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Wind Farms Produce Enough For A Few Cups Of Tea.

August 29, 2013

By Paul Homewood




From the Sunday Telegraph:-


Data released by one of the largest green energy companies shows wind farms producing enough electricity only to boil two to three kettles at a time.

At one stage last week, three big wind farms even took electricity out of the National Grid – to run basic power supplies on site – rather than actually supplying electricity to households.

The wind farms’ owner said that in still conditions electricity “import” can occur for a few hours until the wind picks up. Such a phenomenon is known in the industry as “parasitic consumption”.

The data reveals just how much electricity is being generated by each wind farm at a given moment.

It is published by RWE npower renewables, a subsidiary of a German energy company operating 27 wind farms across England, Scotland and Wales.

The figures show just how little electricity giant turbines produce at certain times bolstering claims by critics that wind turbines cannot be relied upon to provide a constant source of electricity.

The Telegraph examined a snapshot of RWE’s own figures on Thursday afternoon last week. One wind farm Trysglwyn, which is in Anglesey in Wales, was producing a total of 6 kilowatts (KW) – just enough to boil two kettles each with 3KW of power.

The wind farm has 14 turbines and a theoretical capacity of 5.6 megawatts (MW). In other words, the wind farm was producing just 0.001 per cent of its maximum capacity.

Little Cheyne Court wind farm, which consists of 26 turbines each of them 377ft high, was producing 129KW of electricity last Thursday afternoon.

The wind farm, which was hugely controversial when it was built at a cost of £50 million on the site of Romney Marsh in Kent, is the largest in the south east of England.

Its supply last Thursday was equivalent to the boiling of just 43 kettles – or 0.002 per cent of its maximum capacity of 59.8MW.

At the same time in the very north of Scotland, near Wick, Bilbster wind farm was producing 268KW of electricity, the equivalent of boiling 89 kettles. The wind farm consists of three turbines each 295ft high.

According to RWE’s own data, three wind farms on Thursday afternoon appeared to be taking electricity from the National Grid rather than supplying it.

The eight turbines at Knabs Ridge, which is close to Harrogate in Yorkshire, used up 86KW of electricity while Lambrigg wind farm’s five turbines in Cumbria took 10KW from the grid.

Llyn Alaw wind farm, which is in Anglesey, and consists of 34 turbines also produced a negative output, according to RWE’s own data, of minus 80KW.

RWE is thought to be the only one of the major electricity generating companies to publish such detailed, instantaneous information on the power supplied by its wind farms.

Opponents of wind turbines, who claim they are also costly to run and unsightly, say RWE’s figures show just how unreliable wind energy is.

While the snapshot analysed by the Telegraph shows how little electricity was produced by some wind farms on still, summer days, there have been other times in the past month when wind farm owners have been paid by the National Grid to shut down in order not to over load the electricity supply system.

Such payments – known as constraint payments – have reached £7.5 million for the first three weeks of August.

In other words, claim critics, there are times when turbines produce too much electricity and moments when they do not produce enough.

The Government has been keen to promote wind energy in its attempt to meet a European Union-wide target of providing 15 per cent of energy needs from renewable energy by 2020. The Labour government introduced a consumer subsidy, added on to electricity bills, to encourage the construction of wind farms.

That subsidy is predicted to rise to £6 billion by 2020.

John Constable, director of Renewable Energy Foundation, a think tank which has been critical of wind farms, said: “Professional analysts have long known that fluctuating wind turbine output is poorly correlated with demand, but RWE’s new website is a very valuable addition to the data available to the general public, and will encourage informed debate about the relative potential for different renewable technologies.

"The truth will be painful for some, but the facts have to be faced sooner or later.”

Dr Constable added: “The uncontrollably variable output of wind power already imposes significant grid and system management costs on the consumer, costs which are set to grow dramatically; we need to ask ourselves whether the EU renewables targets for 2020 are really affordable.”

Wind farms: how they performed

The electricity produced by RWE wind farms at approximately 5pm on Thursday August 22:

Bilbster, Caithness, 268KW

Knabs Ridge, North Yorkshire, -86KW

Lambrigg, Cumbria, -10KW

Little Cheyne Court, Kent, 129KW

Llyn Alaw, Anglesey, -80KW

Tow Law, County Durham, 30KW

Trysglwyn, Anglesey, 6KW

  1. Myron Mesecke permalink
    August 29, 2013 2:20 pm

    Was it at least green tea?

  2. John F. Hultquist permalink
    August 29, 2013 3:33 pm

    It is always a good plan to keep well supplied with beer so when you can’t boil water for tea you have something to drink.

    Wind towers need a supply of electricity to turn the blades into the wind. When high pressure brings a lack of wind this process invokes “parasitic consumption” as mentioned in the Telegraph story.

    One of our local wind farms also has quite a nice visitor’s center and this has to be supplied also.

    (note the link to ‘facts about the facility’)

    They could reduce the bad publicity for these events if they had a battery or gas generator backup in place. I suspect that would not be cost efficient insofar as they are allowed to tap the main grid. Further, it would be officially recognizing they are not a reliable source of energy.

  3. Paul Burtwistle permalink
    August 29, 2013 9:42 pm

    I’ve just looked at the RWE live feeds accross numerous wind farms in the UK. I managed to find one that was producing about 20% of capacity, one that was at 11% and the rest were all sub 2%.
    A truely pathetic result when you consider the billions in tax payers money/subsidies that has been ploughed in to this in the UK.

  4. Brian H permalink
    August 30, 2013 1:12 am

    What’s worse is that the farms are give priority in selling output (at full special pricing)at all times they happen to have any. I.e., conventional plants have to ramp up and down to accommodate, and get rock-bottom pricing.

    A formula guaranteed to bankrupt even the most efficient power plant.

  5. August 30, 2013 7:18 am

    The other HUGE problem is:
    Wind Farms Consume More Than a “Few Cups of Tea” During Cold Weather.

    Active de-icing methods have also been investigated.
    They come directly to us from the aeronautical industry.
    They consist of thermal, chemical and impulse de-icing.
    In thermal deicing, electrical elements, similar to the one found on the rear window of a car, can be used to warm and melt the ice accumulation off the blades.

    Existing research in wind turbine active icing prevention has focused on thermal de-icing. Based on early work in Europe, Jasinski et al. (1998) indicate that thermal anti-icing requires an amount of heater power equal to at least 25% of the turbine maximum rated power.

    Recent work conducted in Europe indicates that the early estimate in anti-icing power requirement can be revised down. They now claim that the power requirement ranges between 6 to 12% of the output for 1000 to 220 kW turbines respectively.

    Wind Energy: Cold Weather Issues
    University of Massachusetts at Amherst –
    Renewable Energy Research Laboratory
    June 2000

  6. Brian H permalink
    September 1, 2013 6:22 pm

    A tea ceremony aficionado taught me that the best green tea should be brewed at 168°F. Only the lowest quality tea, such as the British get after domestic markets in the growing countries take the good stuff, needs to be hit with 212°F water to extract the remaining compounds and flavours.


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