is quite weird).

    Le Pair and de Groot are on the right track in analyzing the impact on the emissions by the entire fossil fuel fleet (small) compared to that for the wind balancing plants only (notable and in the order of 15-20% heat rate penalty aggregated over the period of a full year accounting for the considerations under (1) above). I have looked at their analysis extensively (even helped them correct one of their tables – but not the extending of results to twice the wind penetration part, which I still question) as well as discussed their analysis at length with an ex-director of the US DOE/EIA. We were not able to come to final conclusions on some details. So, there are a number of issues to be aware of in connection with their work, but again space does not permit it to be recounted here (sorry, but there are issues with it). Having said that, le Pair and de Groot have made a notable contribution to the discussion of this topic. Like all of us, they are working with insufficient public data that is necessary to perform a more complete analysis. It can be accessed at http://www.clepair.net/windefficiency.html .

  50. If you want to talk to someone who might have a clue about the correct mathematical treatment of statistical values for which any formula that you or anyone else might come up with without any real provable basis, talk to this guy

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7954/805297

    Now that’s just a recommendation from someone who doesn’t know stats, but if there’s any debate about the form of the curve, then the correct approach is probably the most general one, and this guy sounds like he might have some idea about that.

  51. I’m with you DV8. The renewables can’t/won’t/never will cut it. Plenty of countries, including Canada are reducing/cutting out/cancelling subsidies for the renewables because they are expensive, part time dilute forms that do little or nothing for green house mitigation. Canada has cancelled one back up gas plant and may cancel others [Am I correct DV8?]. Nuclear IS the energy of the future as Gwyneth Cravens said some years ago. It’s just about time the rest of us understood that, grabbed our leaders by the scruff and dragged them into the nuclear age. I’ve written to the new ALP federal secretary asking to be invited to put the case for nuclear at this year’s convention. I live in hope, am mostly disappointed but will continue to push the case for nuclear. We are making progress. Are any of you bloggers out there speaking to others who need to be educated or are you confining your remarks to the select few who contribute to Barry’s excellent blogs? If that’s all you are doing, may I suggest that you are doing very little to further the cause of developing a clean, safe, affordable, secure energy supply for Australia [internationals excused]. The choice for that is either fossil fuels or nuclear.

  52. Environmentalist has graced us with his presence again.

    First, the link to pumped storage indicates that the proposal which he touts is capable of delivering about 5 hours’ production of the matched wind systems. I am in no position to state whether that is or is not sufficient to ensure system reliability, but it certainly comes with huge costs.

    Apart from the capital cost, is the 6-8 year approvals time. In other words, this is being held out today as a solution to today’s problems, but not before about 2020.

    The proposal involves private use of public lands. This is called free-loading in some circles, and is typical of the attitude of the attitude of some who maintain a narrow focus on the environment. No, Environmentalist, the countryside is not available free, gratis for privatised uses. Once again we are witnessing the tragedy of the commons (look it up.

    Regarding the next contribution, Environmentalist has made some grand statements without citations. I simply do not believe that wind only needs support 1% or 0.1% of the time (either loading or unloading).

    I do not believe that “wind power is accurately and precisely predictable”. This statement flies in the face of so much contrary published opinion and evidence, including via the references cited within this thread, that it demands either peer reviewed support or retraction.

    Lastly, to say that wind’s “…intermittance is fixed with hydro.” is obviously false. There is simply not sufficient hydro, either pumped storage or single use, configured appropriately, including the needed pumping and pipes, for this statement to be anything but a fairy tale. One example comes from Environmentalist on this very thread… the reference to a hydro system which will probably never be constructed but which has been floated by a partisan interest as a smokescreen for continued wind nonsense during an approval of 6 to 8 years. If the proponents were fair dinkum, wouldn’t they offer to park their 3GW of turbines until they had solved their problem?

    It is their problem, isn’t it? Nobody else’s? Why, then, allow it to be portrayed as though it was just bad luck that wind power is not as reliable as it should be? Why should anybody except the owners of the wind farms sort out their problems? Why do I keep hearing of payments being demanded from the public purse for wind power spilled because it cannot be used? Why cannot wind pay its own way, instead coming with annual extra “system costs” of hundreds of millions of pounds, perhaps a billion pounds, if wind penetration reaches 20% in GB alone? Citation: George Monbiot “Heat”, Chapter 6.

    George Monbiot was writing as an environmental activist, but as one who does his homework. He relies on facts, not wishes, to bolster his opinions.

  53. @Terry Krieg – Ontario has backed away from wind, and now supports the construction of two more reactors at an existing station. The Conservative Party in Ontario has made the suspension of subsidies for wind, and the passing of laws that will give local communities the last word on wind farm placement planks in their election platform. Such is the disenchantment with wind and solar in that Provence.

  54. @ Environmentalist, re global limits to renewables.

    I suggest that those wishing to get their heads around just how much money is needed to power the world via renewables to read http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=12070&page=0 .

    This is a very easy read with a clear conclusion: There simply isn’t enough money to build renewables on the scale of existing electricity systems, let alone for scaling up to meet the expectations of a global population of 9 billion.

    In other words, expensive options are unachievable. Only the cheapest can do the heavy lifting.

    Now, what might that be…?

  55. Environmentalist, on 23 May 2011 at 4:33 AM said:
    Nuclear power in Japan has caused enormous crippling blackouts from a 1 in a 100 year event. Its not as a reliable a power source as assumed.

    Nuclear energy caused this did it? The geophysical were just coincidence then, or are you next going to extend a theory that that the nuclear power plants were responsible for that too?

    Your attempt to declare nuclear power unreliable on this evidence is pathetic.

  56. @ Michael Goggin,

    If you actually look at Inhaber’s paper you’ll see that it’s just an anti-wind diatribe that summarizes previous fossil-funded attacks on wind energy

    Your post does nothing but attempt to discredit Inhaber by making accusations about the type of person he is/might be and makes unsupported claims about motives. Now unless you can show that the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews journal is some kind of pawn for the fossil fuel industry, I find these accusations very hard to believe. The articles you supplied as references do essentially the same thing, and are not peer-reviewed.

    Also, I don’t know about elsewhere in the world, but in Australia fossil fuel companies have absolutely no problem supporting wind energy – they know very well they’ll always need fossil fuel or nuclear back up, and are quite happy to sell this rubbish to promote the sale of their main products (gas and coal).

    This includes Australia’s largest producer of coal seam gas, Origin Energy, who have no problem promoting wind energy and AGL Energy.

  57. I tried to repost on the “Sceptics” thread but could not find it. Please help me, Mr. Moderator!

    So as not to disturb the smooth flow of this thread I request that a post be provided in the near future to discuss the consequences of reduced anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

  58. “Nuclear energy caused this did it? The geophysical where just coincidence then, or are you next going to extend a theory that that the nuclear power plants were responsible for that too?

    Your attempt to declare nuclear power unreliable on this evidence is pathetic.”

    Well I guess both nuclear and FF CC plants, but nevertheless irrelevant, in a 100% nuclear world Japan would be experiencing rolling blackouts after such an earthquake, while renewables would still survive far more gracefully given its distributed nature for starters, and inherent safety second.

    It is a legitimate economic criticism of highly dense energy sources.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kelly-rigg/battleproof-wind-farms-su_b_837172.html

    “Colleagues and I have been directly corresponding with Yoshinori Ueda leader of the International Committee of the Japan Wind Power Association & Japan Wind Energy Association, and according to Ueda there has been no wind facility damage reported by any association members, from either the earthquake or the tsunami. Even the Kamisu semi-offshore wind farm, located about 300km from the epicenter of the quake, survived. Its anti-earthquake “battle proof design” came through with flying colors.”

    @John Bennets
    “First, the link to pumped storage indicates that the proposal which he touts is capable of delivering about 5 hours’ production of the matched wind systems. I am in no position to state whether that is or is not sufficient to ensure system reliability, but it certainly comes with huge costs.”

    5 hours?

    “500 MW capacity and storage potential of 16,000 MWh”

    This is 32 hours.

    “Apart from the capital cost, is the 6-8 year approvals time. In other words, this is being held out today as a solution to today’s problems, but not before about 2020.”

    The Hydropower improvement act should help speed up approval times.

    http://alaskarenewableenergy.org/2011/03/senator-murkowski-introduces-bipartisan-hydropower-improvement-act-of-2011/

    “Regarding the next contribution, Environmentalist has made some grand statements without citations. I simply do not believe that wind only needs support 1% or 0.1% of the time (either loading or unloading).”

    Sigh I never said this, I said wind+ storage can be designed to only allow very rare outages, it all depends on average wind production, and power to storage ratios.

    “I do not believe that “wind power is accurately and precisely predictable”. This statement flies in the face of so much contrary published opinion and evidence, including via the references cited within this thread, that it demands either peer reviewed support or retraction.”

    You quoted me out of context sir, this is the complete statement

    AVERAGE wind power is accurately and precisely predictable.

    “These variations are relevant for long-term system planning, rather than daily power system operation. The annual variability of long-term mean wind speeds at sites across Europe tends to be similar, and can be characterised by a normal distribution with a standard deviation of 6 per cent. The inter-annual variability of the wind resource is less than the variability of hydro inflow. In addition, at a power system level, the annual variations are influenced by the market growth of wind power and the projected onshore/offshore ratio.”

    http://www.wind-energy-the-facts.org/en/part-2-grid-integration/chapter-2-wind-power-variability-and-impacts-on-power-systems/understanding-variable-output-characteristics-of-wind-power-variability-and-predictability.html

  59. Evidently the wind industry has asked Combet for a carbon tax of $40. I suspect we’ll end up with a semi-voluntary $20. Therefore RECs stay on as a kind of invisible sweetener for wind. The idea is to have a trickle of new wind build every year, not the complete halt we would get otherwise.

    The point of this exercise is not so much CO2 reduction as appeasing Greens and urban elites. In their thinking if 5% of all installed capacity is wind then 50% can’t be too far away. Their conscience will be clear switching on the coal fired aircon next summer because soon it will be mostly clean and green. This belief could hold sway for a decade or more.

  60. “Looking at your links, they pose a different argument; wind clearly does reduce pollution (actually only CO2; NOx and particulate is highly questionable with increased throttling turbines) but it doesn’t do it linearly.”

    the link does show that an increase in renewables (mostly wind) actually leads to a significant drop in CO2 being produced.

    this directly contradicts the claims made in the original article.

    Colorado has about 7% none-hydro renewable electricty.

    http://energyxxi.org/pages/tourco.aspx

    according to the graph in the original post, this should put the CO2 reduction effect well below 50% of what is replaced.

    but the study finds a CO2 reduction that is in line with the installed wind power.

    “The government’s data, reproduced in the table below, show that as wind energy jumped from providing 2.5% of Colorado’s electricity in 2007 to 6.1% of the state’s electricity in 2008, carbon dioxide emissions fell by 4.4%, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions fell by 6%, coal use fell by 3% (571,000 tons), and electric-sector natural gas use fell by 14%.”

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2010/09/the-facts-about-wind-energy-and-emissions

    the article also gives an explanation for the reduction: “dirty” plants might be the first that get replaced by wind power, so the reduction might actually turn out to be HIGHER than the percentage of electricity replaced by wind suggests.

  61. Although Inhaber’s arguments strike me as worthless, I still find myself agreeing with Peter Lang when he said:

    “What the analysis means to me is that wind power is uneconomic and the more we build the more uneconomic it becomes.”

    It seems to me that this comment applies with equal force to solar power. Wind and solar are their own worst enemies as their costs will increase if they displace the nuclear or fossil fuel plants that enable them to avoid the need for storing power when the sun don’t shine or the wind don’t blow!

  62. Pat Swords @ 22 May 2011 at 8:35 PM and 1:46 am

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-127986

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-127999

    Thank you for your posts about the economic and environmental consequences of the politicisation of environmental and renewable energy policies in the EU.

    This sort of high level policy information is invaluable. It is directly relevant to the Australia’s decisions as to what direction it should take and what policies we should implement.

    I encourage BNC regulars to seek information from Pat Swords while he is available.

    Roger Clifton, @ 22 May 2011 at 9:00 PM:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-127990

    Increasing amounts of wind power must be increasingly remote from the consumer, so any accounting of their cost should include the extra transmission capacity they require.

    True. It amounts to, very roughly, $1,000/kW and $15/MWh. We could add $15/MWh to the figures of $100, $120 and $150/MWh I used in Scenario’s 1 to 6. The head of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO, stated recently that the cost of wind energy is about $150 to $200/MWh. I understand he was including the grid enhancement costs in these figures.

    John Bennetts and Cyril R,

    Thank you for your excellent contribution clearly based on a wealth of real world knowledge in the electricity generation industry.

    Gene Preston, @ 22 May 2011 at 11:02 PM

    How can 20% of the energy from wind eliminate nearly all the CO2 emissions? That’s impossible.

    Gene, 20% of wind energy eliminates just 3.6% of the emissions from the generators displaced by the wind energy.

    I’ll try to put it another way.

    1 MWh of wind energy displaces 1 MWh of energy from the non-wind generators; but it does not avoid all the emissions from the non-wind generators. In fact, according to the Inhaber equation, at 20% wind penetration the wind generated energy displaces only 3.6% of the CO2 that would have been emitted by the non-wind generators in the absence of wind generation.

    Environmentalist, @ 23 May 2011 at 2:15 AM:

    Pumped hydro storage is nowhere near economic for storing energy from intermittent energy sources like wind and solar. This is explained in numerous comments on the Pumped hydro thread, and the costs are explained in a simplified way in this comment:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/05/pumped-hydro-system-cost/#comment-86108

    If you look at the lead article for this thread, be sure to read the reviewers comments (at the end of the post).

    seth, @ 23 May 2011 at 4:05 AM:

    One solution would be require all wind projects to have two hours of peak output matched with associated green storage ( hydro, pumped hydro, batteries, flywheels etc)

    You are arguing for more picking of winners by government. That is exactly the wrong solution in my opinion. Instead, what we need are reforms that remove the impediments and incentives that favour one type of generation over another. Our system is bogged down with huge numbers of regulations that are strangling efficiency. We care adding thousands of new regulations per year and removing none. This causes waste more of our wealth on more bureaucracy, more regulators, more people employed in business on compliance and reporting, more lawyers and accountants, more court cases. It is all totally unproductive and draining. We have less to spend on Health, Education, environment, infrastructure and on improving our cities. We need light, appropriate regulation, not more “picking winners”. That’s my opinion.

    Kent Hawkins, @ 23 May 2011 at 7:58 AM:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-128014

    Thank you for providing that excellent contribution. It is invaluable having contributions from people who have been involved in the studies that underpin the Inhaber equation.

    Please keep contributing.

    Lawrence, @ 23 May 2011 at 10:01 AM:

    Thank you for that suggestion. However, the first person I would ask for help on stats would be our host, Barry. If a stats claim gets past him I’d have 90% confidence it’s OK. And that is OK for a working paper. By the way, I employed no stats in my calculations for this working paper.

    Terry Krieg, @ 23 May 2011 at 10:30 AM:

    Terry, thank you for your ongoing excellent contributions, support, encouragement and energy. By the way, I would like to come with you sometime later this year to the Flinders Ranges to see those drop stones and the fossilised first animal life – about 550 million years old.

    DV82XL,

    Thank you for your straight talk and your usual incisive analyisis and insightful comments

    John Newlands, @ 23 May 2011 at 12:29 PM

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-128035

    Thank you for your analytical comments and especially for keeping the focus on what our polices should be. All this discussion we do is great, but we need to focus on what we are trying to achieve. Your comments invariable do that, although we do not always agree on everything.

    gallopingcamel, on 23 May 2011 at 12:35 PM said

    “What the analysis means to me is that wind power is uneconomic and the more we build the more uneconomic it becomes.”

    It seems to me that this comment applies with equal force to solar power.

    I agree!

  63. Response to American Wind Energy Association

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-128003

    Michael Goggin, American Wind Energy Association, on 23 May 2011 at 3:38 AM said:

    Hi guys,

    This myth that wind energy doesn’t significantly reduce emissions has already been conclusively shot down – the data and studies are summarized here and here:

    http://archive.awea.org/newsroom/pdf/04_05_2010_Colorado_emissions_response.pdf

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2010/09/the-facts-about-wind-energy-and-emissions

    It’s unfortunate to see the paper by Inhaber being given any credibility at all. If you actually look at Inhaber’s paper you’ll see that it’s just an anti-wind diatribe that summarizes previous fossil-funded attacks on wind energy. It simply cobbles together things like the fossil lobby’s discredited Bentek report and anti-wind letters to the editor in obscure newspapers to make equally unsupported attacks on wind energy.

    Michael Goggin
    American Wind Energy Association

    I take heart that the AWEA challenges the Inhaber equation rather than my method of calculating the cost per tonne CO2 avoided and the carbon price needed to get investment in wind power in the absence of it being forced by regulation. This encourages me to believe that my calculation methodology is correct and it is only the Inhaber equation, or the constants for that equation (2 and 0.2), that are being challenged by AWEA.

    This is encouraging becase we can explore the AWEA argument further. What would AWEA suggest would be appropriate constants to replace the 2 and 0.2 in the Inhaber equation? If AWEA rejects use of such an equation completely, simply provide me a with figure to use instead of 3.6% (for the proportion of CO2 avoided by wind energy at 20% energy penetration).

    To illustrate what I am getting at, suppose AWEA says the 3.6% figure should be replaced by 20%, or 50% or 80% or whatever AWEA can justify (for the proportion of CO2 avoided by wind energy at 20% energy penetration) then the cost per tonne CO2 avoided, and the carbon price that would be needed to cause investment in wind power at 20% penetration in the absence of regulations to force it, are calculated to be as listed below (based on the Scenario 1 assumptions). The four columns are:

    CO2 avoided per MWh of wind generation (%)
    Cost per tonne CO2 avoided ($/t)
    Carbon price required ($/t)
    Carbon price multiplication factor

    3.6% $2,502 $2,472 99
    20% $450 $420 17
    50% $180 $150 6
    80% $113 $63 3

    Therefore, instead of the carbon price being one-hundred times higher than the proposed starting price ($25/tonne) it would be only 17, 6 or 3 times higher for 20%, 50% or 80% CO2 avoided per MWh of wind generation. All of which cannot be unjustified.

    This sensitivity analyses adds weight to the statement that the conclusions in the working paper are robust. More specifically, it confirms:

    1. wind power is a very high cost way to reduce CO2 emissions
    2. wind power becomes less economic as its penetration increases
    3. a carbon price will not make wind power viable in the absence of regulations to mandate it
    4. it is the regulations (“picking winners”) that is forcing wind power on us

    On the basis of this, I’d suggest we can stop worrying about the uncertainties in the Inhaber equation. No matter what figure AWEA proposes (that they can defend based on empirical evidence), it will demonstrate these conclusion are correct and robust.

    The conclusion is clear: wind energy is an appalling waste of our wealth and resources. It is one of the worst cases of governments attempting to pick winners.

  64. @Environmentalist, Well if it was written in the Huffpostgreen it must be so.

    Please note that the wind farms were not near the epicenter, and it is moot how off-shore wind farms (which every windbag asserts is the future of this mode) would fare in the face of a tsunami.

  65. Below is an email I sent to all Members of Parliament and Senators yesterday.

    CO2 avoidance cost with wind energy in Australia and carbon price implications” (attached) explains that the carbon price would have to increase one-hundred fold by 2020, from around $25 starting price, for wind energy to be viable at the proportion, needed to achieve the Renewable Energy Targets.

    What this means is wind power is not viable at higher proportions of the electricity generation mix.

    The reason is that as the proportion of electricity generated by wind power increases, the CO2 reduction decreases due to cycling of the fossil fuel plants that make up the balance of the grid. This fact is not widely recognised, or at least the magnitude and consequences of it are not.

    Some conclusions from the attached paper are:

    • As wind energy penetration increases from 1% to 20% the CO2 avoidance cost increases from $100 to $2,500 per tonne.

    • A carbon price of around $2,500 per tonne would be needed for wind power to reach 20% penetration. The Renewable Energy Target is 20% renewables by 2020 and most of this is expected to be provided by wind power. Therefore, the expected initial carbon price of about $25 per tonne would have to increase by a factor of one hundred to achieve the Renewable Energy Target.

    • Wind energy is a very high cost way to avoid CO2 emissions.

    • Australia is paying a high price for policies that mandate renewable energy while at the same time prohibiting other low emissions electricity generation options.

    This is an example of just one of the many pressures that will cause the carbon price to go up and up once implemented.

    The paper is posted and being discussed here:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/

  66. I sent this letter yesterday to The Australian but it didn’t get published.

    Matt Chambers, (“Force of the near future”, 16/5, p28), explained the true costs of wind power and the subsidies needed to make it financially viable.

    However, Chambers did not mention that CO2 savings decrease as wind’s share of electricity generation increases.

    A paper “CO2 avoidance cost with wind energy in Australia and carbon price implications” combines Chambers’ costs and the decreasing CO2 savings.

    The result: by 2020 the carbon price would have to increase one-hundred fold, from around $25 starting price, for wind power to be viable.

    This illustrates why the carbon price will rise and rise from its initial starting price.

  67. @ Peter Lang
    “$100/kWh for energy storage capacity and we’d need say 50 days energy storage to get us through the low wind season; 50d x 24h/d = 1200h x 1kW @ $100/kWh =
    $120,000/kWy/y of average power”

    You don’t need 50 days storage, seasonal storage would only be needed in say Germany if it went 100% Solar, obviously their seasonal solar irradiation is a very special difficult case.

    I have argued that 100% Solar is possible even in Germany (if and only if current PV prices drop by almost ~90%) but that would require using hydroelectric dams sized projects with their large reservoirs as seasonal storage. and even then it might just be a thought experiment.

    In reality the seasonal variability of Wind + Solar compliments itself nicely Wind in winter at night and Solar in Summer, leaving only limited need for storage which they would both share.

    So in reality it is more like an additional $1.36/watt (same link from above) And it would look like this:

    ($Solar/capacity factor in Summer + $wind/capacity factor in winter + grid for solar + grid for wind + $1.36 of storage)/watt

    give or take redundancies

    Now we can all debate numbers all day long, but the point I am trying to reach is that it is feasible and futureproof the storage built lasts for hundreds of years and can be reused for when panels and wind turbines need replacing. PV would be much much cheaper a quarter of a century from now.

    As for CANDUs

    http://www.thestar.com/article/665644

    This is insane $11/watt??? Since I am new here is there a post I missed? Even by OECD labour standards that is insane, Areva was $7.5/watt

    Solar prices per watt keep coming down each year but nuclear seems to be going up, and all this before Fukushima.

  68. Peter Lang said:
    “You are arguing for more picking of winners by government. That is exactly the wrong solution in my opinion. Instead, what we need are reforms that remove the impediments and incentives that favour one type of generation over another.”

    Once again you are right on target. The biggest obstacle preventing the adoption of rational energy policies in countries such as the USA, Germany, Australia and the UK is government attempts to manipulate the market.

    This kind of manipulation is annoying, even when the decisions make sense; otherwise it is just another manifestation of Lysenkoism.

  69. This is insane $11/watt??? Since I am new here is there a post I missed? Even by OECD labour standards that is insane, Areva was $7.5/watt

    (deleted personal attack)

    To start off with the Advanced Candu Reactor project was a FOAK and was canceled. CANDU 6E, the current export offering is competitive with modern reduced pollution coal plants.

    Maybe you should look for news items a bit fresher than two years old, and better referenced.

  70. Enviro:

    “I have argued that 100% Solar is possible even in Germany…”

    Some would not find surprising, coming from a certain author, an argument which attests that day is night.

    Some prefer to base their decision-making on verifiable facts and peer review, whereas others prefer selective fiction and dreaming.

    Take your pick.

  71. I asked specifically because I did not know the details, its evident in my post.

    “To start off with the Advanced Candu Reactor project was a FOAK and was canceled. CANDU 6E, the current export offering is competitive with modern reduced pollution coal plants.”

    Then why did they not offer the CANDU 6E? And why was Areva’s offer a still whopping $7.375/watt?

    Olkiluoto is $5/watt after overruns.

    Am I really wrong? Are prices not going up significantly?

  72. Seth at 4:05 am,

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-128008

    Further to my response earlier today regarding your advocacy of interventionist policies, the lead article in today’s The Australian’ http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/state-power-sends-bills-sky-high/story-fn59niix-1226060718591 illustrates the cost of such policies. And this is just a very small component of the masses of regulations that we have imposed on energy over the past 50 years or more. We need to tackle and remove these impediments and incentives that favour one type of energy over another. Renewable energy targets is one of the very worst of winner picking, interventionist policies.

  73. @Environmentalist

    Then why did they not offer the CANDU 6E? And why was Areva’s offer a still whopping $7.375/watt?
    Olkiluoto is $5/watt after overruns.

    Am I really wrong? Are prices not going up significantly?

    Do you actually care whether prices are going up, down or sideways as long as you think you can convey the impression that prices are going up and are “unaffordable”?

    There are over 60 reactors under construction in the world today, and some might think you cherry picking by jumping on one or two.

    Authoritative sources actually do try to comprehensively survey actual costs. The IEA is one such organization and you can find the executive summary of their 2010 Projected Costs of Electricity Generation here http://www.iea.org/Textbase/npsum/ElecCost2010SUM.pdf

    Or you could just glance at Barry’s prior post and look at the graphic reproduced from the UK Climate Change Committee’s Renewable Energy Report here:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/12/renewables-are-not-sufficient-p2/

    Or read the whole CCC report and supporting documents – it’s very educational.

    Rather than being too expensive, nuclear looks highly competitive with all other forms of low emission electricity generation.

  74. @Peter Lang on 23 May 2011 at 12:50 PM
    This sensitivity analyses adds weight to the statement that the conclusions in the working paper are robust. More specifically, it confirms:
    Peter,the sensitivity analysis depends upon the assumption that 20% wind gives only a 3.6% reduction in CO2 emissions. If this is wrong, and you have stated there are great uncertainties, then your conclusions are wrong.

    1. wind power is a very high cost way to reduce CO2 emissions
    In fact wind power is the lowest cost or equal in cost to CCGT IF fossil fuel inefficiencies do not substantially increase with higher wind penetrations.
    2. wind power becomes less economic as its penetration increases again only by assuming that FF inefficiencies become dramatically higher.
    3. a carbon price will not make wind power viable in the absence of regulations to mandate it
    I don’t know of any regulations mandating wind, REC mandate renewable energy, both wind and solar are being built now without a carbon price, that’s why REC price has declined.A carbon price will give all renewable energy and extra incentive( above REC), but also an incentive for CCGT and OCGT to replace coal-fired.
    4. it is the regulations (“picking winners”) that is forcing wind power on us
    Regulators are not picking wind, they are favoring solar by giving it X5 REC.

  75. @ Neil Howes:
    You contend that the regulators have not “mandated wind”. You and I have crossed swords previously about that which I perceive as bias on your part, and again you seem to have been blinded by prejudice.

    REC’s are absolutely an attempt to pick winners. Certain energy technologies have been selected for very special treatment over all other technologies, thus leaving a selection between:
    Wind – with REC’s
    SPV – The dearest of the lot, with bonus REC’s.
    Solar Thermal – Too pricey at present, except in association with existing boiler plant.
    Geothermal – Quite possibly the most expensive past-time of the rich, apart from sailing. Heaps of money spent for no bankable results in Australia.
    Ocean, tidal and related – Much the same as Geothermal, so far.
    Even CCS, which is quickly becoming a greenwashed but expensive farce, so much so that politicians now consistently avoid showing public support for this money-burner.

    Note: Numbers 1, 2 and 3 of the above list cannot exist and multiply in a hydro-constrained Australia, except with the 24/7 backup of existing carbon based generation, so I don’t consider them to be carbon-free, only potentially components of a lower-carbon outcome, when the world is crying out for carbon free solutions.

    Yes, REC’s indeed are picking winners, including a suite of lower carbon winners, to the detriment of the biggest, safest and most reliable no-carbon energy technology, which has been excluded.

    Whilst regulations continue to exclude nuclear options and avoid rational analysis of all options using common criteria, your position (Points 3 & 4 above) remains untenable.

  76. Neil Howes,

    Thank you for your comment. I was wondering when you would get involved. :)

    The point you raised about the 3.6% emissions avoided at 20% penetration has been addressed in the preceding posts. Could I urge you to read the thread to date before you proceed. I also point you to the addendum just added at the top of the thread. It is in reply to the AWEA’s comment of this morning.

    Reply to your four points:

    1. Not correct. You are not comparing like with like. Wind is provides very low power quality for the price, is not dispatchable … you know the rest.

    2. Not correct. Even if wind generation avoids 90% of the emissions from the non-wind generators displaced, it still needs a carbon price three times higher than the proposed starting carbon price, plus an REC price twice the current REC price.

    3. RET mandate renewable energy. That is “picking a winner”. Wind is the least cost of the renewables, and given renewables are mandated to provide 20% of our electricity generation by 2020, we are ain effect picking winners, no matter how you might want to try to spin it.

    4. Nonsense. See 3.

  77. @Environmentalist – The ARC 1000 was a project that was in the design stage for a very long time at AECL. AECL is a Crown Corp. and as such is riddled with politics, too boring to detail here.

    The Ontario government wanted to build new nuclear, but owing to the platform of the party in power, it was decided to call for open bids on a 1GWe -plus nuclear power station and many of the world’s reactor builders entered a bid.

    However the financing laws that cover new power plant construction in that Provence are such that the potential costs can skyrocket if there are any delays. As a consequence, all bids but AECL were withdrawn, but that bid was for an untried FOAK system and naturally costs were going to be high.

    After the political dust settled, it has since been decided to build two CANDU 6E to fulfill the need for new reactors there as it should have been from the start.

    The whole thing was political theater right from the start, and has to be seen as such.

    But quokka is right: you don’t care as long as you can take a shot at nuclear, justified or not.

  78. I was having a really hard time understanding that first graph in this blog, even though Barry says its been clarified. There needs to be added a description under the graph explaining how to read it. Here is what it means. At 1% wind energy penentration in a system, the wind is 90% effective at reducing CO2. At 20% wind energy penetration, the wind is only 3.6% effective overall at reducing CO2. This seems small, but I must admit I have not looked at the extra fossil generation that is needed to service the wind generators. Those extra fossil generators are probably running in less efficient modes, i.e. at low levels. I’ll see if this topic has been studied for ERCOT.

  79. In Finland there is no question asked as to the wind disaster, wind is going up to 20%.

    What to do? At most 1% of our people understand something being wrong in the wind and I believe we will have 20% wind within ten years.As do Denmark and Sweden and the whole EU.

    Catastrophe is upon us, and scientists fear to open their mouth. Why? They have to save their jobs. Our political atmosphere is even more polluted than the earthly atmosphere.

  80. Gene,

    Thank you for explaining it another way.

    ERCOT (Bentek: Texas) is one of the studies covered by Inhaber. However, it is low wind energy penetration, so the European studies with penetration approaching 20% are the ones that are most useful in answering the questions you are asking. Of course, the starting point should be the Inhaber paper.

  81. “Below is an email I sent to all Members of Parliament and Senators yesterday.

    “CO2 avoidance cost with wind energy in Australia and carbon price implications” (attached) explains that …

    …….

    Some conclusions from the attached paper are:

    • As wind energy penetration increases from 1% to 20% the CO2 avoidance cost increases from $100 to $2,500 per tonne.”

    ————–

    Peter Lang, i think the part above contains a crucial error. the cost increase is less of a conclusion and more of an assumption, completely based on the result by Inhaber.
    as the result is completely false when the Inhaber numbers are false, i would at least mention his work, when it is such an important basis of the “conclusions”.

    ———

    “This is encouraging becase we can explore the AWEA argument further. What would AWEA suggest would be appropriate constants to replace the 2 and 0.2 in the Inhaber equation? If AWEA rejects use of such an equation completely, simply provide me a with figure to use instead of 3.6% (for the proportion of CO2 avoided by wind energy at 20% energy penetration).”

    ————–

    i actually think that the numbers on the x-axis should be multiplied by a factor between 4 and 5. i would chose 5, giving 90% CO2 reduction at 5% wind penetration and 3.6% at 100% wind.

    i think that i can even demonstrate the the Inhaber approach must be wrong.

    i do so, by looking at the other extreme of his graph. if we continue his curve, we end up at around 0% CO2 reduction at 100% wind energy.

    as an example, we assume that this graph (used on another post by Cyril) describes a wind output, that could provide 100% of the needed power for the month of February in a fictive country.

    so the area under the last of those graphs is equal to the electricity demand in that country. but the demand curve of course doesn t follow the wind production line, but will form a rather flat line (with some small day night wiggles, compared to the wind spikes)

    to estimate that line, i would simply take a typical capacity factor of wind, here 20%. i will also assume for simplicity, that the top of the spikes in the february month are close to 100% output of the installed wind. i will also assume that there is ZERO storage of wind power.

    so at 20% capacity, you have to imagine a demand line that roughly follows a straight line at about 120 on that graph for February.
    when the wind output is above the 120 line, wind provides 100% of demand, whenever it drops below the 120 line, coal/gas backup has to be activated to fill the gaps.

    if you look at the graph, you will see that the wind output is above the 120 line at roughly 50% of the time.

    now if we accept the Inhaber approach, it will be extremely inefficient to add fossile power to fill the gaps between demand and wind output.

    but what could be done (still assuming Inhaber is right) is simple: we run wind and fossile plants in a semi-binary mode:

    we use (nearly) only wind when wind is clearly above demand. we switch to 100% fossile when wind is below demand. (it is obvious that in reality we would need an overlap to keep the grid running)

    even if we assume big loses for bringing power up and down (in reality, the change could be rather smooth with fossile coming online one by one short before wind is lost or switched off) and the overlap, we would never get 0%, not even the 3.6% that Inhaber gives at the small number of 20% wind. the number would be somewhere between 50% and 25%reduction of CO2 output. (in comparison with running 100% with the same sort of fossile).

    so the Inhaber formula obviously has a serious error. it should not be used as the basis of further “conclusions”.

  82. i actually think that the numbers on the x-axis should be multiplied by a factor between 4 and 5. i would chose 5, giving 90% CO2 reduction at 5% wind penetration and 3.6% at 100% wind.

    Yes, and we can make the power of wind cheaper too, by just dividing by, say, five. There we go, problem fixed. Oh, wait…

  83. ” However, the conclusions are robust as demostrated in the response to the AWEA:
    http://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/response-to-american-wind-energy-association_v1.pdf

    ———

    i do not consider this to be robust.a price of $2,472 is different from $70.

    and you are ignoring the POSITIVE effect (Factor C) mentioned in the link above.

    “Factor C is the decrease in emissions that occurs as utilities and grid operators respond to the addition of wind energy by decreasing their reliance on inflexible coal power plants and instead increase their use of more flexible – and less polluting – natural gas power plants. ”

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2010/09/the-facts-about-wind-energy-and-emissions

    several of the examples given (Colorado, Denmark) see a HIGHER percentage of CO2 removed, than the wind percentage suggests.

  84. @ Environmentalist, the prices you quote for Areva and Candus are for all-in 60 year costs: they include 60 years of operations, maintenance, enrichment, fuel fabrication, and waste storage. If you do the same for coal and natural gas you will find similar costs. But by impressing the costs as $/Watt you make it look like capital costs, which is misleading. 60 years of natural gas fuel depending on prices, costs 15-30 billion for a GWe natural gas combined cycle unit, this does not mean that we say “the unit costs $15-30 per Watt”. Yet even if we do this we find nuclear the cheapest option.

    http://www.energyfromthorium.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1672&start=45

    Olkiluoto is cheap, at 3.8 euros per Watt electric total upfront cost, because of the high capacity factor it gives only 4.1 euros per average Watt electric. Solar @ 2.5 euros per watt and 0.09 capacity factor (in Olkiluoto you get this capacity factor for an optimised PV installation) gives 27.8 euros per average Watt electric. Solar there is over 6 times the cost of the nuclear plant that Environmentalist claims is expensive. Even then your batteries will run out every winter and you’re in the dark. Anyone ever been to Scandinavian countries? Winters in Scandinavia are very long, Environmentalist.

    The cost of replacing the batteries and inverters for the solar installation would be at least 2-4x larger than the total operations, maintenance, fuel and disposal cost of the new Olkiluoto reactor.

    Then add the fact that the panels are not guaranteed for 60 years whereas the reactor is, by a large European company rather than a cheapo Asian producer guarantee that may be bankrupt 20 years from now. So you have to count in a replacement of the installation in top of that huge cost for solar.

    Want to lock us all into using lots of natural gas indefinately? Install solar panels on your roof.

    Again we see no 1:1 comparison of nuclear and solar from the solar enthusiasts, so we have to do it ourselves.

  85. @ Sod, indeed the big pollution gain for a wind-gas grid is in the gas portion, not the wind portion. That’s why factor C is considerable. Replacing old coal plants with new gas turbines is effective in reducing emissions of particulate, SOx and heavy metal.

    Unfortunately the wind component does very little, it only forces you to use less efficient gas turbines rather than optimised combined cycles.

    More unfortunately still, natural gas has more greenhouse gas emissions than coal:

    And it gets worse as you use lots of single cycle gas turbines for a grid with lots of wind.

  86. @John Bennetts
    You have a misconcption about “OCGT” vs “CCGT”.

    Technically there is NO Difference in loading of either. I’m wondering why you think there is?

    The various controllers, like the Mark IV GE controllers for their GTs run the load up and down from minimum (usually about 50% of max) to full load *very quickly*.

    The GT part of a simple cycle (what you have been calling ‘open cycle’) is the *same* turbine as the one on a combine cycle (CCGT).

    From cold standby to shutting down they are *exactly* the same because they are the same machines.

    There are new “OCGTs” such as the GE LSM 100 which is desinged a peaker unit.

