UK wind power share shows record rise

wind farm
The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm is an 845 MW wind farm in the U.S. state of Oregon. Credit: Steve Wilson / Wikipedia.

The United Kingdom wind power production has been enjoying an upward trajectory, and on Tuesday wind power achieved a significant energy production milestone, reported Brooks Hays for UPI. High winds from Hurricane Gonzalo were the force behind wind turbines outproducing nuclear power plants on Tuesday—supplying 14.2 percent of all electricity, compared with nuclear's 13.2 percent. For a 24-hour period, said the BBC, "spinning blades produced more energy than splitting atoms." Gonzalo brought gusts of up to 70 mph to the northern parts of the UK, according to National Grid.

Earlier this week, James Murray for BusinessGreen said that "figures from National Grid also show that wind power outperformed throughout the whole weekend and into Monday morning, and allowed a number of coal power plants to be taken offline." "Wind power set a new peak record of generating 7,998 megawatts (MW) over a half-hour period at midday on Saturday once local turbines are factored in," said a press release from trade association RenewableUK.

Nonetheless, the wind power victory needs to be put in perspective considering other factors that were at play. Windy conditions raised turbine output at a time when a number of the UK's nuclear reactors were offline for repairs, said reports. This can be regarded as "an unlikely turning of the tables with more electricity in the country generated by than nuclear power for a day," as the nuclear power portal, NuclearStreet put it. Similarly, the BBC remarked that "'s ascendancy over nuclear is expected to be temporary." NuclearStreet identified the reactors that were down: Sizewell B, down due to a "statutory outage," Hunterston B Reactor 4 shut down for maintenance, two units at Dungeness B off, one for refueling and the other to repair a boiler pump. Back in August, four reactors were taken offline after a crack was found on a boiler spine, said the BBC.

"Wind power is often used as a convenient whipping boy by political opponents and vested interests; all the while, it's been quietly powering millions of homes across the UK and providing a robust response to its vocal detractors," said RenewableUK's Director of External Affairs, Jennifer Webber.

The government, meanwhile, continues to speak about a "diverse energy mix" as the way to go to satisfy UK's needs and for UK's energy security. The BBC quoted a government spokesperson who said that "we need a diverse energy mix that includes renewable sources like wind and solar alongside nuclear and technologies like carbon capture and storage so we can continue to use fossil fuels in a cleaner way."


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Oct 24, 2014
The idea of an energy mix isn't wrong...but this phrase:
"...and technologies like carbon capture and storage so we can continue to use fossil fuels in a cleaner way."
begs the question: why would you want to continue to use fossil fuels? Is there any reason (besides profit hedless of conequences) for doing so?

Oct 24, 2014
begs the question: why would you want to continue to use fossil fuels? Is there any reason (besides profit hedless of conequences) for doing so?


Several reasons come to mind.

They're still cheap relative to the alternatives.
They're reliable and dispatchable.
They can be easily stockpiled.
They're very abundant.

Fossil fuels are still necessary and irreplaceable for decades to come because the alternatives are rife with scalability problems, and everyone is exaggerating their input to the total energy mix anyhow.

Household electricity demand is about 20% of the total, and electricity demand itself is only 20% of the total energy demand of a home in the UK, excluding transportation, so you're really fooling yourself by being impressed by wind turbines powering "millions" of households, because that's just a fraction of a percent of the energy we will ultimately need to produce out of these alternative sources.


Oct 24, 2014
To put things into their proper perpective, wind power made 7.39% of the electricity used in the UK last year. Meanwhile the total energy production in the year 2012 was 1,507 TWh and imports amounted to 843 TWh.

Out of these, 346 TWh was electricity, which means wind power amounted to approximately 25 TWh.

So in the larger picture, wind power contributed a paltry 1% of all the energy demand, mainly because 85% of the energy used is not in the form of electricity in the first place. It's industrial process heat, transportation fuels, domestic heating, chemical feedstock for fertilizers, asphalt production, cement production, plastic, glass, steelmaking, dyes, medicine... all of those use or run on you know what.

Fossil fuels.

Oct 24, 2014
In other words, if we were to take all the wind turbines in the UK and decommission them tomorrow, we wouldn't really notice any difference whatsoever, because they aren't actually making much difference despite the huge sums of money spent and all the hoohah about clean energy.

Suppose you were to replace just the natural gas in the production of fertilizers for agriculture with wind power. You would need approximately twice what we already have in order to first produce hydrogen out of clean water, then reform that hydrogen into ammonia, and then reform that ammonia into ammonium nitrate to spread onto our fields.

So you see why I'm not holding my breath for the renewable revolution to come by 2030 or even the end of this century. It's simply too little, too late.


