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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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By Barry Brook

Barry Brook is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania. He researches global change, ecology and energy.

368 replies on “CO2 avoidance cost with wind energy in Australia and carbon price implications”

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?

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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.

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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.

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Maybe the axis should state “CO2 that remains to be avoided”. Saying that it is the amount avoided is the compliment of what is intended.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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”).

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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@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

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@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).

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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.

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@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.

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@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.

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@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.

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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.

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@ 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.

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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.

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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.

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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:
https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-127939
https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-127946

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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. .

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John Newlands @ 6:35 am
https://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.

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@ 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.

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John Newlands @ 1:54 pm
https://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.

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(deleted as off-topic – GC’s original also deleted. Please reply in Sceptics thread if GC posts there as advised.)

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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.

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@ 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.

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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.

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@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)

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@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.

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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?

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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.

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As far as the comment above by DV8X2L:

https://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.

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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.

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@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”.

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@ 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?

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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…

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@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.

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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.

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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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 .

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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.

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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.

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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.

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@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.

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@ 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…?

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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.

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@ 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.

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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.

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“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

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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.

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“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.

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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!

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Pat Swords @ 22 May 2011 at 8:35 PM and 1:46 am
https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-127986
https://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:
https://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:
https://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:
https://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
https://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!

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Response to American Wind Energy Association
https://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:

Click to access 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.

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@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.

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

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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.

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@ 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.

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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.

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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.

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Peter Lang,
There’s room for you on the Spring Tour, August 28th-Sept4th, but be quick. It’s almost full. Jim Brough and his wife are coming. Give me a call on [08]86821571.

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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.

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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?

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

Please don’t quote me out of context, its getting old.

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Seth at 4:05 am,
https://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.

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@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:

https://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.

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@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.

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@ 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.

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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.

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@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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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”.

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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…

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” However, the conclusions are robust as demostrated in the response to the AWEA:
https://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.

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@ 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.

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@ 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.

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@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).

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“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.

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