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Is wind locking us into fossil fuels?

July 2, 2021

By Paul Homewood




There’s an interesting analysis of wind power on the Energy Future blog:





Full story here.

  1. Ben Vorlich permalink
    July 2, 2021 10:08 am

    Wind is generating a less than impressive 0.12GW this morning. Just as well it’s not January.

    • Dave Cowdell permalink
      July 2, 2021 12:37 pm

      Yes Ben, and not for the first time. Still “they” will trot put the line about ” average renewables” over the year ignoring the fact that electricity demand is a demand that requires filling at the time.

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      July 2, 2021 3:01 pm

      And coal is generating twice the power wind is!

      • Jordan permalink
        July 2, 2021 4:32 pm

        Coal generation might not be what it seems. Especially when emissions penalties (yes, they are penal) inflate marginal cost to uneconomic levels against gas.
        Towards the very end of life, coal generation is sometimes just to empty the remaining stock. Coal fired units will be shut as they come to their next significant maintenance outage. The outage is an avoidable cost in the approach to closure, so that’s when to do the deed.
        Possibly what we will be seeing in the coming weeks and months.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        July 2, 2021 8:24 pm

        Perhaps. Coal is at near record prices of about £80/tonne, which means it might make sense to scrape it up, load it into trains and export it somewhere it can be used. Yet even at that price, the underlying electricity cost before taxes is about £35/MWh. With the carbon price running at a little under £50/tonne CO2e, it adds around £12/MWh to costs. Yet market prices for electricity have soared. The average day ahead price on Nordpool for Week 25 was £84.04/MWh, allowing a handy profit for coal if it can get dispatched. Individual shortage hours come in much higher.

      • Jordan permalink
        July 3, 2021 6:47 pm

        Thanks IDAU. All of the following only for illustration and generally sharing.

        1 tonne coal = 25 GJ LHV (a commonly used standard in traded coal IIRC)
        Convert to MWh power at (e.g) 38%LHV efficiency = 25*38%/3.6 = 2.6 MWh from 1 tonne of coal.

        At £80/te fuel cost, 80/2.6 = £31/MWh fuel cost of coal fired generation. Not at all expensive, at today’s market prices you have suggested.

        Thermal coal is about 50% elemental carbon, and a factor of 3.67 converts C into CO2 (molecular mass balance).
        Therefore 1 tonne coal creates 50%*3.67 = 1.8 teCO2

        For 2.6MWh, emission intensity is 1.8/2.6 = 0.7 te CO2 /MWh (700g/KWh, compared to around 350g/kWh for CCGT).

        At £50/teCO2, the additional cost of coal fired generation due to CO2 = 50*0.7 = £35/MWh “carbon cost”.

        My £35/MWh is a fair bit higher than the £12/MWh you suggest. It’s why I say government policy is penalising coal.

        If government mandated penalties are doubling the marginal cost, it should come as no surprise that coal is being driven away.

        If fuel and CO2 costs account for circa £66/te, there will be other avoidable costs to consider for UoS charges, consumables and variable maintenance. The marginal cost of coal fired generation could be well above £70/te, and possibly above £80/te considering start costs for two shifting operation.

  2. JimW permalink
    July 2, 2021 10:11 am

    Interesting ‘clean’ site I have read before.

  3. Philip Mulholland permalink
    July 2, 2021 10:15 am

    The law of unintended consequences.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      July 2, 2021 9:15 pm

      Not sure the ‘un’ was required…

  4. Mack permalink
    July 2, 2021 10:18 am

    Unfortunately, on current policy trajectories, there won’t be much UK fossil fuel available when the wind train finally hits the buffers and, as the article makes clear, we’ll be relying on a wing and a prayer and inter connectors. Sacre bleu!

  5. Philip Mulholland permalink
    July 2, 2021 10:20 am

    “In a subsequent article we will project forward to 2050.”

  6. Mad Mike permalink
    July 2, 2021 10:23 am

    “Demand is to increase by 3% (we’ll exclude demand for electrolysis of hydrogen as this is to be met mostly by excess wind power).”

    Are they kidding or have I misread this?

    Changing to an electric economy will make that figure a nonsense pretty quickly.

    • July 2, 2021 11:45 am

      These are the figures in the National Grid FES 2020 documentation. That’s where the 3% comes from.

      You can check the 3% figure on the ES1 sheet in the workbook.

      We try to only write factual or attributable information

      If we believe that something is false, we look into it before criticising the author(s).

      • Mad Mike permalink
        July 2, 2021 2:12 pm

        That may be correct Toby but the 3% is hardly credible. I assume that this 3% relates to extra electricity demand by 2030 as all the other figures relate to that date. That source may be attributable but any serious writer with any knowledge of the Government’s plans for the transition could be expected to see that the 3% is clearly delusional and better estimates should be sought.