    You should also understand that generally speaking even peaker units are not designed to start and stop more than a few times in an 8 hour period so using them to *control* load is not a good thing nor is usually permitted by their contracts with the ISO and/or the manufacturer. They are designed to ‘peak’, geneally.

    The CCGTs can do exactly what a based load natural gas steam plant can do but do it much faster. Where ever did you get the idea that loading is constrained?

    The Frame 7EA (a very common GT used both as peakers and CCGT) can load wickedly fast in both directions from about 100 to 175 in minutes. I know because I watch the load follower relay do just this when I operated them. With CC set up, say a 2-to-1 (to turbines and HRSGs to one steam generator) the controller can zip along at dozens of MWs per minute quite easily).

  87. “After the political dust settled, it has since been decided to build two CANDU 6E to fulfill the need for new reactors there as it should have been from the start.”

    But what cost per watt? is it more than the EPR in Finland? The same as Areva’s 7.35$/watt? This is precisely my argument comparing today’s nuclear prices with last year’s not FF or Renewables but nuclear with nuclear over time, costs keep going up for nuclear in the OECD and the only counter argument is that the Chinese can build them cheaper.

    With Solar its prices are dropping. Wind has stabilized. Is nuclear rising?

    I understand that you think I am biased but I am stating facts, not opinions.

    “@ Environmentalist, the prices you quote for Areva and Candus are for all-in 60 year costs: they include 60 years of operations, maintenance, enrichment, fuel fabrication, and waste storage. If you do the same for coal and natural gas you will find similar costs. But by impressing the costs as $/Watt you make it look like capital costs, which is misleading. 60 years of natural gas fuel depending on prices, costs 15-30 billion for a GWe natural gas combined cycle unit, this does not mean that we say “the unit costs $15-30 per Watt”. Yet even if we do this we find nuclear the cheapest option.”

    Shouldn’t this be the real price for Nuclear? I understand the unfairness with regards to FF, but that is not my argument, Renewables are fuel free 2.4 GW with a ~.90 capacity factor and $0.0077/kWh is roughly 150 million dollars a year on fuel * 60 its $9 billion. I will try my best from now on to include estimated maintenance and salary costs, to keep Solar fair.

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf02.html

    “Olkiluoto is cheap, at 3.8 euros per Watt electric total upfront cost, because of the high capacity factor it gives only 4.1 euros per average Watt electric. Solar @ 2.5 euros per watt and 0.09 capacity factor (in Olkiluoto you get this capacity factor for an optimised PV installation) gives 27.8 euros per average Watt electric. Solar there is over 6 times the cost of the nuclear plant that Environmentalist claims is expensive. Even then your batteries will run out every winter and you’re in the dark. Anyone ever been to Scandinavian countries? Winters in Scandinavia are very long, Environmentalist.”

    $/watt is much lower for Solar, Topaz solar farm is $1.8/watt -all costs included- with a CaF of .22 and those are 2008 prices. That said its not ready for Finland, it would be nice if they subsidized the technology like Germany though.

    Also you are doing the CaF normalization wrong, its $/panel /.CaF the grid and inverters are no more or less efficient regardless of where you put it. So for example while the exact same farm being built in Finland is more expensive, the size of the inverters and grid investment remains the same, they just use more panels to get the same supply curve.

    “The cost of replacing the batteries and inverters for the solar installation would be at least 2-4x larger than the total operations, maintenance, fuel and disposal cost of the new Olkiluoto reactor.”

    What batteries? Solar today does no storage, remember we comparing today’s prices and trends and even then I formally moved to pumped hydro over lead acid but the penetration for storage is not needed yet.

    Maintenance is cheap, 1 worker per 36 MW using Topaz as a basis, less qualifications and formal education needed too.

    http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2011/03/15/1522949/carrizo-plain-solar-farms-benefit.html

    “Then add the fact that the panels are not guaranteed for 60 years whereas the reactor is, by a large European company rather than a cheapo Asian producer guarantee that may be bankrupt 20 years from now. So you have to count in a replacement of the installation in top of that huge cost for solar.”

    The panels are guaranteed for 25 years and they are western + japanese companies, come on.
    MODERATOR

    With Solar its prices are dropping. Wind has stabilized. Is nuclear rising?
    I understand that you think I am biased but I am stating facts, not opinions

    This is a prime example of your lack of refs to support your argument. Next example will be deleted.

  88. Oh sure solar doesn’t use storage today, it uses fossil fuel grids. Very sustainable. Like I said, not 1:1 comparisons. More apples and oranges from our “Environmentalist” (who has so far said nothing about the environmental impact of the 10x larger materials use for solar compared to nuclear, even without batteries – what do you think batteries are made of, “Environmentalist”?).

    Unlike you I compare one system with the other. If solar cost halves and nuclear doubles its still a no-brainer that nuclear is cheaper. The cost of the batteries alone, which only come down veeeery slowly, is higher than the cost of generating electricity with nuclear. Since solar requires at least 100x the battery capacity to get to the same level of grid service that a nuclear station can, this is rather important. Of course we won’t install 100x the battery capacity, we’ll just burn natural gas in winter.

    It’s not my fault you can’t understand simple concepts such as capacity factors and kWh/kWp/year.

  89. Environmentalist, why not look a little more critically?

    Let’s look at the Topaz Solar Farm you are extolling.

    Starting at the wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topaz_Solar_Farm ,
    we try to pick up some basic data.

    I note that it’s in California at +35 degrees N, compared to Finland at about +60 deg N.

    It’s supposed to be being built by First Solar. firstsolar.com does not seem to refer to it anymore and the google search to it brings up a dead
    link. The links to newspaper articles are also dead.

    It looks as if the project has died on the drawing board. The whole wikipedia article reads like a marketing puff piece rather than any kind of a technical summary. Among other things, it asserts that “The plant’s power would be generated during the middle of the day, when demand for electricity – and price – is much higher than at night.”
    Not so – late afternoon is typically peak time.

    It’s touted as having 550MW nameplate and costing “over 1 billion”. This is presumably where your unlikely figure of $1.80 /watt
    cames from. You should have written “> 1.80/watt”. And, if you’d actually go away and study the excellent references you’ve been given,
    you’d realise that the figure above needs to be multiplied by five just as a starter, to allow for the poor capacity factor.

    You really shouldn’t be so willing to swallow camels and choke on gnats.

  90. To add a little bit from the European Perspective, I am a bit concerned that the website WindFacts is being quoted above. This site belongs to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and as you will see if you enter it, it has received support from the EU Commision (Directorate General Transport and Energy: DG Tren) in two funding projects.

    http://www.wind-energy-the-facts.org/en/home–about-the-project.html

    Under the UNECE Aarhus Convention public authorities have to ensure that environmental information they disseminate is transparent.
    With regard to EU Institutions the relevant legislation is Regulation 1367 of 2006, which requires that documentation which is prepared on their behalf, must be as far as possible, accurate, up to date and comparable. In conjunction with the European Platform Against Wind Farms (EPAW) a request for information was sent to the EU Commission enquirying as to how the quality of this website was ensured and as to the funding details.

    So far in a reply on Friday from Hans Van Steen in DG Energy C1 (Renewables) it has emerged that the funding in the second phase in 2007 amounted to more than €770,000. The Commission refused to clarify as to what measures had been initiated to comply with the Aarhus Convention (Article 5 paragraph 2 on transparency of environmental information) and the relevant article in Regulation 1367 of 2006 dealing with quality of information. All that Mr Van Steen referred to in his letter, was the disclaimer in the website, which said it did not reflect the opinions of the Commission!

    Unfortunately, yet again, instead of accurate and transparent information being available, we have one again inaccurate, substandard information disseminated to the public. To me it is simply astounding the sums of money and the manner in which it is being poured into this sector, without any assessments or compliance with binding legal requirements.

    For those of you who are unaware of it, the United Nations Economic Commision for Europe’s (UNECE) Aarhus Convention is about the Citizen’s Human and Environmental Rights.
    .

  91. First, thanks again for excellent analysis, this is an extremely important topic!

    Environmentalist: So for example while the exact same farm being built in Finland is more expensive, the size of the inverters and grid investment remains the same, they just use more panels to get the same supply curve.

    Um. I invite you to come and study the conditions in Finland during October-February period firsthand.

    The average solar irradiation during that time drops to below 30 kWh/m^2/month (actually, it’s closer to 10 kWh/m^2/month in many places). Incidentally, that’s also the period when we need a lot of energy to, you know, keep people and industries from freezing.

    (See the irradiation curve at http://www.groundenergy.fi/index.php?pid=108&lg=en_aurinko ).

    Couple years back, I ran a product development project where we needed to test a solar PV charger module. In December. At noon, couldn’t get enough juice from the panels to register in the meter, and that was with some 160 W of nameplate capacity of the very latest flexible panels we could lay our grubby hands on to. Had to find a solar simulation room to run the tests.

    We do get pretty decent yearly total irradiation (per annum levels are on par with Germany), but that’s nearly worthless as nearly all comes during the long summer days. Come summer, even biomass-burning CHP plants are idling and the industry winds down, so at its very best large-scale solar electricity displaces some fuel during off-peak use. As baseload, its utterly worthless until someone comes up with storage solution that allows us to charge batteries during summers and use that to power our winters.

    I remember from some study that solar electricity might contribute some 4 TWh to Finnish grid by 2050 if technology advances sufficiently. OL3 will push out 13 every year. Even when it’s dark outside. (Before someone says it, estimated practical limit for wind seems to be 30 TWh. We need 80 to 90, and that’s just for electricity.)

  92. “Oh sure solar doesn’t use storage today, it uses fossil fuel grids. Very sustainable. Like I said, not 1:1 comparisons. More apples and oranges from our “Environmentalist” (who has so far said nothing about the environmental impact of the 10x larger materials use for solar compared to nuclear, even without batteries – what do you think batteries are made of, “Environmentalist”?).”

    Solar today displaces NG turbines, to use the graph above even at 100% peak penetraton it displaces almost 100% CO2 sources. Now you can argue that there are places were solar variation is an issue but not Southern California.

    Granted getting to 100% peak is not really the goal for now this is:

    As you can see the true peak is the midday, and even if it were out of shift a few hours you could easily use Daylight savings time to put it in sync.

    “Unlike you I compare one system with the other. If solar cost halves and nuclear doubles its still a no-brainer that nuclear is cheaper.”

    The numbers disagree. This means its 4 times as expensive which is not accurate. I made a detailed post with lead acid batteries but I will do it more proper for pumped hydro.

    ” The cost of the batteries alone, which only come down veeeery slowly, is higher than the cost of generating electricity with nuclear. Since solar requires at least 100x the battery capacity to get to the same level of grid service that a nuclear station can, this is rather important. Of course we won’t install 100x the battery capacity, we’ll just burn natural gas in winter.”

    Pumped hydro instead of batteries, batteries do not last until winter for starters, they naturally discharge.

    Again for Germany:

    “So in reality it is more like an additional $1.36/watt (same link from above) And it would look like this:

    ($Solar/capacity factor in Summer + $wind/capacity factor in winter + grid for solar + grid for wind + $1.36 of storage)/watt”

    “@Environmentalist – Comparing the economics of various generators by fuel is a non-trivial task. CANDU costs compared to other options in one of its markets is discussed here:”

    I understand the difficulties, but at its core it is a conflict between operating cost vs capital costs. You have NG turbines are one extreme and Wind/Solar + storage at the other. Nuclear is in the middle with old closer to operating costs and new closer to capital costs.

    “It looks as if the project has died on the drawing board. The whole wikipedia article reads like a marketing puff piece rather than any kind of a technical summary. Among other things, it asserts that “The plant’s power would be generated during the middle of the day, when demand for electricity – and price – is much higher than at night.”
    Not so – late afternoon is typically peak time.”

    Its still alive, they got past the last regulatory approval just last week.

    http://www.atascaderonews.com/v2_news_articles.php?heading=0&page=72&story_id=3849

    And here is their homepage

    http://topaz.firstsolar.com/

  93. I noticed a disconnect between the players at the Climate Commission report launching yesterday. The commissioners use the term ‘low carbon energy’. The Prime Minister rigidly sticks to the term ‘renewable energy’.

    Thus the yardstick may be an increase in the installed capacity of renewables. Since I think we will cut CO2 by 5% in a decade regardless I think the next few years could be ambivalent. If we get carbon tax lite next year I doubt there will be major technology shifts, just paying more. However people from the PM down expected wind and solar to step up to the plate but it didn’t happen. Then what?

  94. @ David Walters, on 24 May 2011 at 1:25 AM:

    Thanks for the primer in OCGT/CCGT performance. My experience has been with actual OCGT and proposed, but never constructed, CCGT. I don’t care about a preference for SCGT Vs OCGT – terminology is just a word.

    I had not realised that current designs of CCGT were as responsive when loading as you state. If so, con gratulations to those who design the steam end to start from cold and run up in a blink of an eye. You will understand my surprise that this may be so.

    OTOH, if what we are discussing is loading a CCGT system from hot, say 50% capacity, to its maximum, then of course I expect rapid response, but implicit in this is that CCGT’s are available, on line, ready to be loaded from a semi-loaded situation, which I do not expect to be the case in reality because of the high thermal efficiency of these pieces of plant. Surely, in a system with a mix of OCGT and CCGT, the CCGT gets to run first, hardest and longest because it is more fuel efficient.

    Cheaper capital cost OCGT, however, have demonstrated for decades that they are capable of running from zero to peak in a matter of a couple of minutes, but with a fuel penalty.

    So, in the context of a grid which contains both OCGT’s and CCGT’s, such as Australia’s NEM, the units which are likely to be available to respond to the fluctuating power needs which are part and parcel of backing up wind and PV will include at least some OCGT and, at times when the system is not at its peak, other units as well, including perhaps some CCGT. It is fuel efficiency which is the primary driver towards reliance on OCGT under extreme circumstances, with a secondary driver being ability to load follow, from cold, from zero to flat out.

    Your reference to the maximum number of starts per day which any turbine can handle safely is timely. It has always been very poor practice to cycle turbines, in fact, their lifespan can be thought of as being determined by a function including only running hours + number of starts. More starts = less running time till failure, and vice-versa.

    This is true, more or less, to critical boiler components such as the header drum, which is close to impossible to replace on many larger units. I have seen it done, but at great cost and with certainty that there remain other parts of the steam circuit which could also be at the end of their lives. There is a risk that, after all of the rehabilitation work, something else will fail, curtailing the would-be extended life of the generating unit.

    I’m now straying off topic and must leave. Thanks again for the heads up regarding CCGT. I will dig out some operating info on them to update my knowledge. Please pardon my use of the term OCGT in lieu of your preferred SCGT… old habits and all that.

  95. David:
    I just re-read your contribution and focussed on the following:
    “The various controllers, like the Mark IV GE controllers for their GTs run the load up and down from minimum (usually about 50% of max) to full load *very quickly*. (My bolding)

    We are not comparing apples with apples.

    If the wind proponents wish to arrange for a fleet of 50% loaded CCGT’s to back up their plant, with an ability to run up very quickly, that brings with it a cost.

    If owned those CCGT’s, once they were started, I would be bidding them into the market in an effort to gain maximum power. More bang for my maintenance bucks. Let hydro do the close load following, but certainly don’t invite an opposing plant, wind or PV, to close me out. Let them buy in on my terms and be chased out again on my terms.

    That’s how markets work, unless some regulator makes unfair rules, picks winners, and loads additional costs onto CCGT for political purposes.

    Certainly, there is no reason for owners of intermittent generators such as PV and wind to assume that somebody else will run his machines inefficiently just to back up PV/wind’s shortcomings. That’s stupid. Solution: Let intermittent power suppliers construct and operate their own GT’s and run them any way they like, internalising the costs associated with running part-loaded plant just to ensure cover the availability shortfalls in the intermittent plant. This would be fair to other market players, but still stupid.

    So, I do not agree that it is reasonable to base your assessment on an assumption that multiple mythical CCGT’s are out there at half load, just waiting to be asked to help out the wind generators.

    That is… unless money doesn’t matter any more and what we want is to put a pretty face on the technology of choice, at any price. Being an engineer, not a hairdresser, I vote for best solutions, not the prettiest.

  96. @ John Newland. I wouldn’t put too much significance in Julia’s use of the term “renewable” energy rather than low-carbon energy. She probably believes they are the same thing.

    Getting the government (of either side of politics) to recognise that they will never reach their long term emission reduction targets without nuclear power in Australia is going to be an up hill battle for several years. They will have to see solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and wave fail before they will eventually get it.

  97. @ John, I don’t think we are arguing against each other. I was just noting that any GT is quite quick in loading.

    I think YOUR points are excellent with regards to wind and what one would need to back up wind’s intermitency. Here I would generalize and make you point that now only are the GTs (whatever kind) needed and has to be included in the costs but that *true* spinning reserve needs to be available (thus the online GTs with HRZG available OR an OCGT on line and ‘cruzing’).

    Thus not only fuel costs have to be written in but wear and tear…as you point out there is a LOT of this on CCGTs…on the equipment. That’s why all starts, stops and trips are actually built into all contracts.

    The bottom line is that wind cannot do with out GTs on line are about ready to go on line.

    Basically, if one includes on demand power as a needed column of support for any wind intensive grid, you have to include it in the costs. The wind advocates do not, or I’ve never seen it.

    David

  98. John Bennetts, on 24 May 2011 at 9:27 AM

    Good points about how the market works in reality and how the individual operators work, think and compete with each other. This is as it should be. It is valuable to have it explained here.

    I’d like to point out the relevance of the point you made starting here:

    If the wind proponents wish to arrange for a fleet of 50% loaded CCGT’s to back up their plant, with an ability to run up very quickly, that brings with it a cost.

    What you have pointed out here is what explains, in part, why the Inhaber curve (Figure 1 in this thread’s lead article) has the deep curvature. If we need to have fossil fuel plants running part loaded ready to respond to changes of wind power output, then they produce more emissions per MWh of electricty generated than if they were runnig fully loaded. The Kent Hawkins calculator provides a tool to allow you to estimate the magnitude of the effect.

    http://www.masterresource.org/2010/06/subsidizing-co2-emissions/

  99. You’re right Martin Nicholson. But I don’t like our chances while we wait for all of those lightweight renewables etc to fail. We’ll all be broke by then. We have to get out there and keep telling the politicians and the people that “nuclear is the energy of the future.” and that nuclear has to be in our energy mix SOON.

  100. Peter,

    Thanks for the reply. To accurately model the impact of adding wind energy to the grid you need to account for the three main impacts adding wind has on the power system. In my article, I labeled these Factors A, B, and C. Here is the relevant section:

    “The electricity produced by a wind plant must be matched by an equivalent decrease in electricity production at another power plant, as the laws of physics dictate that utility system operators must balance the total supply of electricity with the total demand for electricity at all times. Adding wind energy to the grid typically displaces output from the power plant with the highest marginal operating cost that is online at that time, which is almost always a fossil-fired plant because of their high fuel costs. Wind energy is also occasionally used to reduce the output of hydroelectric dams, which can store water to be used later to replace more expensive fossil fuel generation.

    Let’s call this direct reduction in fossil fuel use and emissions Factor A. Factor A is by far the largest impact of adding wind energy to the power system, and the emissions reductions associated with Factor A are indisputable because they are dictated by the laws of physics.

    In some instances, there may also be two other factors at play: a smaller one that can slightly increase emissions (let’s call it Factor B), and a counteracting much larger one that, when netted with B, will further add to the emissions reductions achieved under Factor A (let’s call this third one Factor C).

    Factor B was discussed at length in an AWEA fact sheet published several years ago. This factor accounts for the fact that, in some instances, reducing the output of a fossil-powered plant to respond to the addition of wind energy to the grid can cause a very small reduction in the efficiency of that fossil-fueled power plant. It is important to note that this reduction in efficiency is on a per-unit-of-output basis, so because total output from the fossil plant has decreased the net effect is to decrease emissions.

    As a conservative hypothetical example, adding 100 MW of wind energy output to the grid might cause a fossil plant to go from producing 500 MW at 1000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour (MWh) (250 tons of CO2 per hour) to producing 400 MW at 1010 pounds of CO2/MWh (202 tons of CO2 per hour), so the net impact on emissions from adding 100 MW of wind would be CO2 emissions reductions of 48 tons per hour. Unfortunately, fossil-funded groups have focused nearly all of their attention on Factor B, which in this example accounts for 2 tons, while completely ignoring the 50 tons of initial emissions reductions associated with Factor A. A conservative estimate is that the impact of Factor B is at most a few percent of the emissions reductions achieved through factor A.
    Factor C is rarely included in discussions of wind’s impact on the power system and emissions, but the impact of Factor C is far larger than that of Factor B, so that it completely negates any emissions increase associated with Factor B. Factor C is the decrease in emissions that occurs as utilities and grid operators respond to the addition of wind energy by decreasing their reliance on inflexible coal power plants and instead increase their use of more flexible – and less polluting – natural gas power plants. This occurs because coal plants are poorly suited for accommodating the incremental increase in overall power system variability associated with adding wind energy to the grid, while natural gas plants tend to be far more flexible. (It is important to keep in mind that the supply of and demand for electricity on the power system have always been highly variable and uncertain, and that adding wind energy only marginally adds to that variability and uncertainty. Electric demand already varies greatly according to the weather and major fluctuations in power use at factories, while electricity supply can drop by 1000 MW or more in a fraction of a second when a large coal or nuclear plant experiences a “forced outage” and goes offline unexpectedly, as they all do from time to time. In contrast, wind output changes slowly and often predictably.)

    To summarize, the net effect of Factors A, B, and C is to reduce emissions by even more than is directly offset from wind generation displacing fossil generation (Factor A).”

    Back to your question, Peter. The question that you seem intent on answering is how will the emissions benefits of wind change as increasing amounts of wind are added to the power system. That’s an interesting question, and the result will vary somewhat from power system to power system and as fuel prices fluctuate. Still, since most power systems are made up of a mix of cheaper coal and more expensive gas generation, and many have some hydroelectric output, the answer will tend to be the same on most power systems. Let’s look at each of the three factors in detail for a typical power system:

    Factor A – Again, this is the largest impact of adding wind to the grid. Wind will displace the most expensive generating option, which on most power systems will be gas generation at first (or oil on some power systems). So at low wind penetrations the marginal fuel that is being offset will tend to be gas. As wind increases in penetration, during some hours wind will begin to cut deeper into the generating stack and displace coal generation, which for all major pollutants has higher per-MWh emissions than gas. So the trend for Factor A is one of increasing emissions benefits as one moves to higher wind penetrations. Since Factor A greatly outweighs the other factors, increasing emission savings should also be the overall trend for adding wind.

    Factor B – It is true that adding wind energy tends to marginally increase the aggregate variability and uncertainty on the power system. At low wind penetrations, the increase in aggregate power system variability is incredibly small. This is due to the fact that wind and load are uncorrelated on the sub-hourly time scale that is relevant for looking at the impact on other generation, and the incredibly powerful mathematical principle that statistically unrelated sources of variability combine according to the square root of the sum of squares rule.
    As an illustration of the power of this statistical fact, a typical power system might have 100 MW as the average 10-minute variability of load, while the variability of wind output over this time scale might be 5 MW (data from actual wind plants shows that the output of wind plants, particularly multiple wind plants spread over a broad area, tends to remain relatively constant over the 10-minute time frame). In this example, the aggregate system variability would be the square root of 100^2+5^2, or 100.125. Thus, the wind fleet’s incremental variability would be 0.125 MW, 40 times less than the 5 MW that many attempts to look at wind’s impact on overall power system variability wrongly assume.

    It is true that at very high wind penetrations, a dozen or more times higher than we are currently at in the U.S., the sub-hourly variability of wind can increase to the point that it becomes comparable to that of load, at which point wind does begin to have a noticeable impact on aggregate power system variability. It is important to point out the countervailing factors that as more wind is deployed the wind achieves greater geographic diversity, which greatly reduces the aggregate sub-hourly variability of the wind, and massively reduces the aggregate forecast error, as the correlation between the output and the forecast error for two wind plants drastically decreases with greater distance between them. For data illustrating this, see pages 25-28 here: http://www.vtt.fi/inf/pdf/tiedotteet/2009/T2493.pdf . This makes intuitive sense – on the sub-hourly scale that is relevant for looking at the need for faster-acting regulating reserves that have the most impact on the heat rate and emissions of the power plants providing them, a weather event affecting one wind plant will have no impact on a wind plant several hundred miles away.

    So the overall conclusion is that the Factor B impact of wind is trivially small at low penetrations, but that as one gets to very high penetrations where the sub-hourly variability of wind exceeds that of load, it can become a material factor. However, even at this penetration, all available data indicate that the impact on emissions is likely to be very small. Returning to the example power system above, at a very high wind penetration, if wind variability is 100 MW and load variability is 100 MW, the total power system variability will be 141 MW. So even in this very high wind penetration case, the variability would only increase by 40% from what it was with load alone. A 40% increase in variability is probably comparable to what a power system without wind might experience as it goes from a spring month where there is little weather-driven variability to a summer month where the addition of air conditioning loads have increased variability by 40%. I think almost any utility operator would tell you that they easily accommodate that additional seasonal variability with a minimal impact on emissions, and thus one would expect the same for the integration of wind. Generating assets like hydroelectric plants are able to provide reserves with no emissions penalty, and the data that is available for fossil generating assets indicate that most have tremendous flexibility to reduce their output by as much as half before they experience a decline in efficiency or an increase in emissions of more than a few percent, which means there should be way more than enough power system flexibility to accommodate the incremental variability of very high wind penetrations with very small Factor B impacts on emissions. Work is ongoing on several wind integration studies in the U.S. to more precisely quantify Factor B, and based on the preliminary results of that work as well as the results of other studies, even at very high wind penetrations the answer is likely to be an emissions increase that offsets a few percent of the emissions savings that resulted from Factor A.

    Factor C – Any emissions increase associated with Factor B will be more than offset by the corresponding decrease of Factor C, particularly at higher wind penetrations. The wind integration studies that are getting underway in the U.S. to better quantify Factor B are also looking at Factor C. A few studies have already attempted to quantify Factor C by factoring in generator ramp rate limitations, most notably NREL’s Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study, and they have found Factor C to be quite large. That study found 20% and 30% wind would almost exclusively offset coal generation, resulting in CO2 emissions savings of 25% and 37.5% respectively relative to the baseline mix. The ongoing studies will incorporate plant cycling costs into the unit commitment and dispatch process, rather than just incorporating ramp rate limits, so the Factor C impact is likely to be even larger in these studies. While Factor C is likely to remain fairly small at low penetrations since wind will not yet be digging deep enough into the generation stack to affect coal plants, at higher penetrations this begins to occur. So one would expect Factor C to increase as wind penetration increases.

    Putting A-B+C together, each of the terms tends to increase as the wind penetration increases, and since A is by far the largest, followed by C, then B, the overall trend is clearly for increasing emissions savings as one reaches higher penetrations. Of course that trend may slow as one reaches extremely high wind penetrations dozens of times higher than today, when wind begins to be curtailed as it exceeds the total power system load during more hours of the year. However, that challenge is many decades off and will likely be solved with the introduction of cheap energy storage or some other technology in the meantime. For the foreseeable future of the next several decades, the clear trend appears to be accelerating emissions savings as wind penetrations increase.

    Michael Goggin, American Wind Energy Association
    MODERATOR
    Michael – BNC Comments Policy requires refs/links to support your arguments. Please supply these or your comments will be deleted.

  101. @Michael Goggin – Unreferenced, the above is next to useless on this site. Anyone can tell a plausible sounding story, but without primary sources to back it up it will remain just that: a story.

    Note too that if you post reference, it will be read and challenged and we take a dim view of those that haven’t read, or cannot defend the material they link to.

  102. A lot of the discussion about solar and wind power and cost of nuclear seems to be missing the important point of this thread – and the policy implications of this analysis.

    The analysis shows that wind generation is not viable without it being mandated. Without renewables (which means wind since it is the lowest cost renewable), a carbon price would have to be so high as to be totally unacceptable.

    The addendum, ‘Response to the AWEA’, http://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/response-to-american-wind-energy-association_v1.pdf shows that the argument about the actual outputs from the Inhaber equation is a side issue. It doesn’t matter whether wind avoids 90% or just 3.6% CO2 (the result from the Inhaber equation) at 20% penetration because in either case the cost of the subsidies need to make wind viable is unacceptable.

    The conclusions are robust. The two most important conclusions are:

    • Wind energy is a high cost way to avoid CO2 emissions.

    • Australia is paying a high price for policies that mandate renewable energy while at the same time prohibiting other low emissions electricity generation options.

    These conclusions have important policy implications. I suggest some of the policy implications are:

    • We should stop the ‘picking winners’, interventionist approach such as Renewable Energy Targets and Renewable Energy Certificates.

    • We should stop all subsidies, feed in tariffs and other incentives for renewables

    • Likewise, we should remove all incentives for fossil fuels

    • Furthermore, we should remove all impediments to low cost nuclear

    • We should implement reforms to remove unnecessary regulation that is burdening all our industries and making Australia less competitive than it would be if we cleaned up the mess of red-tape and green-tape that has accumulated over the past 50 years or so

    • Then we would be in a position to begin implementing the lowest cost energy systems that we will need to meet our energy needs (energy security, reliability, low emissions, low cost) for the decades ahead.

  103. @Michael Goggin,

    I’ll get back to you regarding your post. But I just want to say I’ve been following both sides of the debate for a while. You rely on modelling. Others want empirical evidence of the emissions avoided. They want reliable measurement data. That is one of the main points Inhaber makes – we don’t have the measurement data and yet are setting off on investing trillions on the basis of what the AWEA and environmental NGO’s are urging us to do. Many people have grave concerns this is another really bad, politically driven policy thought bubble. Pat Swords’ excellent contributions on this thread make the point well.

    I’ll get back to you. In the meantime, could you please provide us with your estimate of the % CO2 emissions avoided by wind generation at 20% wind energy penetration. If you prefer provide a range of figures for various technology mixes. I hope you will do this to help me understand where AWEA believes this figure lies in the spectrum we have been discussing between the 3.6% (from Inhaber’s equation) and the 90% I used in the sensitivity analyses.

  104. The Sustainability Victoria guide “A guide to calculating the greenhouse benefits of wind energy facility proposalshttp://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/43941/Greenhouse-abatement-figures-new-logo.pdf contains statements that are the opposite of what Inhaber (2011) concludes. The Sustainability Victoria report says:

    This modelling shows that increased levels of wind generation delivers a proportionally greater amount of greenhouse abatement. [p1]

    As Victoria moves to higher levels of wind generation (1000 MW), a higher abatement co-efficient will apply, which is expected to average 1 tonne of CO2 equivalent per megawatt hour in the period 2009 – 2015. [p2]

    Perhaps Victorians could ask Sustainability Victoria if they have any empirical evidence to support the modelling studies? [Note 1]. If not, the studies are based on unsubstantiated assumptions.

    Note 1: We know they do not have empirical data. Australia does not have any measurements of CO2 emissions for electricity generators.

  105. Peter, the MMA study referred to in the guide was done in 2006.

    According to ABARE Energy in Australia 2008 report there was only 134 MW of wind installed in Victoria in 2006. There would have been limited empirical data available and even if there was it would be of such low wind energy penetration to make any meaningful future estimates.

    I doubt this guide offers any meaningful information for this discussion.

  106. Martin Nicholson, @ 24 May 2011 at 4:47 PM:

    Thank you for the info. However, I believe the issue is serious and should be raised.

    The Sustainability Victoria guide is dated 2009 and it is their extant guidance to wind farm developers. If it is wrong, then Sustainability Victoria should withdraw it. I posted the comment because of an email I received about it today. I think such apparently misleading information is being provided in many of the state and federal Environment Departments. It was the misinformation about emissions avoided by wind generation on federal ACT, NSW, and Victorian environment departments that prompted my original paper. I sent the paper together with extracts of many examples of misleading claims about CO2 saved by wind farms to Federal and state government ministers for energy, industry, environment and the state Premiers in 2007. The Federal Minister for Industry raised the matter with the Treasurer, and the Federal government then instructed ACCC to conduct an enquiry into “misleading claims about carbon offsets”. Soon after the change of government in November 2007, the enquiry was shut down, whitewashed, and the submissions were not made public. The public was told they could trust what “Green Power” schemes claimed.

    This is an Australian example of the sorts of concerns Pat Swords from Ireland has been raising in posts on this thread about what is happening in the environment departments in the EU.

    I do believe the fact we do not have CO2 emissions information available at the time scale needed to verify the Inhaber curve or, at the other extreme, what the AWEA claims, means we should not be mandating renewable energy. We may be making an enormous mistake.

  107. @sod, 23 May 8.51pm
    I agree with your conclusions but would like to point out a common misconception of your statement:
    but the demand curve of course doesn t follow the wind production line, but will form a rather flat line (with some small day night wiggles, compared to the wind spikes) as shown in this figure of wind output.

    If you look at the 9 major high wind periods for the month of Feb, where output changes from 80% of capacity in each case the change occurs over a period of one day(or more), so rates of change are generally about 2-3% of capacity/h. This seems to be true for aggregate wind output from a large number of farms dispersed >100,000 sq km.
    Now contrast this with the daily variations in demand, which in Australia are typically 50% of operating capacity( 16-33GW for NEM) and occur twice a day so demand changes by 5%-8%/h.
    Thus major changes in demand are placing greater demands on the grid generators than major changes in wind output. Wind output also has frequent minor changes in output(1-2% capacity per h) but still much slower that even coal-fired can accommodate (1% per minute).
    The other point is that where some hydro is available( and most countries have access to some hydro), the frequency of major high and low wind output (2-10 days) is longer than present use of hydro for meeting peak demand(4-6 h) and much shorter than hydro storage capacity(3months to years). This essentially allows the same hydro to be used twice(meeting short term peak demand, and partially backing up longer term low wind periods). For example in Australia with 4.5GW reliable hydro ( plus 2.2GW pumped hydro) can in total provide about 45GWh/ daily peak, but over a 5 day low wind event could in addition provide 450GWh to reduce FF used for back-up. If wind was to provide an average of 20% energy(5GW) most of the low wind deficit could be covered, provided similar savings in the use of hydro for peak demand could be made during high wind periods. Fairly inexpensive up-rating of existing hydro would enable even >20% wind penetration to be mainly backed up by hydro, although high FF capacity would still be needed to meet peak demand.

  108. The NSW gov’s DECCW report is done by the same lot as the Victorian effort, by MMA.

    It is called “Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions Abatement
    from Wind Farms in NSW”

    It includes the (in my opinion) misleading title of Section 3, page 7 :

    “Measuring Emissions Abatement from Wind Farms”.

    However, it is a computer modelling attempt at estimation NOT measurement of any physical quantity.

    The first sentence Section 3, page 7 states :

    “There are a number of issues that need to be considered in attempting to estimate the actual level of emissions abated from wind farms.”

    and then they present the modeling they used to attempt to estimate emissions abatement…

    The web link given by MMA report’s author’s is http://www.mmassociates.com.au this redirects straight to http://www.skmmma.com/ (Sinclair Knight Merz Pty Ltd). From here the company credentials are listed as :

    http://www.skmconsulting.com/Markets/Australia/Power/Wind-Power-Services/

    “Sinclair Knight Merz supports wind energy developers, financial institutions, equipment suppliers and operators world-wide throughout all aspects of the project life cycle, including site prospecting, consenting, design, procurement, construction, commissioning, operation and maintenance and replanting.”

    I posted this one on another thread at BNC some time ago, but I can’t recall the thread. Someone posted a reply too, but again my mem fails me…

    http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/climatechange/greenhousegassavingstool.htm

  109. “These conclusions have important policy implications. I suggest some of the policy implications are:

    • We should stop the ‘picking winners’, interventionist approach such as Renewable Energy Targets and Renewable Energy Certificates.

    • We should stop all subsidies, feed in tariffs and other incentives for renewables

    • Likewise, we should remove all incentives for fossil fuels

    • Furthermore, we should remove all impediments to low cost nuclear”

    ——————

    you are stopping one step to early. if we want to do this, we have to undo the subsidies that we gave to energy in the past. so fossil and nuclear have to pay back massive amounts of money. (in Germany even solar subsidies today are smaller than what nuclear got in the 70s.

    what you propose is the opposite of “not picking winners”. instead it does pick winners, mostly fossil fuel and companies that are big and strong today. (fossil fuel business mostly)

    —————–

    Neil, i agree with everything you said. my example was biased towards the ant-wind position, to make it stronger. this is why i ignored water storage, for example.

    if we look at the graph, and transform it into a binary plot (100% demand covered by wind and zero wind periods), we remove the uncertainty about how fossil backup will react to samll wiggles.

    the binary curve then only needs fast gas plants to provide energy in the gaps and these gas plants will run at maximum efficiency.

    this “proves” that even at 100% wind penetration we would save around 50% CO2 emissions. it completely contradicts the Inhaber result. (i think i understand what the problem is: they use the most inefficient coal plants in their examples, instead of the highly efficient gas plants that will balance wind in reality)

    in the real world, we have places that run on 100% renewables. the island of Samso is the most obvious example.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sams%C3%B8

    do people really think that those who test the combined power plant have not figured out that their system uses more CO2 than typical fossil plants???

    http://www.kombikraftwerk.de/fileadmin/downloads/Technik_Kombikraftwerk_EN.pdf

    i also wonder why the fossil fuel industry is not going nuts over this “wind scheme”, that ends up using more CO2 (which has to be paid today!) than less. do you think they haven t noticed it yet?

  110. sod, @ 24 May 2011 at 11:53 PM

    you are stopping one step to early. if we want to do this, we have to undo the subsidies that we gave to energy in the past. so fossil and nuclear have to pay back massive amounts of money.

    This is wrong thinking. When making an investment decision it is about the future. We should not consider the sunk costs. We should look at the cost / benefits of the available options for going forward. The sunk costs are gone. The decisions we make now must be about what is the right way to go forward.