Oct 24, 2014
yes, eikka is right. some industries can go towards electricity, like the electric arc furnaces in steel manufacturing, or hydrogen/electric based transportation, heating and cooking in households. But the petrochemical industry (and others) relies on fossils as a raw material.

Here the best way is to make carbon neutral fossils (syngas, algae fuel, etc) with the condition that it has to be economically competitive with classic extractions process. Unless this will happen i don't see an important shift towards green.

I also understand the theories of indirect costs of fossil pollution the problem is that they are very intangible, and it's very hard to prove to a person that he will live 10y more on average if he pays 10-15% more on his aggregate bills. Not to mention the lobby of the main energy syndicates that will do whatever they can to prevent a policy shift (conspiracy theories are welcome). But if it's cheaper to use wind then to extract gas they will invest in it.

Oct 24, 2014
They're still cheap relative to the alternatives.

Not really. See that article from yesterday on physorg about the real costs of energy sources.

They're very abundant.

You must live in a doifferent world than I do. With price wars and land grabs/wars for every more scarce resources I don't see how that argument can be made.

The UK can't hope to compete in a bidding war against the likes of China if they went all out ensuring resources elsewhere (as they have already started to do).
In any case: Fossils (and nuclear) are dangerous dependencies on stuff that someone else controls. Which can be (and has been) used for all kinds of political pressure.

Storage is an issue for renewables. But it's the last issue. And there are already a lot of promising approaches out there. Because, while you can't bank on x amound of energy on a daily basis, you can very well bank on x amount of energy per year from renewables.

Oct 24, 2014
They're still cheap relative to the alternatives.

Not really. See that article from yesterday on physorg about the real costs of energy sources.


yes but in that article they capitalized the intangible external costs of pollution, from what i understood at least. We all are mature enough to understand that those costs are real, they are not made up, but in a society in recession, with the pour class growing year by year this type of reasoning has no chance. the beneficiaries themselves will be against just because you promise something intangible and you change them smth tangible, and oh well.... politicians are no better....

not to mention the cost of change from one perspective to another (from fossil to green) is too high to be distributed in such short amount of time.

Oct 24, 2014
For a continuous 3 month period, earlier this year, each wind turbine connected to the National Grid was only capable of boiling 63 kettles.

I can't get this vision out of my mind of 63 people with kettles queueing up at the base of one of these 300 feet high monstrosities - and a poor 64th person being turned away!

"eversolo electricity" tells it all

Oct 24, 2014
Ah yes the "Real Costs" of fossil energy, what a bunch of crap! So a bunch of anti-oil academics get together and publish imaginary peer reviewed (by themselves) papers purporting that oil usage will be the end of mankind and that is supposed too represent the real costs of oil usage. It is amazing that such a group of supposedly educated people could have such a Pollyanna view the real world economy. They just cannot comprehend that until renewables are more cost effective and are able to provide uninterrupted power they are not a replacement of nuclear, hydro or fossil power.

Oct 24, 2014
"They just cannot comprehend that until renewables are more cost effective and are able to provide uninterrupted power they are not a replacement of nuclear, hydro or fossil power."

Hydro is renewable.

Oct 24, 2014
Tek the "GREEN" people do not consider hydro to be a renewable. Only solar, wind and bio have their seal of approval . Hydro kills too many fish. BTW it just does non matter how many square miles of jungle are leveled for bio-fuel production just as long as "Big Oil" is defeated.

Oct 24, 2014
Not really. See that article from yesterday on physorg about the real costs of energy sources.


That real costs does not materialize until far in the future even if the estimates are correct, and with the state of alternative energy as I outlined it appears inevitable that we pay the cost anyhow because we simply can't do anything but use the fossil fuels today.

The only thing we can do is to improve efficiency and compensate for the emissions to buy more time.

You must live in a doifferent world than I do. With price wars and land grabs/wars for every more scarce resources I don't see how that argument can be made.


Look around. There's coal, gas, peat, tar sands, bitumen, uranium, thorium... etc. literally everywhere. Geopolitics is a red herring in this issue because we are not anywhere near running out of fossil fuels. They are abundant, and they are providing nearly all of our energy right now, and tomorrow, and the day after that.


Oct 24, 2014
Yeah, filthy fuels are abundant, but we dare not use them.

Oct 24, 2014
Hydro is renewable.


And also non-expandable in nearly all of the first world nations because we've already dammed all the rivers and rapids with any significant amount of head.

Ironically, if there's any place left where you could make power out of water, you will also find a horde of environmentalists protesting against building it.