        A quick google search brought this up. I’m sure there’s much more out there.

        “National Grid’s latest Future Energy Scenarios Report predicts that, by 2030, an increase of electric vehicles (EVs) could lead to peak demands of between 5 and 8.1 gigawatts (GW). These figures – taking into account residential and non-residential charging – represent an increase of between 9% and 14% compared to the peak demand of 57GW in 2017. The figures also allow for the growth of smart-charging technologies and demand side flexibility.”

        I concede that the increase relates to 2017 not 2020 but even so it should have alerted a diligent researcher to doubt the 3% figure used.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        July 2, 2021 8:40 pm

        National Grid have certainly failed to do any sensible sums around hydrogen electrolysis. The availability of “surplus” wind is highly intermittent, which has serious implications for the sort of utilisation you can expect for your electrolysis plant.

        On the one hand we have the harebrained CCC idea, taken up to some extent in the FES, of dedicated floating offshore wind plant with no power connection to shore and offshore electrolysers and a hydrogen pipe to shore. That means you can’t mask the cost of the electricity by trying to pretend it is free – it is full cost using what is currently the most expensive production method, and it will still be intermittent, so the plant will either be small relative to the wind farm capacity, and some generation will be spilled for lack of capacity to use it, or it will have average utilisation no better than the wind farm capacity factor. That will of course push up costs.

        On the other is the notion of being able to route surplus wind power to grid connected electrolysers, presumably largely by having them close to onshore landing points. I have looked at how this might play out with varying levels of wind capacity, summarised in this chart:

        It’s not a pretty picture, with very low utilisation levels likely – and still lots of spilled unusable generation, particularly as wind capacity increases. If you want to run your electrolysers harder, you are going to have to do so from full cost non renewable sources.

    • In The Real World permalink
      July 3, 2021 10:39 am

      That 3% increase in demand is certainly nowhere near what will really be needed .
      In 2016 a Government committee concluded that , even with the highest levels of insulation , electric home heating would need an extra 400% increase in generation , So the idea was a non starter .
      Now they are going ahead with some of that idea but perhaps will not need all of the 400% increase .

      And then there is EVs .
      If just a quarter of this countrys cars , as EVs , plugged in at the same time , then that would need another 100% increase in generation.

      So any idea that a small increase in generation could cope with the planned ” Net Zero ” idea is just insanity .

      • July 3, 2021 10:51 am

        The 3% demand increase figure keeps getting mentioned. That’s the figure for 2030, as stated in the original linked page.

        Depending on which National grid scenario you choose the increase in 2050 is up to 40%

        Please be aware that the National Grid’s FES 2021 comes out on 12 July, and we’ll be all over it for a week or two .

  7. Douglas Dragonfly permalink
    July 2, 2021 10:36 am

    I feel sure both Nissan an Tesla are lobbying Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to maintain Britain’s fossil fuel electricity generation as we speak.

  8. Harry Passfield permalink
    July 2, 2021 10:36 am

    Good question: “How and when can we can we end our reliance on fossil fuels if we keep increasing our dependence on wind?”
    To which the corollary is: what is planned to be the strategic and capable fall-back if not fossil fuels, surely not that other FF, gas? If it wasn’t for closed minds, Nuclear/SMRs.

    I’m starting a meme among greens I know that the more wind turbines that are deployed the less wind is left available on average for those that are working. I point them at the stats that say less wind power has been generated in the last few years than when there were fewer turbines about in years previous. 🙂

  9. July 2, 2021 11:00 am

    There are energy storage technologies under development. Pls see

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      July 2, 2021 11:24 am

      I’d love to see the cost of the storage system that could supply 10GW full-time for 2 weeks – and even that wouldn’t be enough to reliably keep the grid up in the UK with even the current amount of wind/solar installed.

      It is of course economic magical thinking, the laws of physics cannot be beaten.

      Designing ‘innovative’ storage systems is easy, but that doesn’t override the fact that the whole plan is insane.

      • July 2, 2021 12:25 pm

        The catch is that these technologies are still in development.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        July 2, 2021 1:40 pm

        Is your point that they shouldn’t be?

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        July 2, 2021 10:14 pm

        2 weeks is 336 hours, so you are looking at 3.36TWh. Or rather less than a cold day’s gas use in the UK (4.4TWh). We could scale it in Dinorwigs, of 9.1GWh each – about 370 of them, if you can find enough sites. The original cost £425m in 1980s money, so that’s £157.25bn in money of then. With inflation, multiply by say 4 (roughly the RPI increase) and we’re looking at over £600bn. In batteries at $500/kWh fully installed with inverters, cooling etc. it’s $1.68 trillion. Now figure that to backup a fully renewable system at present levels of demand you are going to need at least ten times that storage. And only once in 30 years will you draw on it fully. So protecting that disaster event gets to be really expensive.