    If you want to undo the mistakes of the past we’d need to compensate the world for the errors of the past such as 50 years of banning nuclear. That error slowed its development and encumbered it with massive impediments so that now it is more costly and less efficient than it would be if development had not been delayed. If nuclear had not been blocked the world would have 10% to 20% lower emissions now and be on a much more rapid path to decarbonise than we are on as a result of the mistakes of the past. We can’t change the past but we can make better decisions about the future. And we can avoid wasting our wealth which would make us less able to take the best actions in the future.

  111. I know, Sod, that when I think of the “real world,” I think of the island of Samso. 43 square miles.

    I do like the ownership arrangements.

    a nuclear battery owned by the islanders would make loads more sense.

    Peter Lang: welcome back my evil twin brother.

  112. (i think i understand what the problem is: they use the most inefficient coal plants in their examples, instead of the highly efficient gas plants that will balance wind in reality)

    Sod: read that energy collective essay linked by Martin Nicholson. It argues, as Peter has elsewhere, that gas plants plus efficiency makes much more sense than 20% wind plus gas–in a scenario for N.E. U.S.

  113. sod@ “in the real world, we have places that run on 100% renewables. the island of Samso is the most obvious example.”

    There was a Scientific American pop sci article on this. An interesting quote form the article is :

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=samso-attempts-100-percent-renewable-power&page=3

    “Realistic view

    Of course, the wind on Samso doesn’t always blow, although it felt that way from atop one of the 50-meter wind turbines. A six-story ladder inside the turbine’s stem takes one to the turbine room where the press of a button opens the hatch roof, allowing one to spy, in the ocean, the offshore turbines as well as, across the strait, the billowing steam of a DONG Energy coal-fired power plant—the same facility that helps keep the lights on in Samso when the turbines are not producing. Sometimes that happens because the wind dies down and sometimes it is because the 21 turbines, each in their turn, face maintenance problems, such as overheated gearboxes from the 1,500 revolutions a minute they undergo. In fact, it was just such a malfunction that stopped this turbine spinning and allowed it to be climbed; replacing a single gearbox costs roughly $150,000.”

  114. @ Sod:
    As I showed above, reliance on GT’s to back up wind involves either constructing and OCGT’s at 30% efficiency, or constructing and operating AND RUNNING at 50% load, CCGT’s and/or a mix of these and other generation plant as reserves. (See: John Bennetts, on 24 May 2011 at 9:27 AM)

    Your facile “proof” “… that even at 100% wind penetration we would save around 50% CO2 emissions fails to account for the 50% loading of standby CCGT’s in order that they can be available to fulfil your scenario, which requires “fast gas plants to provide energy in the gaps and these gas plants will run at maximum efficiency”.

    Clearly, having CCGT gas plants available on 50% duty for standby purposes locks in significant carbon usage and very low heat rates. Using open cycle gas plants on standby is not an answer, because they would be running at 30% efficiency or worse rather than the achievable maximum of 60%. (Citation below).

    Your scenario is a logical impossibility – it proves nothing, except that real analysis requires real scenarios.

    I suggest that you read the document referred to above by another poster. See http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/57905/wind-power-and-co2-emissions?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=The+Energy+Collective+%28all+posts%29&utm_content=Twitter. See especially:

    “Determining CO2 Emissions and Fuel Cost.
    The gas turbines of the cycling facility, most efficient near rated output, would have to operate at a less efficient, more polluting, reduced output to be able to immediately vary their outputs to accommodate all variations of wind power, including unpredictable, sudden, large variations of wind power” and then read on, regarding heat rate penalties at low operating levels and comparisons of Wind + CCGT and CCGT only. Then the party-stopper “Implementing CCGT power instead of wind power appears to be the best choice, by far. The enormous ADDITIONAL capital costs and annual owning and O&M costs for the wind power and cycling facilities could be much more effectively used for investments in increased energy efficiency which would reduce CO2 far more effectively per invested dollar than either CCGT or wind power.”

    So, Sod’s hypothesis has been tested and is not correct, or even part-correct, but is completely and optimistically wrong.

    The referenced article is fact-filled, supported by citations and well-presented. I recommend it highly.

  115. More weighted average cost estimates this time including ‘shadow’ gas costs. Suppose mixed cycles gas (CCGT and OCGT) generate 0.5t CO2 per Mwh. If wind only displaces 0.4t CO2 per Mwh the implication would seem to be that it takes 0.8 Mwh of unproductive gas equivalent to shadow that Mwh of wind. However that ‘shadow gas’ still has operating costs and the CO2 will be liable for carbon tax. The cost implications are major even if we take the case of just 20% wind penetration.

    I have assumed there are no RECs and carbon tax is $25 per tCO2. Mixed cycles gas goes to $133 per Mwh = $120 + $13. Coal goes to $55 = 30 + 25. I assume wind like pre-carbon tax gas is $120 per Mwh. Now take
    Case A 40% mixed cycles gas 60% coal
    Case B 20% wind 20% gas 60% coal

    Weighted average costs per Mwh become
    Case A .4(133) + .6(55) = $86
    However for case B we add the carbon taxed gas shadow cost so the components sum to >1. That is wind, carbon taxed gas, carbon taxed coal and carbon taxed shadow gas
    .2 (120) + .2(133) + .6(55) + .2(.8) (133) = $105
    If those figures are plausible it shows it is cheaper to do the non-coal fraction on gas alone at current costs.

  116. Michael Goggin (AWEA),

    I notice you have not responded to the request I made in two responses to you; the second of them said:

    In the meantime, could you please provide us with your estimate of the % CO2 emissions avoided by wind generation at 20% wind energy penetration. If you prefer, provide a range of figures for various technology mixes. I hope you will do this to help me understand where AWEA believes this figure lies in the spectrum we have been discussing between the 3.6% (from Inhaber’s equation) and the 90% I used in the sensitivity analyses.

    I can’t do much with your comment with no numbers to work with. Your comment’s N/A* = 0

    * N/A = ratio Numbers / Adjectives.

    We could get into a discussion about your factors A, B and C. But that has been done to death elsewhere. Disagreement remains. Inhaber has reviewed the literature. From the few studies that worked with empirical emissions data, as opposed to models and assumptions, he produced his equation. What you say and what he says are miles apart. He may be wrong and you may be correct, but to convince me you’d need to provide good studies based on empirical data.

    You say Factor B is small. Others argue it can be as large as Factor A. We need the empirical evidence to be able to resolve this. Why don’t we have it after two decades of governments implementing policies which effectively mandate wind power?

    You did not mention a ‘Factor D’ (or a component of Factor B), that is, if we mandate wind power, as the Renewable Energy Targets do in effect, then we also force a higher proportion of OCGT to CCGT to be built. That means a higher emissions system. Those investments, and the associated higher emissions, are locked in for the 30 year life of the plant (plus life extensions), even if we find the policies mandating wind power were a mistake and we repealed those policies (as I believe we should as I explained here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-128136 ).

  117. John Newlands,

    If those figures are plausible it shows it is cheaper to do the non-coal fraction on gas alone at current costs.

    Thank you for that approach from a different direction.

  118. As is often the case, I have been completely intrigued by the discussion and humbled by the mathematical and technical expertise of most of the contributors.

    At risk of being considered slightly off topic, I would like to introduce the question of the source of funding and political power behind the incredibly successful sales job regarding wind and solar energy that we have all been subjected to for several decades.

    Though it might seem counterintuitive, I strongly suspect that the marketing has not come from the counter culture environmentalists who are often credited with being the force that has opposed nuclear, supported arguments about climate change, and demanded increased portions of our power be produced by warm and fuzzy renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

    Instead, I think renewable energy mythology is a clever distraction created by the same kinds of skilled product marketing experts who used to be employed to convince us that we could put a “tiger in our tank” by buying a certain brand of gasoline. It has been supported by the industrial economy establishment of people who benefit greatly from the nearly complete addiction to hydrocarbons that fuels modern society.

    The wealth and power of that establishment was severely threatened by a tiny band of curious people who not only found that the nuclei of uranium and thorium contained 2 million times as much energy per unit mass as the most energy dense hydrocarbon, but they also created the machinery required to turn that energy into a commercially useful, competitive product a mere 15-20 years after it was first discovered.

    In 1956, my favorite American President of the 20th century sent an envoy to the king of Saudi Arabia to tell him to stop supporting Egypt in the Suez Crisis or he would turn atomic energy loose in an effort to make oil irrelevant and worth far less as an economic bargaining chip. Warnings like that caused the fossil establishment to scramble and strategize for ways to derail the nuclear juggernaut that was inevitably going to take market share.

    It took several decades of steady, well supported effort, but eventually that effort halted the growth of nuclear energy at its production level of about 12 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. That is roughly the same daily contribution to the world’s energy supply as the total output of Saudi Arabia PLUS the output of Kuwait. It took the established energy industry another decade and a half to encourage increased consumption enough to overcome the low prices created by the “over supply” produced by the uncontrolled introduction of that new energy into “their” energy market.

    A part of the program was an effort to support the “research” of people like Amory Lovins, who has been called an energy guru for his constant refrains about taking “the soft energy path.” A part of the evidence for my story is the fact that this man, a college dropout from two schools, managed to publish a very lengthy piece in Foreign Affairs in 1976, just in time to influence the US Presidential election held that year. (Foreign Affairs is a publication supported by the fossil fuel establishment funded Council on Foreign Relations.)

    The establishment is very much aware of the fact that wind and solar energy systems are material intensive and require government assistance. (That’s okay with companies like GE, Siemens, Iberdrola, and Vestas. They LIKE selling material and have always had excellent lobbying organizations.) The establishment is also quite aware of the inefficient gas burning required to support unreliable wind and solar. (That is okay with companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Elf, Total, Anadarko, and Aramaco. They all sell substantial quantities of natural gas. Many of the multinational oil companies are about 50-50 in their energy output – 50% methane and 50% liquid hydrocarbons.)

    In the meanwhile, nuclear energy languishes from lack of investment by the major market banking establishment. That is okay with them, most are holding huge quantities of paper associated with the capital intensive effort to locate, extract, transport, store, process, and deliver hydrocarbons to the world’s thirsty markets.

    What is the answer to the conundrum I have posed – that nuclear energy threatens a very large and powerful establishment that has carefully sold the mirage that wind and solar are our saviors?

    My answer is to remember that there are far more energy consumers than energy producers. There are very powerful potential allies who do not make their money from their association with the fossil fuel supply chain. We also have a huge energy density and low emission advantage that can overcome other issues. Nuclear fission is not just marginally better, but radically, disruptively better than all other alternatives.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights

  119. @John Bennetts, on 25 May 2011 at 3:41 PM
    The gas turbines of the cycling facility, most efficient near rated output, would have to operate at a less efficient, more polluting, reduced output to be able to immediately vary their outputs to accommodate all variations of wind power, including unpredictable, sudden, large variations of wind power”
    Can I suggest you look at the data, variations in wind power (collected from a large number of wind farms) are actually fairly slow taking many hours or even days for large variations. Very few if any FF plants would have to “immediately vary outputs” to accommodate wind, more like “slowly vary output”.
    MODERATOR
    Please present the data to which you refer – otherwise your comment is merely unsubstantiated personal opinion. Future comments without supporting refs may be deleted as per BNC Comments Policy.

  120. Sod, in reality it matters when the electricity is delivered. Samso powered by 100% renewable energy is an accounting dishonesty; they simply look at how many kWh are used by Samso and then build sufficient wind turbines (or other renewables) to generate those kWhs. Then they say its 100% renewable.

    Its nonsense. When the wind does not blow Samso uses imported fossil fuel. Its unfair accounting, intelletual dishonesty, to state that this island is powered 100% by renewable electricity.

    What works for a small island doesn’t work on the total system level. This is so obvious from looking at the data.

  121. Neil Howes, the fact remains that when there’s no wind you burn fossil. At what efficiency penalty is second to the simple fact that you’ve locked yourself into fossil fuel backup. Actually you’ve got a fossil grid with some unreliable wind added as an afterthought.

    That’s not acceptable.

  122. Sod, this debate is not about picking winners. Its about identifying losers.

    Wind and solar are losers by their intrinsic characteristics – unproductivity and non-dispatchability locking in fossil fuels. So we can scratch these from our list of what/how to stimulate clean techs.

  123. @ Neil Howes, on 25 May 2011 at 7:17 PM:

    Neil, those words were not mine, they are a direct quote from a reputable source, which I cited.

    Have you even bothered to look at it? It is an analysis of a very large volume of data collected over time on large, real systems. The authors depicted the necessary response of the system by using those words. They explain why, in the document. I quoted the words, in part, because they are so startlingly uncompromising – this paper surprised even me by the strength of its findings.

    Why you persist in pretending that nay-saying is an effective response to unpalatable truths is beyond my comprehension.

    You have suggested that I “look at the data…” Where is this magical data to which you refer and which clearly must be very interesting indeed, because it flies in the face of of so many other authors?

    Strong opinions must be supported by strong data, Neil, or changed. You have not provided any reason for me to change my opinion – you have not even tried to do so.

    Present the data and an authoritative analysis of the data and I may well review my current opinion. Meanwhile, may I suggest that you read the cited work with an open mind and be prepared to reconsider your own stance?

  124. @Cyril R, on 25 May 2011 at 7:22 PM
    Neil Howes, the fact remains that when there’s no wind you burn fossil. At what efficiency penalty is second to the simple fact that you’ve locked yourself into fossil fuel backup. Actually you’ve got a fossil grid with some unreliable wind added as an afterthought.
    The Title of this post is CO2 avoidance costs.
    At the moment we mainly burn fossil all the time, considering that >95% of the time there is some wind( please dont try to tell me that wind with a 0.35CF is not available 65% of the time) so wind is reducing FF use most of the time.
    Wind doesnt lock in FF back-up, pumped hydro and hydro are perfectly viable alternative back-up for wind, but while we generate >90% of electricity with FF its not unreasonable to use some FF back-up for the immediate future.
    Wind is definitely an after thought to the present grid, but this can change, one day could even have some nuclear on the grid, would you say that a grid with 90% FF and 5% nuclear, nuclear was an “after thought”?

  125. Mr. Goggin.

    When does one use such terms as “indisputable”, “incredibly” (twice), “dictate”, “mathematical principle”, “statistical fact”, “trivially”, “drastically” and “massively”? It’s when one has to resort to imperatives, and emotive, extreme and superlative-oriented language to support a case. This in my view is clearly the refuge of a weak argument.
    I particularly note your expression “incredibly powerful mathematical principle that statistically unrelated sources of variability combine according to the square root of the sum of squares rule.” This is almost exactly the language used by “Statistics Professor” in a very questionable comment on one of my MasterResource posts. Are you, or do you know, the “Statistics Professor”?
    Such implications aside, the reliance on statistical analyses to understand the real time impact of wind on electricity systems is inappropriate. Statistically I am dead, having outlived the statistical life expectancy for someone born in North America in 1937. I assure you that the “rumours of my death are greatly exaggerated”. Statistical analyses have their place, but not in the consideration of the specific world of real time activity. One can use such techniques for example for comparison purposes; say to illustrate the differences between two populations or at different times in the same population.
    The REAL TIME impact of wind on electricity systems is not represented by the “square root of the sum of the squares” of demand and wind impacts. In the short term, both change somewhat randomly (auto-correlation considerations) and the combined impact at a point in time, the real consideration, is simple arithmetic, not a statistical expectation over a total population or time.
    In your analysis of your A, B, C factors you inappropriately intermix the short term variations (“jerk”, or the next higher derivative of change after acceleration) with the longer term changes in demand and wind. The daily ramping of demand to meet fairly predictable growth in demand to one or two peaks, and subsequent reductions, is quite steep. This “ramping” is met by intermediate generation resources which are brought online (or taken offline) in a managed manner that allows them to be brought up to speed (and subsequently removed) and run at reasonable efficiencies over periods of hours. This is in response to the increased air conditioning impact that you refer to. Wind also demonstrates such longer term trends over a day but is less predictable and regular than load. With respect to forecasting, I am unimpressed with claims of ability to forecast wind even at this level (and claimed forecasting improvements) when I see every day the relative inability to reliably forecast weather.
    At this level, major and sudden losses in wind production, when they occur, are particularly relevant to the discussion and compare to the unexpected loss of any major generation resource, which is a relatively rare event. The question is: does the wind event occur more frequently with wind compared to most other generation means? With wind, however, the fast, and unexpected, recovery of generation is unique and equally problematic, as has been experienced in Germany. A review of the in-depth analysis of the notable event in Germany some years ago reveals the detrimental role wind played in a significant system failure there.
    Long term considerations give rise to the need to require duplicating (in the order of 90%) of wind capacity to ensure the necessary level of system reliability. Here is a case in point. Peak demand in Germany is 100 GW. Add to this the normal reserve allowance of 20% yields a need for 120 GW of capacity. Germany has about 140 GW installed including 20+ GW of wind. In other words Germany has about 20 GW of redundant (and expensive) capacity as the result of the presence of wind. Here statistics are properly used for capacity planning purposes. Of course at any point in time wind production might be zero or even approaching 100%.
    Returning to the impact of short term variations of wind, this is not the trivial consideration as you imply. Grids now use peaking generation sources to handle the short term variations in demand that must be balanced to ensure grid stability. Wind adds substantially to this when analyzed properly, as described above. I have done this for the Bonneville Power Authority (BPA) in the Pacific Northwest. Yes, wind does sometimes reduce this short term ramping, but more often it increases the short term ramping and to a greater degree. The “outliers” in the frequency distribution are substantial and frequent. I still plan to publish this analysis. Here is Sharman’s take on this http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/Downloads/PDF/05/050705TPASharmanpres.pdf starting at slide 25.
    By the way, BPA exports about 75% of their wind (at 14% penetration)
    http://www.bpa.gov/Corporate/WindPower/docs/Silverstein_FERC_slides_March_2009.pdf slide 2, and despite their substantial hydro resources maintains that they will not be able to handle increased wind penetration. See http://www.eenews.net/cw/ and http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2011/05/northwest_wind_power_to_double.htm

    You talk about wind curtailment beginning to occur at dozens of times more than today. This is a remarkable statement in light of the fact that curtailment is considerable in ERCOT (Texas) and alone is sufficient to reduce the national wind capacity factor from 32 to 30%. (http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/reports/lbnl-3716e-ppt.pdf slide #47)
    You claim, “It is important to point out the countervailing factors that as more wind is deployed the wind achieves greater geographic diversity, which greatly reduces the aggregate sub-hourly variability of the wind, and massively reduces the aggregate forecast error, as the correlation between the output and the forecast error for two wind plants drastically decreases with greater distance between them.”
    Wind is positively correlated over large distances. Yes, the positive correlation is reduced as distance increases, but to “greatly reduce the aggregate sub-hour variability” would require significant negative correlation, which does not appear to exist anywhere. Here is a sampling of references on the subject demonstrating this.

    http://www.altenergystocks.com/archives/2011/04/gone_with_the_wind_debunking_geographic_diversity_1.html

    http://www.ref.org.uk/attachments/article/227/info%20note%20ref%20%20poyry%2031%2003%2011.pdf

    http://www.slideshare.net/JohnDroz/energy-presentationkey-presentation slides 70-73
    Wind Power in Ontario: Quantifying the Benefits of Geographic Diversity

    http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/wp-content/uploads/oswald-energy-policy-2008.pdf

    Finally with respect to dispatch order with wind present, I suggest that it is not as simple as Goggin represents. My understanding is that the cost factor in this is more applicable to the more stable condition without wind, when such can be observed. With wind imperatives and volatility, the consideration is often what can be most easily varied.
    This is a bit of a cursory review of Goggins’ comments, but sufficient I suggest that his views should be largely discounted.

  126. I am more concerned about a fourth factor, one more than the three mentioned by Michael Goggin. The fourth factor is “jerk”, the sudden change in the production of electricity. At least I seem to remember the Hidebrand Advanced Calculus for Applications defined jerk as the third derivative of distance with respect to time, so I believe the term can be similarly used for electricity.
    Forcing a fossil fired power plant to increase or decrease production causes the power plant to age prematurely and produces an immediate reduction in the efficiency of the unit. I believe that this immediate reduction in the efficiency of the fossil generating plants should be considered and could be larger than Goggin’s factor B.
    I see Goggin’s factors A and B to be parts of the marginal emissions savings associated with wind. We can model the total emissions (TE) as a function of generation (MW) of a fossil system as
    TE = A * MW^2 + B * MW + C.
    The average emissions would then be
    AE = TE/MW = A * MW + B + C/MW
    This is a simplified approach in that it does not reflect dynamic impacts such as jerk. Goggin’s factor A is an evaluation of Average Emissions (or Total Emissions) at full load. Goggin’s factor B is an evaluation of the change in Average Emissions (or Total Emissions) from full load to partial load. Goggin’s factor C looks for the day when the system has sufficient short term storage to shift from one set of Total Emission curves to another, or when system operators are willing to incur the financial cost of running simple cycle gas turbines instead of combined cycle gas turbines or coal fired plants. I think that storage is the better option, at least partly because of the jerk issue. But we still have technical and financial issues with storage.
    Goggin suggests that the emissions penalty in terms of Average Emissions is about 4% when operating at 80% of capacity. This penalty is in the right range, but on the low end of the penalty range. At 10% of capacity, the Average Emissions for many power plants are about 4 times the Average Emissions at full load, so the penalty gets much greater as the operating level of the fossil plants gets lower.
    Under the above analysis, marginal emissions would then be
    ME = 2 * A * MW + B
    Which is a straight line.
    From my analysis of short interval data, such as that published in Ireland, the marginal emissions curve should be modified to look like
    DME = 2 * A * MW + B + D * Delta
    Where Delta is the change in output since the last interval. Further, “D” is a very large number compared to “A” or “B”. “D” is so large that DME can be negative when Delta is large enough, such as when the system is jerked around. This concept of DME being negative is supported by the reports of negative prices in advanced markets such as ERCOT, not just in ERCOT’s wind dominated West Texas region but also in the Houston area which has a lot of gas fired generation. In my Renewable Electric Power—Too Much of a Good Thing: Looking At ERCOT, Dialogue, by the US Association for Energy Economics, August 2009, I report that Houston had negative prices for about 1% of the month of April 2009 compared to about 25% of the month for West Texas. That showed that negative marginal costs are possible when fossil generators are dynamically dispatched.
    So, when we analyze the avoided emissions associated with wind, we need to recognize that the marginal emissions of fossil generators drop rapidly with their output and that their average emissions climb greatly. Thus generically, the emission savings at night, when fossil generators are on line at low levels, is much less than emission savings during the day, when fossil generators are on line at high levels. But the day night generalities occur because of the relative loading of the fossil generators. More efficient storage options will improve the ability of wind to avoid emissions, especially those emissions associated with jerking fossil generators.

  127. As I noted at the beginning of my comments above, the exact emissions benefits of adding wind is going to vary from power system to power system based on the fuel mix and other factors. The dozens of power system studies that have calculated these emissions savings can be found here and here:

    http://www.uwig.org/opimpactsdocs.html

    http://www.nrel.gov/wind/systemsintegration/publications.html

    As far as empirical data, there is a wealth of data showing significant emissions declines in the parts of the U.S. and Europe that have integrated significant amounts of wind energy. U.S. Department of Energy data for the U.S. states of Colorado and Texas is summarized here:

    http://archive.awea.org/newsroom/pdf/04_05_2010_Colorado_emissions_response.pdf

    Denmark is another excellent illustration of the emissions reductions achieved by adding wind energy to the grid. It is very clear that wind energy has played the dominant role in Denmark’s success in reducing electric sector carbon emissions by nearly 50% over the last two decades. For one, electricity consumption increased by 24% from 1991 to 2007, directly contradicting any claim that demand-side increased energy efficiency was responsible for the decline in emissions over that time period. So, the solution must have come on the electricity supply side. DOE data here: http://ton­to.eia.doe­.gov/count­ry/country­_energy_da­ta.cfm?fip­s=DA

    On the supply side in Denmark, it is very clear that the addition of wind energy was the dominant factor. Wind energy output increased from 0.7 billion kWh in 1991 to 6.58 billion kWh in 2008, a nearly ten-fold increase of 6 billion kWh. Fossil fuel generation declined from 33 billion kWh in 1991 to 24 billion kWh in 2008, a decline of 9 billion kWh. Biomass power increased from .3 billion kWh to 3.67 billion kWh, accounting for the other 3 billion kWh of decrease in fossil generation. As a result of this increase in renewable energy output (2/3 wind, 1/3 biomass), coal consumption decreased from 15 million tons in 1991 to 7.8 million tons in 2008, a decline of nearly 50%, which explains why electric sector CO2 emissions also fell by nearly 50% over that period. Case closed. For more excellent analysis of Denmark’s emissions trend, see:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-wasson/extreme-misinformation-in_b_552097.html

    I fully expect that some of you will try to argue that such correlational evidence does not prove causality, even though there is a robust case based in scientific and economic principles and power system modeling (presented above) to support the argument for wind being the causal factor, and in the cases I have cited it is possible to conclusively rule out all other possible explanatory factors (for Colorado and Texas I accounted for 1. changes in electricity demand, which as I noted was a slight decrease for Colorado and a slight increase for Texas, 2. for fuel-switching, which was actually from gas to coal driven by high gas prices, and thus the emissions impact of wind was likely even larger than indicated in the data; and 3. Changes in the output of other generation, which did not explain the reductions in emissions). I got into an extended debate down this line or argumentation here – I’ll let you judge for yourself who has the facts on their side:

    http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2010/06/23/wind-integration-does-it-reduce-pollution-and-greenhouse-gas-emissions/

    I caution you against pursuing this line of argument. To turn the tables, I could ask the pro-nuclear advocates who have been some of the most vociferous opponents of wind on this forum to provide unassailable proof that adding nuclear power to the grid results in reductions in emissions. After all, there is a compelling argument that the “Factor B” impact associated with integrating nuclear plants with the grid is even larger than that associated with wind energy. Due to their size nuclear plants are typically the single largest contingency on the power system, which means that grid operators must maintain sufficient contingency reserves to quickly replace the full capacity of that plant. Such fast acting reserves emit far more emissions than the slower-acting reserves that are needed for wind. In addition, the loss of a nuclear plant can occur at any time and without warning, meaning that the reserves must be maintained 24/7/365. In contrast, wind’s variability is highly predictable, particularly over large geographic regions as I illustrated above, and thus reserve levels can be adjusted based on the actual need at a certain point in time. Due to the fact that nuclear plants are not typically dispatched, nuclear plants also greatly increase the load-following, ramping, and regulation burden that is imposed on other power plants on the power system, reducing the efficiency of those plants.

    If I were to ask you to prove the emissions benefits of adding nuclear to the grid, you would find it frustratingly difficult to overcome the exact objections you have made against me. In fact, take any of the questions or attacks on wind energy that have been made here and just substitute the word “nuclear” for “wind” and see if you would reply any differently or any more compellingly than I have. I imagine you would respond in much the same way that I have, by highlighting the scientific and economic principles that underpin how the power system is operated and using hypothetical examples to illustrate them, by citing power system modeling studies, and by citing statistics showing a correlation between the introduction of nuclear energy and declines in emissions. I would respond by claiming that those scientific and economic principles just tell a story, and that such hypothetical examples and modeling exercises are useless. I would demand empirical proof, and when you presented your correlational evidence I would point out alternate factors that could explain the emissions declines that you claimed were caused by nuclear.

    We would be at the same point where we are in the wind discussion right now, and we wouldn’t have gained anything. (deleted personal opinion on other people’s motives)
    Michael Goggin, American Wind Energy Association

  128. michael: your analysis does cherry pick correlations.

    you don’t mention the increase in natural gas use for electricity, which looks like it rises in tandem with wind and we have very good reason to think this correlation is in fact causal.

    For recent statistics, wind and gas elec production are about the same: 6900 GWh:

    http://www.iea.org/stats/electricitydata.asp?COUNTRY_CODE=DK

    On coal, had you picked 2004 and 2006, you would have found an increase in coal consumption from ~7 to just over 10 million tons instead of your 15 to 7 decrease.

    I don’t see how you chalk up the 15 to 7 decrease to wind (why not gas?) anymore than someone might like to chalk up the 7 to 10 increase to wind.

    btw, does anyone know the reason for the several spikes in denmark’s coal production? exports?

    http://www.iea.org/stats/pdf_graphs/DKELEC.pdf

    I’ll let others comment on your “wind is predictable, nuclear can go out anytime without warning” business.

    except to say that any form of energy can go out at anytime without warning, except for hydro.

  129. The simple fact is that wind turbines all fail at the same time. I can predict you that tonight there will be zero solar power. Gee have I solved the problem of not being able to power streetlights, industries and hospitals at night? No. But I can schedule some natural gas plants. A nice, fat, fossil lock-in. I’m flabbergasted that wind and solar enthusiasts talk about predicting wind and solar. As if that solves the problem, nonsense. There is an electrical demand at all times, in most places its between 50 and 90% of installed capacity at all times. If that demand is not met with wind you must burn fossil. If there is too much wind you spill it, increasing cost per kWh (you sell fewer kWh so costs get divided through fewer kWhs).

    Nuclear plants don’t fail at the same time (well unless crazy luddite environmentalist close your plants because they’re worried about the water heating a few degrees too much – in that case go to court with the luddites or build cooling towers).

    Nuclear plants are in fact typically scheduled for downtime to do maintenance. A single plant can easily go down for maintenance when you have a grid with tens of reactors producing power. Nuclear power is highly productive and reliable. Wind and solar are unproductive and unreliable. The difference is a very large factor indeed.

    http://uvdiv.blogspot.com/2010/03/uptime-downtime_07.html

    http://energyfromthorium.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=2799

    Makes you wonder why people even consider nameplate capacities. Are most people ignorant regarding matters of energy? Are many of them, perhaps dishonest? I’m afraid the answers are, “yes and yes”.

  130. Australia will be an interesting time, because, I assume, it would have little connection to adjacent grids, and most wind jurisdictions handle the variable output through increased exports. One notable exception would be Texas, as ERCOT largely isolates itself for protectionist reasons, so I’d suggest Australians look to Texas for comparisons first.

    If they do, they’ll see the problems with Mr. Goggins’s assumptions that many of us have spotted before.

    The first is the coincidence is not causation issue, which is a matter of control groups. The US EIA data shows dropping emissions, from electricity generation, and my amateur’s review shows the states with over 1000MW of wind capacity performing worse than other states in reducing emissions. http://morecoldair.blogspot.com/2011/03/green-shoots-green-does-not-score.html. Specific to the AWEA position, my review of IESO stats show CO2 reductions, between 2005 and 2009, of 6% in Colorado, 7% in Texas, and 11% in the entire country ( http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/emission_state.xls)

    The insinuation that wind is driving replacing coal generation with natural gas is strange. Aside from the fact that states without wind generation are doing better at reducing emissions than those with wind, there’s also the issue that, at least in North America, natural gas is currently so cheap it is changing the industry all by itself, as demonstrated in this speech by the head of, if I recall correctly, the USA’s largest private generation company: http://www.exeloncorp.com/assets/newsroom/speeches/docs/spch_Rowe_AEI2011.pdf

    The one article based on the experience in Denmark those in Australia probably should review is http://pfbach.dk/firma_pfb/wind_power_variations_2010_03_05.pdf – this references a broadly cited CEPOS study and a CEESA response to it. From the conclusions of that report: “Based on these observations it could be said that Germany and Denmark together have solved the integration problems for about 7% wind energy, but only due to the common access to the regulation capabilities of the other Nordic countries, notably hydro power in Norway.”

  131. More on nuclear outages…it’s quite the weezel term to state “nuclear can go out anytime”. How about “not”? If you look at the percentages of unit trips to schedule outages you will find that it’s at worst 1 to 4. Meaning most plants don’t experience unscheduled outages *at all*.

    I would like Michael Goggin to answer some of the questions raised here in a more precise manner. Some serious charges are leveled at wind production, both in the essay and, more so, in the commentary since his last contribution.

  132. In my previous response to Goggins first set of questionable comments on the subject under discussion, I supplied a reference to a document on geographic dispersion, which was a hyperlink and did not survive being posted. Here is the URL.

    http://tomadamsenergy.com/wp-

    content/uploads/2009/05/windpowergeodiversitybenefits_adams_cadieux-colour-graphs-and-citation1.pdf Tom Adams is a recognized and long-time critic of wind power and associated government policies in Ontario Canada.

    I now turn to Goggins latest.

    He, and many others arguing in support of wind extensively use superficial arguments. I have not read all the “wealth of data” that these people and organizations have published, but I have studied a considerable number of them over 10 years researching this subject. Invariably I am disappointed in the obvious errors and lack of in-depth analysis they contain. I have done critical analyses of some of these (including the “Gross et al” paper often cited by wind proponents). Anyone wishing references to these critiques can contact me at kenthawkins@rogers.com.

    The study of intermittent renewables is not rocket science. Unfortunately it takes a lot of time, study and thought. Thank goodness for the internet that makes this information available to “mere mortals” and not just “learned” individuals in certain walks of life and organizations.

    Yes I said “thought”, because it is necessary to personally integrate the information from the very large body of information that is published. Unfortunately, no one is going to connect all the dots for you. This is one thing George Monbiot got right in his book “Heat” (Introduction page xxiv).

    Let me emphasize this point: this is not rocket science. Let me provide an example. The short term impact of wind (“jerk” – thanks Mark Lively for bringing this concept to my attention) is properly analyzed using simple addition and subtraction, not “sophisticated” statistical methods. Having said that, one cannot just take a lot of data (like the BPA makes available on 5 minute intervals) and “crunch” without considerable care. Examples of a few precautions that must be made are:

    • It is necessary to differentiate between short term (minutes or less), “random” ramping and long term trends over a day. As I have previously explained the daily increase in load (which is very predictable and properly managed by system operators) is very steep. Just lumping this in with all the other data provides considerable distortion.
    • Looking very closely at the impact of wind outside those periods, the difference between load alone and the net of load minus wind (which is what all the other “normal” generation sources have to respond to), one aspect of straight-forward arithmetic does not apply: absolute values have to be taken into account. For example a net change of load minus wind with +10 MW load and -4 MW wind is not load minus wind of 10 – (-4) = 14, but ABS(10) – ABS(-4) = 6. The use of absolute values is about as sophisticated as you need to get. In this case, wind has helped the ramping issue. Unfortunately for wind, my analysis of BPA data shows the reverse is more frequent and contains larger variations, and watch out for those “outliers”. Again this analysis is ongoing and not yet ready for publication.

    Sorry to be a bit pedantic here, but I want to illustrate the need to take care when “crunching” numbers – even in a simple way. Enter the world of sophisticated analysis and the opportunity for error is more easily overlooked, or masked, by the sheer impressiveness of such analyses and their complex graphical representations. I would also add impenetrability to “mere mortals”. I am of the view that if most people cannot understand an analysis of this subject (admittedly after considerable time in understanding the basic logic) then it should be suspect. I emphasize the word “suspect” as this is a general rule only.

    Goggins’ analysis of Denmark is a good example of superficial analysis, for whatever the reason. Denmark is a rather opaque case and I presented as many aspects of it as I could in a four post analysis at MasterResource, starting http://www.masterresource.org/2010/10/denmark-part-i-intro/ . Here is the readers digest version.

    Don’t rely on the EIA for the data as Goggins has done. Go to the source, the Danish Energy Agency (DEA at http://www.ens.dk/en-US/Info/FactsAndFigures/Energy_statistics_and_indicators/Annual%20Statistics/Documents/Energy%20Statistics%202008.pdf ). There you will see the very persuasive decline in CO2 emissions as shown in my Figure 1 to Part IV. But this uses the “adjusted” CO2 emissions based on the export of wind production in the first years of the 21st century. Even the DEA admits that this is not the correct view of CO2 emissions, and observed (read actual) emissions are pertinent, but you have to read the fine print. The high levels of CO2 emissions in the 90s were due to the production of fossil fuel electricity for export.

    In the 21st century Denmark now exports wind (mostly to offset hydro in Norway/Sweden). Wind proponents argue, using improper statistics (as Bach points out as described in my Part II where you will find the link to Bach’s analysis), that exports can be explained as fossil fuel in this period as easily as wind. Simply put they are wrong, Goggins is wrong, and his reference at Huffington Post is equally wrong. The author in this article even oddly labelled the graph showing adjusted CO2 levels as “Adjusted for CO2”.

    Goggins’ analysis of Colorado and Texas has been amply discredited by the fine four part post of Jon Boone starting at http://www.masterresource.org/2010/09/windpower-overblown-part-1/ . I am amazed at why Goggins persists in using this argument. Presumably he relies on an audience that is not knowledgeable.

    I will not comment on some of Goggins’ thoughts towards the end of his latest comment as I had some difficulty in following the logic.

    DV82XL, thank you for your expressed sentiments.

  133. Hi Keith…wow…was detailed well sourced report exposing wind energy. A must read for any “energy activist”.

    I come from the…opposite…side of the Estate General than you would, left as opposed to right, but I’m very impressed in this parsing of wind energy claims to CO mitigation. I’ve only read the first two parts. I will book mark your site…

    David Walters
    left-atomics.blogspot.com

  134. sorry, but the analysis by Jon Boone has serious problems!

    just look at this graph:

    the idea that gas plants are “mirroring” the difference between wind output and the nameplate capacity of wind is simply false.

    if you look at the graph, you will see barely any wind above the 70% line.

    in the real world at least 50% of the wind nameplate capacity will be provided by base load plants that do NOT follow the wind output. the small amount of wind electricity in the upper half of that graph will go into storage.

    the fats changes in that graph also suggest that it might be a single wind source, which is not the right thing to look at.

  135. sod:
    What you say makes no sense to me.
    The baseload stations have not been shown to occupy/fill any particular part of the image you referenced.

    Got a citation or a cogent argument based on facts?

  136. Sod,

    Now you see the value in analyses that “mere mortals” can follow and comment on in detail. It is necessary to get the logic right, and from there the math can be relatively simple.

