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 [...]

Robbins Island Mega wind farm: killing birds and baseload power at 300 kilometers per hour

After nearly two weeks the ABC carrier pigeons finally brought the news that Bob Brown, former Greens leader, is campaigning against this gigantic wind farm — the $1.6b one in NW Tasmania that wants to be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Could it be the ABC doesn’t want to admit they were wrong too, pushing wind power non stop for years?

Look how erratic that wind is — 90% one day, zero the next

Tom Quirk looked at the nearest wind farm to Robbins Island, and it’s a fitful machine (see that graph below). Worse, it fails in synchrony with most wind farms in Australia. Thus exacerbating the unstable, fickle supply of wind energy.

 Tom Quirk predicts the demise of another coal plant

Quirk was Deputy Chairman of VENCorp, which managed the transmission and wholesale natural gas market and system planning for the electricity market in Victoria, Australia.

A wind farm on Robbins Island will simply extend the variations in power supplied to the mainland while making no difference to the correlations of wind through the states in the wholesale market. Thus more backup would be required from gas and hydro sources. Loy Yang B with 1,000 MW would [...]

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

[...]

Wind Turbines are new top predator in the ecosystem

Wind turbines either kill or scare away three quarters of buzzards, hawks and kites at three sites in India. That makes them the new “top predator” in the ecosystem according to new research.  Perhaps not the niche that Greens were expecting wind farms to occupy.

It’s not all bad news though, fan-throated lizards are pretty happy about not being dinner.

h/t GWPF

Lizards vote for wind.

Wind farms are the ‘new apex predators’: Blades kill off 75% of buzzards, hawks and kites that live nearby, study shows

Harry Pettit for Daily Mail Online

Predatory bird numbers are four times higher in areas away from wind turbines This is having a devastating ’ripple effect’ across the food chain It means numbers of certain small animals are growing unchecked [...]

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 [...]

Add that to the windpower bill: SA Battery cost $90m which is $220 per family of four

The ABC reports that finally the people of SA can find out what the emergency Tesla battery cost — $56 per person, or $220 per family, just for the purchase, not for the operation. Hands up South Australians, who would have rushed to sign up to be the Star Renewable State if they had to sign the checks themselves and their electricity bill had a item called: “The price of renewables”.

South Australia didn’t need a battery when it had coal power:

A 505-page report released by Neoen this month ahead of an initial public offering suggested the battery cost around $90 million, at the current exchange rate.

The giant 100-megawatt lithium ion battery near Jamestown in the state’s mid-north commenced operation late last year.

“It actually costs taxpayers’ money. There’s a cost of $4-5 million a year to have the battery in place.

“There are more costs than that involved.

Where does Giles Parkinson think these “revenues” come from?

However, Giles Parkinson said the battery was on track to “make revenues of about $25-26 million in its first year”

The battery makes no electricity. All it does is shift [...]

Old neglected wind turbines — ticking 100 ton bombs

Don’t camp under an old wind turbine

What weighs 100 tons, sits 100 meters above the ground, leaks transmission fluid and may disintegrate into a million sharp fibreglass spikes…

….

NoTricksZone

As much of Germany’s nearly 30,000 strong fleet of wind turbines approach 20 or more years in age, the list of catastrophic collapses is growing more rapidly. The turbines are now being viewed by technical experts as “ticking time bombs”.

According to a commentary by Daniel Wetzel of online German Daily ‘Die Welt’, the aging rickety wind turbines are poorly inspected and maintained and thus are now posing a huge risk.

Over the past months alone there’s been a flurry of reports over wind turbines failing catastrophically and collapsing to the ground, e.g. see here, here and here.

Industrial systems in Germany need to get technical inspections and safety approvals, but wind turbines don’t…

Read the rest at NoTricksZone

Vernunftkraft keeps a list of failures.

The Greens, of course, are apoplectic (not).

_______________________

Photo: this particular turbine crashed in Antarctica. If you own a photo of a failing German one, please let me know.

[...]

Is this the start of the death-spiral for old windfarms in Europe

The subsidy that flows whatever the weather  |  by  Josh.