      • July 3, 2021 11:22 am

        What adds another apparent impossibility is that the National Grid plan relies heavily on EVs and V2G + Lithium-Ion stationary storage.

        A ball park calculation tells you that there isn’t enough lithium (overall or “in time”) to even achieve the EV part for GB.

        Google USGS Lithium 2021 to see where we are. We use 10kg for an EV battery for our estimates.

    • europeanonion permalink
      July 2, 2021 7:29 pm

      Fancy having battery storage at a level capable of maintaining required supply. Then, suddenly, like the Tesla car being reported the thing catches fire or all the ones that we bet the house have the same propensity and domino out of existence. Nuclear winter is beginning to sound quite cosy by comparison.

      • July 2, 2021 8:24 pm

        Good point. We don’t have the kind of storage needed except for pumped hydro. But there some technologies currently in R&D

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 2, 2021 8:48 pm

      Heat stores are necessarily short duration devices, because of thermal leakage when constructed at scale. The same applies to LAES, for much the same reason. They are not going to solve interseasonal imbalances.

      • July 3, 2021 10:13 am

        Thank you. These devices are not proposed for interseasonal imbalances as far as I know.

    • July 3, 2021 7:27 am


      that article mis understands the reason for pumped storage, it was never designed to compensate for intermittency but to provide a rapid increase of power in times of sudden demnd as it can react very quickly and stabilise the grid, giving slower reacting power sources time to ramp up.

      I cannot see anyway that storage can make up for intermittency, yes it can provide stability, just as pumped storage can but it is not a remedy that will allow the closure of fossil fuel genertaion.

      • Jordan permalink
        July 5, 2021 8:28 am

        Reason for pumped storage.
        My understanding is that pumped storage (pumping) was originally intended to provide an outlet for overnight inflexible nuclear production (which isn’t suitable for 2-shifting). Naturally, the other side of the equation is “peak lopping”, but the purpose was as described.
        There was a similar rationale for building the national electricity transmission system – to develop nuclear at scale of hundreds of MW with an inflexible output profile, GB needed an integrated approach to electricity consumption. A large increase in electricity utilisation was required (the “too cheap to meter” myth) and the local electricity suppliers had retail outlets to promote power consuming devices for the home.

    • July 3, 2021 10:22 am

      On the need for fear based activism to push an energy technology still in R&D.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 3, 2021 3:34 pm

      Reminds me of the molten salt storage that was part of the now failed Ivanpah project. They had to burn gas to prevent the salt from solidifying.

  10. Thomas Carr permalink
    July 2, 2021 11:11 am

    Today’s headline on the front of The Timed reads ” Gas and car bills to soar under green revolution”. Joint article by their Political Editor and their Policy Editor.
    The dawning of realisation. Will make the gang of 4 at the BBC squirm or at least it should do.

  11. Joe Public permalink
    July 2, 2021 11:18 am

    As if by magic …..

    25GW of metered wind capacity is currently generating 0.117GW at 0.5% Capacity Factor

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      July 2, 2021 12:30 pm

      At least when wind hit that low the sun was sort of shining. Earlier today when it was still dark wind was down to 150MW and hydro at 120MW. So the grand total of UK renewables was just 270MW…..impressive or not!

  12. Ben Vorlich permalink
    July 2, 2021 11:19 am

    The linked article says this

    “Demand is to increase by 3% (we’ll exclude demand for electrolysis of hydrogen as this is to be met mostly by excess wind power).”

    Two things, surely an increase of 3% in demand is way too low? Even 30% is too low. Second the article explains in detail that there’s rarely surplus power to generate very much of anything.
    Not mentioned is the fact that lack of wind tends to affect large areas of Europe, for example currently German wind is less than 6GW.

    This map shows that wind speeds are low across Europe

    • July 2, 2021 11:49 am

      We used the National Grid’s own projections for the 3%.

      Issue of “Europe wide” wind lulls is mentioned elsewhere on the site. There haven’t really been enough solid articles to support this yet, but we’re following the issue.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        July 2, 2021 1:27 pm

        Hi Toby, excellent work, please keep it up. I have been following grid output and have noticed it is now 7 consecutive months (Dec 2020 to June 2021) of significantly lower wind output than the same period Dec 2019 to June 2020.
        Noticeably the Solar output is significantly lower as well and so is hydro.
        Regarding the larger wind lull area I keep a track via
        and there has been a similarly lengthy downturn Europe wide over the same periods.