    Unfortunately, in your case, you have the logic wrong. By the way, this chart is based on an offshore wind plant in Denmark with a capacity of about 160 MW. An indication in opposition to the claim of the steadier offshore winds. Also, the effect of many wind plants over large geographic areas demonstrates the same characteristics. See the references in my previous comments.

    The chart is also based on the analysis performed by Katzenstein and Apt (K&A) at Carnegie Mellon University. See http://www.ece.cmu.edu/~electriconf/2008/PDFs/6-2%20Katzenstein%20and%20Apt.pdf slide 6. Their analysis found that there was about 85% of the claimed savings from wind. There are significant limitations to their analysis, which they quite properly acknowledge, but the approach is a good one. Here is the full report. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es801437t. See if you can find the limitations. I think you may have to pay for it.

    The chart is illustrative of what is happening in a system with wind. You are quite correct that the chart did not show wind reaching 100%, but that is not the point. I can show you charts where 100% wind was achieved. The point is that other production must fill in for wind through the full range of wind production. Inasmuch as wind does not reach 100% over some period of time then the fossil fuel balancing production can operate more normally (without “jerk”), but, and this is an important but, quite possibly at reduced loading (and thus efficiency) levels than if wind was not present.

    In the real world (as you say), you are not correct in claiming that baseload generation necessarily comes into play – it just might in some cases, say at night. During the day intermediate generation sources might be affected. What is illustrated here are generation plants involved specifically in balancing, which are more likely faster reacting gas plants or, in some cases where available, hydro. The strategy is the same as providing short term frequency regulation at all levels of load, provided by a portion of “spinning reserve”. Whatever the load level, spinning reserve is present. Again, the logic is complex as a number of factors have to be considered, for example the presence of spinning reserves. This is what takes the time in analyzing the effect of wind and in critiquing others’ analyses.

    I don’t know where you are getting the storage from. In some cases, some small amount of storage is available – pumped storage most likely, but there are others. When we are talking about large wind installations, storage is not feasible – even pumped hydro.

  137. @sod, on 27 May 2011 at 2:51 PM :

    sorry, but the analysis by Jon Boone has serious problems!

    I think that many at the BNC site have trouble understand wind power is because they believe (a) wind power output is highly variable over short time periods(minutes to hours) (b) no storage would be used or is not available (c) only FF back-up is available and most of this would have to cycle over periods of minutes to hours (d) no wind power would be spilled, therefore it would be necessary to have FF backing up 100% of wind capacity.
    Imagine if these arguments had been applied to hydro power 130 years ago, after all rainfall is variable.
    Lets look in more detail at each of those points
    (a) wind power is certainly variable even from the aggregate of wind over regions the size of the EU, but not over periods of minutes. For example the graph (II.2.3 example of smoothing effect of geographic dispersion)

    http://www.wind-energy-the-facts.org/documents/download/Chapter2.pdf

    (b) Europe has 375TWh of hydro storage(approx 40 days electricity consumption) while continental aggregated low wind periods generally lost a few days(not zero wind just low wind).
    (c)

  138. Mr. Howes:

    Anyone who quotes a lobbyist as a source of credible information…well what can I say?

    Instead of looking at computer projected dispersed wind project “smoothing” why not look at the best real world example available?

    In South Australia they have a SINGLE GRID that extends some 1800 miles. How does that compare to your examples?

    Here is a sample month’s results “http://windfarmperformance.info/documents/analysis/monthly/aemo_wind_201005_hhour.pdf”

    Get more facts at EnergyPresentation.Info.

  139. “sod:
    What you say makes no sense to me.
    The baseload stations have not been shown to occupy/fill any particular part of the image you referenced.

    Got a citation or a cogent argument based on facts?”

    ————-

    just look at the graph again:

    the claim behind the graph is this:

    if i have a 160 MW wind plant, i need to place a 160 MW gas plant next to it. the gas plant will then mirror every single wiggle of the wind plant. so it will change fast between 0 and 160 MW output, never running on the most efficient level, producing endless amounts of additional CO2.

    in the real world, this will not happen. instead we will accompany the 160MW wind with 3 other plants:
    a coal or nuclear plant of 80 MW (the numbers don t make sense here and are just for this example of course), which will run as baseload plant at top efficiency level.

    wind power above the 80 MW line (this is a very small quantity) will now either be wasted or stored, for example in a pump hydro plant. the hydro plant will also compensate fast changes and the biggest gaps.

    finally a gas plant will only wiggle between the wind level filled up with hydro and the 80 MW mark, so it will run much closer to efficient level.

    i did notice that nobody replied to the combined power plant link i provided above.

    http://www.kombikraftwerk.de/fileadmin/downloads/Technik_Kombikraftwerk_EN.pdf

    don t you think that they would have noticed, if their combined plant would use more CO2 and not less than simply running a gas plant?

  140. I don’t ordinarily respond to anonymous bloggers like sod since doing so is often akin to hanging Jello on the wall. But the general commentary here–from Peter Lang, Kent Hawkins, Mark Lively, Scot Luft, DV82XL, John Newlands, Cyril R, Pat Swords, Tom Keen, and Terry Kreig, among others–is refreshingly of very high standard, bringing good insight from a number of perspectives. Just a brief riposte, however, to the comments by Neil Howes, who breezily condemned my paper, Overblown, to the purgatory of “serious problems,” in the process mischaracterizing some of my analysis (but not its main thrust).

    I provided short term data from the BPA showing that wind output varied an average of about 5% from one five minute period to the next. In the scheme of things, this isn’t much when the installed capacity of wind is 1600MW and the actual wind production at the time was about 400MW. (See page 3 for the actual quote and the 5-minute numbers.) Now extrapolate these numbers for 5GW of wind–and one should be able to see how substantial this flux would become, spawned as it is because wind “power” is a function largely of the CUBE of the wind speed. This is a non trivial problem. And it can’t be smoothed or averaged out functionally in real time.

    Of course, they are more than occasional wide swings in wind output. Around 10% of the time, wind projects produce virtually nothing. 60% of the time they typically produce less than their capacity factor. But their production is ALWAYS skittering, in the process destabilizing the requisite match between supply and demand–from the supply side, of all things.

    Of course hydro and wind can work, inelegantly, as a dance team, as they do in the USA’s Pacific Northwest and Denmark–with a lot of spilling and export. But no savings of CO2 really results. And as wind penetration now approaches 6GW in the BPA, the ability of hydro to partner with wind is near an end. The BPA is gearing up to build a plethora of–you guessed it–natural gas generations to keep the system going. The American cartoonist Rube Goldberg would have a field day with a wind/hydro tandem.

    Comparing wind intermittence and variability with those of hydro, as Howes does, is akin to comparing the intermittence and variability of gliders to that of the 747 in the business of transporting millions of tons of cargo across a large continent. It’s damnably silly. Hydro reservoirs are seasonably intermittent. But almost never unreliable. Wind is intrinsically both.

    Perhaps all should note that hydro is not available as a source of power in many, if not most, areas of the world–and even in areas where it is abundant the prospect of building huge new impoundments is slim and none. Very few wish to recreate the environmental splendors of China’s Three Gorges Dam.

    I stand by my comments about the limitations of pumped hydro and wind. Such a relationship is incredibly incestuous and highly uneconomic. Using pumped hydro to firm up wind seems deranged, given so many better uses for the technology. The same could be said of other storage systems, and this would be especially true if industrial scale battery storage ever became a reality.

    Finally–and this is addressed to the readers here who really understand the issue–if wind technology, in areas where it has significant penetration, really abates CO2 emissions, there should be clear causal evidence of a reduction of fossil fuels consumed in just the amount they were “replaced” by wind. There is no such evidence. Quite the contrary. In regions like Germany, Denmark, Texas, Colorado, there seems to be more fossil fuel consumed with wind than would be the case without it. As Kent Hawkins suggested in a previous comment on this thread, go to the historical data within each region to see fuel consumption histories in the production of electricity. Any reductions in CO2 emissions can be much better explained by reduced demand (because of the world recession), increased fossil plant efficiency, increased nuclear or hydro–or some combination of all of these factors.

  141. I have a completely unscientific personal testimony about the variability of wind. For a good portion of my adult life, I participated in sailing as a competitive and as a time consuming hobby.

    For several seasons of racing in a variety of locales around the US (Annapolis, Monterey, New England, Tampa Bay) I served as a head sail trimmer, helmsman, and foredeck captain. In each of those positions, I spent hours staring at wind instruments and adjusting sails or course to maximize our boat speed. I as the foredeck captain, I organized the necessary sail changes to respond to weather changes or course changes.

    My conclusion from that experience is to say that wind is a terrific and challenging power source for a hobby – it is a completely unreliable and silly power source to select to power a modern economy.

    It is a power source that only a natural gas supplier could love – perhaps that is why people like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (a big wind power promoter) is a welcome lunchtime speaker at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. Here is a quote from his talk in June 2010 to that group’s annual conference:

    “For all of these big utility scale power plants, whether it’s wind or solar, everybody is looking at gas as the supplementary fuel. The plants that we’re building, the wind plants and the solar plants are gas plants.”

    http://atomicinsights.com/2010/11/robert-f-kennedy-jr-tells-the-colorado-oil-and-gas-association-that-wind-and-solar-plants-are-gas-plants.html

    You can watch the video clip if you visit the link.

    My point is that wind is just part of the natural gas industry’s sales strategy. Just in case you did not know it, the natural gas industry is dominated by exactly the same companies that sell oil.

  142. What are The Policy Implications?

    This thread has tended to focus on discussion of the Inhaber equation and the AWEA’s alternative arguments about the emissions avoided by wind generation at 20% wind energy penetration.

    However, there has been little discussion of the policy implications of this paper. I believe this is what we should focus on now. Australia is debating implementing a carbon pricing scheme. We also have in place Renewable Energy Targets (RET), Renewable Energy Certificates (REC), Feed in Tariffs (TiT), direct subsidies for solar power and a host of other green energy and energy efficiency support schemes. These are costing us dearly. They are all examples of governments trying to pick winners.

    Pat Swords has pointed out in several comments on this thread, the consequences for the EU of the environment departments implementing wind farms and solar power programs on the countries of EU. These programs have been pushed for political and ideological reasons. The programs have not been properly evaluated in accordance with the EU’s own laws. They are illegal. The cost benefit studies have not been done. The cost to the Europeans of these programs is very high and for apparently no or little environmental benefit.

    Do we want to make the same mistakes Europe has made? We are well on the way to doing so. We care already heading in that direction. Therefore, let’s consider the policy implications of the lead article.

    I do not find the arguments presented by Goggin (American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)) or the renewable energy advocates persuasive. I’ve asked Goggin three times what he suggests I use for the CO2 emissions avoided by wind generation at 20% wind energy penetration instead of the figures derived from the Inhaber equation. Goggin ducked and weaved and never answered. I don’t believe he has any empirical data to back up what he is advocating. Therefore, I give his claims little weight and put them down to wind energy advocacy, which of course is what he is employed by the AWEA to do.

    Until persuaded otherwise, I feel the Inhaber equation is as good as we have. This shows that the carbon price would need to rise to 100 times the proposed starting price for the Australian Carbon Tax. However, even if Goggin is correct, the carbon price would need to be three times the proposed starting price and the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) price would have to be twice the current REC price for wind to be viable at 20% penetration. In the absence of RET, if Goggin is correct, the carbon price in 2020 would have to be five times the proposed starting Carbon Tax rate ($25/tonne) to make wind power viable

    Since the RET is for 20% renewables by 2020 and most of this will have to be provided by wind energy, it is clear that the carbon price would have to be around five to one-hundred times the starting price for Australia to achieve the 2020 emissions targets in the absence of it being mandated (which is what the RET does).

    It is clear that the RET is hiding a huge cost penalty to Australian electricity and therefore to our economy.

    It is clear to me that wind energy is a high cost way to reduce CO2 emissions. It is clear that any form of government trying to pick winners regarding electricity generators is bad policy. It follows the RET/REC and any form of mandating particular types of electricity generation is bad policy.

    I believe the RET and all forms of picking winners for electricity generators should be removed.

    I’d urge that the discussion move on now to addressing the policy implications of the article “CO2 avoidance cost with wind energy in Australia and carbon price implications”

    I’d encourage readers to re-read the comments by Pat Swords.

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-127943

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-127986

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-127999

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-128114

    Comments?

  143. Peter rather than cite the marginal cost of CO2 avoided at 20% penetration I’d average it over the range 0-20%. A more modest figure might win more converts.

    To package wind power problems for public consumption I’d hammer home two key points
    1) given a carbon tax or cap they shouldn’t need additional quotas or subsidies since they should stand on their own feet
    2) they are inextricably wedded to gas fired backup. Gas must get expensive (and will run out in time) and we will never achieve 80% CO2 cuts.

  144. Peter Lang, on 28 May 2011 at 7:45 AM

    Since the RET is for 20% renewables by 2020 and most of this will have to be provided by wind energy, it is clear that the carbon price would have to be around five to one-hundred times the starting price for Australia to achieve the 2020 emissions targets in the absence of it being mandated (which is what the RET does).

    If this is true we should see the REC price increasing as we fall behind in reaching RET values. In fact the price has declined from $45 to $25, because of the ridiculous X5 credit for solar. A REC price of $45 plus a carbon price of $25 should make wind very competitive with present OCGT operating costs of $110-130.
    What are The Policy Implications?
    Include nuclear in an expanded REC (say 40% by 2030) and see where private investment dollars will go. Even without any nuclear we are not going to see a REC plus carbon price much higher than $100. Wind assets will be fully depreciated long before privately funded nuclear would reduce REC price below wind generating costs.

  145. John Newlands,

    You are one contributor who maintains focus on the policy issues. That is what we need to move to. I suggest it’s all very well discussing the technical details, but not endlessly and not without focus on why we are discussing thm. The end game is the policy. So thank you for maintaining focus on policy.

    Respoding you comments:

    Peter rather than cite the marginal cost of CO2 avoided at 20% penetration I’d average it over the range 0-20%.

    The carbon price is related to the marginal cost, not the average cost. When penetration is at x% (e.g. 20%), the carbon tax must be sufficient to drive new investment. Based on the Inhaber equation, the carbon price must be $2,500/tonne CO2 at 20% wind energy penetration to encourage more investment in wind generation. So, the average price is not really relevant.

    1) given a carbon tax or cap they shouldn’t need additional quotas or subsidies since they should stand on their own feet.

    I agree. And this makes my point clear Without additional subsidies or quotas, the carbon price would have to be $2,500/tonne (from the Inhaber equation). That demonstrates that wind power is totally uneconomic and it becomes less economic as the penetration increases. Therefore, to force wind to be built, there will be pressure from renewable energy advocacy groups to maintain and even increase the Renewable Energy Targets, subsidies and other forms of incentives for Rernewable Energy – which is exactly the wrong policy in my opinion.

    2) they are inextricably wedded to gas fired backup. Gas must get expensive (and will run out in time) and we will never achieve 80% CO2 cuts.

    Agreed

    This article in today’s . Weekend Australian gets to the heart of the policy issues:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/commentary/climate-and-refugees-gillards-hurdle/story-e6frgd0x-1226064392942

    Notice the comment on “Carbon Bank”. This is another in a succession of the really bad, ‘picking winner’ policies. Others were:

    • Renewable Energy Targets and Renewable Energy Certificates
    • Direct subsides for renewable energy
    • Feed in Tariffs
    • Green loans
    • Green cars
    • “Pink Bats” home insulation program

    And now the “Carbon Bank” will it ever stop.

    I sent this letter to the Australian earlier in the week, but it wasn’t published:

    If Labor and Greens are going to impose a carbon bank (“Greens ready to do deal on price”, p6, 26/5), the bank should be for “clean energy” not just “renewable energy”. Clean energy includes nuclear energy. If the nuclear option is excluded it shows the government is more interested in politics than rational policies to cut emissions.

  146. Neil Howes,

    You suggest:

    Include nuclear in an expanded REC (say 40% by 2030) and see where private investment dollars will go.

    That would be simply a continuation of the bad policies where advocacy groups force governments to make policies to force their pet technologies to be built.

    I’d argue we should totally abandon this approach of trying to ‘pick winners’ And we, long time contributors on BNC, should be advocating an end to these really bad policies.

    Did you see this comment I made upthread in reply to a comment by Seth:

    seth, @ 23 May 2011 at 4:05 AM:

    One solution would be require all wind projects to have two hours of peak output matched with associated green storage ( hydro, pumped hydro, batteries, flywheels etc)

    You are arguing for more picking of winners by government. That is exactly the wrong solution in my opinion. Instead, what we need are reforms that remove the impediments and incentives that favour one type of generation over another. Our system is bogged down with huge numbers of regulations that are strangling efficiency. We keep adding thousands of new regulations per year and removing few. This causes us to waste ever more of our wealth on more bureaucracy, more regulators, more people employed in business on compliance and reporting, more lawyers and accountants, more court cases. It is all totally unproductive and draining. The result is we have less to spend on Health, Education, environment, infrastructure and on improving our cities. Instead of all this, we need light, appropriate regulation, not more “picking winners”. That’s my opinion.

  147. @Peter Lang, on 28 May 2011 at 9:20 AM,
    Setting a target for % low carbon emitting energy(ie renewable plus nuclear ) is not picking winners its setting policy in a direction that can lead to carbonizing energy. If electricity suppliers decide that nuclear makes economic sense they will invest in nuclear as they are investing now in wind energy.
    Claims that a carbon price would have to be up to $2500/tCO2 to encourage investment in wind is just not credible. That,s a cost of $2.50/kWh, burning plantation trees or wheat straw could generate power cheaper,. Aggregated wind output in Eastern Australia is not going to require frequent(ie many times a day) cycling of a similar capacity of FF back-up. Spilling a small amount of wind would enable even smoother output if minor 5min fluctuations were a problem that couldn’t be controlled by hydro.

  148. Neil Howes,

    Claims that a carbon price would have to be up to $2500/tCO2 to encourage investment in wind is just not credible.

    We’ve been though that in about 160 comments so far. You must have missed the discussion or not understood the implications. It is well explained up thread. There is not point me trying to explain it again.

  149. Neil Howes,

    It is clear you have misunderstood:

    burning plantation trees or wheat straw could generate power cheaper.

    My point exactly! Wind generation is a high cost way to avoid CO2 emissions at any time and the CO2 avoidance cost escalates as wind energy penetration increases.

    Let’s move on to the policy implications. We’ve discussed the Inhaber equation and the wind advocates alternatives, to closure up thread.

  150. I think in order to avoid the problem of small divisors an initial approach should be to compare the unit cost of {x% wind, (100-x)% other} with {x% gas, (100-x)% other} including carbon taxes. From that point on a sensitivity analysis can be carried out of gas prices, carbon tax rates and so on.

    I see a business lobby group wants carbon tax to start at $10, the wind generators want $40 and for gas to replace brown coal some want $70-$80. I think the lower end is more likely but I also think we’ll get carbon cuts regardless due to a general economic slowdown .

  151. “Let’s move on to the policy implications. We’ve discussed the Inhaber equation and the wind advocates alternatives, to closure up thread.”

    sorry Peter, but this is wrong.

    you introduced the Inhaber numbers as just an assumption forming the basis of your Analysis.

    now you changed your point of view, and somehow claim that this topic has demonstrated that the Inhaber numbers are right. you do this, even though even those who have serious doubts about wind power have voiced serious doubts about the Inhaber curve. (just check the very first reply to the topic by Cyril)

    here is another source contradicting the Inhaber claim:

    http://www.osti.gov/bridge/servlets/purl/1004403-xdafKG/1004403.pdf

    i found it interesting that the article does exactly what i did above: they show that you get a completely different situation (here: NOx) when you do not assume that the wind power is balanced by a single plant but by a number of n plants instead.

    —————-

    i also get the impression that this source, which also argues your way, at least seriously disagrees with the Inhaber numbers:

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/57905/wind-power-and-co2-emissions

    the article seems to assume about 20% wind penetration:


    “If 10,000 MW of wind power facilities are implemented in the NEEG service area, the wind power production would be 10,000 MW x 8,760 hrs/yr x New England average CF 0.31 = 27,156 GWh/yr, about 27,156/130.000 = 20.9% of current consumption. ”

    and then finds about a 50% reduction in CO2 output:


    “Because the annual-average CO2 emissions of the NEEG is about 1.0 lb of CO2/kWh (low compared to other grids due to CO2-free nuclear and hydro power), wind proponents claim a CO2 emissions reduction of 1.0 lb of CO2/kWh of wind power, whereas it is (1.0 – 0.539) = 0.461 lb of CO2/kWh, significantly less than claimed. ”
    —-

    so at 20% it seems to give (unless i misunderstood something. it is early over here..) more of a 50% reduction and not the 3.6% that you and Inhaber assume.

  152. Sod,

    We’ve discussed the Inhaber equation and done the sensitivity analyses on it with a range from what the AWEA rgues (alothoug they have not been abole to justify their position) through to the Inhaber equation. We’ve been over it in 160 comments.

    Time to move on now to the policy implications. Of course, if anyone can provide empirical evidence and a peer reviewed paper showing that Inhaber is wrong, then we should go back into the Inhaber equation.

    Sorry sod. We’ve done that part to closure. Let’s move on to the policy implications. It’s boring going over and over the tired old stuff with nothing new to add.

  153. John Newlands,

    The carbon price is the marginal cost of reducing a tonne of CO2. The reason the figure is so startlingly high at 20% penetration is that the Inhaber equation gives % CO2 avoided is small at 20% wind energy penetration. This is what is causing the high avoidance cost. The sensitivity analysis here: http://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/response-to-american-wind-energy-association_v1.pdf looks at other figures.

    Whichever way we look at it, wind is a high cost way to avoid emissions. No matter what monkey business we try with numbers, we can’t avoid facing up to the facts.

  154. sorry Peter, but with the spread offered in your analysis, we can not move on.

    http://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/response-to-american-wind-energy-association_v1.pdf

    if i have not figured out if i have either $70 or $2472 for my holiday plans, i can t move on to book a plane!

    the article that i linked above is a scientific contradiction of the Inhaber claim. you should at least take a look.

    http://www.osti.gov/bridge/servlets/purl/1004403-xdafKG/1004403.pdf

  155. Sod,

    The document you referred me to is dated 2009. Inhaber’s paper was published 2011. The paper does no more than has been covered in the many papers discussed up thread. It has no empirical evidence. It is simply another discussion of assumptions.

    Sod, I feel the matter of Inhaber’s paper was discussed to closure up thread, and it was clear there is no empirical evidence and no peer reviewed papers to discredit it. Therefore, I believe it is the best information we have available.

    However, I also looked at the sensitivity analyses including what the AEWA argues for. What the sensitivity analysis demonstrates is that in all the cases considered wind power is a high cost way to avoid CO2 emissions; and it becomes less economic as wind energy penetration increases. That is clear from the discussion up thread. So I wonder why you cannot simply acknowledge that fact.

    If there was empirical evidence and a peer reviewed paper to discredit Inhaber, then it would have been produced in these discussions. Instead we got a lot of hand waving and unsubstantiated assertions from the wind energy advocates. Kent Hawkins showed how groundless and emotive some of the comments in defence of wind energy were.

    You are not adding anything that has not already been discussed.

    So we can move on to what is important, can I put a challenge to you. Provide the alternative to the Inhaber equation that you would have me use instead. If you can’t do that, then surely it must be obvious that no such alternative has been produced. The empirical data is simply not available to do any better than what Inhaber has produced. This is a serious problem in itself. We’ve been investing enormous amounts of money in wind power, and the wind energy advocates want us to continue and ramp up the rate of investment in the future. But there is no evidence to show that it will actually cut CO2 emissions. Or more correctly, there is no evidence that wind is a cost effective way to cut emissions.

    The more this discussion continues, with the wind advocates pleading a case with no substantive evidence to support it, the more convinced I am becoming that we are making a really bad mistake mandating renewable energy. Again Pat Swords’ comments about the situation in Europe come to mind. Australia is heading in the same direction implementing bad energy policy and causing massive waste of the country’s wealth and resources for no environmental gain.

    On that basis we can only draw one conclusion. The Renewable Energy Targets should be stopped – now! The legislation should be repealed.

    if i have not figured out if i have either $70 or $2472 for my holiday plans, I can t move on to book a plane!

    This comment is just plain silly and demonstrates that you have not recognised that the Carbon Price, in the absence of mandating renewable energy, would have to increase by five to one hundred fold above the proposed starting price by 2020 to cause wind power to be built. This is an important point. It shows that wind power is not a cost effective way to reduce emissions. It also reveals how bad policies such as renewable energy targets are wasting our wealth. And it makes clear just how much the carbon price would have to increase by 2020 to achieve these really bad policies that renewable energy advocates are forcing our governments to implement.

    Challenge: Provide an alternative to the Inhaber equation.

    If you cannot do so, I’d suggest you have no case and we should more forward.

  156. GE has just announced (25 May) a new gas generator plant, the ‘FlexEfficiency 50’

    http://www.genewscenter.com/Press-Releases/GE-Launches-Power-Plant-with-Breakthrough-Flexibility-and-Efficiency-to-Enable-Greater-Use-of-Wind-Solar-and-Natural-Gas-on-Power-Grid-30de.aspx

    In its produce release GE said:

    With global energy demand expected to double by 2030 and electricity generation accounting for 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, utilities and government bodies are taking a hard look at how to produce power more efficiently,” said Ricardo Cordoba, president of GE Energy for Western Europe and North Africa. “This innovation can have a dramatic effect on CO₂ emissions and offers a nimble, efficient and cost-effective way for us to help E.U. countries in their pursuit of 20-20-20 energy goals[2].

    However, there are no figures in the press release about what the emissions would be and how they would vary with increasing wind energy penetration. And remember, that Inhaber points out that the emissions avoided by best practice operators is quite different from the emissions avoided at the grid or national level.

    Therefore, until we have better information, from studies of empirical data, I remain persuaded that the peer reviewed study by Inhaber of studies that used empirical data are to be preferred over the claims by wind energy advocates and gas turbine manufacturers.

  157. Sod posted the link the Mills paper, http://www.osti.gov/bridge/servlets/purl/1004403-xdafKG/1004403.pdf
    but apparently didn’t look for the rebuttal.

    The rebuttal is here and below are two extracts from it.

    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es901485d

    We welcome the perspective brought to the issue by Mills
    and coauthors (1). Because they do not question the
    accuracy of the data we collected from natural gas turbines
    in power company operation (2), the central issues are,
    “how are the fill-in generators to be dispatched?” and “what
    are the emissions from those generators in that dispatch
    method?”

    Mills et al. (1) first dispatch a single natural gas generator
    that ramps up and down to cover the variability and then
    start additional generators as required. We operate all
    generators as spinning reserve. Both groups spread the
    ramping requirement equally over the running natural gas
    generators (five in the multiple turbine analysis in our
    paper).

    In either dispatch method, there are air emissions
    penalties to be paid. The first is the penalty associated with
    starting the generator (for example, see the upper branch of
    NOx emissions in Figures S1 and S7 of our original Supporting
    Information) (2). The second is the penalty associated with
    operating at partial power (both groups minimize this in
    multiple turbine operations). The third is the penalty that
    arises from keeping a generator operating at idle power so
    that it can quickly be ramped up when the wind or solar
    power falls off (the f0 that the dispatch method in Mills et al.
    (1) is designed to minimize).We agree that we pay this penalty
    for all generators operating as spinning reserve. The model
    presented by Mills and co authors does not appear to take
    into account the start up penalty, which we observe to be
    significant for NOx.

    We illustrate the issues by drawing on data from the
    Bonneville Power Authority (BPA) control area (3) for January
    2009 (Figure 1), over a thousand wind turbines.
    The BPA experience does not support the statement made
    by Mills et al. (1) that “just 10% operating reserves may be
    required.” In January 2009, wind supplied a maximum of
    23.4% of the power required by Bonneville’s load, and the
    output from the thousand wind turbines dropped to nearly
    zero for periods of 17 days that month.

    Adding all the wind turbines in the balancing area does
    not smooth the output enough to avoid deep and fast power
    drops. During this period, a maximum of 313MWof spinning
    reserve was needed to counteract the fluctuations observed
    within 10 min (there were 73 occasions on which the 10 min
    fluctuations in wind were >100 MW). Thus, significant
    spinning reserves must be on line, and the idle power
    emissions cannot be neglected. Of course, in BPA, spinning
    reserves are largely hydro; Texas and California use natural
    gas.

    The requirement for spinning reserves significantly modifies
    the results of Mills et al. (1). Even under the best case
    quasi-static wind assumption they make (they do not use
    real wind data), the CO2 emissions reductions for renewables
    penetration levels of up to 20% are in the range of 76-94%

    of those expected when one spinning reserve turbine is
    accounted for, even in a system with 20 fill-in power turbines
    (Supporting Information).

    (emphasis added)

    I point out that even this rebuttal does not include the ‘Factor D”. Factor D is higher emissions due to mandating wind generation. When wind generating is mandated a higher proportion of OCGT to CCGT is built. This causes the system to have higher emissions than if more CCGT and less OCGT was built. The investment in the higher emissions system lasts for the life of the investments; i.e. about 40 years. So mandating wind power forces us to build a higher emissions back-up system for wind power, and the higher emissions system is locked in for 40 years plus plant life extensions.

    The rebuttal also says:

    We note that a number of the points made by Mills et al.
    (1) are applicable in systems with only a small amount of
    variable renewable generation.

    My assessment of all this is that we could argue forever about what is being argued in the literature. We’ve done this in 160 comments up thread. But the point is the data does not exist to allow a proper analysis. Inhaber has reviewed the studies that have been conducted on the empirical data that is available and produced his equation as a result. He has pointed out the uncertainties and these are quoted in the lead article.

  158. I thought 20-20-20 might mean 20% efficiency improvements or 20% less emissions. Alas not

    The European Union (E.U.) has adopted aggressive climate and energy goals—the “20-20-20” targets that aim to derive 20% of EU energy consumption from renewable resources by 2020.

    from an EU website.

    So two of the twenties merely refer to the date. Think of it as 80% non-renewable by 2020. Must be something special about renewables not shared by treadmills for example.

  159. Some comments:-

    1. The little formula is nice but it’s an eye fit to data that we don’t have so we’ve no idea whether it’s valid

    2. The ‘CO2 emission avoided’ concept seems to hinge on wind and dispersion. This is pretty dodgy given that CO2 is a “well mixed gas” and has an atmospheric presence time measured in decades if not centuries.

    In other words, wind has nothing to do with it.

  160. Peter Lang quoting Apt rebuttal@ ” In January 2009, wind supplied a maximum of 23.4% of the power required by Bonneville’s load, and the output from the thousand wind turbines dropped to nearly zero for periods of 17 days that month.”

    Talking of dropping to zero, have a look at the entire Australian wind fleet’s simultaneous & extended dive to pretty much bugger all MW over the last two days…

    Output was well under 60MW (total installed capacity = 1.9GW) for @21 hours 27th to 28th, in fact most of that period (@19hours) was under 30MW, and about 4 hours pretty much 0MW .

    Heading down on 27th ->

    http://windfarmperformance.info/?date=2011-05-27

    Bottoms out on 28th ->

    http://windfarmperformance.info/?date=2011-05-28

    After about 6pm on 28th it heads up to @110MW briefly before heading down again to 60MW.

    Not much geographic diversity there over NSW, Vic, SA and Tas, or in other words, the wind was not blowing “somewhere else”. NEM demand in the period on 28th was between about 18 to 24GW.

  161. EnergyExpert, on 27 May 2011 at 10:42 PM

    The wind farms that are connected to the AEMO grid are concentrated in a region close the the SA and VIC boarder with some capacity in TAS and southern NSW. However, a close examination of the data for any month shows that capacity changes as large as 60% occur over a relatively long period of time. For example the May 2010 data you provided a link to shows a 50% change in capacity (from 10% to 60%) from 6pm 9th May to about 12noon 10th May(3%per hour.)
    This is because weather systems take about 18h to pass over the major wind farm locations. Simulations of wind farms located over a much wider geographical area (ie the extent of the AEMO grid) show even slower ramping and slewing rates(see Oz-EA link on BNC; second story).
    Now look at changes in demand on same days, 2am 10th May demand goes from 18GW to 25GW by 7am ( a 24% increase in 5h) or 5% change per h.
    These large changes in wind output dont occur every day but smaller more frequent changes have similar rates of change.

    http://windfarmperformance.info/documents/analysis/monthly/aemo_wind_201005_hhour.pdf

  162. “CO2 emissions reductions for renewables
    penetration levels of up to 20% are in the range of 76-94%”

    ————-

    94% sounds very different to 3.6%.

    ———–

    “Factor D is higher emissions due to mandating wind generation. When wind generating is mandated a higher proportion of OCGT to CCGT is built. This causes the system to have higher emissions than if more CCGT and less OCGT was built. ”

    ———

    “Challenge: Provide an alternative to the Inhaber equation.”

    i told you very far up this topic: for a star, you should stretch the Inhaber curve to 100% wind (instead of ending it at 20%. basically multiply the values on the x-axis by a factor of 5)

    this would at least make the results not laughable.

    ———–

    “Factor D is higher emissions due to mandating wind generation. When wind generating is mandated a higher proportion of OCGT to CCGT is built. This causes the system to have higher emissions than if more CCGT and less OCGT was built. ”

    this explains what is wrong with your approach. you completely ignore the plants replaced by the gas plants being build.

    renewables put pressure on the system and remove highly inefficient plants with little flexibility first.

    ————–

    but in the end, we will see. Europe will move to 20% renewables in the next decade. you assume that in 2020 they will notice that this switch provides basically ZERO reductions in CO2. you also claim that not a single entity involved in the change has noticed this big problem so far.

    you will be seriously dissappointed.

  163. Not a single entity involved in wind and solar has a conception of things like, uhm, night, and uhm, winter. And, uhm, fossil fuel lock in.

    This is because they have vested interests and are therefore dishonest, or because they’re simply ignorant of even the most basic of energy analysis.

    There will be disappointment allright – when people realise how dodgy wind and solar really are.

  164. @Cyril R – People are realizing that wind and solar are not living up to the hype. As I wrote in another thread Ontario’s public has had it with FIT (feed in tariffs) and the exercise of eminent domain running roughshod over local objections over wind and solar farms. This is so evident that a major political party has made the elimination of these planks in their platform in the upcoming elections there.

    While rural resistance to wind farms has been around for some time, the anger over FIT is largely a urban issue, as people see their rates increase. This is the first time both city and country are on the same page on this subject, which itself is noteworthy.

  165. “CO2 emissions reductions for renewables
    penetration levels of up to 20% are in the range of 76-94%”
    ————-
    94% sounds very different to 3.6%.
    ———–

    Sod: this interpretation of Peter Lang’s post (citation rebutting Mills) distorts the context of the numbers in ways that anyone should find disturbing.

    You could hardly have posted your seemingly snide “94% is different from 3.6%” had you included the entire passage:

    “Even under the best case quasi-static wind assumption they make (they do not use
    real wind data), the CO2 emissions reductions for renewables penetration levels of up to 20% are in the range of 76-94% of those expected when one spinning reserve turbine is accounted for, even in a system with 20 fill-in power turbines.”

    It’s hard to see a 94% number emerging from realities like these Lang cites:

    “In January 2009, wind supplied a maximum of
    23.4% of the power required by Bonneville’s load, and the output from the thousand wind turbines dropped to nearly zero for periods of 17 days that month.”

  166. “It’s hard to see a 94% number emerging from realities like these Lang cites:”

    i might indeed have misunderstood the sentence, as i don t have access to the original article.

    but i most definitely did not make the error that you think i made.

    so for the moment assume that i was aware of the fact, that 20% wind penetration will typically not give you 94% less CO2.

    instead i was (obviously) speaking about 94% of the 20%, being 18.8% reduction.

    (the 3.6% number from the Inhaber claim must be read in the same way. it gives a real reduction of 0.72% CO2 at 20% wind)

    a couple of windless days are already factored into those numbers. the20% wind penetration is real electricity produced, not name plate capacity.

  167. In terms of policy I agree that renewables energy targets should be stopped / repealed.

    The American Tradition Institute (ATI) has recently initiated proceedings to take the State of Colorado to court over the constitutionality of the state’s Renewable Energy Standard mandate because of the erratic variability of wind causing an increase in the State’s emissions:

    http://baconsrebellion.com/2011/03/31/putting-wind-on-trial/

    http://www.americantraditioninstitute.org/american-tradition-institute-v-state-of-colorado-constitutionality-of-renewable-energy-standards/

    “The heart of the lawsuit addresses both the uneconomical and environmentally harmful nature of wind-generated energy. In addition to higher costs than traditional generating sources, wind energy creates more pollution because it requires coal or natural gas as backup generation when the wind either does not blow, or when it blows too hard and causes systems to shut off.”

  168. This is an interesting comment by Sod:

    “Challenge: Provide an alternative to the Inhaber equation.”

    i told you very far up this topic: for a star, you should stretch the Inhaber curve to 100% wind (instead of ending it at 20%. basically multiply the values on the x-axis by a factor of 5)

    this would at least make the results not laughable.

    The comment provides insight into how those who hold a belief so strongly are prepared to operate. If they don’t like the result, (deleted inflammatory remark) change the results to suit the desired outcome”

  169. The link below provides an example of the sorts of problems wind is causing the Australian Electricity Market Operator ->

    http://www.aemo.com.au/reports/0232-0046.pdf

    Figure 6 shows the wind generation at Clements Gap WF on 27 November 2009, which increased significantly from around 11:20 hrs due to unexpected high winds and contributed to increased levels of security violations. Clements Gap is a semi-scheduled wind generator, which would have been dispatched to acceptable levels of generation provided suitable constraint equations were employed in the dispatch system. However, the requirement for a constraint set covering the combined outage of the Brinkworth to Davenport 275 kV line and Waterloo to Hummocks 132 kV line was not identified during outage assessment and suitable constraint equations were, therefore, not available for invocation during the outage period.