How do you know when an industry is a loser? When even repowering old turbines, which were put in the best spots, is not worth the trouble unless they get a subsidy, I mean, even more subsidies.

Remember the days when subsidies were needed to get a project going?

Maintenance is not an option

Europe is full of old windfarms. The original subsidies have run out and there’s not much appetite for new ones. Without more free money from taxpayers the most economic option for older turbines is to run them into the ground and give up on them. Maintenance costs are the silent plague. But so too is red tape and legal approval. The age of the European turbines is reaching the point where half of the entire fleet is facing do or die decisions.

John Constable of the GWPF wonders if the wind industry in Europe may be on the point of collapse.

And Europe’s fleet is old:

By 2020, 41% of the currently installed capacity in Germany will be over 15 years old, 44% in Spain, and 57% in Denmark.

John Constable is responding [...]

Hidden Costs: how wind generation makes gas power $30/MWh more expensive

Just another hidden cost — intermittent generators are vandals on our baseload suppliers. Wind power needs gas, but gas doesn’t need the wind. When the two are paired together it makes the wind energy “reliable” but adds nearly $30/MWh to the cost of the energy from gas. Right now that cost will be added to the gas plant, but in a free market, it should be paid by the wind farm investors.

Stacy and Taylor compared the cost of running a Closed Cycle Gas plant (CC Gas) on its own or combined with a wind farm. The combination produces reliable electricity “on demand” and uses less gas to do it. The sole benefits to this odd industrial couple are a smaller gas bill and lower emissions of a fertilizing gas (CO2). All the capital and labor costs of running a gas plant are the same, but now it sits idle more often, pointlessly waiting like a spare wheel til the wind slows and gas power is needed again. About the only thing we can predict about the wind farm is that it can be relied on for almost nothing, so the gas plant must be almost as large whether or [...]

Surprise: Australia closed a cheap coal generator and electricity got 85% more expensive

Last year one of our largest coal power plants suddenly closed, with only five months warning, catching the market by surprise and taking out 5% of our cheapest generation. (This kind of improbable anti-free-market feat shows just how screwed our national market is). The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has looked at the effect the closure of Hazelwood had on electricity prices and concluded that closing cheap brown-coal plants and replacing them with black coal and gas will make electricity prices rise. This will come as no surprise to anyone who can count to 100.

Dan Harrison at the ABC reports:

A year on from the closure of the 1600 megawatt-sized plant in the Latrobe Valley, the report from the Australian Energy Regulator found wholesale prices in Victoria were up 85 per cent on 2016.

Because electricity retailers use hedging for wholesale prices, the rise in retail prices is still feeding through. In the wash, the wholesale increase is expected to add 16% to retail prices this financial year compared to last year. After that, through some miracle, the AEMC expects prices to come back down from Exorbitant to Slightly Lower Than Exorbitant in the next two years thanks to an [...]

Wind farm blades damaged after just a few years at sea — hundreds need repair

Image of offshore wind farms.  Baltic Sea  Wikimedia | Mariusz Paździora

We are trying to collect dilute erratic energy, spread over hundreds of square kilometers in windy, salty, and wet conditions with machines that spin at 330km/hour. What could possibly go wrong?

From: “Offshore wind fiasco” at GWPF      –  The original story in Danish.

Ørsted must repair up to 2,000 wind turbine blades because the leading edge of the blades have become worn down after just a few years at sea.

The wind turbine owner will not disclose the bill, but says that the financial significance is “small”.

The cost of repair is so small they need to keep it a secret.

But it can’t be cheap. For the most repairs, the blades need to be brought down, shipped and fixed on land.  Repairing them at sea is a rare feat.

This must be the infamous leading edge erosion.

The Offwhore Wind Industry website discussed this type of damage in 2015:

Large rotors lead to large yields, but also to lots of annoyance – at least as far as the coating is concerned. After only a few years, the protective layer that [...]

Antarctic wind turbine crashes in normal wind conditions — no one hurt, diesel saves day

We are trying to collect dilute energy across a million square kilometers with heavy machinery in extreme conditions. What could possibly go wrong?

