Ecotricity

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  • Ecotricity
  • Bimbler
    Member

    Chrism – why do the conventional stations have to keep running when there is sufficient wind blowing?

    Lets just say we have a maximum generating capacity of 20% wind driven, say it’s working at that top capacity why can’t we turn off say 15% of the conventional stuff. I mean weather forecasts must be able to predict wind capacity, when the forecasts predict a drop in wind capacity switch all the other stuff back on again.

    Unlike molgrips I am a simpleton so feel free to condescend to me all you like.

    Premier Icon ransos
    Subscriber

    Chrism – why do the conventional stations have to keep running when there is sufficient wind blowing?

    Wind does require extra backup of course due to intermittancy, but gas power stations can do this by operating in “spinning reserve”. Whilst this does use some fossil fuel, it’s analogous to leaving your car ticking over, instead of driving it down the road.

    As a general point, most forms of generation, fossil or renewable, are poor at dealing with sudden changes in demand. So there will continue to be a need for combined cycle gas turbines acting as backup even if we decided to go for coal or nuclear in a bigger way.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    No, just ignored the fact that you want to get your electricity by conventional means when the wind isn’t blowing and then replace it when the wind is, because you’re ignoring that it doesn’t work that way unless you have sufficient storage capacity

    I’m trying to address your points – trying to tease them out of the abuse 🙂 So what you’re trying to say is that you’d have to keep the power stations running all the time in case the wind drops. Okay, but I’m not sure this is true. I think you can throttle power stations up and down relatively easily but not switch them off.

    I find it hard to believe that everyone would be investing in wind power if it was totally pointless.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    trying to tease them out of the abuse

    You should be able to cope, given I’ve just been reusing your own expressions, if I’ve understood correctly what you’re getting upset about.

    I find it hard to believe that everyone would be investing in wind power if it was totally pointless.

    I already mentioned the subsidies which make it economically viable.

    I mean weather forecasts must be able to predict wind capacity, when the forecasts predict a drop in wind capacity switch all the other stuff back on again.

    You’d be surprised how difficult it is to predict the wind that reliably – I say this as a windsurfer! Bearing in mind they also have to switch off the turbines when there’s too much wind.

    Wind does require extra backup of course due to intermittancy, but gas power stations can do this by operating in “spinning reserve”. Whilst this does use some fossil fuel, it’s analogous to leaving your car ticking over, instead of driving it down the road.

    Phew. Have been waiting for days for somebody to actually argue coherently with my point. You are right, but as I point out you do still use significantly more energy than if the backup capacity wasn’t required. I believe that level of response is only realistic with gas power, which is already being spooled up and down to balance variations in load, thus inherently limiting what other compensation is available. I have been a little disingeneous, but given the way the wind industry always quotes figures (peak output, not mean, let alone typical minima, and not taking any account of backup requirement), it’s hardly been a huge distortion.

    Another question I have, if as pointed out earlier wind is more reliable offshore (a point I’d agree with in general), why not build all wind turbines offshore to improve the utility, or do they not because there are other motivations than building the best possible generation system?

    Premier Icon ransos
    Subscriber

    “you do still use significantly more energy than if the backup capacity wasn’t required”

    Yes, and significantly less fossil fuel than not using wind power at all. Research shows that up to 20% from wind is feasible with using gas as back-up. As I said before, any power supply requires backup, so this is not unique to wind power. My view is that we ought to be substantially increasing our use of renewables for electricity, with fossil fuel being largely limited to gas generation for dealing with fluctuations in supply and demand.

    The reason more wind power isn’t built offshore is simple – cost. It’s more expensive to install and maintain, plus the installer has to pay for their own connection to the onshore national grid.

    There are a lot of misleading data and statistics on both sides of the debate – just look at the nonsense spouted by the nuclear industry, which glosses over £80 billion of clean-up liabilities, and the fact that nuclear is useless for reacting to spikes in demand.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    Research shows that up to 20% from wind is feasible with using gas as back-up.

    Who’s research, based on how optimistic figures for availability of wind? How much gas power capacity would be required? A lot more than we have at the moment I’m sure (remember, even without any variation in supply due to unreliable sources, there’s still huge variation in demand, so flexible capacity we have is well used).

    As I said before, any power supply requires backup, so this is not unique to wind power.

    Other sources of power need backup for maintenance – something wind will also need. That and as you said before to cope with changes in demand. What is unique to wind power is the need for complete capacity backup in addition to this for when the wind doesn’t blow. It’s very disingenuous to suggest other sources of power need backup in the same way – with wind you have to have an awful lot more of it (basically the same capacity as if there were no windmills at all).

    My view is that we ought to be substantially increasing our use of renewables for electricity, with fossil fuel being largely limited to gas generation for dealing with fluctuations in supply and demand.

    You really think it’s actually feasible now, or at any time in the near future to supply all of our base load from renewables?

    The reason more wind power isn’t built offshore is simple – cost. It’s more expensive to install and maintain, plus the installer has to pay for their own connection to the onshore national grid.

    I thought this was all about saving the planet and having reliable energy supply, not cost? Or do those not apply when the suppliers can rake in just as much subsidy for building less useful windmills on land?

    There are a lot of misleading data and statistics on both sides of the debate – just look at the nonsense spouted by the nuclear industry, which glosses over £80 billion of clean-up liabilities, and the fact that nuclear is useless for reacting to spikes in demand.

    You mean lots of misleading data from both wind and nuclear? I did think about mentioning the subsidies nuclear also relies on, but we seem to be doing that debate elsewhere. Mind you, I don’t see why not being able to react to spikes in demand is particularly a bad thing for base load generation (in the same way not being able to supply consistently is), and nor do they usually quote outputs for nuclear power stations which bear no relation to real average output. There are of course also other sides than wind and nuclear…

    Premier Icon ransos
    Subscriber

    Chrism – suggest you get googling, there’s plenty of research on how much wind power is feasible, and how much backup it would need. IIRC, 20% is the point at which the extra costs of extra backup become significant. Denmark is getting about that level now.

    Don’t understand the purpose of your point re saving the planet – wind power companies are businesses, so will always go for an economically viable option. Currently, offshore is less viable than onshore. There would need to be a change in subsidies to alter this.

    Nuclear is promoted by advocates as a panacea – it isn’t, because even leaving aside problems of fuel, waste & subsidy, it’s only really suitable as baseload.

    Of course, all of this is putting the cart before the horse – as a nation we are massively wasteful of heat and power. Conservation is always a better option than generation.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    I actually agree with your last two paragraphs (as has been mentioned on the nuclear thread, we should just spend the money on better insulation), and given the opportunity to write that, this is probably a good point to sign off this thread for good, as I’m getting bored.

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