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LQD: Ireland to become lead wind energy exporting country?

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jun 24th, 2011 at 04:15:18 AM EST

Britain offers to subsidise Irish wind farm industry

THE BRITISH government could massively subsidise the Irish wind energy industry under proposals to be considered in London today.

Britain believes the west coast and the seas around Ireland can provide it with a large amount of its renewable energy and could be willing to subsidise offshore wind farms there.

Industry groups here say such a move could be worth up to €1.6 billion a year to the Irish economy.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte will be attending the British-Irish Council, where the issue of electricity interconnectivity will be high on the agenda.

Mr Rabbitte will have separate meetings with his British counterpart, Charles Hendry, who said at the weekend that the proposals could bring "significant wealth [to Ireland] with very little downside".

Mr Hendry said the west coast of Ireland was an ideal location for wind farms, but the small Irish market meant there was no demand for the potential power generation. "We want to put that right," he said.

...

Irish Wind Energy Association chief executive Dr Michael Walsh welcomed the wind farm proposal.

He said Ireland needed to generate 4,500 to 5,000 megawatts a year by 2020 to meet renewable targets. He believed there was capacity to generate 6,000 megawatts from onshore and a further 4,000 from offshore, meaning half of all Irish wind-generated energy could be exported to Britain.

He estimated that 5,000 megawatts of exported electricity would be worth €1.6 billion annually at current electricity prices.

front-paged with reduced quote by afew


I am not an expert on wind energy and would welcome comment on the above story by the experts here.  Leaving aside some dubious assertions that Britain will "subsidise" Irish wind energy and that there is no demand for the electricity within the Irish market, it seems to me that the above article documents some interesting developments:  

  1. Fairly ambitious targets for renewable electricity generation in Ireland and the UK.

  2. A recognition that a larger supra-national grid with more inter-connectors is required to fully realise the potential for wind energy.

  3. A positive approach to international cooperation on renewable energy at the highest political levels.

  4. A win-win for all concerned -  achievement of renewable targets by the UK and green jobs and export income for Ireland.

  5. A recognition that "foreign" investment is required to accelerate Irish wind farm development given Ireland's cash and credit strapped situation at the moment.

There is already a cross-boarder wholesale electricity market operating between the Republic and Northern Ireland and the (state owned) major Irish electricity producer, the ESB, has ambitious plans to invest €22 Billion in additional renewable energy production and distribution systems by 2020.

The situation at present may be summed up as follows:
Wind power in the Republic of Ireland - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As of 2011, the Republic of Ireland has an installed wind power capacity of 1,428 megawatts.[1] It is more than three times the total of 495.2 megawatts in 2005. In 2008 alone, the rate of growth was 54.6%, amongst the highest in the world.[2] On July 31, 2009, the output from the country's turbines peaked at 999 megawatts. During certain times that day, up to 39% of Ireland's demand for electricity was met from wind.[3] On October 24, 2009, the output exceeded 1000 megawatts for the first time with a peak of 1064 MW. Once in April 2010, 50% of electricity demand was met from wind power.[4] However, the wind generation capacity factor for 2010 was approx. 23.5%, giving an annual average wind energy penetration of approx. 11% of total KWh consumed.

Meanwhile:
Wind Generation Not Increasing Wholesale Electricity Prices

A new study on the Irish electricity system has revealed that the growing levels of wind generation on the Irish electricity network are not adding to the wholesale price of electricity. The report by grid operator EirGrid and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, uses detailed modelling tools to look in detail at the wholesale prices in the Irish electricity system in 2011, which has a total annual value of almost €2 billion

The analysis showed that wind generation lowers wholesale prices by over €70 million, which almost exactly offsets the costs of the Public Service Obligation (PSO) levy and other costs associated with the generation of wind energy. The study clearly demonstrates that wind energy is not contributing to higher wholesale electricity prices on the Irish electricity system.

The Irish Government is also launching a grant and infrastructural development scheme to promote the use of electric cars in Ireland which could ultimately substantially increase the size of the electricity market in Ireland and reduce carbon imports and emissions.

CO2 emissions from power plants have already been reduced from c. 14 Million tons p.a. in 2005 to 11 Mtons in 2011 and with a target to reduce this to 2 Mtons by 2035.