      • bobn permalink
        July 2, 2021 4:06 pm

        Haha 3% increase in Elec demand. So nat grid hasnt heard about Electric cars and the phasing out of petrol. Not heard about Heat pumps replacing Gas!
        How do they justify projecting only 3% increase in electric demand?
        Oh, they dont cause they dont want to tell the truth.

      • Joe Public permalink
        July 2, 2021 5:12 pm

        Hi Toby

        “Issue of “Europe wide” wind lulls is mentioned elsewhere on the site. There haven’t really been enough solid articles to support this yet, but we’re following the issue.”

        This is a useful article, with many valid comments.

        The comment by “It doesn’t add up” 10:49 pm, November 6, 2020 is helpful too:

        “My chart I think. I’ve provided a new version here, changing the order of the countries to be in a geographic rather than alphabetical sequence:

        With the same data, I also produced a correlation matrix heat map:

        With data from Staffel & Pfenniger on estimated hourly wind capacity factors over 30 years of weather history:

        Low capacity factor in the Mediterranean countries that are least correlated, but positive correlations everywhere, especially across the more windy Northern Europe.”

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        July 2, 2021 7:02 pm

        Hi Toby,
        Thanks for reading the comments and replying.

        I find it it incredible that nobody has taken the time to collate the data which is freely available on the web and point out the impossibility of Net Zero and life continuing as normal when they are mutually exclusive.

        It is left to people like Paul who write blogs and people like “It doesn’t add up” who cooment

  13. Stonyground permalink
    July 2, 2021 11:26 am

    Wind power is intermittent and unreliable, who knew?

  14. Gamecock permalink
    July 2, 2021 11:35 am

    ‘How and when can we end our reliance on fossil fuels if we keep increasing our dependence on wind?’

    I think I see your problem. Dependence on wind. It would have helped if you realized this a few trillion pounds ago.

    ‘the incidence of extended wind lulls’

    Extended. We used to have wind lulls. But now, they are extended. Add to list of things caused by climate change.

  15. A man of no rank permalink
    July 2, 2021 11:45 am

    I propose the 28th as May’s ‘wind-flop’ day with about 2% of grid demand. We could have a wind-flop day each month and a public holiday for the annual winner.

  16. Robin Guenier permalink
    July 2, 2021 11:50 am

    Apologies for repeating a comment I made earlier today elsewhere on NALOPKT but only yesterday a friend whom I respect told me he’s advising a business that has developed a completely new technology that it claims could solve the baseload power problem without emitting any GHGs – a claim that seems to me to be most unlikely to be achievable. But what do I know?

    The business is called ‘Infinite Power’ and, according to its website (, it’s solution is based on ‘a semiconductor that can convert high energy beta particles, X-rays, and gamma rays into electricity. The Infinite Power cells function similarly to a photovoltaic solar cell, with two critical differences: The precise materials and design of the cells allows us to replace solar radiation with high energy releases from natural decay of radioisotopes.’

    That’s completely meaningless to me. Can anyone help me to understand what’s about – and crucially whether it’s likely to be able make the huge contribution to zero GHG baseload power that’s claimed?

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      July 2, 2021 2:17 pm

      The video explains it. Just like a PV cell but designed to use a different part of the EMR spectrum, and the EMR is supplied by a lump of radioactive material.

      First thoughts.

      Claims that it is completely carbon neutral: Obviously given all the materials used and the manufacturing process, it most certainly is not carbon neutral unless, impossibly, everything – mining/refining/manufacturing, is done with carbon free energy.

      The supposed low cost per kwh is no doubt from the fact that it is supposed to work 24×7 for 100 years – what is the upfront cost?

      One cell can light 3 LEDs – seems like a lame demo, you’d think they would have showed something more impressive if it were so capable.

      Security? Sounds like a perfect target for a terrorist dirty bomb, and they don’t even need to source their own dirt!

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        July 2, 2021 2:19 pm

        Carbon/CHG free……neutral….. whatever!

    • Gamecock permalink
      July 2, 2021 2:35 pm

      In a word, “No.”

      ‘a semiconductor that can convert high energy beta particles, X-rays, and gamma rays into electricity’

      These are the 3 standard forms of nuclear radiation.

      They don’t intend fission, just the natural decay of the nuclear material. Energy from decay is vastly lower than from fission reactions.

      ‘allows us to replace solar radiation with high energy releases from natural decay of radioisotopes’

      Word games. You don’t get ‘high energy releases’ from natural decay. Gamma radiation is indeed high energy, but that is just as compared to other radiation. Like light.