    Those who argue that variable wind power does not cause problems for the system operation and the other generators should have a look at what is going on. Likewise, these rapid fluctuations in power output are causing the back up generators to be “jerked around” to attempt to maintain supply quality. As pointed out in the lead article and in many comments on this thread, the “jerking around” of the non wind generators causes higher emissions than if wind power was not part of the generation mix.

    Its time Australian politics woke up to what’s going on both here and overseas. Wind is an expensive dud. Have a look at another day of the entire Australian wind fleet on its knees:

    http://windfarmperformance.info/?date=2011-05-29

  170. Has Australia got a snowball’s chance of making it to 20% renewables by 2020? If we are on ~8% now, half of which comes from mid 20th century hydro, the wind build rate would have to go crazy from now on.

    We have ~2 GW nameplate windpower now. We want say another 25 GW x 12% = 3 GW realtime output. Dividing by 0.25 capacity factor that is 12 GW nameplate wind. Thus we would need to increase the total wind build sixfold in just 9 years. It’s not gonna happen.

    Meanwhile we have a possible 2012-2014 El Nino and the Peak Oil downslope on the radar, perhaps cutting world oil output as much as 30% by 2020 (Aleklett). Asia wants our coal and LNG so we’ll have to pay world prices for our own resources, further exacerbating the gas lock-in problem. Renewables subsidies won’t even come close to helping.

  171. @John Newlands, on 30 May 2011 at 9:22 AM said:

    Has Australia got a snowball’s chance of making it to 20% renewables by 2020? …….

    We have ~2 GW nameplate windpower now. We want say another 25 GW x 12% = 3 GW realtime output. Dividing by 0.25 capacity factor that is 12 GW nameplate wind. Thus we would need to increase the total wind build sixfold in just 9 years. It’s not gonna happen.
    Most wind farms in Australia have CF>0.3, Infigen has a CF of 0.36 in its Australian farms(>500MW capacity). At CF0.33 would need to add 10GW wind in 9 years. Presently 4.3GW new projects approved and several GW planned

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

    What is needed is a combined carbon price and REC of about $60/MWh, lots of wind was being built(500MW/year) at a REC price of $45/MWh. Infigen says it needs about $100/MWh total price to make a good profit( in 2010 it received $80/MWh in Australia). Sorry reference is INFIGEN 2010 annual report( behind pay wall).
    A build rate of 1100MW per year seems very possible, we should know soon enough.

  172. John Newlands the EU 20-20-20 is not quite as expressed it.

    A quote from an EU paper titled “Energy efficiency: delivering the 20% target”

    http://ec.europa.eu/energy/strategies/2008/doc/2008_11_ser2/energy_efficiency_communication_en.pdf

    “Energy saving is the EU’s most immediate and cost-effective way of addressing the key energy challenges of sustainability, security of supply and competitiveness as set out in the strategic 0bjectives of the ‘Energy Policy for Europe’. EU leaders have stressed the need to increase energy efficiency as part of the ’20-20-20′ goals for 2020: saving 20% of the EU’s primary energy consumption, a binding target of 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and 20% renewable energies by 2020.”

    I would concur with your view that Australia is unlikely to achieve the 20% renewables target by 2020. When the RET scheme was put together, there was significant faith put into hot-rock geothermal. Alas this is struggling to meet expectations.

  173. Neil I agree with Garnaut that RECs should stop the day carbon pricing starts. However I think that price should be variable to reflect market conditions. The fixed parameter should be the CO2 target, not the price. If wind build can continue without RECs we’ll know it’s a genuine contender and not a rigged market. That is, electricity resellers buy wind Mwh because it is convenient to do so and the price is right, not because they have to.

    Why not have ‘LCECs’ = low carbon energy certificates and give nuclear a subsidy as well?

  174. @bryen, on 30 May 2011 at 9:08 AM said:

    The link below provides an example of the sorts of problems wind is causing the Australian Electricity Market Operator
    There is no suggestion a wind farm caused two transmission lines to fail the cause of the blackout was the combined outage of the Brinkworth to Davenport 275 kV line and Waterloo to Hummocks 132 kV line which was not anticipated.
    Have a look at another day of the entire Australian wind fleet on its knees:
    Not really WA output not included. TAS is still producing significant power shows that a wider geographic area gives more stability.
    Even so, total output(concentrated in a 600km region of SA and VIC ) is not being jerked around, these changes occur over many hours to days.

    Go back to 27May

    http://windfarmperformance.info/?date=2011-05-27

    The most distant site(TAS) is operating at high capacity. A stable wind supply has to be sourced from a large area (ie the size of AEMO grid).or better still size of Australia.

  175. Neil Howes,

    On one hand you argue that a small transmission line capacity joining eastern and western Australia is all that would been needed for wind power to provide a reliable firm wind supply with greater than 15% firm power (in an earlier post), and here you are saying that when the wind power generated in Eastern Australia is near zero, then Western Australia will make up the shortfall.

    You can’t have it both ways. Either you need a transmission line capacity sized to carry the capacity of the Western Australian wind farms, or you admit that the wind is not “always blowing somewhere” in Eastern Australia. In the latter case we need fossil fuel back up capacity to back up for the wind power (together with all its emissions and fixed costs), or you have the cost of the transmission line – which is more than the cost of nuclear:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/10/solar-realities-and-transmission-costs-addendum/

  176. Neil,

    I never claimed that wind caused the transmission blackout, I quoted a quick example from AEMO regarding a documented issue:

    “…wind generation at Clements Gap WF on 27 November 2009, which increased significantly from around 11:20 hrs due to unexpected high winds and contributed to increased levels of security violations. ”

    Without an expensive interconnection between WA and the eastern side, there is not much point including WA. You are in hypothetical musing mode.

    Rolling back to an earlier date is not do-able in the real-world when the wind fleet is at zero. Pointing to days previous won’t restore power to homes and businesses when the “wind isn’t blowing anywhere”.

    In any case, I linked above to the 27th, 28th and 29th. The dive to the bottom occurs on the 27th, and *Woolnorth in Tas* takes a dive with everything else, have you looked at the charts ??

  177. @Peter Lang, on 30 May 2011 at 11:56 AM said:

    On one hand you argue that a small transmission line capacity joining eastern and western Australia is all that would been needed for wind power to provide a reliable firm wind supply with greater than 15% firm power (in an earlier post), and here you are saying that when the wind power generated in Eastern Australia is near zero, then Western Australia will make up the shortfall.
    The present 1900MW of wind farms connected the AEMO grid are mainly(80% capacity) located in a 700km x 200km region, much smaller than the 2,000 x4000 km extent of the AEMO grid in eastern Australia. I didnt say at times WA would have to provide all demand( or even 15%) just that the wind graph did not include WA( or QLD either) and was not “the entire .wind Australian wind fleet”

    You can’t have it both ways. Either you need a transmission line capacity sized to carry the capacity of the Western Australian wind farms, or you admit that the wind is not “always blowing somewhere” in Eastern Australia.
    I dont accept either of those statements (1) WA wind power would at most only need to transmit to SE Australia the difference between max output (considerably lower than capacity) and WA demand, minus any local storage. More critical would be the need for WA to import a significant part of demand during low wind periods across the entire state(less output from NG/biogass, storage and solar).
    (2) the wind is always blowing somewhere even in E Australia, as shown in this simulation using wind speed data and aggregating to hourly data. Note that in this simulation during nation-wide low wind output WA is not at even at 50% capacity and would never contribute more than 14%( 1/6 x max 80% capacity) at any time. With eastern demand of 33GW and WA demand of 2-3GW this would require at most 2-3GW moved from WA grid to AEMO grid, but appears to be a lot less than this(<1GW), and nothing like the 25GW capacity some have claimed would be needed from Perth to Sydney.

    http://www.oz-energy-analysis.org/analysis/BtCC_simulated_wind_farms.php

    There are probably questionable assumptions used in the model, but the most important result is the very considerable smoothing of wind farm output going from one location to one state, to all six states, covering a considerable portion of the continent.

  178. Neil@ “…the wind graph did not include WA( or QLD either) and was not “the entire .wind Australian wind fleet” ”

    OK, lets unpack that. First it should be clear I’m referring to the None-Scheduled wind farms reported to the AEMO on the NEM, as that is what is shown on the charts. The data is obtained here:

    http://www.aemo.com.au/data/csv.html#nsgendata

    If it wasn’t clear then I apologise to you & BNC readers. But your comments regarding not including WA and QLD are irrelevant. QLD currently has a mere 2 tiny wind farms:

    http://ramblingsdc.net/Australia/WindQld.html

    Windy Hill 12MW
    Thursday Island 0.45MW

    so they do not appear in the AEMO data because they are so piddlingly tiny.

    WA, which is not connected across to Eastern Aus in any case, also has barely any installed capacity:

    http://ramblingsdc.net/Australia/WindWA.html

    In fact there are only 2 worth mentioning:

    Alinta 89.1MW (with a claimed 44% CF), located far up the coast in mid north western WA (370km north of Perth) :

    http://infigenenergy.com/assets/australia/alinta-wind-farm-wa-australia.aspx

    Emu Downs 79.2MW (200km north of Perth)

    http://www.griffinenergy.com.au/default.aspx?MenuID=78

    There is of course Albany:

    Albany 21.6MW

    http://www.verveenergy.com.au/mainContent/sustainableEnergy/OurPortfolio/Albany_Wind_Farm.html

    My favourite quote from the Albany we page is :

    “Albany is connected to the main electricity grid. – the South West Interconnected System (SWIS). When the wind isn’t blowing the city is provided with power via transmission lines from Verve Energy’s large coal and gas fired power stations further north. On some occasions the wind farm exports a small amount of power north along the transmission network.”

    So Albany pretty much just serves Albany and of course is tiny. The rest in WA are all ultra tiny 0.6 to 3.6MW.

    Regarding the OZ-Energy Analysis link, it is interesting that comment 10 states regarding smoothing:

    “If anyone is interested, some time ago I constructed a simulation model which uses actual output data at 5 minute intervals from all of the 22 current windfarms that have data publicly available and replicates them cookie cutter style across the whole of Australia by the simple mechanism of time shifting the data to represent weather systems passing from west to east. The model now has 21 months actual data and shows substantial smoothing but still indicates periods of extremely low output. I will be interesated to compare my models outputs with the outputs of this highly theoretical model.

    I have also supplemented the model with confidential data from two solar farms in NSW and found very little improvement in these low output periods underlining the need for substantial backup generation or else storage.

    In addition I have applied the same technique to Ireland’s windfarms and Canadas windfarms and obtained strikingly similar results.”

    I suppose it hinges on many things including already discussed above and a) can we afford the WA interconnector and b) can we afford the wind farms and c) will the optimistic models deliver a secure supply in reality. There’s probably a whole bunch of d’s e’s and f’s too … perhaps this is veering off topic ??

    Back to the point, my opinion, based on the discussion article, Inhaber’s paper (and others e.g. Katzenstein & Apt) and comments above, is the CO2 avoidance cost is huge! Get rid of the stupid RET.

  179. /////In the latter case we need fossil fuel back up capacity to back up for the wind power (together with all its emissions and fixed costs), or you have the cost of the transmission line – which is more than the cost of nuclear://///
    Not entirely true Peter — it is *technically possible* to store enough energy in Hydro Dams.

    http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/storing-energy/

    Note that I did not say *economically competitive* — and I raise that issue on my page above. However, if Australia is dumb enough to waste some serious money on a Renewable venture, I wonder if it *is* now technically possible to go 100% renewables… and what it would *really* cost? (Unlike the reports from the rather ideological Beyond Zero Emissions report, I’m guessing it’s MUCH more expensive).

    But that’s not the point here is it? If one 20 meter high, 7k diameter saltwater hydro dam on the Nullarbor costing a few $billion could store enough energy to run ALL OF AUSTRALIA for 10 hours, don’t you think that a 100% wind grid at least becomes *technically* possible?

    Hey, if you’re REALLY worried about baseload why not just build 2 or 3 of these National 10 hour ‘batteries’? We have a nation of 21 million people to spread the costs around, and a likely carbon tax to boot.

    It *could* be done. The question is would the average Australian really want to if PROPERLY informed about today’s Gen3 and Gen4 nukes?

  180. @ Peter Lang
    (inflammatory comment by PL has been deleted)
    I was hoping for (deleted personal opinion on other person) Peter Lang to address the seawater Hydro dam that could apply anywhere on earth that has a large enough open real estate atop an ocean cliff. . I need help with *costing* this hydro thing sometime.

  181. Thank you all for an intelligent discussion of this important issue.

    I have just read all 160 coments, although I admit I have not yet waded through all of the referenced papers yet (there is at least a week’s reading there, probably more). Peter, I’m afraid I do not find that ‘this has been argued to closure’, and feel that your attempt to close down the dicussion as if it was agreed and move on is not yet appropriate.

    I have not yet been convinced by either ‘side’, although both have made some good points and produced some good evidence. It does seem that it ought to be the case by now there there was sufficient evidence around the world to reach resonably robust conclusions, and agree both current actual emissions reductions from wind, and future probable emissions reductions.

    There are many comments I could make after reading that lot, but until I’ve absorbed more of the references I’ll largely hold fire and just say this:

    I quite agree that nuclear needs to be part of a low-carbon mix (or at least that it is extremely difficult and expensive to do without it).

    However, most of this debate seems to be saying ‘wind is no use in reducing carbon emissions due to the costs of load-following, so we should use nuclear instead.’

    But nuclear is completely useless for load-following in a different way – it has very low slew-rates so is only used for base-load. You’d still be using gas for all the hour-to-hour variation, so I don’t see that a low-carbon approach is being advocated by the pro-nuclear people any more than by the pro-wind people. In both cases you still have a big chunk of FF (mostly gas) generation for hour-hour variation following. (Does the moderator really want me to give a reference for the low slew-rate of nuclear, or can we take that as ‘well known’?)

    A genuinely low-carbon solution surely needs all/most of nuclear, CSP, solar PV, wind and hydro, plus some gas. It’s not an either/or thing, and that seems to be how some people are arguing here.

    An why so little mention of CSP? – Australia has exceptional solar resource and plenty of space per person to put it in, so this seems like it ought to be part of the mix. I’d expect it to have similar slew-rates to CCGT, but am no expert.

  182. This is the new efficient quick response combined cycle plant from GE

    http://cleantechnica.com/2011/05/29/gas-turbine-to-help-grow-renewable-energy/

    which can change output by 50 MW a minute and takes 30 minutes to start, I presume that includes steam. No info on average CO2. If anything it tends to confirm fossil fuel lock-in by renewables.

    I note in relation to the proposed Morwell Vic plant that gas will cost $7 per GJ as opposed to 60c for brown coal. Liquid transport fuels cost $45 per GJ and will soon compete with gas. No amount of hydrocarbon fuel conversion efficiency can ultimately beat high fuel prices.

    Eclipse Now I don’t dismiss seawater pumped hydro as Seligman seems to have done his sums fairly carefully. Trial plants in Japan, Hawaii and Ireland will confirm or deny the economics and reliability.

  183. Hi John,
    what do you mean by ‘trial plants’? Don’t we know from fairly old data how much power we’d get from a given amount of stored water?

    I guess the only questions here in a sea-water BATTERY (not power source) might be how much water (and therefore energy) we lose to evaporation.

    But otherwise, isn’t it fairly easy (for engineers — not myself) to calculate how much it will cost to build that 7km diameter, 20meter high earthen wall, line it, and whack hydro turbines onto it? These are pretty old technologies. We’re happy to have low guesstimates of GenIV power which I understand still requires significant materials development issues to be solved, but when it comes to a plain old hydro dam we say things like “It’s never been done before” because this one is a salt ‘battery’ only?

  184. EN there must be issues like fluid friction, turbulence within pipes, optimum operating range for a particular turbine design, valve response lag, cavitation in pumping uphill, FOAK costs, maintenance issues such as leaks and cleaning of filters. It may be the recoverable energy is more than double for a 200m drop than a 100m drop i.e. it’s non-linear. A weird costing issue I’ve noticed is that bored hydro crews sit around watching dials then if something goes wrong there aren’t enough people. All this needs to be tested.

  185. @Wookey, Modern Gen II nuclear plants can load-follow, many with slew-rates on a par or superior to other stem thermal plants. These are more than sufficient for everything except peaking.

    The issue is that wind and solar, being unpredictable cannot serve that function ether reliably without some form of storage.

    However what ever form of storage that is used, or might be developed, could be recharged less expensively, by surplus power from a nuclear power station.

    Therefore, wind and solar are not, and never will be needed in ether case.

    We have gone over this topic before here ad infinitum, perhaps it is time to have a FAQ to point to for questions like this.

  186. Wookey, @ 31 May 2011 at 5:35 AM

    1. Regarding my urging to move the discussion forward to the policy implications, I’d point out that much of the argument about how much emissions is avoided by wind generation, has been discussed at length on other threads on BNC. The argument is not going to progress any further because it bogs down in wind advocates repeating their positions and making comments about bits and pieces of irrelevant comments – generating FUD and confusion. This thread has reached this repetitive stage. Furthermore, as Inhaber points out, we simply do not have empirical emissions data at the times scale required. Australia has no emissions measurements at all. The sensitivity analysis looking at the full range of possible % CO2 emissions avoided per MWh. This shows that no matter what values we use, wind power is a very high cost way to avoid emissions. This is what is important. From that we can move forward to the policy implications. Unfortunately, it seems some do not want to move onto discussing the policy implications.

    2. There is a great deal of background on other threads on BNC. Those not familiar, and interested, may want to look at the previous posts on the “Renewable Limits” tab.

    3. Nuclear can load follow if designed to do so. The French NPPs have always done so. Look at this graphic. Move the cursor across the area chart and watch the changes on the pie chart below. http://www.rte-france.com/fr/developpement-durable/maitriser-sa-consommation-electrique/eco2mix-consommation-production-et-contenu-co2-de-l-electricite-francaise . Spend some time on these charts to get a feel for what a neaqr ideal arrangement would look like.

    4. Areva claims the EPR is designed to ramp at the rate of 5% of maximum power per minute throughout the range of 60% to 100% power and can operate at down to 25% of full power. That is, it can ramp at 80 MW per minute. So, your understanding about nuclear not being able to load follow is incorrect. http://www.areva.com/EN/global-offer-419/epr-reactor-one-of-the-most-powerful-in-the-world.html

    5. The ideal arrangement needs no fossil fuel. It is about 75% nuclear and 25% pumped hydro. Before we get to that stage we can use fossil fuel. The link in #3 above shows this situation for France. Scroll down to see the fossil fuel usage and the CO2 emissions. The French system with close to the current proportions of technologies has been running for about 30 years and has the lowest CO2 emissions from electricity generation of any of the major economies. The system is proven, safe, reliable and low cost. Australia could meet the current demand in the NEM with 25 GW of nuclear and 8GW of pumped hydro (excluding reserve capacity margin). 8GW of pumped hydro could be provided for around $15 billion by building the pumped hydro capacity and using existing dams – such as explained here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/05/pumped-hydro-system-cost/

    6. Solar thermal is not economic – not even close. I expect it never will be. See here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/05/pumped-hydro-system-cost/ (down load the pdf version to see the foot notes and appendices) and http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/05/pumped-hydro-system-cost/

    7.

    A genuinely low-carbon solution surely needs all/most of nuclear, CSP, solar PV, wind and hydro, plus some gas.

    I’d suggest the economically viable solution is nuclear 75%, hydro and pumped hydro 20%, gas 5% and perhaps some wind if it is economic, although I wonder if that will ever be the case. Wind is not economic in the France case, so why will it be economic anywhere? However, if renewables can provide a component economically then of course it should be part of the mix. But, we should not mandate a role for renewable energy. At the very most non-hydro renewables may provide 10% economically. I don’t believe 20% can be achieved economically. So why are we spending so much of our time and resources talking about renewables, which may make up 10% to 20% of the final solution, whle we spend nest to no time on the solution that will provide around 7% of a low emissions solution?

    8. You are correct that the solution will not be all or nothing. Unfortunately, in Australia the environmental NGO’s and two of the three major political parties are opposed to nuclear power at all – the Labor party, which is currently in Government with the Greens, has opposed nuclear for about 50 years. Meanwhile all the research and subsidies pour into renewables for no result. This has been going on for decades. So while you say ‘it is not all or nothing’, most of the people who make that very statement want to focus all their effort on renewables and want nuclear to remain banned or at least given no support.

  187. Neil Howes 30 May 2011 at 5:55 PM
    NEM wind farms are spread over an area 1200 km east-west by 800 km north-south. All of them combined produced zero or less than zero output on 65 5-minute periods in May 2010. The capacity factor from all NEM wind farms was about 2% for 6 days. The real data shows that the output of your modelling does not agreew with the real world evidence.

    You say:

    WA wind power would at most only need to transmit to SE Australia the difference between max output (considerably lower than capacity) and WA demand, minus any local storage.

    So you are arguing for curtailment, are you? If so, you need to use in your calculations capacity factors for the system, as distinct from individual wind farms, closer to 20% than the 30% commonly claimed by the wind power advocates..

    Please tell me about economic “local storage”.

    Neil, I suggest it is time to stop spreading FUD and confusion about wind power. Comment that state a fact here and a fact there but do not relate them with a total system and a total cost of electricity for the whole system, are simply causing confusion and misleading readers.

    Please provide a cost estimate for the system you propose that is capable of supplying the power quality and reliability we demand.

  188. Thank you for the corrections on the load-following abilities of newer nuclear designs – that does change the picture markedly. I will read the references.

    And sorry for being a newbie here and thus not being fully up on threads that have gone before. There is a lot to take in.

    I can see that the Australian situation is a very interesting one. One of the few places where there is enough space and resource for renewables to actually be physically plausible, but also a large uranium resource so nuclear is practical too, but a political concensus on ‘no nuclear’ which must be very frustrating.

    As you emphasise, effectiveness and cost effectiveness are really important, and if renewables are neither then it makes little sense (and more importantly won’t have the desired outcome) to persue them exclusively.

  189. I had an interesting conversation with my mechanical engineering friend currently doing a long grant with NRC. This guy said a year ago that the U.S. was going full bore natural gas. This looks to be about right, though there will be many battles over fracking.

    I asked him what he thought of the german plan to phase out nuclear and he said they would indeed go ahead with this, but would be forced to invest, along with other solvent countries like the Scandinavian ones, heavily into something like Desertec. He acknowledged that german solar was no good; thought german wind no good.

    I asked him if Desertec would provide base power (thus massive storage requirements, etc). He said no, nuclear would do this…

    but obviously not german nuclear. I realize this has a peripheral relation to CO2 avoidance. Sorry.

  190. Wookey,
    @ 31 May 2011 at 11:46 PM,

    You are very welcome. Yes, there is an enormous amount of material on BNC. Look first to the list of posts on the “Renewable Limits” tab to see posts grouped in a sort of order.. The TCASE series provide valuable background.

    You said:

    As you emphasise, effectiveness and cost effectiveness are really important, and if renewables are neither then it makes little sense (and more importantly won’t have the desired outcome) to peruse them exclusively.

    There are other reasons too why intermittent renewables are not as effective as many would like to think they are. One of them is the amount of resources require – e.g. around ten times as much steel and concrete, and therefore water used during construction, per MWh of electricity generated, as nuclear and fossil fuel generators. The CO2 emissions, and the fatalities, involved in material extraction, processing, fabrication, transport, construction, maintenance and decommissioning are therefore higher than for nuclear for the same electricity output. This component of the CO2 emissions is not mentioned in the article because the emissions from nuclear and renewables (excluding the back up component) are both small (negligible) compared with fossil fuels.

    Regarding solar thermal, this comment may be of interest: (ref. http://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/lang_2010_emissions_cuts_realities_v1a1.pdf )

    Whereas nuclear would be built near population centres, where work force, infrastructure, suppliers and services are available, this is not the case for solar thermal17. Solar thermal needs to be built in areas of high insolation (deserts) and the power stations must be widely distributed to minimise the impacts of widespread cloud cover.

    The cost of constructing widely distributed solar thermal power stations over an area of some 3000 km by 1000 km in Australia‟s deserts will be higher than the cost of constructing in Spain – where there is well developed infrastructure and larger work force nearer to the sites. To construct the solar thermal power stations in areas throughout central Australia will require large mobile construction camps, fly-in fly-out work force, large concrete batch plants, large supply of water, energy and good roads to each power station. Air fields suitable for fly-in fly-out will be required at say one per 250 MW power station. That means we need to build such air fields at the rate of about two, then three, then four per year.

    By 2050, the CO2 emissions from the solar thermal option are over three times those from the nuclear option, and increasing as electricity demand increases. The capital expenditure for the solar option is substantially higher than for nuclear throughout.

    The cumulative capital expenditure for the Solar Thermal option is about 30% higher than for nuclear. This is despite the fact that the solar thermal capacity is being built at half the rate of nuclear.

    The assumed rate of commissioning solar thermal in these analyses, seems highly optimistic. The quantity of steel and concrete required is an indication of the amount of construction effort required. Solar thermal requires about 8 times more concrete and 15 times more steel than nuclear per MW of capacity (Table 5). The build rate for solar thermal, assumed in these analyses, is half the rate of nuclear, so each year we would need to construct solar thermal plants comprising 4 times more concrete and seven times more steel than the nuclear plants. But that‟s not all. Nuclear would be built relatively close to the population centres, where services, infrastructure and work force is more readily available. Conversely, the solar plants need to be built in the desert regions. They will require four times as much water (for concrete) as nuclear. Water pipe lines will need to be built across the desert to supply the water. Dams will need to be built in the tropical north to store water and desalination plants along the coast elsewhere. To develop and retain a skilled work force to work in such regions will be costly. Work will be for about 9 months of the year to avoid the hottest periods. Based on the quantities of steel and concrete, towns will be required in the desert that accommodate about four times the work force required for constructing a nuclear power station. Fly-in-fly-out airports will need to be built for each town with a capability to move much larger numbers of people than the largest mining operations. Two such towns and airfields must be built per year to achieve the solar thermal build rate. It is hard to imagine how a build rate for solar thermal could be even 1/10th the build rate that could be achieved with nuclear.

    That provides a bit more food for thought that is often not considered.

  191. Willem Post,

    Willem,

    Thank you for your comment. The paper you linked to is interesting and explains much about the effects and complexity of including wind generation in an electricity grid. I commend the linked article those who are interested in the subject.

    This sentence jumped out at me because it gives two points for comparison with the Inhaber curve:

    The study, based on operating data, found a CO2 emission reduction of 0.3 tons/MWh = 0.6 lb of CO2/kWh at 3.2% wind power penetration, whereas this study finds 0.413 lb of CO2/kWh at 20.9% wind power penetration.

    Converting to SI units:
    CO2 emission reduction of 0.272 tonne/MWh at 3.2% wind [energy] penetration
    CO2 emission reduction of 0.187 tonne/MWh at 20.9% wind [energy] penetration

    For the Australian NEM, assuming the average emissions intensity of 1 t/MWh, the above figures, converted to percentage so they can be compared with the Inhaber vertical axis, are:

    CO2 emission reduction of 27% at 3.2% wind [energy] penetration
    CO2 emission reduction of 19% at 20.9% wind [energy] penetration

    For comparison, the Inhaber equation gives:

    CO2 emission reduction of 69% at 3.2% wind energy penetration
    CO2 emission reduction of 3.0% at 20.9% wind energy penetration

  192. Peter, i had provided exactly that link a while back. (as others have, even further up)

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-128573

    but i disagree with your conclusion and calculations. the article contains this part:


    “Because the annual-average CO2 emissions of the NEEG is about 1.0 lb of CO2/kWh (low compared to other grids due to CO2-free nuclear and hydro power), wind proponents claim a CO2 emissions reduction of 1.0 lb of CO2/kWh of wind power, whereas it is (1.0 – 0.539) = 0.461 lb of CO2/kWh, significantly less than claimed. ”
    —-

    so 100% reduction would be 1.0 lb of CO2/kWh.

    now when this “study finds 0.413 lb of CO2/kWh at 20.9% wind power “, this would translate into something close to a 50% reduction. (actually 41.3% at about 20% wind penetration)

    why does your conversion to the other units give a completely different result?

  193. sorry, basically all math in my post above was completely wrong. (it is still early over here)

    100% reduction would be 0.0 lb of CO2/kWh

    (or so 100% would be 1.0 lb of CO2/kWh.)

    so if emissions drop to 0.413 lb of CO2/kWh would give about a 60% reduction.

    please feel free to correct all my other (and the new?) errors in my post above…

  194. A 1000 MW coal plant produces about 3 million lbs of CO2 every hour.
    Ref: http://www.powermag.com/environmental/Alstoms-chilled-ammonia-CO2-capture-process-advances-toward-commercialization_86_p4.html
    That would be 3 lbs per kilowatthour. I have checked this number from chemistry and its a good value. Most of the quotes on the interenet are for too small an amount of CO2, such as the 1 lb/kwh sod stated above. In order to determine the effectiveness of wind at reducing CO2 you would need an hourly dispatch model for a region, such as Australia or Texas and simulate a historical recent year in retrospect, while dispatching all the generators with their limitations such as ramp rates and reserve levels. Whether a coal plant could be taken off line would depend on the reliability of the wind forecast and the reliability and cost of quick startup generation. Its not a trivial problem. I don’t think the CO2 redution numbers can be arrived at correctly until simulated in an hourly model for a previous year or years. Once simulated then a trend could be noticed and put in a simplified equation. However it would be very regional specific.

  195. “That would be 3 lbs per kilowatthour. I have checked this number from chemistry and its a good value. Most of the quotes on the interenet are for too small an amount of CO2, such as the 1 lb/kwh sod stated above.”
    ——-

    thanks for your replay Gene. you are right in your description of what must be done to fully assess CO2 under certain levels of wind penetration.

    the article which was linked first by others, then by me, gives an explanation for the low CO2 number:


    “Because the annual-average CO2 emissions of the NEEG is about 1.0 lb of CO2/kWh (low compared to other grids due to CO2-free nuclear and hydro power)”
    —-

    so the number is low because it is an average, which actually includes low CO2 emitters like nuclear and water.

    i think the estimates of the CO2 output of the gas plants used in the scenario in the article are good:

    ———
    “CCGT Heat rate = (3,413 Btu/kWh)/efficiency 0.55 = 6,205 Btu/kWh

    CO2 emissions/kWh = 117 lb of CO2/(million Btu x 1 kWh/6,205 Btu) = 0.726 lb of CO2/kWh

    OCGT Heat rate = (3,413 Btu/kWh)/efficiency 0.35 = 9,751 Btu/kWh

    CO2 emissions/kWh = 117 lb of CO2/(million Btu x 1 kWh/9,751 Btu) = 1.141 lb of CO2/kWh
    ————

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/57905/wind-power-and-co2-emissions

    as we can see, even replacing those coal plants with these gas plants would be a good idea. (while looking at CO2)

    the study then looks at different efficiencies of those gas plants, under different speeds of wind change.

  196. I’m not so sure Sod, there are indirect emissions from methane than escapes the drilling rig, or that is uncombusted through the turbine (methane tends to not burn completely in engines because of its narrow explosion range).

    Here’s a high estimate, there are others that are lower, though in all cases the methane emissions are a big factor (methane being 20x more potent a GhG than CO2 molecule for molecule)

  197. Somebody whose name escapes me has pointed out that fugitive methane could cancel out the CO2 savings of burning gas rather than coal. If methane has a warming potential of 25 and 2% escapes while gas fuel saves 50% of CO2 we have
    (2% X 25) + 50% = 100% back to same as coal.

    Odorants have been added to NG since this incident http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_London_School_explosion
    However it ‘wind fuel’ advocates are correct synthetic methane can be made with high EROEI so protocols would have to be implemented to minimise fugitive release. Note that some methane (usually under 10 ppm) is in our breath all the time.

  198. “’m not so sure Sod, there are indirect emissions from methane than escapes the drilling rig, or that is uncombusted through the turbine (methane tends to not burn completely in engines because of its narrow explosion range).”
    ————

    Cyril i agree. the article mentions it, but i am not sure whether it is factored into the CO2 calculation (Co2 equivalent?)

    this is a very serious problem with gas. especially as the release of methane often happens in another country, and in russia it might be hidden much more easily. anyway, it will often produce greenhouse gases that will not be factored into the calculations, which is a very bad thing. there is a lot of cheating going on, whenever government money is involved.

    even if it might sound different at times, i am not a big fan of gas. it has a lot of disadvantages, but also a few advantages. in Germany Greenpeace energy is currently pushing “wind gas” which might be one of the most easy ways of storing alternative electricity. (simply because it can go directly into the gas network, which has a pretty immense storage capacity.

    http://www.greenpeace-energy.de/windgas.html

    but is your argument about the about 50% CO2 reduction at wind penetration of 20% in this article, that it doesn t factor in methane release? or is my calculation wrong?

  199. @ Gene Preston,

    ///In order to determine the effectiveness of wind at reducing CO2 you would need an hourly dispatch model for a region, such as Australia or Texas and simulate a historical recent year in retrospect, while dispatching all the generators with their limitations such as ramp rates and reserve levels.////
    Can’t we just do it by counting how many coal plants are shut down because of wind? How about we ask this question: how many coal plants have been shut down in Australia because of wind? That ought to be simple enough.

  200. Hello Sod, those calculations above are in the right ballpark, for CO2 from combustion only.

    It just occured to me, that throttling gas turbines more, as in the case of a big wind grid, increases the amount of methane that is unburned. We must also factor in the indirect energy use for e.g. transporting the gas. Pushing gas through pipelines over thousands of miles or liquefying it and putting it into a big ship, requires a surprisingly large amount of energy, and most is in the form of electricity (compressors) that has to be generated by burning even more natural gas.

    Then there should be a CO2 equivalent lifecycle per kWh emission number resulting from all this. But it appears this was not done in the previous analysis.

  201. This explains how CO2-e emissions are calculated in accordance with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change:

    http://www.climatechange.gov.au/~/media/publications/greenhouse-acctg/national-greenhouse-factors-july-2010-pdf.pdf

    Other web pages on the DCCEE web site explain the difference between life cycle emissions, fuel cycle emissions and fuel combustion emissions. Life cycle emissions are not used because they lead to too much problem with duplication. So Fuel Cycle emissions are used. There are Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions factors.

    All these measures do not properly account for emissions due to jerk from wind power.

    Australia does not measure emissions from generators. It calculates them based on the emissions factors given in the document linked above. (http://www.climatechange.gov.au/~/media/publications/greenhouse-acctg/national-greenhouse-factors-july-2010-pdf.pdf ). These are the emissions factors DCCEE instructs everyone to use to maintain consistency. However, I believe they are not even close to being correct. I suspect the factors given in this document http://www.aemo.com.au/planning/419-0035.pdf are probably more accurate for the overall average emissions factors per generator unit. But these do not allow us to calculate the effect of cycling.

    This tells how Ireland calculates emissions from electricity generators. This also does not allow for the effect of jerk. http://www.eirgrid.com/operations/systemperformancedata/co2intensity/

    EirGrid, with the support of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, has together developed the following methodology for calculating CO2 emissions. The rate of carbon emissions is calculated in real time by using the generators MW output, the individual heat rate curves for each power station and the calorific values for each type of fuel used. The heat rate curves are used to determine the efficiency at which a generator burns fuel at any given time. The fuel calorific values are then used to calculate the rate of carbon emissions for the fuel being burned by the generator.

    I expect the methodology used in Ireland is standard for EU.

    That leads me point again to this excellent French web page (for those who haven’t seen this before):

    http://www.rte-france.com/fr/developpement-durable/maitriser-sa-consommation-electrique/eco2mix-consommation-production-et-contenu-co2-de-l-electricite-francaise

    Scroll mouse left an right across the stacked area chart and watch how the pie chart below changes to show the proportions of the different generator types. Scroll down further to see the CO2 emissions.

    This page clearly shows what we should be striving for if we want low emissions: 75% to 80% nuclear, most of the remainder hydro and pumped hydro, and a bit of gas.

    If we had that mix and electricity was cheap as it is in France (near the cheapest in Europe), then nuclear could replace gas for heating and, as it gets cheaper still, it would begin the transition of transport from fossil fuels (to electric vehicles and/or to fuels produced using cheap electricity). Furthermore, with cheap clean electricity, we’d be able to offer to assist developing countries to implement cheap clean electricity instead of fossil fuel generated electricity.

    The key to all this is cheap electricity. Therefore, carbon pricing aimed at raising the cost of electricity is exactly the wrong policy.

  202. Peter I suggest part of the reason for millions in poverty is because fossil fuels have always been artificially cheap. World population got so large because of unsustainable expectations. Wiki suggests synthetic nitrogen fertilisers enabled a third more of us than otherwise. In round figures that would be 4.7 bn not 7 bn. Therefore the low cost of energy, not the high cost up til now has been part of the problem.

    On CO2 intensity obviously technology and auxiliary demands must make a large difference. With hard black coals we have pulverised, gasified and supercritical. The cooling could be immersion, evaporation towers or air radiators. I was surprised to see the Engineering Toolbox gives 2.3 kg CO2 per kg of bituminous coal under lab conditions but 2.8 kg CO2 for a kg of natural gas. This shows combined cycle burning of gas must be quite efficient..

  203. That seems wrong, natural gas has a considerable combustion value in hydrogen content whereas bituminous coal doesn’t. This is a big factor for natural gas lower combustion CO2 emissions, the second factor being efficiency (45% heat to electric for modern pulverized coal plant, 60% heat to electric for latest CCGT).

  204. Coal plants routinely shut down for a number of reasons. You would not be able to tell if coal plants are shutting down because of wind by looking at historical data. Possibly gas prices dropped and made coal unattractive for a period of time. Or there have been maintenance needed on a coal plant. Or there could have been an line out of service that made running the coal plant un economical.

  205. John Newlands,

    Peter I suggest part of the reason for millions in poverty is because fossil fuels have always been artificially cheap.