Progress on wave energy has been slow, by comparison, but, being less intermittent, it could play a valuable role in providing load balancing capability as the level of wind energy penetration within the system increases.

In 2007, Ireland  ranked fifth within the EU for the % of its electricity generated from wind (8.4% versus an EU average of 3.8%) and for wind energy produced per person (283 kW/1,000 unhab. compared to EU average of 149). Having the best wind resource in Europe, Ireland should really be ranked first however, and hopefully the proposed developments will help to bring this about. Like other PIIGS countries, Ireland is still heavily dependent on imported carbon fuels and it is good to see the alleviation of this situation taking centre stage in government policy.

Certainly, Eirgrid, the national grid operator (PDF) seems to be making a positive commitment to making this happen:

In Ireland wind generation is expected to meet approximately 37% of the 40% renewable electricity target in 2020. This is the highest wind integration target among European Member States up to 2020 and places Ireland at the forefront of Europe. To connect this amount of wind on the system between now and 2020 requires an effective connection process to be in place. The Gate 3 process involves offers for connection to circa 3,900 MW of wind generation and 1,700 MW of conventional generation and is fundamental to meeting our 40% national renewable energy target.

By way of comparison, Denmark's target for wind power by 2020 is 30% of electricity production, and the equivalent figures for the UK are 20%, Greece 25%, Portugal 23%, Spain 21%, Germany 19%, Poland 15%, France 10% and other EU states less than 10%.

Display:
Good news.

wave energy has been slow, by comparison, but, being less intermittent, it could play a valuable role in providing load balancing capability

Only if and once it is brought up to GW scale, which I doubt will happen on the short term. Linking with Britain will add some balancing, though I suspect weather is strongly correlated in the two areas (cyclone-related peaks and will be spread out and lulls narrowed by only a few more hours).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 09:15:46 AM EST
Most Irish wind/weather hits Britain after a lag of a day or so (=/-) but that lag is, of itself, important in load balancing, as you point out.  Only occasional large anti-cyclones give similar (relatively calm) conditions to both Britain and Ireland at the same time.  (It's been so long since we've had one, I'll gladly power down the heating if it happens...)

I'm not sure why wave power seems perennially stuck at the "experimental" stage - the problems (to me) seem to be more financial than technical.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 09:56:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With mechanical parts immersed in turbulent salt water, the technical challenges are durability and maintenance; but indeed the financial challenge is bigger (with the rise of wind power as parallel, an initial market for hundreds of units of multiple manufacturers would have to be created somewhere).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 10:11:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
of European renewables targets by the British Tory government [let's just stop referring to the coalition - it is simply a Tory government] is what is going on here.

That being said, however...

It is a step in the right direction towards the creation of a renewables grid across Europe with load being shared on a large scale, reducing overall intermittency.  So the greater good may be served.

I don't know if I'd go as far as to dub it a win-win.  The chances are, given the craven nature of this generation Irish politicians, that the deal struck will do little to benefit Irish citizens financially, but it might reduce our fossil fuel dependency in the future.

by Pope Epopt on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 09:41:44 AM EST
Well if it gives us a market for surplus capacity on windy days whilst reducing overall carbon imports and footprints it has to be good.  I wouldn't hold my breath about "subsidised" prices or advantageous financing terms, but at least it will build green expertise and employment.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 10:00:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The merit order effect should reduce the amount of expensive energy that is generated from fossil plants in both Ireland and the UK and that is a win win.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 02:15:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Transparent NIMBYism and creative accountancy of European renewables targets by the British Tory government

Man, they're stupid. I mean, seriously. This is Anders Fogh stupid. They're not only deliberately handing Ireland an industrial bonanza - they're paying them to do so...

... because they find windmills unsightly?!?

Well, I suppose that if they want to pay other people for building industrial capacity that will then be used to extract hard currency from Britain, then that's a matter for them to take up with their unemployed and their taxpayers.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 03:28:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't that what "we" are all doing by shifting most manufacturing to China?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 07:52:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, this is even dumber. The Chinese are only demanding payment in soft currency, which is what makes it so tempting to go along with them. This project will be a drain on Britain's hard currency if it works as described.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 09:09:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Renewable energy - The Irish Times - Wed, Jun 22, 2011
The scale of such schemes is clear from an announcement made by Danish company Dong Energy in Belfast. It has arranged with Scottish Power Renewables to build an off-shore wind farm costing €1.8 billion in the Irish Sea. Turbines and foundations for the wind farm will be assembled at a new facility at Belfast Harbour and at least 300 jobs will be created. Harland Wolff is getting involved and Northern Ireland energy minister Arlene Foster expects the sector to grow rapidly in the coming years.