      Note: gamma radiation is one of the most deadly things known to Man. No generation system is going to be built based on gamma rays.

      The design as presented involves placing the infinitely amazing semiconductors around a pile of radioactive material. Radioactive material is dangerous. The energy content of the radiation isn’t enough to be worth trying to collect.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        July 2, 2021 3:37 pm

        They seem to be using the sort of material you’d get out in a science lesson to play with. There’s no question of using highly penetrating radioactive sources, they’re doing hand assembly behind a partial barrier glass!

      • Robin Guenier permalink
        July 2, 2021 6:35 pm

        Mr GN and Gamecock:

        My friend, who’s thinking of investing in this business, says:

        ‘It is a remarkable invention with huge implications if the Government gets it! There is a small prototype and a bigger one (10MW) is under construction. It is a rack and stack operation from there, depending on the power required. Obviously it’s particularly great for remote power supply.’

        When I asked him if it employed rare earths monopolised by China, he said:

        The isotopes are required, but we are working with providers to find other sources. The great thing about cobalt 60 is when it is finished it becomes nickel – so there is no waste at all.

        If he were your friend, what would you say to him?

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        July 2, 2021 8:31 pm

        Well blimey – I’m wrong again, only 50 times this week. Is Gamma.

        Trouble is insufficient info. (Like commenting before realizing it was Cobalt-60 based!) We only have marketing guff. They’re looking for investors, they get to keep a paying job whilst people are investing. Journals are full of game-changing battery promises looking for investors, i.e. job support.

        If the cell was first tested almost a decade ago, it it were so simple/perfect…….. why isn’t the world already running on them?

        Show me the working 10KW block running an all electric house, full disclosure of real lifetime costs, raw material requirements etc. and convince me. Otherwise I’d say, if it seems too good…….

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        July 2, 2021 8:34 pm

        10MW even, performance and life tested please!

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        July 2, 2021 8:50 pm

        Regards the supply of Cobalt-60, a bit of googling suggests there have been global supply issues in recent years, and of course it is of paramount use in medicine/hospitals.

        Apparently it takes 2 years sat in a nuclear react to ‘make’ so not something you can quickly or easily upscale production of, and there are only a handful (or less) of suppliers.

      • Gamecock permalink
        July 3, 2021 2:26 am

        “If he were your friend, what would you say to him?”

        Can you afford to lose this money?

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      July 2, 2021 3:37 pm

      Hi Robin, this really is nothing special. The primary energy source is radioactive decay. That is not particularly powerful. Secondly the conversion factor is very low. A comparison available for a long time is an RTG – Radio Isotope Thermo Electric Generator simply described here on wikipedia.
      These convert decay heat directly to electricity via the Seebeck effect. The Infinite power is using a similar source but converting into electricity in a similar way to a PV cell and is again low efficiency.
      The good points are few moving parts if any, continuous supply and longevity. But their inherent inefficiency, general danger, low power output and expense really only make them suitable for niche applications such as space flight…but they are very good for that.

      • Robin Guenier permalink
        July 2, 2021 6:36 pm

        Thanks Ray – see my reply to MrGB and Gamecock above.

      • MikeHig permalink
        July 2, 2021 10:19 pm

        Robin, with due respect to your friend, it seems he may not be very tech/science oriented. Otherwise he would have reached Ray’s conclusion by himself.
        If that’s the case then perhaps he should adopt Warren Buffet’s philiosophy of not investing in anything he doesn’t understand?

    • July 2, 2021 11:31 pm

      Robin we have done this radio-active wavelength solar panel box before
      In a discussion about 1-2 years ago

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      July 3, 2021 9:57 am

      Robin, tell your friend to stop and think about it. If this really was the “breakthrough! claimed would the company really be holding out a begging bowl for funds? If it was even a half ways possible solution the big money players would have it owned in a flash. In reality it is snake oil. You can only get a portion of the energy out that exists in any source and in this case the energy source is simply not strong. Nuclear decay has no similarity to nuclear fission nor fusion.

      • Gamecock permalink
        July 3, 2021 11:40 am

        It’s getting a lot of press. Buy . . . with plan to sell in two weeks.

  17. Ray Sanders permalink
    July 2, 2021 12:22 pm

    I have been banging on about this on here for quite some time now. It is not just wind power either. Each and every month from December 2020 to June 2021 inclusive has shown reductions year on year compared to December 2019 to June 2020 in Wind turbine output, Solar output and even Hydro Electric output.
    This clearly demonstrates that weather dependency on generation is not the odd day but rather very extensive periods indeed the forward look for July is also significantly down.
    Over 4 GW of nuclear power is scheduled to close in exactly the same period as 4.5 GW of coal fired generation. Hunterston B starts the process on 7th January 2022, with Hinkley Point B July 2022, Heysham 1 and Hartlepool go in mid 2024. As Paul recently highlighted the closure date of all UK/GB coal is Sept 2022 West Burton A, Kilroot Mid 2023 and finally Ratcliffe on Soar Sept 2024.
    In essence the UK grid is a disaster just waiting to happen. A number of posters on here have suggested taking precautions for back up generators….I already have one.