Last night around 9pm, the top part of the 30-metre turbine fell off in 40 knot winds — which is not unusual in Mawson (in September wind gusts of 185km/hr were recorded). Fortunately no one was killed because people were inside. Though it looks pretty close to that red building (was anyone there?)  No one knows why it happened. The other turbine at the station has been turned off as a precaution (though I wouldn’t be walking underneath it). Maybe someone can tie ropes with a helicopter?

ABC News: Mawson Antarctic research station relying solely on diesel after wind turbine crashes to ground

Wind Turbine, Antarctic research station, Mawson, break, collapse.

Right now things have warmed up a lot at Mawson, and temperatures even climb above 0C by 3pm some days. Though on November 1 the maximum temp was -8.8C.  Naturally diesel saves the day.  Of course Mawson is fully backed with diesel power.

These are 300kW turbines installed in 2003, so only 14 years old. Maybe it was just bad luck.

The maintenance costs [...]

Germans get paid to use junk electricity: Wind power generates when people DONT want it

Welcome to the world of baby-economics where people think a “negative” price is a sign of success. In Simpletown people are cheering. But in the real world a price signal that’s negative tells us that someone is selling something so awful they have to pay someone to take it away. It’s a burden that must be got rid of, like trash.

Germany set to pay customers for electricity usage as renewable energy generation creates huge power surplus – The Independent

Electrons cannot be created nor destroyed. If you make them, you have to deal with them. Negative pricing is a bad thing, a sign of “junk electricity” — a burden. It’s utter nonsense in a free market.

From the outset, I’m skeptical that anyone is actually paying someone to take electricity.  If wind farms were coughing up dollars (euro) to “customers” surely they would just disconnect their spinning thingo from the grid? Who wants to be a shareholder in a company that forgets to lock the turbine, or press the “off” switch, and has to pay customers to take its electronic trash? The truth (whatever it is) will turn out to be some variation of an unfree market. Probably [...]

Britain can have electric cars or turn Scotland into a wind farm, which will it be then?

Who wants to wait for charging? Instead, just dump the flat batteries, pick up a new set. (See the youtube below).

Having a nation full of electric cars is fine as long as you don’t want to drive them.

Wind Farms would need to “cover whole of Scotland” to power Britain’s electric vehicles

By Paula Murray

Jack Ponton, emeritus professor of engineering at Edinburgh University, said another 16,000 turbines would be required in order to replace petrol and diesel cars with electric vehicles.

“If you want to do this with wind turbines, you are talking about 16,000 more wind turbines, four times as many as we have at the moment, and I’ve estimated that would occupy some 90,000 square kilometres, which is approximately the size of Scotland.”

The academic – a member of Scientific Alliance Scotland, a group which promotes open-minded debate on issues such as climate change – believes the plan is “unworkable”…

The UK plans to phase out combustion engines by 2032. What happens when surges of holiday tourists arrive in a town without enough charging points? “Charge-rage” and long queues. Lets spend our holidays waiting for [...]

German wind industry “threatening to implode” as subsidies end wiping out half or more of new plants

In Germany as 20 years of wind subsidies comes to an end in 2020, half to three quarters of the industry may disappear.

So many parallels with Australia. The Germans have had wind subsidies for 20 years, but even after two decades of support, the industry is still not profitable on a stand-alone basis. In 2016, some 4600MW of new wind plants were installed, but that may drop to one quarter as much by 2019 as subsidies shrink. According to Pierre Gosselin (August 31st, 2017) there are more wind protests, electricity prices are “skyrocketing” and “the grid has become riddled with inefficiencies and has become increasingly prone to grid collapses from unstable power feed in.”

Pierre Gosslin writes that “Germany is more in the green energy retreat mode”.

German flagship business daily “Handelsblatt” reported … how Germany’s wind energy market is now “threatening to implode” and as a result “thousands of jobs are at risk“. José Luis Blanco, CEO of German wind energy giant Nordex, blames the market chaos on “policymakers changing the rules“. Subsidies have been getting cut back substantially. The problem, Blanco says, is that worldwide green energy subsidies are being capped and wind parks [...]