    That is what I would call an unsubstantiated personal belief. Furthermore it flies in the face of all evidence.

    Cheap electricity (along with good governance and other important factors) is a key factor that creates increasing wealth (for a country) which means better systems for health, education, infrastructure (sewerage, roads, public transport, law and order, etc), housing, employment opportunities, polution control and a fulfilling life.

    Here is my link (where is yours?):

    1. Wealth and Health of nations http://www.gapminder.org/world/#$majorMode=chart$is;shi=t;ly=2003;lb=f;il=t;fs=11;al=30;stl=t;st=t;nsl=t;se=t$wst;tts=C$ts;sp=5.59290322580644;ti=2009$zpv;v=0$inc_x;mmid=XCOORDS;iid=phAwcNAVuyj1jiMAkmq1iMg;by=ind$inc_y;mmid=YCOORDS;iid=phAwcNAVuyj2tPLxKvvnNPA;by=ind$inc_s;uniValue=8.21;iid=phAwcNAVuyj0XOoBL%5Fn5tAQ;by=ind$inc_c;uniValue=255;gid=CATID0;by=grp$map_x;scale=log;dataMin=295;dataMax=79210$map_y;scale=lin;dataMin=19;dataMax=86$map_s;sma=49;smi=2.65$cd;bd=0$inds=;example=75

    2. Life expectancy versus electricity use per person:

    http://www.gapminder.org/world/#$majorMode=chart$is;shi=t;ly=2003;lb=f;il=t;fs=11;al=30;stl=t;st=t;nsl=t;se=t$wst;tts=C$ts;sp=5.59290322580644;ti=2008$zpv;v=0$inc_x;mmid=XCOORDS;iid=tiVeyAJd7iRWorOwl%5FARWEQ;by=ind$inc_y;mmid=YCOORDS;iid=phAwcNAVuyj2tPLxKvvnNPA;by=ind$inc_s;uniValue=8.21;iid=phAwcNAVuyj0XOoBL%5Fn5tAQ;by=ind$inc_c;uniValue=255;gid=CATID0;by=grp$map_x;scale=log;dataMin=5.6;dataMax=50083$map_y;scale=lin;dataMin=19;dataMax=86$map_s;sma=49;smi=2.65$cd;bd=0$inds=

    3. Income per person versus Electricity use per person:

    http://www.gapminder.org/world/#$majorMode=chart$is;shi=t;ly=2003;lb=f;il=t;fs=11;al=30;stl=t;st=t;nsl=t;se=t$wst;tts=C$ts;sp=5.59290322580644;ti=2008$zpv;v=0$inc_x;mmid=XCOORDS;iid=tiVeyAJd7iRWorOwl%5FARWEQ;by=ind$inc_y;mmid=YCOORDS;iid=phAwcNAVuyj1jiMAkmq1iMg;by=ind$inc_s;uniValue=8.21;iid=phAwcNAVuyj0XOoBL%5Fn5tAQ;by=ind$inc_c;uniValue=255;gid=CATID0;by=grp$map_x;scale=log;dataMin=5.6;dataMax=50083$map_y;scale=log;dataMin=282;dataMax=119849$map_s;sma=49;smi=2.65$cd;bd=0$inds=

  206. Peter I’ve independently concluded that the world has too many people as have many others. I see no way the the bottom billion in India, Africa and China can make it to what I call the ‘5 kw lifestyle’. It is thought half the nitrogen in human protein has a synthetic origin, see 3rd paragraph in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haber_process
    Since most urea and ammonia currently derives from natural gas that seems to imply mass starvation when gas runs out.

    I say fossil fuels are artificially cheap because they
    don’t pay their clean up costs. If markets were truly far sighted they should have seen the CO2 problem coming back in the days of steam trains and set some money aside for fuel replacement. Now billions think cheap energy is their birth right..
    MODERATOR
    John – you are slipping off topic here into the realms of philosophical discussions of the “big picture.” Please continue on the Open Thread 15.

  207. John Newlands,

    I am not sure how much of what you say is tongue in cheek. But I’ll answer it seriously.

    The points you make have an effect on me that is the opposite of what I think you would like. The effect is:

    1. I think the people that express such beliefs are way out on the fringe. To me they are like the people who take on extreme religious beliefs. I then tend to apply the halo effect to all their beliefs and those who hold similar beliefs. I then tend to discredit the beliefs of the groups that hold such beliefs. Sorry, but that is the effect it has on me.

    2. I wonder why the people who think the world is over-populated don’t draw straws amongst their family members to decide who should commit suicide.

    3.

    I say fossil fuels are artificially cheap because they
    don’t pay their clean up costs.

    Why pick on fossil fuels? Why not pick on everything else and make your decisions in a properly balanced and rational way. I don’t buy this irrational approach to picking on fossil fuels. As far as I am concerned, fossil fuels are fantastic. Thye should be used until we will allow better alternatives. The benefits fossil fuels bring to humanity are enormous. I expect any attempt to internalise more of the externalities would do more harm than good. That is where I’ve come to. Until we are prepared to remove the impediments that we have placed to obstruct the technologies society doesn’t like (through environmentalists’ irrational beliefs), then I would not support adding more irrationally driven “solutions” (such as taxing energy).
    MODERATOR
    Peter – see my comment to John – this is veering off-topic – take it to the Open Thread 15 which is where discussions on “big picture” philosophies and politics belong. Thank you.

  208. Changing tack somewhat I’m inclined to agree that carbon tax may degenerate into a farce. On ABC Landline they discussed ‘carbon farming’ with a specific example of a pig farm. By covering the effluent sludge pond with a tarp and burning the methane they get a credit under the carbon tax scheme.

    That is completely misguided in my opinion. For starters c.t. wasn’t supposed to have offsets or credits hence it would be simpler to administer than an ETS. However I think the starting position must be zero entitlement of CO2e. Large intensive animal farm pay c.t. either on CO2 at $20-$30/t or CH4 at $400-$600/t based on 20X equivalence. Flaring clearly works out cheaper so there is the benefit ie carbon tax reduction. If you then give a saleable carbon credit for that flaring you’ve counted the benefit twice.

    I fear this is the kind of muddled thinking we will see with other parts of carbon tax. Our major efforts should go to shutting down Hazelwood and saving millions of tonnes of primary CO2. Instead we will be preoccupied the minute side issues of pig poo and the growth rates of trees. While I think carbon tax is the right game rules the umpire just isn’t tough enough in enforcing those rules.

  209. John,,

    I agree with you. There are so many problems with carbon pricing and from my perspective, it is totally wrong approach. We can’t even measure the damned stuff, as this thread has made absolutely clear.

    We should instead focus on removing the many impediments that distort the energy markets and especially favour some technologies and disadvantage others. Clearly the biggest disadvantages are to nuclear.

    While we allow those impediments to remain in place, I cannot take seriously any of the proposed carbon pricing. In Australia carbon pricing is clearly political. It is clearly just another opportunity for redistributing wealth. The proposed carbon pricing scheme can have no effect whatsoever on world emissions. But it will seriously damage our economy if the carbon price has to rise high enough to achieve the 2020 emissions targets. While we muck around with this nonsense and at the same time ban what is potentially the cheapest way to cut emissions, we are wasting our wealth and time.

  210. Peter Lang,
    Below is my article “Wind Power and CO2 emissions” on THE ENERGY COLLECTIVE.
    I have made some revisions and additions.

    Wind Power Penetration and Costs

    A spreadsheet of 0.5% to 20.9% wind penetration was prepared to illustrate the rapid increase of wind accommodation costs with increasing wind penetration; the 0.5% corresponds to the about 239 MW of wind capacity currently on the NEEG and the 20.9% corresponds to the 10,000 MW wind capacity of this study.

    According to ISO-NE personnel, 0.5% wind penetration, the current condition in the NEEG, is not noticeable. However, this lack of “notice” is inexcusable, because, based on the above calculations, the NEEG fuel costs are increased by about $10.05 million/yr and the corresponding NEEG wind power accommodation fees should be about $13 million/yr, as the spreadsheet shows.

    Right now, the wind power facility owners feeding into the NEEG are paying NOTHING, because it is not “noticeable.”

    The above indicates wind power facility owners are getting a huge free ride by using the “spare” cycling capability of the existing grids but not fully paying for all the cycling costs. 
     
    The above indicates utilities and the ISO-NE have not identified, quantified and included all the cycling costs in their current wind accommodation fees. Studies, based on actual operating data, need to be made to better determine all the owning and O&M costs of cycling to accommodate wind power.

    Willem Post

    I can’t send you the spreadsheet because I don’t have your email address.

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/57905/wind-power-and-co2-emissions

  211. This is a fascinating illustration of several big-picture principles I’ve been struggling to discern! Thank you so much.

    1) People easily get lost in detailed analysis that is immaterial to the big picture.
    [Lots of arguing over detailed numbers. Peter Lang steps back and demonstrates that you can pick any reasonably possible set of empirical data and you’ll still discover wind is a too-costly way to mitigate CO2.]

    2) With too many trees, it is easy to obfuscate the forest (or perhaps to fool ourselves about what the forest looks like.)
    [Goggins, sod, et al argued that Colorado (where I happen to live) provides empirical proof that increased wind leads to reduced CO2. Hawkins provided a link to Boone’s demonstration that Goggins hid the elephant in the room: imported power. Was Goggins ignorant or purposeful? I don’t care: he was wrong. A simple conclusion for reader: caution about detailed claims is warranted until we can be confident there are no elephants around the corner.]

    A personal conclusion: this is a great illustration of how helpful it would be to develop visualization tools that make it easy to honestly illustrate uncertainty (fuzziness), while still displaying the features that are true independent of uncertainties. Lang’s analysis shows that whether the multiplier is x3 or x100, wind is hugely costly compared to alternatives. I want to reflect on how best to visualize such an outcome in a way that allows the details to fade into the background while highlighting the underlying reality.

  212. I have added the below section to the Summary of my article

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/57905/wind-power-and-co2-emissions

    Making Wind Facilities More Grid-Friendly

    Ways for wind facility IPPs to minimize the fees would be to install
    their own cycling facilities at a suitable distance from their wind
    facilities to provide cycling energy BEFORE the wind energy enters the
    grid, i.e., be grid-friendly.

    In New England, this would avoid most of the $19 billion to $24
    billion of overlay grids and avoid a significant visual impact. It
    would also avoid the difficulties and costs of accommodating wind
    power into the existing electricity generating and T&D systems.

    The production, MWh/yr, of the combined facilities would be at least 3
    times that of only the wind facilities and the overall cost/kWh would
    be about 40 to 50 percent less than from only the wind facilities.
    IPPs would generate a significantly greater percentage of the
    electricity in the US.

    Modern wind turbine facilities could be designed to present less
    variable output to the grid, such as by feathering their rotor blades
    to limit minute-by-minute ramp rates of their output, at moderate
    reductions of production and at moderate additions to capital costs.

    Ireland enacted a new grid code in 2004 that requires wind turbine
    facilities to reduce the variability of their outputs, i.e., be more
    “grid-friendly.” See Page 17 of

    http://www.ref.org.uk/attachments/article/171/david.white.wind.co2.saving.12.04.pdf

  213. In a Business Spectator KGB interview with ACIL Tasman CEO Paul Hyslop, referring to Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets, Hyslop states:

    They are appalling schemes. They don’t do anything much towards what their original intentions were, and the primary intention of the renewable energy scheme. There are actually three objectives in the Act, but the primary intention really is to reduce emissions, and if you go back to the original speech in ’97 that Howard made when he brought in the original scheme, it was all about being part of our basket of responses to emissions reduction. Look, the problem with the renewable energy target is it’s very expensive and it doesn’t bring about much abatement because it doesn’t target emissions, it targets producing renewable energy. But the renewable energy essentially displaces the most expensive generation, not the highest emissions generation, and the most expensive energy is essentially the gas-fired power and it has the lowest emissions. So, what we’re doing is we spend a whole lot of money to bring renewable energy in to displace gas-fired power when in fact gas-fired power is what we want to displace the coal fired power.

    http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/KGB-Paul-Hyslop-pd20110616-HVAU4?OpenDocument

  214. Willem Post. MrPete and Graham Palmer,

    Thank you for your comments. I’ve been away and no internet access so only just seen them.

    Willem, I’ll read your update in slow time.

    I’d like to add to Graham Palmer’s comment:

    if you go back to the original speech in ’97 that Howard made when he brought in the original scheme, it was all about being part of our basket of responses to emissions reduction.

    Correct! The Howard government’s targets were “Clean Energy Targets” not “Renewable Energy Targets”. The target was a more realistic, but still ambitious, 15% cut on 2000 emissions by 2020. The Clean Energy Targets did not discriminate against nuclear (although the many impediments to implementation in Australia would still have had to be removed). Howard then put nuclear firmly on the table with the Ziggy Switkowski Task Force and its 2006 report “Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy”. The government then promoted it strongly. As usual, the Labor Opposition took the opportunity to run a negative, scaremongering anti-nuclear campaign about “would you want a nuclear power station in your suburb?”

  215. harrywr2, on 18 June 2011 at 2:29 AM said:

    @Eclipse Now, on 11 June 2011 at 10:52 AM said:

    He shows a graph from U.S. northwest of all wind farms falling flat for ten days…..As far as I am aware, the NorthWest is NOT really on the ‘wind-map’ of America!

    There have been various reports out of the UK that their wind turbines experienced extended periods of inactivity as well.

    The US PNW makes for a reasonable ‘test bed’ for Wind Farms, as much of the storage and transmission systems that a simple ‘back of the envelope calculation’ would indicate were needed already existed.

    The wind farms in the US PNW produce fairly close to ‘as advertised’. The numbers I’ve seen(sorry no link) are 28-34% on an annual basis.

    If you view this wind map…http://rredc.nrel.gov/wind/pubs/atlas/maps/chap2/2-01m.html

    there is a ‘dark section’ along the Washington, Oregon border…this area is the Columbia River Gorge where the Columbia River cuts thru the Cascade Mountain Range…that’s where the majority of windmills are located. It’s an exceptionally good site as it is a wind tunnel.

    http://rredc.nrel.gov/wind/pubs/atlas/maps/chap2/2-01m.html.

    It is true that the best wind in the US goes down the east side of the Rocky Mountains.

    According to the specification sheet for GE Wind Turbine operating temperatures are -4F to 104F with a ‘survival’ limit of -22F to 104F

    http://energyfacilities.puc.state.mn.us/documents/19766/Application%20Appendix%20C.pdf

    It gets colder then -22F in Wyoming.

    http://weather-warehouse.com/WeatherHistory/PastWeatherData_CasperNatronaCntyIntlArpt_Casper_WY_January.html

    Wyoming, Montana and the Dakota’s are not particularly hospitable to man or machine.

    The point being that ‘how much wind’ is available is only one of the determinants for suitable siting. A place with long hard Winters with long sustained periods of sub freezing weather is going to pose additional challenges to Wind Farms.

    It is true that T. Boone Pickens built a 10 GW wind farm in Texas.

    Here are the 2009 Texas Generating Capacity Statistics.

    http://www.eia.gov/cneaf/electricity/st_profiles/sept04tx.xls

    9,600 MW ‘other renewables’(wind) generating capacity.

    9,600 MW * 8760 hours = 84,096,000 MWh per year at 100% capacity.

    Here are the 2009 Texas Energy Generation Statistics

    http://www.eia.gov/cneaf/electricity/st_profiles/sept05tx.xls

    21 million megawatts of ‘other renewables’ was what was actually generated. A 25% capacity factor. If I use end of year 2008 wind generating capacity then the capacity factors rises to 31%.

    Slides 14,15 and 16 from the Texas Grid Operator are interesting.

    http://www.ercot.com/content/meetings/ros/keydocs/2011/0113/08._PDCWG_Report_to_ROS_January_13_2011_rev1.ppt

    Excellent wind in the spring when system loads are low and not very good wind generation in August when system loads are high.

    It would appear that the Texas seasonal problem coincides with the Pacific Northwest seasonal problem.

  216. Willem Post,

    It would be handy to know how the NEEG data you have compares with the points charted in Figures 1 in the lead artice to this thread. Could you provide, for NEEG, the % wind energy penetration and the % emissions avoided by wind generation (per MWh of wind generation).

    I wonder if you could also provided the cost per tonne CO2 avoided as well as explain the methodology you use to calculate it and assumptions and sources for the data used in the calculation.

    I think this may be of interest to BNCers and may elicit discussion.

  217. Peter,

    NEEG wind energy penetration is about 0.5% of 130,000 GWh/yr.
    The average NEEG emissions is about 1.0 lb of CO2/kWh.

    According to ISO-NE personnel, wind energy till now has not been noticeable, meaning nothing is being measured, just the way wind facility owners like it.

    My calculations indicate at the planned (pipe dream) 20.9% penetration it is (1- 0.59, due to extra cycling CO2) = 0.41 lb of CO2/kWh

    Below is a new article

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/59747/ge-flexefficiency-50-ccgt-facilities-and-wind-turbine-facilities

  218. Hi Willem,

    Thank you for the extra information. To make it easier for me and BNC readers to understand, without having to read between the lines amd do conversions, could you present the figures in a way that can be directly compared with the lead article, especially Figure 1 and also Cost per tonne CO2 avoided ($/t CO2 avoided).

  219. It may be of interest to readers in Australia and elsewhere that there is actually a legal challenge to the renewable energy policy in Europe now under way at the United Nations Economic Commision for Europe. Essentially the EU has ratified the Aarhus Convention, which relates to Human and Environmental Rights. In particular in relation to Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.

    Policies CANNOT be developed on political consensus or ‘group think’. They have to be developed in a structured manner, the public has to be informed so that they can participate in the environmental decision making. Finally they have to have access to a legal review procedure, which is fair, equitable, timely and not prohhibitively expensive, to challenge acts or omissions of the authorities.

    The targets developed in the EU, namely a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and 20% of energy to be derived from renewable sources, were solely based on political consensus. No proper technical, economic or environmental assesment was completed. These then became mandatory under the relevant Directive, which each Member State being assigned a mandatory target based on existing renewable energy penetration and a factor based on GDP. Each Member State had then to develop a renewable energy action plan, one can go into the EU Commission’s website and see: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/renewables/transparency_platform/action_plan_en.htm

    Namely that Section 5.3 on impacts, such as quantities of greenhouse gases avoided and jobs created is for most Member States bank (Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, France).

    This is a complete breach of the structured environmental assessment required by the UNECE. For a renewable project of this nature one needs to know:

    • What are the environmental objectives? In particular, exactly what quantity of greenhouse gas reduction is being achieved over the situation of no wind energy on the grid, versus the level that has now been installed and the level which is projected to be installed?
    • What were the alternatives considered to achieve those objectives, for instance could greater use have been made of energy efficiency projects, as has been pointed out time and time again by the engineering profession?
    • What would be the state of the environment without implementation of the plan? The key aspect here is what damage exactly is carbon dioxide causing? This has to be quantified.

    Of course none of this has been done, officials have bypassed legally binding procedures, hence the legal case which has been taken by the UNECE Compliance Committee.

    http://www.unece.org/env/pp/compliance/Compliance%20Committee/54TableEU.htm

    Note in case ACCC/C/2008/32 the Compliance Committee ruled in May 2011 that the EU needed to reform its legal access, such that citizens could challenge acts of omissions by EU institutions in relation to environmental matters.

    So there are interesting times ahead in this legal challenge. Bottom line, it is not about political consensus, instead the environmental costs, benefits and alternatives have to be assessed and determined to be appropriate before the policy or programme can be implemented.

  220. Pat Swords

    Thanks you for keeping us informed of the progress of this EU court action and what it means for investment in wind generation in Ireland. This is highly relevant to the situation in Australia too. We are progressing along a similar path in Australia.

  221. The current renewable programme in Ireland is for 40% of our electricity to be renewable, essentially over 37% from wind. This is an illegal programme, never having being properly assessed or developed through proper public participation in decision-making procedures at EU or National level. It involves circa 8,200 MW of wind and a minimum two new interconnectors to the UK. Projected costs are over €30 billion and it is unlikely from a technical point to ever work with any degree of reliability.

    Now for the potential upside, the country is completely and utterly broke. The population voted in a new Government, totally obliterating the Irish Green Party, who were in charge of Energy and the Environment from 2007 until early 2011. For the first time people are starting to be receptive to hard questions, for instance I have included some recent quotes below from the official report into our banking crises, which firmly put the blame on ‘groupthink’ and ‘herding’. The Western World’s infatuation with renewable energy, particularly wind, is in fact little different and will in time be every bit as devastating.

    So we do potentially have a window of opportunity here in Ireland, but we must use it carefully. With a lot of hard work I have reached the situation in which the UN is investigating the EU with regard to compliance with the Aarhus Convention on Access to Justice, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters. This will lead to the EU getting a reprimand for pursuing what are illegal programmes in relation to renewable energy. However, this all takes time as legal cases move in a slow defined manner. But when it does occur it is binding and will have legal effect.

    With regard to public opinion, our opportunity is to present a clear, logical case to the public, based on value for money and real environmental benefits, rather than perception and spin. This means documents going into the public domain about the wind energy programme in Ireland must be of a good quality. Unfortunately several public bodies have, for undoubted political gain, been issuing non-transparent information on the environment, i.e. false publications to the public, an example will follow in another e-mail. This leaves an uphill battle.

    It is clear to us that the EirGrid CO2 emissions on the web are a simplification of actual figures and under reporting annual verified data. However, if people want to use them as indicative figures, then there maybe some merit. While Joe Wheatley hasn’t finished his work on this, what he appears to be demonstrating is that the data is showing a significant decrease in emissions avoided as the penetration increase (Consistent with the trend indicated by the Inhaber paper). To us this is the important point, wind will be reasonably effective at reducing CO2 with low penetration, but at the point of investment we have now reached it is proving ineffective and if further investment continues, there will be little or no gain. This is the message we need to get out.

    The fact of the matter, as we all realise, is that politicians and other forces are pushing this renewable agenda without any proper assessment of its technical, economic or environmental impacts and effectiveness. Nowhere in the world has a proper study been completed as to what the carbon emissions on a national grid would be without and with various levels of wind investment and penetration. Not only does the Irish grid offer some unique aspects, because of its relatively manageable size and availability of accurate data, but there are also legal aspects related to compliance with EU legislation and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s Aarhus Convention. These legal aspects will come to the fore over the latter part of this year as compliance investigation ACCC/C/2010/54 progresses and may well lead to the position that an independent study can be developed.

    Need for Environmental Assessment

    Clearly the EU as a Party to the Convention has failed to ensure the proper availability of adequate environmental information related to the massive renewable energy programme, which is now under way and has an even greater impact to follow. In addition proper environmental assessment and foresight is required for a programme of this nature, which will have not only massive financial costs, but will transform Europe’s landscape, to a degree never before completed. There is also increasing frustration among citizens in the manner in which this is happen and in the increasing visible democratic deficit, in which mandatory targets have been assigned based on virtual diktat by officials, who do not appear to be answerable to anybody.
    With regard to the basics of strategic environmental assessment, then clearly it should be known:
    · What are the environmental objectives? In particular, exactly what quantity of greenhouse gas reduction is being achieved over the situation of no wind energy on the grid, versus the level that has now been installed and the level which is projected to be installed?
    · What were the alternatives considered to achieve those objectives, for instance could greater use have been made of energy efficiency projects, as has been pointed out time and time again by the engineering profession?
    · What would be the state of the environment without implementation of the plan? The key aspect here is what damage exactly is carbon dioxide causing? This has to be quantified, a point I have already raised in my case with the EU Ombudsman[1] with regard to the Principle of Proportionality.
    These most fundamental questions, clearly required by law under Annex I of Directive 2001/42/EC on Strategic Environmental Assessment, have never been addressed. There is therefore, such as in the Irish case, a pressing demand for a proper, fully transparent study to be completed by a panel of experienced international experts in association with Irish technical resources. This study will take time and effort, which should be funded by the EU which initiated this programme. In addition there should certainly be no more development of renewable energy until as such time as it is completed, given that legally the renewable programme should never have been initiated, in the absence of such a study being available for public participation.

    [1] http://www.unece.org/env/pp/compliance/C2010-54/Communication/Annex%203%20(a-c)%20file%20on%20EU%20Ombudsman/FinalSubmissionComplaintToEUOmbudsmanMay2010.pdf

    Banking Crises analogy with Wind

    As the “Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Banking Sector in Ireland[1]” pointed out:
    · “On the whole, it appears that actions taken by various institutions in the run-up to the Irish crises did exhibit the kinds of behaviour generated by the ‘herding’ and ‘groupthink’ hypotheses”.
    · “Herding implies that management groups in different banks implicitly follow each other with little or only modest analysis and discussion”.
    · “Groupthink occurs when people adapt to the beliefs and views of others without real intellectual conviction. A consensus forms without serious consideration of consequences or alternatives, often under overt or imaginary social pressure. Recent studies indicate that tendencies to groupthink may be stronger and more common than previously thought. One consequence of groupthink may be herding, if the views in question relate to institutional policies, but this need not be the case”.
    · “Ireland’s systematic banking crises would have been impossible without widespread suspension of prudence and care by those responsible for bank management as well as by those charged with ensuring financial conduct”.
    The origins of this renewable energy programme, as has been pointed out already, clearly lie with ‘political consensus’ at the EU level. Yet there has been a complete failure at EU level to complete the necessary environmental assessments and public participation procedures. The programme, particularly the wind energy element, is based on nothing but the perception that it will (a) work and (b) bring some element of benefit, particularly in relation to the environment. While it no doubt is perceived to be popular, based on the criteria of (a) and (b), this has never been demonstrated to be the case. The fact that political careers have benefited from association with the programme, not to mention considerable financial gain to others, does not absolve the officials at the EU and National level from their legal duties to ensure that the proper assessments and public participation exercises were complete before the programme was initiated.

    [1] http://www.bankinginquiry.gov.ie/

  222. It is clear to us that the EirGrid CO2 emissions on the web are a simplification of actual figures and under reporting annual verified data.

    Back before Easter, it emerged in comments here that there is no direct measurement of greenhouse gas emissions at the smokestacks of our Australian fossil fuel power plants. (See here for discussion.) Emissions are calculated from average intensity factors, which are open to manipulation, and which can’t capture reduced efficiency when responding to variable demand.

    I remain astonished by this. In the midst of the political hot potato of the day, the carbon tax “debate”, no-one in the media seems to have twigged to the fact that we don’t actually have direct data on GHG emissions from power generation. The data that we have is inadequate for the purpose of formulating policy, be it carbon pricing or future energy generation.

    Good data is the sine qua non for participatory democracy, and
    particularly now as we are making very large policy decisions about
    energy. We need to be collecting and reporting empirical data on emissions and on energy production from all modes of generation. The data and the methodologies need to be in the public
    domain. Private operators should not be exempted from reporting performance for commercial-in-confidence reasons.

    Who’s going to be the first reporter, or the first member of the opposition, to ask Greg Combet or Julia Gillard or Bob Brown why we’re talking about a carbon tax when we’re not measuring our emissions?

  223. Pat Swords and John Morgan,

    Thank you for these excellent and pertinant comments. What could be more important than these issues before we comit to damaging our economy with a flawed carbon price scheme?

    I find it dissapointing that there is little discussion on BNC about these issues that Pat Swords and John Morgan have raised. I wonder why BNCers avoid the real elephant in the room – the flawed carbon pricing scheme. It is flawed for many reasons, and Pat Swords, in several comments on this thread, and John Morgan have raised some important ones.

  224. See figure 2 here: http://www.clepair.net/windstroom%20e.html

    It shows carbon content of the fuel used to generate electricity in Denmark is decreasing, but the CO2 emissions per kWh of electricity generation is not decreasing as fast. The authors suggest the explanation is that wind farms are causing fossil fuel generators to cycle so that the emissions savings are less than anticipated. The authors claim:
    Wind does not save fossil fuel, therefore does not reduce CO2 emissions.

    The trend is similar to what the Inhaber paper shows. I haven’t compared numbers.

  225. Peter Lang, on 26 June 2011 at 4:17 PM said:

    See figure 2 here: http://www.clepair.net/windstroom%20e.html
    . The authors suggest the explanation is that wind farms are causing fossil fuel generators to cycle so that the emissions savings are less than anticipated. The authors claim:

    Here is a study on fossil fue fired cycling O&M Maintenance costs. Of note is that it is estimated a ‘cold start’ on a 1,000 MW coal fired plant costs $70,000 in ‘excess wear’.

    http://www.ommi.co.uk/PDF/Articles/35.pdf

    Obviously, a plant operator is going to avoid shutting down completely unless there are reasonable assurances that the plant won’t be needed for an extended period of time.

  226. harryw2,

    Good point. For other readers I’ll mention that David Walters and others have said similar in numerous previous comments on BNC. They have pointed out that gas turbines can start and stop a maximum of 3 times per 24 hours, othewise they breach warranty conditions with the manufacturer. (I understand newer versions are improving on this but there is still a cost to stops and starts and someone has to pay. So there is a tendancy to keep running, keep burning some fuel, and therefore keep producing CO2 when backing up for wind generation. This is the point made in the Inhaber paper and in the link in my previous comment.

  227. I have just received three emails from people who contributed on this thread. I’ll post them in separate comments below It is unfortunate there was little discussion of their previous comments on this thread; it seems they are no longer contributing here. That is a pitty because this subject should be of real interst to BNCers, especially given Australia’s ongoing committment to subsidising renewable energy, particluarly wind power.

  228. Effect of Windpower on fuel consumption & CO2 emissions in Ireland

    In an email just received, Hugh Sharman says:

    Possibly the best place in the world to track the overall benefits of wind power on the reduction of fuel consumption is Ireland where the TSO, Eirgrid has been publishing system performance, including CO2 emissions, since 1st November 2010.

    The attached presentation is a “snapshot” of the current situation, during which time wind power supplied 13% of all MWh. There is no doubt whatever that wind power is reducing fuel dependency.

    However, as wind power penetration increases, the specific fuel consumption of the fossil fuel fleet increases. Looking at the curve on slide 2, my conclusion is that the incremental fossil fuel savings benefits will disappear when wind power penetration reaches (say) 2000 MW (around 20% by all MWh generated).

    Hugh Sharman attached a power point paper called Effect of Windpower on fuel consumption & CO2 emissions in Ireland. The Conclusions say:

    1. Wind power supplied 13% of all MWh during the period
    2. Wind power at this penetration reduces overall fuel consumption
    – Although the curve flattens as wind power increases
    3. The specific fuel consumption of the balancing thermal plant increases with wind penetration
    4. Under the present balancing arrangements, it seems likely that the benefits of extra wind will diminish as wind penetration increases

    Note that this empirical data study corroborates the Inhaber curve (see Figure 1 in the lead article above).

  229. Kent Hawkins (see his earlier comments on this thread) said:

    An interesting analysis. However it is based on reported CO2 emissions which are very likely unreliable. My conclusion is that the trends shown may be right but the absolute amounts are in question. I leave it to the reader to decide on what side the absolute amounts err.

    See the attached comment on this in Renewable Energy in Ireland (2010 Update), Appendix 1 at http://www.seai.ie/Publications/Statistics_Publications/SEI_Renewable_Energy_2010_Update/RE_in_Ire_2010update.pdf

    Kent

  230. Pat Swords said (in an email circulated tonight)

    Hugh,

    Thank you for this excellent analysis. Ireland is indeed an excellent case study and a test case in many respects. Some of us have already been looking at this issue from both a technical and legal perspective for some time. Indeed at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) there is currently a compliance case against the EU in relation to Human and Environmental Rights with regards to how this renewable energy programme is being implemented. See webpage below:

    http://www.unece.org/env/pp/compliance/Compliance%20Committee/54TableEU.htm

    If one looks at the last two pdfs, one will see that by last Tuesday (28th) the EU had to reply to UNECE with regard to how it had complied with the Convention, when it approved the State Aid funding programme for the Tarifffs in Ireland (REFIT), which led to construction of about 1,400 MW of wind energy, plus directly funded €110 million for the electrical interconnector between the Republic of Ireland and the UK. I had also a detailed Reply to submit, see attached, in particular Section 5.7 (page 102) of the Reply, in which I too attempted to present what you have done in your PowerPoint. UNECE stated to me last week that my Reply would be forwarded on to the EU and posted up on the website, so I expect to see the EU reply there too sometime shortly (interesting times).

    There is starting to be an awareness now in Ireland outside the limited technical community of the dsyfunctionality of this programme, see presentations made recently and the blog post under way:

    http://www.iae.ie/news/article/2011/jun/24/dublin-economics-workshop/

    http://www.irisheconomy.ie/index.php/2011/06/25/presentations-from-dew-energy-symposium/

    The bottom line is that a proper independent study should have by law been done before this programme was started. It should be done now. Please feel free to comment on this and other blogs to increase awareness of this fact. Note: Colm McCarthy is an economist who has been brought in to slash unnecessary public spending – badly needed here in Ireland. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.

    Pat

  231. To provide some background, the Irish grid is modern and functions perfectly well without a single wind turbine or an expansion in our high voltage grid. Now we have a Government plan for 40% renewables by 2020, which involves four thousand wind turbines (about 8,000 MW) and a doubling of our high voltage grid by an additional 5,000 km. This will destroy our landscape and our economy, we simply cannot afford the cost which is well over €12 billion and likely to exceed €30 billion. So why are we doing this? Is it to save CO2 then how much and with what effect?

    For over a decade the EU and Member States have been promoting renewable energy, the target is now for a 20% reduction in greenhouse gases, 20% renewables and 20% energy conservation by 2020 (20-20-20 by 2020). If one goes into the Renewable Energy Action Plans for the Member States to achieve this, see below, and starts with Denmark, going to Section 5.3 of the plan on impacts (page 111 of 123), then it can be seen that the table which quantifies greenhouse gases and job savings is blank. Why? Because under the EU regulation for these plans it is an optional section.

    http://ec.europa.eu/energy/renewables/transparency_platform/action_plan_en.htm

    Nothing unusual there, one can go into the plans for Sweden, Finland, Austria, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Ireland, etc, all blank. A few countries, such as Germany, at least tried to put some figures in here. However, are these for real?

    If we take Germany there is an English summary of the Renewable Energy Plan of the Federal Environment Agency now out. Nowhere does it state the economic costs or justification in terms of quantified environmental benchmarks

    http://www.umweltdaten.de/publikationen/weitere_infos/3997-0.pdf

    A great plan from a country, which can transform itself (economic ruin and massive destruction to its landscape) on nothing but glossy brochures. On page 8 of the Plan it states that 3,000 full load hours can be expected as an average for onshore wind, this equates to (3,000/8,740) x 100 = 34.2%. In reality in Germany onshore wind load factors are between 18 and 22% at best, so the actual electrical output has been increased by a factor of more than 50%. In fact if one looks at the German wind energy association’s own figures for 2010, the load factor was 15.7% (http://www.wind-energie.de/infocenter/folien/bwe-statistiken-2010).

    There are laws against all of this; Germany is a Party to the Aarhus Convention, which requires in Article 5 (2) that each Party shall ensure that the way in which Public Authorities make environmental information available to the public is transparent. Energy, cost /benefit and other economic analysis all fall under the term information on the environment. Pillar I of the Aarhus Convention, on access to information on the environment and its correct dissemination, is enacted in Germany by the Umweltinformationsgesetzt (UIG): http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bundesrecht/uig_2005/gesamt.pdf .

    Section 7 (3) is clear in that official information on the environment has to be up to date, exact and comparable. Yet we have the Federal Environment Agency with its ‘evangelism’ deliberately in an official policy document inflating the performance of the wind energy sector and its potential by more than 50%.

    This is not an idle issue, there are massive costs and abuses occurring in the resulting subsidised ‘pyramid schemes’ that have been created. Already renewable energy in Germany has in 2011 added €11 billion to the electricity bills. Small and medium sized companies cannot carry the additional five and six figure sums that have been added to their bills. German industry is divided, see below, there are those who have operated sustainable long term businesses, who will not be able to survive the massive rise in electricity costs and then there are those who blatantly intent to profiteer from the distorted market which will arise.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,771309,00.html

    There is only one way this whole thing will end, that is clear. However, it has been fueled by a failure of senior elected and non-elected officials to comply with procedures, which were legally binding on them. We have an electrical supply system which has worked well for decades, if they want to change it and pass enormous costs to the citizen, both financially and in damage to the landscape and environment, then they have to justify it and follow the correct procedures, in particular the Principle of Proportionality in which the financial or other burden placed on the citizen must be minimised and commensurate with the aim to be achieved.

    So where is the damage cost for CO2 to justify these massive costs for its reduction? Neither is there any quantification of what CO2 will be saved.

  232. Pat Swords,

    You have made it clear – again – just how bad this mess is. And we are in an even worse position in Australia.

    I’d encourage BNCers to get involved in this critical debate – so that, hopefully, the debate moves from emails to the BNC web site where everyone can follow it and get involved. (I received 12 emails over night from around the world and from a range of perspectives (including a gas generator manufacturer).

  233. Peter and Pat

    These are great posts and I am one BNCer who is very interested in this issue. I have long held doubts whether wind or solar could provide electricity for a modern society and reduce GHG emissions, cost effectively. About 20 years ago I visited Rottnest Island, which at that time had a lone wind turbine on an island noted for its strong, consistant winds. While I have no details I remember being shocked by the high cost of installation and relatively low capacity factor and thus low power output. For two years I have been visiting this site and from the real world data presented it is becoming obvious that even after 20 years of further wind development nothing has changed.

  234. I received 18 emails overnight on the Ireland wind power and EU renewable energy issues. Here is the first:

    Will Post asked

    Some years ago, Denmark has so little wind, there was no wind power for
    more than 60 days. It is amazing Denmark still pushed wind after that
    “lack-of-wind event.” What does it take to waken people.?

    Utility economist-engineer replied:

    This sounds like a rhetorical question. My answer is when people have to pay real money for the shortfall.