Oct 24, 2014
like the electric arc furnaces in steel manufacturing


Steel can be melted with arc furnaces, but iron itself - the main material of steel - is produced out of ore by reducing it with carbon in a chemical reaction 2FE203 + 3C > 4Fe + 3CO2. The carbon is introduced in the form of hot carbon monoxide.

There is no arc-oven that can directly take in raw ore and output iron or steel because the temperatures required to directly strip oxygen out of iron would also destroy the oven itself. Hence why a chemical reaction is used.

Plain hydrogen can act as the reducing agent, but hydrogen is very expensive to produce and requires more energy than the carbon reduction process. Iron smelters that use the so-called direct reduction process use a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide derived out of natural gas and/or oil to remain cost-competitive with the plain coal approach.


Oct 24, 2014
Large land areas are required for solar and wind farms, a huge environmental impact that is still cynical and hypocritically ignored by pseudo-environmentalists.

Oct 24, 2014
That was a good article thanks Tegiri

Oct 24, 2014
"Large land areas are required for solar and wind farms, a huge environmental impact that is still cynical and hypocritically ignored by pseudo-environmentalists."
--------------------------------------------

Really? Well, we real ones know all about it. You see, we put the wind turbines (mills grind grain), up at Altamont in the late 1970' s and early 1980's because we were strapped for power after eight years of Reagan. Clean air laws made it hard to site new powerplants which pollute and use precious water for cooling. The problem was due to Summer heat, and the air conditioning load, which strained our system. So we put up the turbines, (not mills), which are turned when the San Joaquin Valley gets hot, drawing in air through the pass and giving us free power exactly when we need it.

No fuel. No pollution. No water waste. No transmission losses. No sweat.

Why do the deniers use their ignorance against themselves?

Oct 24, 2014
"Large land areas are required for solar and wind farms, a huge environmental impact that is still cynical and hypocritically ignored by pseudo-environmentalists."

Well..you might have heard of this newfangled thing called 'off shore'.

Even on land the actual area that windmills use is miniscule (you can very well use the same area for agriculture.
Look at something like this and tell me again how much area is being used
http://www.constr...rope.jpg

As for environmental impact...you mean as opposed to any kind of other power generating method? Yeah: wind beats them all by a long shot (except PV).

Oct 24, 2014
I think mr166 has never been in a coal-fired powerplant. The mess is disgusting, the residues toxic.

Oct 25, 2014
Why do the deniers use their ignorance against themselves?


Why can't the renewable evangelists see that their one-sidedness doesn't convince anyone and just detracts from their credibility?

This is the third time I point out that the Altamont Pass wind farm has 4930 turbines, yet it barely meets a fraction of the demand you're speaking of. It has an average output of 125 MW which is equivalent to one gas turbine generation plant. The wind turbines in the pass are decades obsolete, a large portion of them are constantly broken down, and they've managed to kill or drive away 80% of the golden eagle population in northern California, where the Altamont Pass is their prime habitat. All in all it's an environmental disaster in its own right.

And the "built for the heat conditioning loads" is a post-hoc rationalization after it turned out how little it actually contributes to the grid and how much money was wasted.

Oct 25, 2014
At the moment, they're rebuilding the Altamont Pass by replacing the old turbines with newer, larger turbines at a ratio of about 12 old for 1 new. That's a testament of how cost-ineffective the old wind farm was and still is.

Did it make sense to build it 30 years ago? Not really.

But maybe this time...

Oct 25, 2014
Well..you might have heard of this newfangled thing called 'off shore'.


Off-shore wind power is much more expensive though.

Even on land the actual area that windmills use is miniscule (you can very well use the same area for agriculture.


Windmills are not just their concrete foundations. They require land to be claimed for access roads, corridors to be cleared for transmission cables and their pylons, and generally a large wind farm on a hillside will see the construction crews bulldoze the entire hill smooth, and then replant some low growth bushes so the surface coarseness wouldn't interfere with the turbine operation.

You can technically build a farm around and between them, but you're still plowing down forests and natural habitats and generally just destroying whatever nature we have left.

Oct 26, 2014
Eikka claimed
They require land to be claimed for access roads, corridors to be cleared for transmission cables and their pylons, and generally a large wind farm on a hillside will see the construction crews bulldoze the entire hill smooth.
Like here:-
Wow, the pylons got in the way of the wind so shucks, they took them down ;-)
Nice photo, thanks to antialias_physorg
http://www.constr...rope.jpg

Surely Eikka, more creative use of wind for local power has benefits, isnt it smarter to investigate how to (also) craft the economics long term (% cost in CO2, radiation etc) instead of as you imply (polarised) generate a huge negative against moving away from fossil fuels as your tone suggests ?