Wind farm and ocean/wave developments in the Republic are falling behind. Last year, applications for the development of off-shore wind farms in the Irish Sea alone envisaged the generation of 11,000 megawatts. But only 4,000 megawatts of that energy will come from Irish territorial waters. That may relate to long-standing interconnector problems. Whatever the reason, forward planning is needed to deal with such bottlenecks and greater attention will also have to be paid to the exploitation of renewable resources off the west coast. The wind speed and water turbulence there may be more challenging than in the Irish Sea but, with the use of more robust technologies, they also offer higher financial returns.

So far, the exploitation of wind energy has been developer-led and somewhat fragmented. Because of connection, technical and planning considerations, Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte now favours the concentration of wind turbines in large complexes, rather than the emergence of small, isolated wind farms. The same approach is likely to apply to off-shore facilities, where wave, tidal and wind generators can be located close together. Provision of meshed networks in the Irish and Celtic Seas would reduce the cost of cabling and production while allowing for transmission to similar facilities in Britain and, perhaps, in France. Such a step-up in renewable energy production will be costly. But failure to grasp the opportunities now offered in terms of job creation, energy security and electricity exports would be a disaster.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 10:05:51 AM EST
One of their better editorials.  

The preference for large offshore installations has to be right. I wonder if the newer floating platforms would work along the Atlantic coast, taking into account a hurricane every 20 years of so, and if so, how far offshore could they be stationed?

My concern is not the appearance but the available square metreage, along with grid topology.

by Pope Epopt on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 11:52:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm reading it as a preference for large farms on-shore, too, which I'm less positive about. Then again, how well built-out is the Irish grid in the best wind areas?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 04:21:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The answer is hardly at all.  We have many long hills with bog on top in my area of the North West, only a few of which have a scattering of turbines, erected by individual investors.  So we are no where near potential maximum density.

Some we may wish to leave clear for aesthetic and landmark reasons but much of the high land is not that spectacular, in my purely subjective judgment.

Speaking personally, I'd rather see an active productive landscape, like the old Dutch wind-powered landscape, than a pristine but unsustainable one.

by Pope Epopt on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 05:09:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...but I'd be happy to do that among turbines.
by Pope Epopt on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 05:12:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The windiest areas are in the west along the Atlantic seaboard and on higher ground throughout the country.  These are also the most sparsely populated and thus the least served by the National Grid (although Moneypoint, one of the largest stations (Coal Fired) is located on the Shannon estuary in the west).

However Ireland is not a huge country and does have a competent national grid operator with significant resources.  We do need more interconnectors to the UK and France etc. and a higher capacity high voltage east/west network to transmit the power from western wind farms to the more populated east.  However the Irish Sea is relatively shallow in most places and has huge potential for offshore farms not far from the main Dublin market, and the UK market.

I do think there will be popular resistance to wind farms in the most scenic areas and there is some risk to damage to the tourist industry.  But we are a long way from saturation point and there is also scope for smaller farms in more rural areas to meet much of the local demand.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 05:41:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... renewable energy to the rest of Europe and North Africa is something I would love to see.  Along with good food and possibly spare fresh water, it's the essential component of life we can contribute in the long term. If only as much money and effort had been spent on this as the supremely parasitic Irish Financial Centre and property speculation.
by Pope Epopt on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 11:58:30 AM EST
I think you put your finger on a key point about the post 2003 Celtic Tiger boom.  Most of the borrowed money which fuelled the boom when on property speculation and speculative development - not on the development of productive assets like wind farms and smarter electricity grids.

If the economy had been directed by true entrepreneurs rather than bansters/financial engineers and property speculators, we wouldn't have had the asset price bubble and crash that we now have - and would be better able to afford any interest costs arising from productive investment.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 12:13:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And that's the problem right there.

Speculation is economically destructive. There's no complicated theory to this. Either you're building useful stuff, or you're gambling and making shit up to no useful purpose.