  18. Ray Sanders permalink
    July 2, 2021 1:04 pm

    A further point about wind lulls is that they can actually be continent wide. For an anticyclone to stretch from the Mid Atlantic Ridge to the Urals whilst rare is not unprecedented.
    Right now as the UK is plumbing new depths of low wind output, Germany with a massive 62GW of wind capacity is producing all of 5GW.
    There is a wind flow overlay you can add to this graphic on the right hand side
    For an even more informative graohic this map wil show wind speeds and direction world wide.,57.22,1857/loc=-27.644,89.919

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      July 2, 2021 1:11 pm

      Incidentally wind turbines tend to need 11km/hour to cut in (start up) and their output is a calculated using a cube of the wind speed.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        July 2, 2021 10:35 pm

        Real wind turbines don’t behave quite like that. They tend to be relatively inefficient at speeds just above cut in, reaching peak efficiency of conversion a bit below their rated output wind speed. Beyond the rated output, efficiency declines because the output doesn’t increase, despite the continuing increase in wind energy, which does at least theoretically increase with the cube of wind speed (but it varies over the cross section of the turbine, complicating matters).

        Here’s a typical efficiency curve:

        N.B. It is NOT a power output curve, though you could construct one from the data revealed by mousing over the points which are at 0.5m/s intervals.

    • StephenP permalink
      July 2, 2021 2:10 pm

      IIRC wind generators need to be powered during a wind lull in order to keep the sails turning so the drive shaft does not bend out of true.
      Is this correct, and how much electricity would be needed to keep the sails turning?

      • MikeHig permalink
        July 2, 2021 2:57 pm

        Correct. They also draw power for frost protection, oil circulation, instrumentation and other minor uses.
        There does not seem to be any firm data on this consumption. Nor is it clear whether it is included in the reported annual generation figures.
        On cold, still days the becalmed turbines may be drawing more power than is put out by the few that are working.
        Does anyone have some hard facts on this?

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        July 2, 2021 3:07 pm

        In answer to your question, nobody really knows how much they use!
        Here is as good an answer as I have ever seen

      • Joe Public permalink
        July 2, 2021 5:25 pm

        One reason is to prevent their bearings brinelling.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        July 2, 2021 10:49 pm

        Perhaps something can be deduced about the level of self consumption from the efficiency curve I posted above. At lower wind speeds efficiency is a long way off peak. Consumption below cut-in speeds is I think fairly modest. There is some evidence from AEMO data, which does show “negative” generation for stilled wind farms. See for example this windless day in South Australia:

        (scroll down for data on maximum net draw per wind farm)

      • Graeme No.3 permalink
        July 2, 2021 11:14 pm

        I have seen a figure of 1 to 3 kWh even while ‘resting’ just to keep on-board batteries charged and computers running, and possibly circulating lubricant through cooler.

        O/T and not of much interest in the UK (unless the BBC is right about Global Warming) but in South Australia wind turbines have to shut down once the temperature reaches 38℃ to prevent overheating (i.e. fires) in the lubricating oils.
        This as a result of several fires incl. one that burnt out 8,000 hectares
        One Hectare =2.47 acres.

      • July 3, 2021 11:14 am

        Figures for generation/consumption by most (mainly metered) generating stations are available, and they show negative when the station (e.g. wind farm) is consuming.

        The National Grid make an allowance of 500MW in summer and 600MW in winter for total station load for all GB stations.

    • July 2, 2021 5:48 pm

      It is not just the geographical extent but also the temporal extent that is important. For example, in the UK the summer of 1976 was famous for its drought which lasted 66 days.

      But if I recall correctly there was also little wind during this period. Applying a standard engineering safety factor of at least 50% means that we should plan for about 100 days of electricity storage. And because of the geographical extent of the wind-free area, all the interconnectors in the world will not be of much use to us at that time.

      This is a train wreck in the making. But to make it worse, it will be a self-inflicted injury. Ouch!


  19. Tim Spence permalink
    July 2, 2021 4:08 pm

    The fact that we don’t build nuclear is locking us into fossil fuels
    The fact that we can’t build much Hydro is locking us into fossil fuels
    But one thing is locking us into fossil fuels more than anything … that we have to keep pumping oil if we want plastics, asphalt, lubricants, fertilizers, solvents, paints, refrigerants, cosmetics, tyres, polythene, polystyrenes, elastics,synthetic fibres etc.