Oct 26, 2014
Gonzalo brought gusts of up to 70 mph to the northern parts of the UK, according to National Grid.


Are these particular turbines designed for 130mh wind gusts? From say a 110mph High-end Category 2?

We're starting to see more and more powerful TS remnants make it to the U.K., and it's only a matter of time before full blown hurricanes start reaching the area. Are the wind industries there preparing for this eventuality, which will happen in most of our lifetimes?

You'd be pretty sickened if you saw what an average of 1C increase in SST does to the atlantic hurricane formation regions. My theory of more west-to-east hurricanes as SST goes up appears circumstantially supported recently, but time will tell.

Oct 26, 2014
Solar boilers are the most energy dense source among boiler, pv, and wind, but solar boilers require enormous amounts of water for steam, much like coal and nuclear. Unfortunately, the best place for solar power is in the desert, where there is very little water. All the water rights on the Colorado basin is already claimed for other energy and industry needs. This means most of the solar power collection in the desert SW will need to be PV based or something else (thermo-electric maybe, but that seems unlikely).

I have invisioned a closed loop solar boiler power generator at a conceptual sketch level, but I don't have the funds to design and build an actual prototype to see if it's workable.

I have calculated that it should be possible using a co-generation method, by having a condenser cooled by another coil of water which takes this heat and feets it into your hot-water inflow on your home. In this way, you get electricy and reduce demand in one step.

Oct 26, 2014
Something I figured out though is solar boilers are very energy dense for home electric too. the Greenpowerscience guy, Dan Rojas, did a video with a guy who had a home-made array and solar boiler generator, which made 12kw worth of power. The array is not unreasonably large, and would easily fit on most lawns. This is enough to run 3 or 4 American homes at peak power, and perhaps 6 or more at low power.

Imagine having no energy bill, and selling enough power to 2 of your neighbors at half price vs the electric company?

This may well be the way to go, since there's more water available in places like Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, mississippi, and Florida, and they get almost as much amount of sun as the desert..

You could spend your extra earnings on top grade batteries and rectifiers to save up excess energy for cloudy/rainy days.

That's a lot of power for a few thousand dollars investment. Can pay for itself in 2 years. and last tens of years.

Oct 26, 2014
If you were going to do this, you need to drill a flow-well of your own, so you don't have to pay for city water, as that would be additional overhead otherwise. The savings from the well would eventually pay for itself in a few months.

I still think it should be possible to use some sort of condenser to capture most of the steam, without losing too much efficiency on the engine, and then just re-use the same water over and over.

Oct 26, 2014
Something I figured out though


It would be a silly idea if you figured it out Cher. You should put things like that at the end of your message, that way somebody might read it.

Oct 27, 2014
Surely Eikka, more creative use of wind for local power has benefits, isnt it smarter to investigate how to (also) craft the economics long term (% cost in CO2, radiation etc) instead of as you imply (polarised) generate a huge negative against moving away from fossil fuels as your tone suggests ?


Do not confuse recounting the facts for advocacy.

The problem with piddling solutions like wind or solar power is that they make it seem like we're solving problems when in reality almost nothing has been accomplished in the past 20-30 years except wasting a whole bunch of money and time.

I still think it should be possible to use some sort of condenser to capture most of the steam, without losing too much efficiency on the engine, and then just re-use the same water over and over.


That's pretty much what is being done because the condensing steam creates a vacuum that improves turbine efficiency. No powerplant just blows out steam; you should read before you rant.

Oct 27, 2014
solar boilers require enormous amounts of water for steam, much like coal and nuclear.


None of these powerplants require large amounts of water for generating steam. All of them use a closed loop, which is cooled with water through a heat exchanger. Nuclear powerplants use double or triple closed cooling loops to isolate any radioactive elements from leaking.

Where a sufficient body of water is not present, evaporating coolers are used because they use less water for the same effect, and where no water is available even air cooling can be used, but the economics of the situation limit the size of the powerplant.


Oct 27, 2014
"I have invisioned a closed loop solar boiler power generator at a conceptual sketch level, but I don't have the funds to design and build an actual prototype to see if it's workable.

"I have calculated that it should be possible using a co-generation method, by having a condenser cooled by another coil of water which takes this heat and feets it into your hot-water inflow on your home. In this way, you get electricy and reduce demand in one step."

-Lrrkrrr you designed a very simplistic version of a basic boiler with heat recovery, installed and running all over the world. Instead of funding your own prototype why don't you just buy one From Bosch?

Nov 08, 2014
One needs to cover only 0.7% of the surface of EU with PV panels to generate the whole power which EU generates now. One can place the panels anywhere and no one needs to generate 100% of the whole power from PV panels.

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