You can of course do both. If wind farms had been built, there's no guarantee that there wouldn't have been a wind farm bubble - like the dot com bubble, or the rail bubble, or the defence bubbles, or the tulip bubble.

Bubbles and crashes will keep happening until accounting models make an explicit distinction between casino speculation and useful investment.

My prediction is that if you eliminate casino speculation to the maximum practical extent, you'll have a much more stable, prosperous and productive economy - for everyone except the speculators, who will be forced to get a proper job.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 01:36:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even a wind farm bubble wouldn't be that destructive - it might depress electricity prices and make some farms uneconomic - but the benefit of lower electricity prices (and lower carbon imports and footprints) would have been a net benefit to the rest of the economy/society.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 02:10:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At this stage of the renewable energy game, there cannot be a windpark bubble. Though if conditions are "too good" (which won't ever happen), you might get some fringe technology installed, or less than ideal windpark siting.

At higher incursion levels of course one must be more careful, but we're a long way from such high penetration of the grid. But at such higher levels, it's also likely the grid has evolved as well.

the key point for this diary is that the proposed interconnection is originally part of the Europe-wide supergrid idea first proposed by an Irishman years ago. so the proposal is actually playing catch-up to a plan long since adopted by the industry as necessary.

which i suppose is a really good event.

for those who wish to discover more about the European Supergrid, google Eddie O'Conner/Airtricity. (He's now the leader of Mainstream, which has won some Round Three offshore windparks.)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 03:30:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At this stage of the renewable energy game, there cannot be a windpark bubble.

What about China?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 04:24:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good Question.

But you can't judge China by western standards. They planned to use the bubble to establish manufacturing facilities, and only later to gradually move to european performance standards. But it's a completely different economic system, in which they've achieved their first goals. (and it was planned that way, as i work with some of the people who advised them, and gave trainings for leaders.)

It doesn't matter to them that the turbines are not producing to usual standards. (That was also part of the equation.) But now they're already moving to achieve the next goal, which could happen in 3-5 years. And for at least one company, is almost there.

The plan was to build a manufacturing base. Which the ultimate winners would take over. (If the concrete is poured correctly, and the in facility cranes carry the right tonnage, then it doesn't matter which turbine the facility is building.) This they've done.

To speak of China is a separate diary.

What Ireland is beginning to want to accomplish is genau Richtig, if they do it right. If they can make people comfortable with machines in the hills.

They will not have for offshore the same level of port facilities as the UK or "Schland." But they don't need them.

The main point is to use the renewable resources where they exist, and build a grid which is designed to achieve those goals. So Ireland has a surplus to export. Build a fookin' interconnect, done.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 05:43:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not quite - you need international agreements on feed in tariffs and supplier obligations - and, ideally, a European market for selling surpluses - spot and forward. Does that exist in any extensive way yet?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 06:22:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not sure about all of EU, but Sweden is connected to most neighbours (at least Norway, Denmark, Germany,  Poland and Finland (additional cable from Forsmark to Åbo being built this summer by a Norwegian company)) and except for Vattenfall's manipulations, it appears to work fine both technically and institutionally.

If the same is true for all non-island EU states as I think it is, connecting Ireland into the existing framework should be easy.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 03:33:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes and no.

there are no international tariffs or supplier obligations, those are handled by governments and utilities, and it works. the capitalist spot markets don't work very well yet, at least by my standards, but Yurp will likely get dragged kicking and screaming to get them right at some point.

always interesting to compare the German feed-in model with the UK ROC scheme, a byzantine neo-lib mess. though there's discussion of even that changing.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 05:45:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the capitalist spot markets don't work very well yet, at least by my standards, but Yurp will likely get dragged kicking and screaming to get them right at some point.

How should the "electricity market" work?

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 04:03:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You should pay people for two different services, because they are delivering two different services: One service is providing power when they tell you they can provide power (with higher price for better ability to forecast). The other is providing power when you want power. In other words, you pay one sort of price for MW and another sort of price for MWh.

Of course the coal-burners are going to scream bloody murder over this, because they like being able to extract rent from the spot market while not running liquidity risk due to being fully amortised. But screw them.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 04:08:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you mean payment for capacity, as distinct from payment for power?

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 11:06:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm meaning payment for dispatchable power as distinct from baseload power.