    There’s no way of disposing of the gasoline apart from burning it.

    Unless you want to go back to woollen swimming trunks.

  20. Athelstan permalink
    July 2, 2021 5:11 pm

    If you live in the UK, either it’s time to start praying

    Or buy for your home a fossil fuelled generator.

    And or, lights oot.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      July 2, 2021 6:24 pm

      And if you opt for a gennie, how long before you are no longer permitted to by the fuel?

    • Jordan permalink
      July 3, 2021 8:15 am

      Apart from neighbourly objections due to noise and fumes, safe connection of your own standby generator could be an issue if not done professionally (with regular testing).
      The great majority of people would not have it professionally because it would be extremely expensive, and there isn’t a well established supply chain for household UPS services capable of servicing the mass market (in the UK).
      To be a substitute for mains supply, the UPS would need to be connected between the power meter (which is owned by the local distribution company) and the main household consumer unit. This would be something like a 60 amp connection.
      If the UPS is operated, the mains would need to be disconnected by some kind of automatic circuit breaker.
      UPS would need to be sized in the 10kW-20kW range, plus a decent fuel store (which, if diesel, may need to be replaced every few years due to degradation). So not something that could be easily considered where a household has shared or common property (e.g. inner city apartment blocks).
      The household consumer unit is essential to ensures the internal circuits and appliances continue to be protected by individual circuit breakers when being supplied by the UPS.
      Inexperienced and amateur attempts to bypass the incoming power supply could go wrong. Especially when mains power is already off supply, and access to power tools, lights and the internet (for guidance) may be lost. When repeated over many instances, these UPS arrangements would have a certain incidence of material damage to property, fires in homes, electric shock and electrocution, if not carried out professionally and regularly serviced. I should think your home insurance policy would not entertain any claims of loss, should any attempt to use your UPS go astray.
      I’m wearing my “sceptical hat” when I say the above – in much the same way I do with regard to electric vehicles. But it would be good to hear about the approach and experience of others – for me, especially in the UK. I wonder if those who have their own “genny” can let us know how they have approached the above questions.

      • MikeHig permalink
        July 3, 2021 9:49 am

        Jordan, thanks for that. I thought there would have to be more to it, technically after reading that rooftop PV systems shut off during power outages unless the special electrotrickery you describe has been fitted.
        You confirm that a genny would be best run autonomously with extension leads etc, unless it has been professionally installed.
        I’m considering some sort of crude battery backup just to run my heating system – boiler controls and pump. Hopefully that should be simpler.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        July 3, 2021 10:38 am

        Jordan, spot on with your assessment. You would need something like this set up to run safely off a generator. Wiring in the automatic transfer switch alone would cost thousands.
        Here in the UK I have had a generator since I once went without power for 11 days in 1987 (Great Storm)
        I simply use the generator set outside via extension cables into my utility room to get the gas combi boiler running (it is plug ended) and ensure the fridge freezer keeps running. I can also get it to run the automatic washing machine (hot fill unit) if needed. Otherwise I use its 12V DC output to charge a couple of Deep Cycle batteries and general rechargeable appliances. TV, routers computing etc then either runs direct DC or via a low power inverter from these batteries. No trailing cables anywhere.
        The gas boiler obviously keeps heating and hot water going and I have a gas cooker (both oven and hobs) In addition for absolute emergency ( gas)
        I have a wood burner for basic space heating, a propane gas cabinet heater and a two burner plus grill propane cooker. For a different reason I even have a propane “Horse shower” (exterior use only but you put the hose through the bathroom window!) for personal bathing.
        No flies on me!

      • Jordan permalink
        July 3, 2021 1:45 pm

        Thanks for your replies gents.

      • July 4, 2021 7:21 am


        I have 30KVA generator for our small brewery, losing power during a brew means loss of that brew and possibly those already in the cooled fermenters.
        I simply arranged an either or terminal block, If the mains power is lost, I disconnect the meter tails and connect my generator tails to that block. Thus there is no way I can backfeed the distribution network.
        Yes I could have installed a dedicated expensive switch to do the job but it’s a matter of minutes to change over.

        Incidentally if we have a serious grid trip, it could be days, not hours to restore power so battery powered back ups are not as good as a generator with a fuel stock.


  21. Ian PRSY permalink
    July 2, 2021 5:59 pm

    To interpret the contents of the Useful Idiots Club: What’s the problem?