    Last week I participated in “Staff Technical Conference on Increasing Real-Time and Day-Ahead Market Efficiency through Improved Software” presenting my analysis of the concept of cashing out imbalances, such as when Denmark had no wind and drew power out of Sweden/Norway.

    Currently we disrespect such imbalances and we often see system control parameters such as system frequency and Area Control Error (ACE) go bad. If we pay for those imbalances based on the concurrent values of system control parameters then we will find new respect for imbalances and lack of wind events.

    I attach my prepared remarks. They were received with mixed feelings.

    It’s a pity the discussion is not taking place on BNC.

  235. Another comment from Mark Lively, Utility Economc Engineer:

    Hugh’s reference to an “infinite battery” is part of the issue of wind disrespecting the grid. If I want to use a battery, I should have to pay for the use of that battery. Some of the payment can be in the forwards market, but there should also be a physical market that reflects the problems caused by intermittency and how the battery saves the system. And if you are about to go black because of too little power, the price should soar, and if you are about to go black because of gusts causing too much power, the price should plummet, even go negative. Thus there should be both the forwards market and a physical spot real time market.

    Mark B. Lively
    Utility Economic Engineer

  236. From Pat Swords:

    In the period 1999 to 2010, the Irish generation portfolio was extensively modernised, including the installation of a number of CCGTs and the replacement of the old peat fired plants at 25% efficiency with fluidised bed units at 37% efficiency (I worked on a number of these projects). Unfortunately because of the obsession with wind energy, in which the EU and National Government approved a financial plan to fund its development without making the slighest assessment of how much fuel / CO2 savings would occur, this modern generation fleeet is now operating very inefficiently. Indeed one new CCGT of 400 MW never went above 200 MW output for the whole of last year. So nobody knows how exactly would the system be operating now without any wind, which is a totally additional and unnecessary investment, versus the present situation. Hence the legal case at UNECE, as proper environmental information is a prerequisite for policy development.

    Since November 2010 EirGrid have been publishing modelled emissions for every 30 minutes, along with the wind output and system demand data they have published for several years now, see: http://www.eirgrid.com/operations/systemperformancedata/windgeneration/ . These are based on thermal ramp up rates, etc. However, when compared with annual verified emissions data they seem to underreport the emissions. Quite likely not enough account is being taken of fuel burn due to standby and cycling.

    We know how to access the 30 minute electrical outputs for every generator on the grid, there are not that many, but the CO2 data is only available on an annual basis. So we can’t make a proper assessment with what is available. As engineers here are saying the whole thing needs to be properly evaluated from a technical, economic and environmental perspective. There was a legal requirement to do this, as there was in other Member States, but it was not complied with. Furthermore as my Reply to UNECE documents, we have representatives of the Danish State and the Danish EU Commissioner coming here to Ireland and using false claims to promote Danish wind energy equipment, this is both unethical and illegal. The public has a right to transparent information on the environment. I would also point out that if Denmark wants to sell this equipment, then they should fill in Section 5.3 of their National Renewable Energy Action Plan to demonstrate how many tonnes of carbon dioxide (i.e. fuel savings) they are going to achieve, at what cost and how many jobs are going to be created (not to mention lost in other areas): http://ec.europa.eu/energy/renewables/transparency_platform/doc/national_renewable_energy_action_plan_denmark_en.pdf

    The public is entitled to proper data on the environment not just a massive bill and destruction of their landscape.

    Pat

  237. Some folks might be interested in FOE’s current statements on emissions reduction in response to a Yass wind farm meeting :

    http://www.yasstribune.com.au/news/local/news/general/passions-run-high-at-wind-farm-meeting/2217616.aspx

    &

    http://yes2renewables.org/2011/07/06/wind-farm-meeting-in-yass-anti-windfarm-anti-environment-anti-future/

    There has already been this comment posted on Yass Tribune by Neil Rankine :

    “withouthotair’s comment that wind is ineffective at reducing CO2. His link is to a nuclear advocacy website concerns me, as does Barry Brook’s advocacy for nuclear. Lets look at some unbiased investigation into this. Sinclair Knights Merz produced a peer reviewed (by UNSW Global) study that found there was no problem for the existing grid to scale wind up tens of times what it is now, and that every megawatt hour of electricity that wind puts into the grid offsets between 1.0 and 1.6 tonnes of CO2. This is higher in some instances than Latrobe Valley emissions that are being avoided.”

    So the discussion is entering into the territory of this thread, as this page is being referred to in the comments at those two sites. I have brought up the SKM study before, there is one for NSW and one for Victoria that I know of:

    http://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/resources/documents/SH51906_SKM_MMA_Final_report.pdf

    &

    http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/climatechange/greenhousegassavingstool.htm

    This report is being heavily touted by a number of people, as well as NSW previous gov, and still available under the new gov.

  238. Hi Bryen,

    Thank you for that information. Regarding the Victorian study by MMA. I’d refer readers to this comment by Martin Nicholson and to the related comments that follow:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-128143

    MMA (now part of SKM) has a history of providing the answers the Greenies want to hear. They have always hated nuclear and provided misleading modelling results to support their case. The Australian Greenhouse Office (now the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) often used MMA as one of the three modelling groups it contracted to provide comparative studies. The others were ABARE and ACIL-Tasman. I’d wouldn’t place much value on the MMA info.

  239. Greens chap Neil Rankine just posted this :

    The Sinclair Knight Merz report was reviewed by UNSW Global, authored by Hugh Outhred:

    http://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/resources/documents/MMA_Report_peer_review.pdf

    It confirms the abated emissions by installing wind into existing generation mix are very high as in SKM report. Obviously as wind gets to 20% of supply you do have to make changes to the mix of generation, grid changes, etc. Solar would smooth this well.

    ——–

    at:

    http://www.yasstribune.com.au/news/local/news/general/wind-farm-protest-to-heat-up-in-yass/2212088.aspx?page=3

  240. Pingback: Kevin Myers on wind power in todays Sindo 31-08-2010 - Page 230

  241. Here are two posts just released regarding CO2 emissions avoided by wind generation in the EirGrid:

    http://joewheatley.net/emissions-savings-from-wind-power/

    http://www.clepair.net/IerlandUdo.html

    Abstract.
    This article describes the influence of wind energy on the CO2 output of the fossil-fired generation of electricity in Ireland. Where most available publications on this subject are based on models, the present study makes use of real-time production data. It is shown, that in absence of hydro energy the CO2 production of the conventional generators increases with wind energy penetration. The data shows that the reduction of CO2 emissions is at most a few percent, if gas fired generation is used for balancing a 30% share of wind energy.

    This is an extract of an email just received:

    The Impact of Import Dependency and Wind Generation…” by the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies: http://www.oxfordenergy.org/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/NG-54.pdf.

    It is mainly about UK gas supplies, but page #53 to# 78 of the 122 page study deals with the UK wind eneregy situation and the problem of dealing with wind variability.

    It analyses wind speeds over the UK in daily and hourly intervals for various sites and builds up graphs of energy consumption and the various sources to show how much scope there will be for wind at various stages up to 2025.

    Some particularly revealing observations are on page #76, about the difference between the economics when wind projects are shut down vs when fossil fuel facilities are shut down.

    Unless the UK can get out of rules compensating wind farms when the National Grid cannot make use of their power on high wind days, we are in for expensive trouble, with all other generation sources effectively having to stop for short periods (impossible) if all the 2025 wind capacity is to be used on such days.

  242. Pat Swords sent the following (see his earlier comments on this thread for background):

    As some of you may know already I have a compliance case under way at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in relation to the Irish and EU renewable programme. The webpage is below and at the bottom of it you will find the Agenda for the meeting in Geneva on the 21st of this month, for which I am currently getting ready. Hence thank you for preparing this timely analysis, of what is a complex subject.

    http://live.unece.org/env/pp/compliance/Compliancecommittee/54TableEU.html

    Many of you will be interested, in contrast, with the response received yesterday (attached) from DCENR to an Access to Information on the Environment Request, they were a bit late in responding. Essentially it confirms what I suspected; they have done little or no quantification of the greenhouse gas savings from the programme (both REFIT and National Renewable Energy Action Plan). Essentially as Engineers we know that as highly variable wind energy is put on the grid the thermal plants have to operate more and more inefficiently to compensate with this variability. It is therefore completely wrong to assume that 1 MW of wind energy on the grid will displace 1 MW of thermal plant operating in normal conditions, particularly as the amount of wind energy (penetration on the grid) increases. In 2004 Eirgrid pointed this out in their report (for instance Section 8 page 33 of the attached) and also how expensive wind energy was as a means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. However, both DCENR and Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland are completely ignoring this and are calculating, in what limited assessment of emissions which has been completed, on the basis that 1 MW of wind energy displaces 1 MW of thermal plant operation.

    Furthermore in their Response of 28th June, the EU Commission stated in Point 33 that the National Renewable Energy Action Plan complied with the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive and Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention. This reply from DCENR demonstrates that no effort was made to quantify and assess the greenhouse gas savings, which was the main (if not only) environmental objective of the whole programme. I’ll be raising these issues with UNECE at the meeting on the 21st.

  243. Peter Lang, interesting. I just read a piece by Giles Parkinson in Crikey that claims wind in EirGrid has led to a fall in wholesale power prices:

    The International Energy Agency wrote on the price impact earlier this year — and we reported on it — when it cited the case of Ireland, where wind energy is causing wholesale prices to fall by about €74 million; the same as the cost of feed-in tariffs to support the financing of wind power and the associated balancing costs.

    I’d be interested in your take on the argument he makes.

  244. John Morgan,

    Thank you for your question and comments. I haven’t had a chance to investigate and won’t have for a while. However, this email just came to me this morning from Willem Post (see his previous posts on this thread for background), and has some relevance to your question (and to David Benson’s comment):

    All,

    The Bentek report of wind energy in the Colorado and Texas power systems and Fred Udo’s recent report of wind energy in the Irish power system indicate little CO2 and fuel reduction per kWh due to wind energy; the reductions may disappear or become increases after heatrate degradation due to ramping up and down of balancing plants is accounted for.

    Several “studies” have been published by Irish pro-wind organizations as part of their PR programs to keep the pot boiling regarding “savings for the Irish people” due to wind energy by some future date; i.e., keep the wind turbine subsidies going, because you will hit the jackpot; the winners of this lottery are the vendors, developers, financiers, etc., everyone else will be a loser because of higher electric rates and environmental impact.

    Below are some websites claiming great savings for the Irish people due to wind energy.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0302/1224291145086.html

    http://www.windenergydirect.ie/Userfiles/proj.pdf

    http://www.bwea.com/energy/myths.html

    Now that the above reports have proven wind energy does NOT reduce CO2 and does NOT reduce fuel consumption, where are these savings going to come from?

    The capital costs of the wind turbines, plus the new gas-fired, quick-ramping balancing plants needed with higher wind energy penetrations, plus the grid reorganization to transmit power from windy areas to population centers will be 2 to 3 times the capital cost of a capacity of 60% efficient CCGTs that produces the same total energy (wind energy + balancing energy) but at a lower cost/kWh, if base-loaded, near rated output.

    After debunking the CO2 and fuel savings myths, the next step must be to debunk the dollar savings myth. Each time a pro-wind dollar savings report is published it must be rebutted with a counter report that debunks the savings claims. This must be done until the messages of the counter reports finally sink into the public mind.

    This was done in Vermont when Vermont Public Issues Research Group, VPIRG, came out with its “Vermont Energy Future” report; largely written by renewables vendors who “generously contributed there expertise” and income tax deductible funds to VPIRG. The VPIRG report came as lightning from the blue. The Coalition for Energy Solutions, CES, http://www.coalitionforenergysolutions.org/ expertise had not been asked for.

    CES read the VPIRG report and found it to be full of platitudes and errors. CES issued its critique of the VPIRG report a few months later. It created quite some consternation in renewables circles that their carefully hatched PR deception was exposed. Nevertheless wind turbine facilities ARE being built on ridge lines thanks in large part to federal and state subsidies that are, on a levelized cost basis, about equivalent to at least 50% of a project’s capital cost. If even a part of these subsidies were to disappear (federal cost cutting might do it), these projects would likely collapse, as public support for them has been decreasing due to becoming more familiar with the costs and adverse impacts on quality of life (noise and infrasound, visual, psychological and health), property values and the environment.

    An example of debunking: http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/61309/lowell-mountain-wind-turbine-facility-vermont

    With regard to wind energy, resting on laurels is not an option. The wind folks have dug their tunnel to the subsidies vault and do not want the vault moved.

    Willem

  245. John Morgan, there are a number of things in that piece I can’t comment on – because I am in Ontario, Canada, but …
    The pricing of the market has little to do with the technologies, or even that the topic is energy. The sentence in the article you linked to that shows this, inadvertently, is:
    “Not only has wind reduced imports of brown-coal generation from Victoria, it has also, counter-intuitively, reduced the need for peaking plants for much of the year — although not, it should be noted, at times of the highest peaks caused by extreme heat waves, when wind has mostly absented itself.”

    So we know that supply has been added, and it sounds like the supply that has been added cannot displace existing capacity, which exists to meet the peak demand wind is expected to be absent for. Adding any supply quicker than demand is increasing will lower prices.

    So here is where that takes the market. You lower one market price by creating other markets. Nobody is going to invest in a plant to meet only the capacity of peak periods when they only have a market when the wind isn’t blowing and demand is there. In the US and Europe, there is increasing discussion of capacity markets – where suppliers are paid to be available. In my province, which is aiming to eliminate coal in the next half decade, the CCGT plants appear to have Net Revenue Requirement contracts – which is a capacity payment. At a minimum, this has to become a market for the MWh, plus a market for capacity.
    Here’s how that has worked out in Ontario, with our very dysfunctional market. When demand rises sharply, due to either heat or cold over an extended time, the rates drop noticeably (as more coal and gas become part of the mix, and both essentially already have the plant paid for – so they can bid just above the operating costs).
    Lower market prices for more expensive generation simply is not sustainable – it is instinctively obvious.
    The Oxford study, from a recent comment, noted that wind output depresses market pricing, and, in heavily grid-connected Europe, that included neighbouring jurisdictions. The exception was the NordPool area, which includes the large Norwegian hydro reservoirs. They can buy at depressed prices during windy times in the southern jurisdictions, and sell into the higher prices of lulls.
    But those southern jurisdictions are having new supply built not by a market – but by subsidies of one sort or another.

    Lastly I’ll note my own bungling efforts with Ontario data. It’s not an easy subject to communicate, and I’m not well equipped to do so, but I will argue a heavily subsidized wind industry must lead to a heavily subsidized gas industry. It has where I live.

    http://morecoldair.blogspot.com/2011/06/searching-for-value-in-ontarios.html

  246. I’d be extremely interested to see the detailed emissions accounting for the Irish grid.

    They appear to have an interesting suite of plant to respond to support wind;

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

    Including a superb (and paid for) 292MW pumped storage facility

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

    I’m familiar with the Alstom engineering that is the 435MW single shaft machine at http://www.esb.ie/main/about-esb/aghada.jsp It has a very flexible (and efficient) performance range for such a large CCGT.

    Downloading some of their data (wind contribution and demand), it would seem they have some difficulty with wind forecasting. It’s not clear where the numbers come from and how far ahead they are prepared but they are certainly significantly at variance to those which some of our clients work with.

    Would it not be important to understand the cost of fuels. How much does indigenous peat cost per kWh? Cheap, but filthy? Would their wind integration strategy weight CO2 reduction as more important than fuel importation?

  247. The paper by
    Herbert Inhaber
    Why wind power does not deliver the expected emissions reductions
    linked just previously may be behind a paywall. The conclusions are highly similar to the two Irish studies linked previously by Peter Lang and the Bentek Energy study also previously linked.

    However, the study suggests that even natgas fired units have difficulty adjusting to the combined ramping (cycling) of wind and actual demand.

    I tentatively conclude (once again) that only quite a modesst contribution from wind power can be economically accommodated, irrespective of net CO2 savings (which anyway are highly anti-correlated with thermal generaiton wastage of fuel).

  248. Peter Lang, on 9 September 2011 at 11:43 AM — Thank you, I already have. To the economic extra cost, please add the three sources of environmiental concerns known to me (which may only be siting issues):
    (1) NIMBYs — Some concerns are justified;
    (2) Raptors and other birds — Of regional concern here in the Palouse region of the Pacific Northwest;
    (3) Bats — which should be of deep concern elsewhere in at least the USA.

  249. David B. Benson, on 9 September 2011 at 10:54 AM said:

    However, the study suggests that even natgas fired units have difficulty adjusting to the combined ramping (cycling) of wind and actual demand.

    I tentatively conclude (once again) that only quite a modest contribution from wind power can be economically accommodated, irrespective of net CO2 savings (which anyway are highly anti-correlated with thermal generaton wastage of fuel).

    This may be valid for a very small geographic area ( such as Eire) where one site contributes >25% of wind capacity.
    Larger geographic spread of wind farms( for example the Eastern Connector in US or the NEM in Eastern Australia) both about X50 times larger area, result in much lower ramping rates of wind output. In the NEM, 1600MW of capacity spread over 15 locations has changes in output of 1-5%/h much slower than the response time of natgas units.There is a good reason for this, weather fronts bringing rapid changes in wind velocity, can travel across Eire in tens of minutes, but take hours or days to travel across continental land masses.

  250. Neil Howes, on 9 September 2011 at 12:41 PM — Most electric power does not actually travel very far, so you’ll have to work harder to convince me of that (presumed) geographic effect; I can be persuaded. On the other hand, find the quotation from “Power” magazine that Peter Lang posted.

    Regionally, not even Bonnevile Power Authority’s massive hydro capability could fully manage around 4.3 GW [nameplate] wind but now that BPA only needs to balance around 3.5 GW wind there no longer appears to be a problem.

  251. David B. Benson, on 9 September 2011 at 12:53 PM said:

    Neil Howes, on 9 September 2011 at 12:41 PM — Most electric power does not actually travel very far, so you’ll have to work harder to convince me of that (presumed) geographic effect;
    For those in NE of US, some power is coming from northern Quebec James Bay Hydro, and for those in California from the hydro in Washington, Idaho etc. These a vast distances compared to the size of Eire.
    The issue I was addressing was the fluctuation of the output from one wind farm or a few clustered in a small region, compared to the more steady ( mins to hours) output of the NEM wind farms covering 1200 x800km region.
    Regionally, not even Bonnevile Power Authority’s massive hydro capability could fully manage around 4.3 GW [nameplate] wind but now that BPA only needs to balance around 3.5 GW wind there no longer appears to be a problem.
    With >10GW of hydro the problem has never been evening out fluctuations in 3-4GW wind, its always been TRANSMISSION capacity to export to California when river flows are high.

  252. Scott Lufti @ 8 September 2011 at 10:53 PM,

    Thank you for that excellent explanation. In short “there is no free lunch”. Wind energy, with an LCOE three times that of basload generation, cannot reduce the cost of electricity over the long term. Furthermore, wind adds other costs: e.g. the higher cost of transmission and the additional O&M costs the fossil fuel generators.have to carry and eventually pass on in higher electricity prices.

  253. Relevant to the discussion above is an email I received today from a USA utility engineer. His email was in response to a discussion about nanotube energy storage and I sent the link to this excellent comment by John Morgan: http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/06/29/open-thread-17/#comment-131710

    Let me concur with Peter and offer two additional thoughts:

    1. For utility-scale storage to make any sense, the price would have to come down to no more than $100 per kWh. Because to cover any meaningful portion of the gaps in wind generation you would need at least 24 hours of storage, and the cost of the storage can’t represent too much of a multiplier over the cost of the generation facility. Since today’s ultracapacitors cost many $1000’s per kWh, any new technology would need to make a vast improvement.

    2. Wind advocates should be careful what they wish for. Because one could argue that the only thing saving wind from a public backlash today is that we generate so little of it. It’s always running as part of a gas/wind or coal/wind combination in which the gas or coal supplies the vast majority of the electricity.

    Wind/storage, on the other hand, would expose wind’s true costs. Using the capital costs from EIA’s 2011 Annual Energy Outllook and the hypothetical storage numbers we mentioned above, a complete wind/storage/gas system would cost at least:

    $2400/kW * 4 = $9600/kW for turbines (to generate 120% of average demand, to account for storage losses)
    $2400/kW for storage
    Unknown amount for 4X transmission capacity from wind to storage
    $1000-2000/kW for 1X transmission capacity from storage to load
    $1000 for the complementary natural gas facility (which even storage cannot eliminate)

    In the best case, if storage could be co-located with the wind facility (instead of 1000 miles away, as it might have to be for pumped-hydro storage), one could eliminate cost #3.

    But even then, the total capital cost (for a hypothetical system which is yet to be invented) would still come out to at least $14,000/kW.

    Compared with only $1000/kW (plus $300 per year for fuel) for natural gas or $7000/kW (plus $40/year for fuel) for nuclear (including allowances for the capacity factor and construction finance).

    How could wind/storage ever beat both of those?

  254. Thanks Peter. Even John Morgan may be too optimistic; the costs of maintaining and replacement of the storage system is likely at least as big as the capital investment in terms of cents/kWh levelised cost!

    The cost of just replacing lead acid batteries, that are actually much cheaper than the 100 USD/kWh target, is greater than the cost of generating electricity with natural gas or coal! That’s just for the replacement only!

    If bulk electricity storage is going to work it has to cost less than USD 50/kWh, last decades and have near zero maintenance cost.

    Here’s some backup to these statements for both wind and solar plus storage costs in an excellent energy paper from Bill Hannahan:

    Comparing cost per watt can be misleading. In 2005 nuclear power plants ran at a capacity factor of 90%. An average 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plant produced energy equivalent to a continuous 900 megawatts for the year. Solar cell ratings are for new cells with maximum solar flux perpendicular to the cell, at a relatively cool temperature, an ideal combination of conditions that rarely exists in real world applications. U.S. photovoltaic installations are concentrated in areas with ideal solar conditions and produce an average output equal to 15 % of rated power. If photovoltaic systems were distributed around the country in proportion to population they would deliver considerably reduced performance due to less optimum sun conditions where many people live.

    What would it cost to replace the nuclear power plant with a photovoltaic plant? To achieve an average 900 MW with 15% average solar cell output and 0.95 inverter efficiency we would need an array with 6,170 MW peak output (900 MW / 0.15 / 0.95). At $2.93 per watt the array will cost $18.1 billion. In cold climates peak demand occurs in winter when days are short, sun angles are low and long periods of bad weather are common, a much bigger array would be required. We will need batteries to store excess power for night and periods of bad weather. Let’s assume the customers are willing to tolerate three blackouts a year, and an analysis of meteorological records shows that a two day supply of electricity will meet this criterion. We will need to store 63 million kilowatt hours of energy. At $136 per KWh the battery costs $8.6 Billion. We need a 5,000 MW battery charger, at 20 cents per watt that is $1 Billion. We will need a 1,000 MW inverter, at 80 cents per watt that is $800 Million. Add to this the cost of land (24,500 acres), construction, maintenance facilities, instrumentation and control systems, wiring, switchgear, administrative and engineering facilities, insurance, and the interest on the loan to build the plant, the total cost will be around $29 Billion.

    Since we use 1,550 watts of electric power per person, this photovoltaic plant can supply all the electric power for 579,000 people. Each person’s share of the cost would be $49,600. The interest payments on a 30 year loan at a 7% rate, is $4,000 per year per person. The battery has to be replaced every 6 to 10 years. It weighs 3.3 Billion pounds, mostly toxic lead and sulfuric acid. Each persons share weighs 5,790 pounds. Assuming a 25% discount for the recycled lead and the maximum 10 year life, the recurring cost will be $6.5 Billion, $11,200 per person, adding $808 per year to the interest payment. Add to that, about $500 per year for operating expenses, maintenance, depreciation, profit, taxes, insurance, etc. It adds up to $5,300 per person per year, $390 per mWh.

    Obviously no one will build a solar power plant like the one described above. The recurring battery replacement cost alone far exceeds the cost of a nuclear power plant that will run nearly continuously at max rated power, rain or shine, wind or calm, and last 40 to 60 years, whereas the solar cells will probably have to be replaced in 25-30 years.

    http://www.coal2nuclear.com/energy_facts.htm

  255. Also, for a feel on the perspective of the requirements for energy storage wind interemittent energy sources such as wind and solar, see these calculations:

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8237

    Basically we don’t have enough lead to build the required battery. Off by a couple orders of magnitude, in fact.

    So you can’t build the battery. Guess what’s going to fill in the gap when its rainy, snowing, cloudy, nighttime, evening and morning, and in winter, basically most of the time. Fossil fuels of course! Oops!

  256. Cyril R, @ 9 September 2011 at 8:50 PM

    Thank you for that interesting quote. However, I think it may be even worse than even Bill Hannahan says:

    What would it cost to replace the nuclear power plant with a photovoltaic plant? To achieve an average 900 MW with 15% average solar cell output and 0.95 inverter efficiency we would need an array with 6,170 MW peak output (900 MW / 0.15 / 0.95). … In cold climates peak demand occurs in winter when days are short, sun angles are low and long periods of bad weather are common, a much bigger array would be required.

    This http://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/peter-lang-solar-realities.pdf provides another take on how much solar capacity and how much storage capacity is needed (based on acutal output at 30 minute intervals over 2 years from one PV power station). To meet the Australian National Electricity Market demand with solar power and pumped hydro energy storage would require:

    Putting the numbers in perspective
    The installed generating capacity of solar panels (4,000,000 MW) needed to meet the
    NEM’s demand, if only one day of energy storage is available, is equal to the world’s
    total electricity generating capacity (4,000,000 MW).

    The capital cost of solar PV, with 1-day of energy storage, is $20,000 billion, or 20
    times Australia’s GDP.

    The capital cost of the least-cost solar option is $2,800 billion. That is 2.8 times
    Australia’s GDP.

    With 1 day of energy storage the reservoirs would inundate 260 km2.

    With 90 days of energy storage the reservoirs would inundate 24,000 km2.

    The pumps would need to pump 2.3 Sydney harbour volumes of water up 150 m in 6
    hours, and release it to generate power to meet demand during 18 hours each day.

    The number of Tumut 3 size hydro-electric pump storage schemes needed to meet the
    NEM demand depends on the basis of the comparison (see below):

    170 Tumut 3 size pump stations
    22 Tumut 3 size generating stations to meet NEM’s peak demand
    49 Tumut 3 bottom reservoir storage capacities, for 1-day storage
    7 Tumut 3 top reservoir storage capacities, for 1-day storage

    Comparison with another low emissions option – nuclear energy

    The capital cost of providing the NEM’s energy demand with nuclear power would be about $120 billion, or about 4% of the cost of the least-cost, solar power and pumped-hydro storage option.

    The area required for the solar option would be 400 to 1000 times greater than with
    nuclear (more if we include mining; the mining area and volumes would be greater for the solar option than for the nuclear option).

    Land area required:
    Solar and pumped hydro, 1 day energy storage = 30,000 km2
    Solar and pumped hydro, 30 day energy storage = 10,000 km2
    Nuclear power = 26 km2

    This is a limit analysis. We would never build such a system and dispersal of sites would mean the worst case capacity factor would probably not be as bad as from this single site. However, the limit approach used here does help to clarify the issue that Bill Hannahan has discussed.

  257. “Because to cover any meaningful portion of the gaps in wind generation you would need at least 24 hours of storage, and the cost of the storage can’t represent too much of a multiplier over the cost of the generation facility.”

    CSP w/storage is the ideal fit for capturing additional wind contribution as the output of the CSP plant can be “time shifted”, plus the type of steam turbine used calls for a completely variable/responsive output.

    Storage dramatically lowers the delivered cost of CSP because it more than doubles the plant capacity factor.

    “….complete wind/storage/gas system would cost….”

    Less than one might think, if the gas is part of the CSP w/storage system.

  258. @ Cyril R and @ Peter Lang

    What possible value is there in that Bill Hannahan thought bubble?

    I respectfully suggest, the only PV-everywhere-with-storage proposals that exist come from proponents of nuclear power. They are quite deliberately intended to look ridiculous.

  259. Zvyozdochka, no numbers no argument. PV doesn’t add up. A little PV with lots of fossil adds up. Electricity must be supplied reliably and continuously, if you have no PV and you can’t make a battery that costs trillions then fossil must – and will – step in.

    Energy analysis is about numbers and making these add up. Like Peter says these solar and wind calcs is a ‘limit analysis’. Not meant to suggest this is to be done, rather the opposite: PV and wind are so rediculous that we simply won’t do it. What we’ll do is burn fossil whenever the sun and wind aren’t there. Which is 80-90% of the time. And now we have also learned that our fossil generators are less efficient so the savings are not even that lousy 10-20%.

    What we are looking at is fossil lock-in. I’m sorry that we do, but we do. PV and wind are the bubbles, as Bill Hannahan’s article inescapably concludes.

  260. It only took a few minutes to unravel the statistical trick being used in Fred Udo’s attack on wind in Ireland, posted by Peter above. This appears to be a classic case of a lurking (or confounding) variable being used to misleadingly present correlation as causality; a comparable example is arguing that cigarette lighters cause lung disease since people who buy them tend to develop lung disease. In this case, the lurking variable that is the actual causal factor appears to be cold weather and its impact on heating demand, data that is available but that (for reasons we can only speculate) was not used in these correlational analyses.

    What tipped me off was part 3, Figure 3 of Mr. Udo’s text, where he called out an event in Ireland around June 9-12, 2011, when the carbon intensity of Ireland’s electricity production surged. I was curious as to what might have caused that event so, on a hunch, I pulled weather records for Ireland. Sure enough, there was an abnormally cold spell when temperatures fell into the 30’s and 40’s F, 10 to 20 degrees below normal for that time of year. Aha! Cold temperatures drive heating demand, forcing Ireland’s numerous fossil-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plants to fire up and run at a high level of heat production (and subsequently more emissions per megawatt-hour, MWh, of electricity, since CHP plants relative to the rest of the fleet are not optimized for electricity production, and CHP plants being run to produce maximum heat are not being operated in a way that is optimized for electricity production; moreover, it appears that the emissions associated with heat production are rolled into the data that Mr. Udo is using, so a CHP plant producing only or mostly heat and little or no electricity under cold conditions like these would score at infinite emissions/MWh). A smaller possible factor is that higher demand for electric heating drives higher merit order, less-efficient fossil plants to operate to meet the abnormally high electric demand.

    As one would expect, cold spells and home heating demand often correlate with high wind speeds, which is how Mr. Udo was able to draw his false conclusion that wind was the causal factor. Sure enough, a closer examination of the spikes in emissions/MWh in his data show that all are associated with cold spells, and only some are associated with an increase in wind output. It doesn’t take a statistician to tell you which is the causal factor in that relationship. Had Mr. Udo himself been more interested in finding the actual causal relationship at play here, he might have noted that the correlations between wind output and emissions intensity varied widely from month to month (as one would expect for weather-driven seasonal changes in electric demand), usually a strong indication that another variable may be the actual causal factor.

    I should also point out that, contrary to Mr. Udo’s claims, the method Irish utility system operator EirGrid uses to calculate emissions savings from wind is accurate. The plant-specific heat rate curve that they are using would account for all of the impacts wind energy would have on the efficiency of the fossil fleets under all operating conditions.

    There’s a large, well-established body of empirical evidence showing that as states like Colorado and Texas have added wind energy to their grids, their carbon dioxide emissions decreased by even more than had been expected. That data was used to directly refute an erroneous study by consulting firm Bentek even before the study came out 18 months ago, and the Bentek study has since been widely dismissed as the fossil fuel industry attack piece that it is, except for continued efforts by the fossil fuel industry to continue spreading its misinformation.

    There are also dozens of power system studies conducted by utilities, government agencies, and independent grid operators showing that adding wind energy to the grid results in as large or larger emissions savings than the 1:1 offset commonly expected, largely because additional wind energy forces inflexible coal plants to be taken offline for extended periods of time and the share of their output not directly replaced by wind is replaced with more flexible and cleaner natural gas generation. I won’t waste time repeating the full discrediting of the Bentek study that has already taken place, but you can read through that with the numerous links below:

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2010/09/the-facts-about-wind-energy-and-emissions

    http://archive.awea.org/newsroom/pdf/04_05_2010_Colorado_emissions_response.pdf

    http://www.awea.org/newsroom/realstories/The-Facts-about-Wind-Energy-and-Emissions.cfm

    http://www.awea.org/newsroom/realstories/upload/110720-The-Facts-about-Wind-Energy-and-Emissions.pdf

    Michael Goggin,
    American Wind Energy Association

  261. Michael Goggin, it is good to see the people in the wind industry admit that wind is a horrible natural gas lock-in. It is somewhat pleasing for me to see people in the american wind industry not being able to come up with a plan to use less natural gas in the US, but it also worries me. Claiming that replacement of coal with natural gas reduces emissions and then putting that savings on the balance of wind is dishonest at best. We need a plan to use less natural gas.

    By the way, CHP in Ireland is only a small portion of the electric pie. This doesn’t explain the large deviances in fuel savings relative to wind kWhs.

    http://www.seai.ie/Publications/Statistics_Publications/EPSSU_Publications/CHP%20in%20Ireland%202010%20Report.pdf

  262. Finding an expectation these states exceeded is a feat.
    Well done Mr. Goggin.
    I’ve done a quick format of emissions data for TX, CO, IA (Iowa has IWTs as the greatest % of its total capacity), plus the US total, and put them in a google doc here: http://tinyurl.com/3qrnwl7
    No significant wind capacity state performs above the national average for either CO2 on SO2.
    Texas is a nice example of something, but not of reducing emissions.

    The US EIA has a nice little blurb here on their August experience.

    http://205.254.135.24/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=3010

    People can look up the wind output in Texas, graphed to system load, by picking the dates (August 11 is a good one) out of the zip folders at http://www.ercot.com/gridinfo/generation/

    What you’ll find is the average daily wind output remained inversely related to demand most days throughout the record of heat of August.
    You’d find enormous prices, and you’d find not only large production from existing ff plants, but also mothballed coal plants being spurred back into service.

    It sure looks like they would have been a whole lot better investing on cleaner supply that could match peak demand, – as opposed to new idle IWTs matched up with aging coal.

    I don’t see how you separate IWT’s and ff’s – I do see how Texas produced the AGW denialist governor with his sights on the presidency.
    Again.

  263. Michael Goggin calls attention to the spike in CO2/kWh around 1/4-hour 1100 in June 2011 that Fred Udo also noted. Goggin, however, stretches it to last 4 days so that he can explain it away as corresponding to a cold spell, but it clearly lasted less than an hour.

    Furthermore, Udo only calls attention to it as evidence of the responsiveness of the 1/4-hour data. His analysis is based on scatterplots, so the effect of outliers is minimized.

    And Goggin has no basis for asserting that Udo’s is wrong that the CO2 data do not account for extra emissions due to ramping. Eirgrid clearly states that they base their emissions data only on each plant’s generation rate over the 1/4-hour and its established efficiency at that rate.

  264. Mr. Goggin is entirely off on a tangent with his correlation/causation rant. Strong negative correlation between wind and demand over time stands alone as testament to wind’s low value to tax and rate payers. No causation is implied or needed. The cause is negative correlation and the effect is wasteful spending on mostly unschedulable and highly variable wind energy supplies – and higher rates over time.

    Here in Ohio we have introduced a bill in the Senate to REPEAL THE RENEWABLE MANDATE, and experts from all corners are converging to educate the public and lawmakers as to why they are correct to undo the law put in place barely three years ago.

    Michael, you’d better get out here because I don’t think Dana can handle all the smoke and mirrors by herself! Or maybe Denise can come on her way back from speaking at the ANGA convention… Word here is the gas industry does not need wind even though you need them.

    (Deleted personal comment)

  265. @ Martin Nicholson: “With a relatively small amount of wind power the capacity credit can be close to the capacity factor, but as the penetration increases, the capacity credit falls because the total network impact from the loss of the wind will be that much greater. The amount of CO2 abatement from wind is related to the amount of fossil fuel generation that is replaced. The capacity credit is theoretically the amount of generation that can be replaced.”

    I think we have to bridge a gap in understanding here. A small penetration of wind as % of energy demand over time will have a greater ratio of CV to CF than a large one – in a given geographic region, but it will never be close to the CF. PJM allows a generous 12% CV upper limit for bidding into year ahead planning and day ahead capacity markets – and the penetration of wind in PJM is very low, less than 2%, while the ACF is between 25 to 28%

    And I would argue that capacity credit is the theoretical (statistical) minimum contribution to PEAK DEMAND that is expected.

  266. @ Cyril R

    “What we are looking at is fossil lock-in.”

    Only if you think like a “baseload(er)”.

    If I have a suite of supply; private PV, industrial PV, onshore/offshore wind, CSP w/storage, geothermal, hydro, interconnects plus some gas backup/boost (on site with CSP), it’s no technical challenge to get a stable/responsive supply system.

    Work for our clients suggests it’s possible to push down fossil fuel use to less than that used to supplement the current base load design peaks.

  267. @Zvyozdochka

    Storage dramatically lowers the delivered cost of CSP because it more than doubles the plant capacity factor

    Hmmm …. Possibly the capacity factor can be doubled through reducing the nominal output by one half.

    Or the size of the mirror field can be doubled.

    But there is no free lunch and no dramatic reduction in the LCOE.

  268. @ quokka and @ David B. Benson

    In an Areva (CLFR) design, the solar field represents between 22-30% of the capital cost, with storage approximately 9-18% (7 to 14hrs).

    Keeping it very simple; a sample plant of $2b would require field enlargement (let’s double it), so that’s another $600m, and 14 hrs storage let’s say $400m is $3b total. On our work, a CF for a sample plant just outside of Kalgoorlie would be around 72%.

    With a 50% increase in costs, the $2b plant with a CF of around 20% has jumped to 70% or 3.5x the output.

  269. Peter Lang, on 10 September 2011 at 12:26 PM — Actually its for solar thermal with about 7 hour thermal store. But of course it only achieves such a “low” LCOE is extremely sunny locations.

