JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Unexpected UK EarthHour at peak time Friday — just after Wind Power hits new high?

Fragile grids

Over a million people customers lost power in the UK yesterday thanks to the sudden outage of a gas and a wind plant. Some of the country’s biggest railway stations were inoperable.  Passengers were stuck on trains for up to seven hours. Others stayed in hotels, walked miles or paid “hundreds” for taxis. The outpatient sections of Ipswich Hospital were blacked out for 15 minutes when backup generators failed. “At the height of the Friday rush hour, all trains out of King’s Cross were suspended and remained so for most of the evening.” — BBC. Commuters resorted to using their phones as torches to get out of tunnels in the dark.

Urgent Investigation called for into “fiasco”

According to headlines, at this early stage before the investigation all we know for sure is that wind power is definitely not to blame, but Boris might be. (Seriously, it’s the no-deal Brexit that hasn’t happened).

Officially, people are saying in solemn knowing tones that it is “extremely rare”  for two generators to go out at once. But the odd thing about this is how small the loss was. Barfield Gas power is only a 730 MW generator, and Hornsea Wind [...]

Finally “world first” study on nine houses shows wind towers make pulsing noise for 3.5 km

Generic wind turbine near farm. Photo: @gonz_ddl

Finally, a study looks at data on nine houses within ten kilometers of an old (probably small) wind turbine. What’s amazing about this research is not the result but that this study is so tiny, yet it’s still a “world first”.

There are already probably around 400,000 wind turbines installed around the world.* So you might think that there would have been scores of studies involving hundreds of people and followed up for a year or two. They would have looked at the effect of wind turbines upwind, downwind, side wind, in low wind, high wind, and at different times of day. They’d check for altered sleep patterns, lack of deep sleep, REM sleep, cognitive performance, blood pressure, cortisol levels, and school marks. Dream on. It’s like everything with climate change — who needs data?

Renewables are a $300 billion annual global industry. This work was done with a $1.4 million National Health and Medical Research Council grant. Where is the precautionary principle when we need it?

Can wind turbines disturb sleep? Research finds pulsing audible in homes up to 3.5km away

Nicole Hasham, Sydney Morning Herald

[...]

More renewables, more record prices

Once again, bad luck for renewables. The AEMO put out their report for the first quarter of 2019. Despite a massive growth in renewables, power prices are still not falling as predicted.

The report highlights that record high spot wholesale electricity prices were set in Victoria and South Australia, and nearly in everywhere else as well:

• Victoria and South Australia’s quarterly average spot wholesale electricity prices of $166/MWh and $163/MWh were their highest on record.

• Victoria and New South Wales recorded their highest underlying energy price on record, while Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania recorded their seconded highest energy prices on record.

These record highs were not just billion dollar price spikes, but the actual underlying energy prices as well.

Looks like a trend here:

Wholesale electricity prices, NEM, Australia, Q1, 2019 | Click to enlarge.

The news gets reported but somehow coal and heat get the blame?

Record power bills in NSW, Vic

Perry Williams, The Australian

Power prices in NSW and Victoria soared to their highest level on record in the first quarter of 2019, with the jump blamed on high coal and gas tariffs and searing summer [...]

Warning! Wind power warms local climate for next hundred years, needs 5 – 20 times as much land

It’s not often we see a report that turns things on their head quite like this.

Wind turbines may cause more local warming than global cooling in the next century.

Photo: Jo Nova

If the US were to install a lot of turbines, Wind power could warm the United States by 0.24 degrees Celsius instead of cooling it, because wind turbines “redistribute heat” in the atmosphere. They mix the surface layers. (0.24C would be equivalent to two decades of recent warming.) The largest effect is at night where wind plants can warm the local area by 1.5C.

At least 10 previous studies have now observed local warming caused by US wind farms. Keith and Miller compared their simulated warming to observations and found rough consistency between the data and model.

Nick Carne — Cosmos magazine

The new studies by Keith and Miller were published in Environmental Research Letters and Joule.

Major downer. The power density of wind energy is up to *100 times* less than predicted.

The new research suggests we can’t put too many turbines to close together or the whole group become far less efficient. That means we need 5 – 20 times [...]