  22. July 2, 2021 6:17 pm

    The Capacity Market SHOULD be able to deal with the problem of wind lulls, but it is being rigged in favour of Big Fluffy Green, and against proper power stations. Here is the response of Fluffy Greens to recent changes:

    “In particular, we welcome the introduction of emission limits with mandatory reporting and verification. This should help push out some of the highest carbon-emitting plants and redirect funding to cleaner means of ensuring the security of supply. Reducing prequalification rules will also be helpful, as will allowing demand-response projects to bid for longer contract lengths. The reduced capacity thresholds will additionally ensure a greater number of smaller sites can participate.”

  23. europeanonion permalink
    July 2, 2021 7:21 pm

    I suppose we can say goodbye (by) to cremation if the PM is to have his way?

  24. Ray Sanders permalink
    July 2, 2021 10:51 pm

    Meanwhile over at NAZI party HQ (The Guardian) we have censorship reporting in full machine gunning down against the wall mode. Science who needs it eh?

  25. July 2, 2021 11:12 pm

    Fossil Fuels ?
    no there is Dale Vince’s magic Grass-Gas
    It’s as holy as magic unicorns

    12:05 pm TalkRadio : The skeptic presenter occasionally have Dale Vince on
    I guess Vince takes any opportunity for PR
    #1 about Vince being a UN Climate Ambassador invited on after his greening of football
    #2 Vegan food
    #3 Greener Football
    #4 G7 Politicians Boris/Biden took local jet flights
    #5 People being told to rip out their gas boiler
    “Oh that’s just a RIGHT WING scare story”
    .. strictly speaking they aren’t doing that
    but rather saying your next must be hydrogen compliant , and enforcing “green standards” before you can rent out or sell
    .. that is a lead into Vince pushing his grass-BioGas .. “we can power all 28 million homes on it, without disturbing food crop land”

    #6 presenter Mike brings up idea of farmers getting grants for solar farms, then later selling off the land as now brown field sites.
    Mike doesn’t have much knowledge, he’s just flippant.
    And dv just picks off the weakest points and ignores the rest.
    eg DV says 2we have lots of new Electric Cars”
    .. mike is too weak to point out they are fossil fuel powered
    It would be better if he brought on a proper skeptic
    #7 DV “Biden will make a big change”
    #7 UN Green sports plan

    #8 listener question about grass-gas… an easy one cos DV points out he is collecting the methane , not releasing it.

    • July 3, 2021 8:31 am

      Vince is constantly on TalkSport, as he owns a football club, and uses every opportunity to promote his 100% “clean” electricity billing company, getting a free pass from the increasingly BBC-level woke radio station.

  26. July 3, 2021 7:39 am

    I keep reading about ‘excess wind to make green hydrogen’
    What excess wind, in the context of how much hydrogen would need to be produced if it is to be used for industry and domestic hetaing. It is surely nonsense to run a commercial plant on a variable power supply?

    Anothe point about the very large energy requirement for domestic heating is that it is seasonal and should a miracle happen we have sufficient electrical generating capcity to supply heat pumps and/or make hydrogen, what is that capacity going to do for the rest of the year?

  27. July 3, 2021 11:34 am

    Dr Caroline Johnson Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham
    points us to a Lincolnshire consultation
    I have concerns about the emphasis being placed on the use of windfarms in the newly released Central Lincolnshire Local Plan. I believe there are far more impactful and less intrusive ways to facilitate a move to carbon net zero in our county, including supporting the offshore wind sector, low energy homes and encouraging the use of cleaner technologies.
    Windfarms cause both noise and visual pollution, have a known detrimental environmental impact on local wildlife, and can often have an intermittent functionality inland. They could cause interference with some radar signals in low flying zones, which is an important safety issue, given the RAF presence in Lincolnshire.
    I would encourage those with similar concerns regarding windfarms to submit their comments to the consultation on the plan, which is now running for 8 weeks (from 30 June to 24 August 2021).

  28. Dave Andrews permalink
    July 5, 2021 5:52 pm

    Another way wind is locking us into fossil fuels is in the amount of steel and concrete each turbine requires.

    According to the World Coal Association a typical modern wind turbine requires 260 tonnes of steel which is made from 170 tonnes of coking coal and there is no near term replacement for coking coal in this process.

    The turbines also need prodigious amounts of concrete and coal is also the most widely used source of energy for manufacturing concrete.

  29. Douglas Dragonfly permalink
    July 6, 2021 5:00 am

    Then if the wind turbines are out at sea the boats necessary during constsuction and servicing run on fossil fuels.
    Heck, the boats themselves and the tools used from build to decommissioning require fossil fuels as does the worker’s protective clothing.
    How many trees need planting to offset an off-shore wind turbine ?

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