    People living in/near such locations seem to want air conditioning in the daytime; funny about that.

    But even so the cost would be much less using an NPP. Which was my prior conclusion.

  270. David Benson, you didn’t give your source for your figure. If you are quoting EIA or DOE I suspect you have misunderstood what their figures are referring to. Could you please provide your source for your figures.

  271. @ David B. Benson

    “(CSP) only achieves such a “low” LCOE is extremely sunny locations”

    IMHO, that’s a strange thing to point out. A little like saying the way hydro “only” achieves it’s LCoE is in “wet” areas, or wind in “windy” areas perhaps?

  272. @ Zvyozdochka

    You make bold claims about a portfolio of CSP, wind, PV etc that will somehow solve the interemittency problem. This is absurd, as all of these sources are unproductive and non-dispatchable. If you run any numbers on this, based on real systems not some figment of imaginary systems like Greenpeace does in their ‘studies’, you will find that using a portfolio of CSP, wind, PV, still doesn’t get you to meeting the load. But what you will have done is add humongous variability and non-dispatchability in your system. So you just burn natural gas for the majority of your electricity supply.

    The ‘portfolio approach’ is a dishonest politically correct intellectually insulting method of pushing more energy sources down our throat that are extremely marginal. We need a plan that adds up. Solar wind even combined don’t add up. They add up to natural gas grids.

  273. Zvyozdochka, @ 9 September 2011 at 11:29 PM

    You asked:

    @ Cyril R and @ Peter Lang

    What possible value is there in that Bill Hannahan thought bubble?

    It provides perspective for those who do not appreciate the consequences of adopting non-hydro renewable energy. Some people realise that this is why non-hydro renewables provide negligible contribution to our power supply. Others can understand why renewables require huge subsidies and why they are delaying us adopting alternatives that can genuinely meet our present and future demand while improving energy security, power quality and reducing environmental damage.

  274. @ Cyril R

    “If you run any numbers on this ….. you just burn natural gas for the majority of your electricity supply.”

    We have run the numbers and that’s not what we’re finding. We and our technical partners* have satisfied the investors who we’re contracted to and they’re progressing their proposals.

    “The ‘portfolio approach’ is a dishonest politically correct intellectually insulting method”

    No, it’s just the antithesis of ‘base load’, which appears to “offend” some, especially the coal and nuclear crowd.

    * We’re not talking about Greenpeace.

  275. @Michael Coggin (cross posted from http://joewheatley.net/emissions-savings-from-wind-power)

    Do you have links OTHER than to AWEA press releases?
    More importantly, I think you miss the one large factor that likely dominates, and that is fluctuation or the wind output (whether high or low) for that is what drives thermal plants into off-design operation. +/- 10% fluctuation is much more important if the wind is blowing at, say, 40mph than at 20. That effect of course is magnified with greater penetration. The plant specific heat rate curves used in EirGrid assume steady state (at various levels of opstate) not transient operation.

  276. @Martin Nicolson:

    The study would not download for me. Regardless, I use the terminology used in my grid region (PJM) and examine their justification for the CV of wind. But the real point is that since wind is negatively correlated to demand, it is ultimately “paired” with a set of generators acting inversely to the wind generation just to achieve a base-load performance standard. So wind should not rightly be considered a “stand alone” source of capacity to begin with.

    Of course the pairing source is most efficiently and logically natural gas units, which, acting as base load sources WITHOUT ANY WIND MIRRORING are a far more cost effective means of reducing emissions associated with coal fired generation.

  277. Peter Lang, on 10 September 2011 at 3:36 PM — A new solar thermal is just now under construction in the Mohave desert; maximum capacity factor is thus 25%. DoE provided a loan guarantee. From that and the other data about the build on Climate Progress some weeks ago it was easy to use the NREL simplified LCOE calculator to produce the quoted figure. That generally agrees with the cost, etc., data from Spain where such solar thermal units have been around for some time.

  278. David Benson,

    It hasn’t been built yet. It seems you are accepting a proponents claims. Surely you know better than to do this.

    You quoted above LCOE of $230/MWh. I assumed you had got that from an authoritative source. It seems not. I asked you for the source. Still you have not provided an authoritative source so we can see what the LCOE is for. Therefore, I suggest you dismiss the LCOE figure you have calculated. You’d be better advised to use actual figures from operating plants – most of which run in for a few hours in the middle of the day, on a clear day in summer.

  279. Peter Lang in response to Mike earlier: “Your assumption is not correct. I’d suggest you read the paper.”

    The Inhaber paper does not address demand related thermal costs at all. As most grid/transmission system configurations exist now, even if you don’t have wind, you have thermal power plant penalties associated with following DEMAND.

    A correct analysis of adding wind would be the quantum of (any) additional thermal penalty for required responses to SUPPLY. In other words, the operation of a real system with two varying components.

    Inhaber makes no attempt at an examination or discussion of the demand based thermal penalties and then as contrast to adding supply based variance effects. Where is the description of the delta? (Actually, it was a waste of $19 for our research library).

    The SASDO/AEMO 2011 report for South Australia describes emissions from generation fall with an increasing wind contribution and against rising demand (the operator directly attributes the fall to wind http://www.aemo.com.au/planning/SASDO2011/sasdo.html). Based on this success, South Australia appears to be aiming for up to 35% wind contribution in the future.

    There is also a claim (Windlab) that South Australian peaking plant have been used significantly less often (most recently repeated in Climate Spectator http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/why-wind-cutting-energy-costs).

    Disclaimer: One of our clients operates Hallett (wind and OCGT/diesel) and they (not unsurprisingly) also disagree strongly with Inhaber.

  280. Zvyozdochka,

    Can I suggest you background yourself on the previous articles on BNC. They are listed on the Renewables Limits tab. There is no way I can cover all this history which I draw on in my responses.

    Regarding your comments about the Inhaber paper, they reveal you clearly have not understood what it is about. But I sense there would be no point me getting into a discussion with you about it.

    Lastly, since you are in the wind energy industry, can you provide any actual measurements of power station emissions? Do you have any actual measurements that demonstrate the emissions avoided by wind generation? (Hint: the answer is NO, because they do not exist!)

  281. @ Peter Lang

    “It provides perspective for those who do not appreciate the consequences”

    I suggest it provides about as much information into the “problem” as my limit analysis on building all cars with solid gold steering columns.

    This is actually a pretty good analogue to the situation: wind advocates suggest we add something that is expensive (gold steering wheel) and completely unnecessary onto existing systems (the car) while diverting attention from the real problem with the system (CO2 emissions from the fossil powered car). We should in stead be making plugin-hybrids, and not bother with the gold steering wheel.

    Bill Hannahan’s paper is destructive to the cause of wind and solar enthusiasts because it reveals fundamental limitations to these energy sources. Namely, that they are incredibly marginal and this is related to their resource not the technology.

  282. @ Peter Lang

    “since you are in the wind energy industry, can you provide any actual measurements of power station emissions”

    I am not in the wind industry.

    Why don’t you have a crack at explaining the clear disconnect between your claims and the operator experience in South Australia? It would appear ~20% wind penetration has resulted in ~20% reduction in GHG emissions from generation (inclusive of demand growth) in the same period in South Australia, which the operator attributes to wind.

    (The experience in Western Australia, where I am based at the moment, has been similar).
    MODERATOR
    Please supply references for your figures.

  283. I can only gasp at Michael Goggin of the AWEA and his comments about Ireland. Except for a few small gas engines Ireland doesn’t have any Combined Healt and Power plants used for domestic of commercial heating.

    Furthermore, the work completed by Fred Udo and Joe Wheately is simply confirming the position of the Eirgrid engineers in 2004, who clearly pointed out the limitations involved with increased penetration of wind energy and how expensive it is when compared other forms of carbon reduction.

    http://www.eirgrid.com/media/2004%20wind%20impact%20report%20(for%20updated%202007%20report,%20see%20above).pdf

    If anything the inefficiencies are worse than what those Eirgrid engineers predicted.

    Furthermore it is the position of the Irish and EU authorities, despite the input from the engineering profession that 1 MW of wind energy displaces the emissions from 1 MW of thermal generation, this is clearly false. The dissemination of information on the environment to the public, which is not accurate, up to date and comparable (transparent) is a breach of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Aarhus Convention. The position of the EU and Irish authorities with relation to the renewable energy programme is the subject of a compliance investigation at UNECE, see the position of the Department in relation to emissions reductions from this wind programme:

    http://live.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/pp/compliance/C2010-54/Correspondence%20with%20communicant/frCommC54Annex_Reply_from_DCENR_5Sept2011.pdf

    The meeting Agenda for the 21st in Geneva is also to be found at the bottom of the case’s webpage:

    http://live.unece.org/env/pp/compliance/Compliancecommittee/54TableEU.html

  284. CHP comprises around 5% of Ireland’s generating fleet, and during cold spells like this when they are all running at full output that would be 10% or more of generation, which is large enough to drive the emissions increase noted, particularly if some of those plants are producing all heat and no power and therefore registering infinity emissions/MWh. As I pointed out, another major factor unrelated to CHP that explains the increase in per MWh emissions is that cold weather drives a sharp increase in electric heating demand, which causes less efficient, more expensive fossil plants to run as the higher demand forces grid operators to move up the supply curve of available generating plants. The EirGrid data clearly shows an increase in electric demand associated with the cold spells that are triggering the spikes in emissions/MWh.

    Michael Goggin,
    American Wind Energy Association

  285. Michael Goggin, the issue here is not what CHP does to wind’s carbon savings, the issue is how do you power a country with energy sources that are not there most of the time, are highly sweeping swinging in their output, and cannot be turned on when necessary. If you do any sort of limit analysis to see whether this can be realistic you’ll find you just have to continue to burn lots of fossil with a little wind and solar. This is dangerous and dishonest greenwashing. We need a plan to cut emissions 90%. France did it for their electric sector, and we need plans also for non-electric fossil usage.

  286. Emissions avoided by wind generation – Comparison of four researchers’s results

    American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) argues that wind avoids about 100% of the emissions from the generators the wind energy displaces. Others argue as follows:

    Kent Hawkins argues that wind avoids around 0%; and sometimes causes more emissions due to the effects of the cycling of fossil fuel back-up plants.

    Herbert Inhaber’s equation (see Figure 1 in the lead article) says wind avoids about 4% at 20% wind energy penetration. Inhaber has lots of uncertainties and says his equation and figures are schematic. The key point of his paper is we do not have sufficient empirical data to know how much emissions are being avoided by wind generation.

    Joe Wheatley and Fred Ido have been separately studying the Eirgrid data; they recently posted the results of their research:

    http://www.clepair.net/IerlandUdo.html

    http://joewheatley.net/emissions-savings-from-wind-power/

    Joe Wheatley states, in comment # 18:

    I looked at CO2 savings per MWh of wind generation (relative to savings at zero wind penetration) as you suggested.

    Here are the numbers:

    Wind Penetration CO2 Savings

    0% 100%
    10% 90%
    20% 77%
    30% 62%
    40% 47%

    It is close to a linear decline.

    Summary at 20% wind energy penetration those quoted above claim wind generation displaces x% of the emissions from the generators the wind energy displaces, where x =

    AWEA = 100%
    Wheatley (for EirGrid data) = 77%
    Inhaber = 4%
    Hawkins = 0%

  287. Wow, so not 4%. I can sense the disappointment.

    Given that South Australia intends to proceed to 33% wind penetration and they are competent managers who despite claims, know what they’re doing, perhaps the ~30% penetration ~62% savings will be significantly improved on by them too.

  288. Z@Z,

    Can ypu produce any actual measurements of CO2 emissions from power statiosn that demonstrate how much emisisons is avoided by wind generation in SA?

    Note, I ask for actual measurements, that is empirical data, not modelling studies.

  289. So we have a range of emissions abatement from wind, according to studies, somewhere between 0 % and 100 %?

    I wonder why the general public has absolutely no idea about where our energy future is headed, and who to believe?

  290. What follows is an account of Wednesday’s United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee meeting in Geneva. The EU has ratified this International Treaty, which applies to Human and Environmental Rights, providing the citizen with access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in Environmental Matters. The case concerned (Communication) relates to alledged failures of the EU to ensure compliance with its responsibilities under the Convention in relation to the renewable energy programme in Ireland:

    http://live.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/pp/compliance/C2010-54/Correspondence%20with%20communicant/frCommC54_ppt_CC_meeting_21Sept11.ppt#292,16,Strategic Environmental Assessment – EU Position

    The technical details are:

    A highly interesting and demanding day at the United Nations building here in Geneva with regard to the Communication (compliance investigation) opened in my name against the EU (ACCC/C/2010/54). To reiterate, the Aarhus Convention itself, which links Human and Environmental Rights, is best explained by the three minute video clip on the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) website: http://live.unece.org/env/pp/vid-presentation.html . The Compliance Committee are distinguished specialists in environmental law from the greater European Area: http://live.unece.org/env/pp/ccmembership.html . They meet about three to four times a year for about four days in Geneva, in order to hear a number of ‘test cases’ from the public and Environmental NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) in relation to a Party’s compliance. If the Communication is deemed to be of substance and the Party has not demonstrated adherence to the obligations in the Convention, then they will issue recommendations with a time frame with regard to the compliance. For instance in November 2010 it was concluded that the cost of legal access in the UK to challenge decisions in relation to environmental issues, such as planning cases (Belfast City Airport – cost £37,000), was too high and the UK is now having to undergo legal reform to lower the cost of taking a action in the Courts, which have to be fair, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive.

    The situation in Ireland is both complex and shameful. Ireland will not ratify the Convention, as it is resistant to transparency in Governance and the provisions of the necessary Rights to its citizens, in particular with regard to access to the Courts. So essentially we are alone in Europe in this regard along with Russia. However, the EU ratified the Convention in 2005 and in theory it applies to Community Legislation in Ireland. UNECE cannot open a compliance investigation against Ireland, as we haven’t ratified. However, I was able to circumvent this limitation by taking the case against the EU in relation to the manner in which they had approved the State Aid for renewable energy, which led to the construction of most of the wind farms now in Ireland and €110 million in funding for the electrical interconnector going to Wales, both despite the fact that Ireland had shown a general disregard to the provisions of the Convention in matters related to renewable energy.

    The outcome of the meeting, which followed on from previous consideration of an extensive set of documentation, see below, was that the Compliance Committee did not challenge the fact that there were extensive non-compliances by the Irish Administration in relation to (i) informing its citizens of environmental matters (Articles 4 and 5), allowing effective participation by Irish citizens in the planning process (Article 6) and policy development (Article 7) and the provisions of effective access to justice (Article 9) in a legal system, which is fair, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive.

    What is clearly at issue now, and this is an inference from today as the outcome of the Communication will be most likely be agreed upon at their December meeting and finalised at their March meeting, is the following two main points:

    (i) Did the EU fulfill its responsibilities to monitor the Convention in Ireland and ensure its enforcement (Article 3)? The Committee were clearly unhappy with what was presented by the legal team from the EU Commission. Hence they have given them two weeks to write back and confirm how they function to fulfill these responsibilities.

    (ii) Under the 2009 Directive on renewable energy, we now have a programme in place in Ireland with a capital expenditure alone of some €30 billion, but with no environmental documentation in relation to what greenhouse gases it will save, what the actual cost will be, what the impacts are (landscape, population, health, nature), what alternatives were considered, what jobs will be created (or lost). While the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources went out and collected a number of submissions from the public (mostly State bodies), the general Irish public were completely unaware of the scale, importance, costs, etc of this programme and did not participate in the decision making. Was this a breach of the requirement to provide the necessary information to the general public and ensure their active participation in the decision making and therefore a failure of the EU? The Committee discussed this National Renewable Energy Action Plan in depth and obviously will rule on it.

    http://live.unece.org/env/pp/compliance/Compliancecommittee/54TableEU.html

  291. Pat Swords,

    Thank you for that update. Very interesting. What you are doing will have ramifications ‘down under’, eventually. This bit gives some insight into its relevance for Australia getting better policy on clean energy

    (ii) Under the 2009 Directive on renewable energy, we now have a programme in place in Ireland with a capital expenditure alone of some €30 billion, but with no environmental documentation in relation to what greenhouse gases it will save, what the actual cost will be, what the impacts are (landscape, population, health, nature), what alternatives were considered, what jobs will be created (or lost).

    Readers wanting some more background:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-130230

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-130823

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-134992

    There are more comments by Pat Swords on this thread.

  292. I received an email from Pat Swords last night that is worth sharing. It was in response to an email to him in which I said:

    The whole issue is very divisive here at the moment. The government has submitted the CO2 tax bills to parliament. It comprises 1100 pages and we had one week to provide a submission to the “Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Clean Energy Future Legislation”

    I attach my submission (and addendum) for your information.

    You can see my submission here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/07/06/carbon-tax-australia-2011/#comment-136413 The addendum is the following comment.

    Pat replied:

    That’s crazy and also illegal. The UNECE Aarhus Convention evolved from Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration:

    http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?documentid=78&articleid=1163
    • Principle 10 “Environmental issues are best handled with participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided”.
    A complex 1,100 page document and only 1 week for the public to make Submissions!! This is clearly a complete mockey of Principle 10 and the how decisions should be made with concerned citizens at the relevant level through effective public participation. Furthermore, how is due account of your and other Submissions going to be taken in the final decision on this Bill?? Note: Australia clearly was a signatory to this Declaration and has actively promoted it (when it suited): http://www.arpansa.gov.au/pubs/rhsac/prec.pdf

    It’s not the technical content of what you are writing that is an issue anymore, but the fundamentals above. So you need to do two things, kick up a fuss in the media about the above (it is real easy to understand and will appeal to the Aussie mentality) and also find a good environmental lawyer. Basically, just because it is Green ideology does not give them the right to bypass the principles of democracy and environmental law.

    Pat

  293. While it is obviously up to Australia to implement its own administrative and legal structures, I am intrigued by the public participation exercise that Peter has referred to me.

    I would recommend that interested parties check out page 121 of 198 of the below:

    http://live.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/pp/acig.pdf

    It takes a considerable amount of time to prepare a Submission to such a complex document. So what are they going to do with it? Shred it if it doesn’t refect their position on the issue?

    My advice and reflecting the information duties in Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, would be to formally request the procedures which will be applied to the ‘taking due account’ of this public participation process, which clearly is of major significance in the future direction of Australia.

  294. From Pat Swords, Pat Swords BE CEng FIChemE CEnv MIEMA

    The 1992 United Nations’ Rio Declaration on Environment and Development is clear in Principle 10 that:
    • Environmental issues are best handled with participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided.
    http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?documentid=78&articleid=1163
    The EU’s renewable energy programme is completely by-passing these principles. Its implementation is therefore illegal, until such time as the public have been properly informed and allowed to actively participate in the decision-making at the relevant level. If the public, once properly informed, agree to the expenditure, massive impacts and little or no actual benefits associated with the current renewable energy programmes being implemented at a very rapid pace, then and only then can this programme be considered as legally compliant.

    In the greater European and Central Asia area, Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration is formalised and expanded into the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (see the second Attachment for more details).

    The UNECE Aarhus Convention is currently completing an investigation into the implementation of the renewable energy programme in Ireland, where there have been systematic failures to comply with the Convention, which is implemented through a significant number of EU Directives.

    However, the overwhelming evidence is that the same failures with regard to by-passing binding democratic procedures has occurred in all the other Member States, as the EU has rushed through this programme without providing sufficient timeframe for the necessary information to be prepared and the public to be properly informed. This therefore has by-passed democratic accountability.

    The implementation of the EU’s 20% mandatory renewable target for 2020 occurs through Directive 2009/28/EC (attached).

    • This Directive was passed in late April 2009.

    • Under Article 4 (page 28) the EU prepared in late June 2009 a template for a National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP), which Member States had to finalise and submit to the EU Commission by June 2010.
    • These are now in place and used for the development of individual projects, such as wind farms.

    • Wind farms are at a project level subject to Environmental Impact Assessment as they have significant environmental impact(Annex II of Directive 85/337/ECC as amended).

    • A plan, programme, policy in the field of energy, which has significant environmental effects and leads to development consent is subject to Strategic Environmental Assessment (see Article 3 (2) (a) of Directive 2001/42/EC) (page 3 of attached).

    • By only providing a year for the Member States to prepare their National Renewable Energy Action Plans, which are now in place and being used for individual projects, the Member States were completely unable to prepare the proper Strategic Environment Assessments, which comprise a detailed Environmental Report and comprehensive public participation (Annex I and Articles 4 and 5 of Directive 2001/42/EC). The timeframe was simply far too short for this to be done in a proper manner. Furthermore, the evidence clearly suggests this step was by-passed, as nineteen of the Member States simply left Section 5.3 of the template for the National Renewable Energy Action Plan completely blank. This was the only section of the template which addressed impacts and included a table of what greenhouse gas reductions were to be achieved, what the costs would be and what jobs would be created. This section was the only section of the template which was optional.

    The situation in Ireland is that a Strategic Environmental Assessment has never been completed for the renewable energy programme. Indeed the public has never been informed of the objectives (e.g. tonnes of greenhouse gas savings), the impacts, the costs, the alternatives, including the do nothing and the resulting state of the environment, etc. Instead an enormous bill of billion of Euros with massive impacts on their environment will have to be paid for.

    This is one of the key aspects of the current Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee Communication ACCC/C/2010/54:

    http://live.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/pp/compliance/C2010-54/Correspondence%20with%20communicant/frCommC54_ppt_CC_meeting_21Sept11.ppt

    Regards

    Pat Swords BE CEng FIChemE CEnv MIEMA

  295. Jerry,

    Thank you for your response.
    I had previously contacted EirGrid. They explained to me how they
    calculate the CO2 intensity, g/kWh, every 1/4-hour for the entire grid.

    They measure/record/log the output of each plant connected to the grid
    every 1/4 hour, including the 11 CHP plants that sell to the grid. They have
    the performance curves of each plant; Heat rate, Btu/kWh,
    versus Output, %
    They take the heat rate at the percent output and the calorific value
    of the fuel to calculate the CO2 emissions, gram, for each 1/4-hour,
    for each plant.
    They divide the total CO2 emissions, gram, of all plants by the total
    output of all plants, kWh, to obtain the CO2 intensity, g/kWh, for each
    1/4-hour, for the entire grid.

    None of the above is theoretical; it is a simple calculation. Most grid
    operators measure/record/log such data sets, only Eirgrid and the
    Colorado and Texas grid operators publish them.

    The SEAI may have its own method of calculating CO2 emissions (a method
    not explained anywhere with sample calculations, to my knowledge) which
    may not be as simple as of EirGrid.
    SEAI is likely addressing a less technical, more renewables oriented
    audience.
    I am always suspicious when folks present me with results without
    showing me the detailed calculations.

    Please note, EirGrid does not take into account the heat rate
    degradation due to rapid up/down ramping to accommodate wind energy
    ebbs/surges.

    This means the 1/4-hour CO2 intensities are understated by about 3 to 4
    percent.
    I have contacted EirGrid regarding this issue and they will get back to
    me.
    I agree with you they are most helpful.

    The Dr. Fred Udo study is based on the Eirgrid 1/4-hour data sets.

    The results of his analyses shows the following:

    During April 2011, 12% wind energy reduces the grid’s CO2 intensity,
    gram CO2/kWh, by 4%.
    During April 1st and 2nd, 28% reduces it by 1%.
    During April 3rd and 4th, 34% reduces it by 6%.
    During April 4th, 5th and 6th, 30% reduces it by 3%.

    The above reductions are not anywhere near to what is claimed by the
    wind energy proponents.

    Below is the URL of the Dr. Fred Udo report.

    http://www.clepair.net/IerlandUdo.html

    Note: Paste this URL in the left field of your browser window to access
    the site.

    See below section from this article which was peer reviewed.

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/57905/wind-power-and-co2-emission

    s

    GAS TURBINE HEAT RATES

    The gas turbines of the balancing facility, most efficient near rated
    output, would have to operate at a less efficient, more polluting,
    reduced output to be able to immediately vary their outputs to
    accommodate all variations of wind energy, including unpredictable,
    sudden, large variations of wind energy.

    Gas turbine heat rates, Btu/kWh, and CO2 emissions, lb of CO2/kWh,
    increase because of increased inefficient operation below rated output
    of OCGTs, and CCGTs operating as OCGTs. For example: at 80, 50 and 20
    percent of rated output, the heat rates are equal to the rated heat
    rate divided by 0.95, 0.85 and 0.55, respectively, or a heat rate
    degradation of (1/0.95 – 1) x 100 = 5.3%, 17.6%, and 81.8%
    respectively; CCGTs are rarely operated below 40% of rated output,
    because of much degraded heat rates. This is for steady operation at a
    percentage of rated output. If the balancing facility is operating at a
    percentage of rated output AND irregularly and rapidly ramping up and
    down, the heat rate degradation increases further.

    If a CCGT cycles from 100% down to 80% and back up to 100%; 1/2 hour
    down, 1/2 hour up, its round trip fuel consumption and CO2 emissions
    are 0.8 – 1.2 percent greater than if it had operated at 100% for the
    same hour. The average output was 90%.

    If a CCGT cycles from 60% down to 40% and back up to 60%; 1/2 hour
    down, 1/2 hour up, its round trip fuel consumption and CO2 emissions
    are about 20% greater than if it had operated at 100% for the same
    hour. The average output was 50% which would have a steady heat rate
    degradation of about 17.6%, plus a rapid ramping degradation of, say 3
    – 4%, for a total of about 20.6 – 21.6 percent.

    http://www.ge-mcs.com/download/bently-nevada-software/1q05_performancemonito

    ring.pdf

    http://www.etsap.org/E-techDS/PDF/E02-gas_fired_power-GS-AD-gct.pdf

    For example: a car driven on a level road at a steady speed of 40 mph
    has a mileage of, say 26 mpg. The same car driven on a level road at
    irregular and rapidly changing speeds that average 40 mph has a mileage
    of, say 22 mpg. The mileage degradation due to the speed changes would
    be (26-22)/26 x 100% = 15%. A car’s best mileage usually is at 55 mph,
    at a steady speed, on a smooth and level road; it is the oft-quoted EPA
    highway mileage.

    Willem

  296. Pingback: Could Wind Energy Increase Global Warming?– « Energy.BlogNotions - Thoughts from Industry Experts

  297. This is the ‘All Ireland Wind and Fuel Mix Report’ http://www.eirgrid.com/media/All-Island_Wind_&_Fuel_Mix_Report_November_2011.pdf (one table, three charts, no text) for November 2011.

    The chart at the bottom of the page shows proportions of generation by fuel type at 15 minute intervals. It also shows what a system with a lot of wind generation looks like (21.7% wind energy penetration and 45.6% Capacity Factor for November).

    Note that the hydro runs fairly consistently throughout the year (as I expect it would have to do in Australia too.) This demonstrates the point that the hydro cannot be diverted from its design purpose to try to make RE seem more viable than it is. Like Australia, their hydro component is small but very valuable.

    They also have a small amount of CHP. But, unlike Australia, they have a wet country to grow the fuel per land area (and higher population density produces more waste per land area). That means their biomas and biogas fuels costs would be less than in Australia.

  298. Two papers have just been released regarding the CO2 emissions avoided by wind generation and the economic effects of regulations forcing investment in wind generation:

    Electricity in The Netherlands.
    Wind turbines increase fossil fuel consumption & CO2 emission.

    by C. le Pair

    Abstract

    First we describe the models presently used by others to calculate fuel saving and reduction of CO2 emission through wind developments. These models are incomplete. Neglected factors diminish the calculated savings.

    Using wind data from a normal windy day in the Netherlands it will be shown that wind developments of various sizes cause extra fuel consumption instead of fuel saving, when compared to electricity production with modern high-efficiency gas turbines only. We demonstrate that such losses occur.
    Factors taken into account are: low thermal efficiency at low power; cycling of back up generators; energy needed to build and to install wind turbines; energy needed for cabling and net adaptation; increase of fuel consumption through partial replacement of efficient generators by low-efficiency, fast reacting OCGTs.

    http://www.clepair.net/windSchiphol.html

    The second paper is:

    Electricity Costs: The folly of wind-power
    by Ruth Lea

    Some extracts from the “Executive summary” state:

    • Britain’s energy policies are heavily influenced by the Climate Change Act (2008) and the EU’s Renewables Directive (2009). Under the Climate Change Act Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions are to be cut by 34% by 2018-22 and by 80% by 2050 compared with the 1990 level. These are draconian cuts. Under the Renewables Directive Britain is committed to sourcing 15% of final energy consumption from renewables by 2020.

    • These commitments add to energy costs and undermine business competitiveness.

    • Nuclear power and gas-fired CCGT are …e the preferred technologies for generating reliable and affordable electricity. There is no economic case for wind-power.

    • Wind-power is also an inefficient way of cutting CO2 emissions …

    • Wind-power is therefore expensive (chapter 2) and ineffective in cutting CO2 emissions (chapter 3). If it were not for the renewables targets set by the Renewables Directive, wind-power would not even be entertained as a cost-effective way of generating electricity and/or cutting emissions. The renewables targets should be renegotiated with the EU.

    http://www.civitas.org.uk/economy/electricitycosts2012.pdf

    I am not vouching for these, just pasting the links for those who may be interested.

  299. Wind Energy Does Little to Reduce CO2 Emissions

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/64492/wind-energy-reduces-co2-emissions-few-percent

    reviews Colorado, Texas and Irish experience. Links to appropriate studies are offered (the BENTEK study has been subject to criticism regarding methods employed — not mentioned in the linked article.)
    There are some aspects of gas turbines which the article author appears misinformed.

    Despite this (and not caring for the conclusion, the article provides a fairly decent summary of some of the experience with wind turbines.

  300. Thank you Martin Nicholson for this link (posted on another thread). http://www.iea.org/papers/2012/impact_of_wind_power.pdf

    This paragraph from the Executive Summary reinforces an important message:

    An analysis of the effect of an increasing wind market share on residual demand shows that wind significantly alters the load duration curve (LDC) of residual demand, changing not only its size but also its slope. Comparing the LDC of demand and residual demand shows how wind strongly decreases the average capacity factor of residual demand; the share of capacity running at high capacity factors (70% to 100%) decreases, while the amount of capacity running at low capacity factors (0% to 30%) increases strongly. A decreasing capacity factor can have a significant impact on the relative profitability of investments in different types of generation capacity. As the capacity factor decreases, the levelised costs of electricity (LCOE) of generation technologies with high investment costs, such as coal‐ and especially nuclear‐fired capacity, increase faster than those of technologies with lower investment costs, such as gas‐fired capacity.

    So wind generation increases the cost of electricity by more than just the higher cost of the wind energy itself. It also increase the cost of electricity from the whole system because it forces the cost of electricity from the baseload generators to be increased (because their capacity factors are reduced).

  301. More on the hidden costs of wind power:

    Even though the effects of an increasing wind market share on gas markets are relatively limited and there are several tools available within natural gas systems that can support an increased demand spread and unpredictability, natural gas should not be seen as a inexpensive or easy way to support a higher wind market share. An increasing wind market share strongly decreases the capacity factor of gas‐fired generation capacity, thereby increasing the levelised costs of electricity (LCOE) of electricity production by gas fired generation technologies. The diminished capacity factor also leads to a decreased utilisation rate of transport capacity bringing gas to gasfired generation plants, leading to higher transport costs.

    Finally, the additional flexibility required to cover the higher demand spread is likely to be needed only a very small fraction of the time, making instruments such as natural gas storage or LNG regasification capacity relatively expensive sources of flexibility.

    http://www.iea.org/papers/2012/impact_of_wind_power.pdf

  302. Martin Nicholson wrote:

    Thanks Peter. It will be interesting to see what our colleague at AWEA thinks of this. He seems to enjoy quoting the IEA when it suits him.

    Peter Lang wrote:

    More on the hidden costs of wind power:

    According to the study, there appears to be relatively little impact on energy utilization or ramping rates as a consequence of wind: “As there is no significant correlation between wind output and electricity demand, and increasing wind market share neither amplifies nor dampens existing power demand patterns and does not strongly increase demand variability or the size of demand changes” (page 7).

    Rather, the more significant concern is the impact on fixed costs on supplemental generation as a result of lower capacity factors. And as the study shows, these impacts are larger for nuclear and coal (which have larger fixed costs) than natural gas plants (which have lower fixed costs). LCOE impacts are thus seen to be much smaller in the case of natural gas plants providing backup, regulatory and balancing services. The main conclusion of the study is summarized on page 31: “Because of lower investment costs for gas‐fired units, their production costs do not increase as rapidly as those of coal or nuclear power when the capacity factor drops. The relatively low investment costs make natural gas an economically attractive fuel for delivering flexibility to the system, running at a relatively low capacity factor.”

    The study also suggests other tools for better managing energy utilization from wind, and thus spreading out the impacts on fixed costs of other generators providing flexibility to the system: “energy storage, demand‐side response, increasing electricity interconnection capacity and trade, and supply‐side response” (page 23). These costs do not appear to be hidden as you suggest, but appear to be detailed in a revealing way in the study? In fact, other studies (such as your own cost estimate for EDM model), looks at these system wide impacts and factors them into their total combined cost or price projections.

  303. I suggest your first paragraph missed the meaning in what you quote. The output from industrial wind turbines doesn’t have any relation to demand.

    The ‘residual’ demand is greater, and changes more abruptly, the more wind there is – so flexibility in other sources is necessary to provide the ‘residual’ supply. Looking at the reports comments on ramping, they seem to be somewhat dismissive because in the data set they are observing, the change in wind over a short period of time was not greater than they observed in the change in demand. If they’d looked at Texas data from August, they’d see the typical day has demand increasing as wind output decreases, and would see the error of their assumptions pretty quickly.

    There was recently a study/survey of system operators that collected their perceived requirements for integrated large-scale renewables. The desired tools for integrated more wind?
    More accurate wind forecasting as #1
    More Flexible conventional generation as #2

    Pg 10 at http://www1.eere.energy.gov/wind/pdfs/reliable_grid_operations.pdf

  304. Scott Luft wrote:

    If they’d looked at Texas data from August, they’d see the typical day has demand increasing as wind output decreases, and would see the error of their assumptions pretty quickly.

    Yes, the study does note this, and says that results will differ depending on country/site specific wind output and electricity demand patterns. Do you think this also holds true for Texas wind farms located along the Gulf Coast? Presumably, this is why we want wind plants dispersed (and not concentrated in a single location). They suggest these impacts are “relatively limited” (page 8), and suggest available tools for handling issue so as not to become problematic: improving wind forecasting models, increasing natural gas storage capacity, access to LNG sources, and more flexible import contracts.

  305. The Texas wind generators on the coast peak in the afternoon with on shore breezes in the afternoon that is coincident with the system peak demand, whereas the West Texas wind seems to peak during off peak periods and seasons. There is a study that is trying to determine the effective load carrying capacity at each location. Maybe we will have results soon from that study.

  306. I don’t think the discovery of exceptions, in trends, disproves the general findings, here and elsewhere, that it is not always windy somewhere. The more intermittent supply added, the lower the capacity factor of all the other sources is a premise that is likely to be true. The less frequently very low output from renewables happens, the lower the capacity factor of other sources.
    Gene would have a much better idea of Texas, but my understanding is they have large cost overruns to expand the transmission capacity to allow more West Texas wind – the source that doesn’t have the coastal peaking pattern in matching annual peak hours.
    It’s hard to tell how big the technical issues are as the economic tools hugely distort the picture.
    In the US it is an industry driven by the credit on total MWh; attempting to match demand profile ins’t relevant. The situation is worse with solar, as CSP projects were dropped a number of times in the past 12 months due to dropping prices of PV, which I see as annual MWh being valued over the ability to provide scheduled output.
    Technically and/or due to the nature of subsidies, capacity factors are dropped across the rest of the generator portfolio.

  307. The West Texas wind is given a capacity value of 8.7% last time I checked. Some studies indicate it could be a bit higher but ERCOT elected not to raise it. I suspect that when the higher capacity value was determined they may have included the coastal wind in that determination since that was a much smaller amout of coastal wind than West Texas, something like 9 GW West Texas and about 2 GW coastal, but those values are increasing. The original 5 G$ transmission cost for West Texas wind is now over 7 G$. The intent was to invest in transmission to achieve 18 GW of wind. The rumor mill has it that there is a Texas 35 GW wind study underway. The coastal wind roughly coincides with the demand. The West Texas wind mostly cuts into gas and coal generation. The anti coal folks think that this will help Texas be able to shut down its coal plants. They aren’t taking the capacity needs into account that coal supplies. I was listening in on an ERCOT conversation today about setting up the future load flow cases and there was a question that was asked by a member that reveals our dire situation here. He asked, what are we going to do if we dont have enough generation in the model to meet the peak demand that is being forecasted? I don’t recall there was a good answer to that question. I suppose they could just increase the wind capacity in the model to meet the peak demand plus losses. That would create the load flow case, but what if the wind is not blowing hard enough at that time to generate that much power? This is where the need for backup generation is apparent. Even if we assign a certain effective load carrying capacity to wind on the coast and in West Texas, there is always a good chance the wind will be much less than what is needed. The only recourse is to have load reduction. And there are many different ways ERCOT is trying to do just that. Its going to be an interesting summer.

  308. If wind is treated as ‘must take’ then it ought to be treated as negative load. The net load for the schedulable generators is then

    Net = Actual – Wind

    and this can easily create ramping difficulties for those generators which change power relatively slowly. But even hydro, fastest in ramping, suffers additional wear and tear due to the increase in the frequency of fast ramping.

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  312. @DBB, your invoking a negative to an unwanted input is most elegant.

    In a price-driven scheme, applying a negative price to an unwanted input would motivate an oversupplying producer to divert his power elsewhere than the grid.

  313. Roger Clifton — It is not price but the power requirements for electricity where total generation must always equal total demand. I’ve just followed Anjan Bose’s thought to treat wind power as neagtive load. The elegance is his.

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