In practise, that means paying people for maintaining idle capacity. So in practise it means paying people for capacity.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 11:55:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For stored power systems ~ and dammed hydro is stored power, its stored before conversion to electric power ~ paying for dispatchability is not precisely "idle capacity" ~ its capacity has both a total power stored dimension as well as a throughput dimension.

Quick dispatch from thermal power inside the power up cycle is spinning reserve, which loses ground to stored power with either increases in the cost of fuel or decreases in the cost per kWh storage capacity of stored power.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jun 28th, 2011 at 11:49:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How critical an international feed-in tariff is, depends on what proportion of total power generation is exported.

That is, if you build assuming that 25% is exported, and the domestic feed-in tariff on the 75% comes close enough to covering the capital cost, then even if the exports sometimes shoot themselves in the foot selling into a marginal cost external market, they'll also sometimes sell into a high marginal cost external market.

On the other hand, a domestic feed-in tariff high enough on a 25% locally consumed share to maintain the resource so that you can sell 75% power on an external market, with both three times as much revenue from the volatile price market and also more frequently shooting yourself in the foot ... that may be untenable, unless you have enough hydro (conventional or pumped) share in your total energy supply to hold power off the export market in low price periods and sell into peak demand pricing.

I'd not be surprised if Sweden was in the "unless" clause at the end of that, using wind power to in effect replace local hydro power consumption and therefore allow more lucrative dispatch hydro into peak demands in export markets.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 03:15:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Presumably EU internal market rules mean that an Irish utility selling into the UK market has to be granted the same price and access terms as a British utility, and so the bigger question becomes whether the feed in tariffs are high enough to cover at least marginal costs.

Are there any restrictive rules on who gets FITs and access and who does not?  No doubt British baseload suppliers will start complaining if their plants are run at even less capacity to facilitate Irish wind energy?

It seems to me an EU Supergrid doesn't make sense without an EU market access (and perhaps pricing) policy.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 05:47:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Covering marginal cost does no good ~ its got to contribute to the capital cost.

How dependent it is on how effective the UK promotion scheme still depends on what share is going to be exported. That is, a less than ideal promotion scheme in the UK would still be some extra revenue, on top of domestic revenue. After all, part of the time that the wind is blowing well in Ireland, it won't be blowing as well in the UK ~ including both weather systems passing through and diurnal wind patterns ~ especially offshore wind in the North Sea off the east coast of Scotland.

At the notional 50% given in the story, either substantial capital subsidy or firm feed-in tariffs on exported wind would seem to be required ~ and from the story, that seems to be what is on offer.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 07:25:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is some kind of EU pricing policy, as Sweden was recently due to EU regulations forced to split the electricity market into four geographical parts. I only know this because I was looking to switch company and now you have to check the prices in your region. So I do not know what regulations or how they are supposed to help anything.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 04:51:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... preferably gas in building not only a renewable energy infrastructure, but the second-order infrastructure to maintain the renewable infrastructure.

I don't know if anyone has done the figures on energy and raw material availability, but I'd like to think it is possible without reducing the population.

by Pope Epopt on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 05:01:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You might find this article of mine today in Asia Times of interest....... Price Dollars in Gas

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 08:43:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reads well.  Your success in getting long and somewhat technical articles published by the Asia Times is to be admired.  How come they are more receptive to your ideas that European/US publications?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 07:47:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess that by comparison to Henry Liu's tours de force my efforts are mere trifles......

By the way, I just sent them a distinctly untechnical piece on the IEA oil release which I called 'Quantitative Greasing', to sort of coin a phrase in relation to fighting inflation by pouring oil on a troubled market.....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 04:42:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...and as to receptivity in the East, that's a very good question....

...note also that I'm still 'Big in Iran' with a couple of major pieces, including that Asia Times one, already in Farsi....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 04:45:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 05:49:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.zeit.de/2011/26/Interview-Schaeuble/seite-3

Drittens müssen wir für Griechenland neue Wachstumsperspektiven eröffnen. Ein Ansatz könnte sein, die Mittelmeerländer in einem stärkeren Maße bei der Wende hin zu erneuerbaren Energien mitzunehmen, etwa beim Solarstrom. Griechenland hat eine viel höhere Anzahl von Sonnenstunden im Jahr als wir in Deutschland und könnte Strom zu uns exportieren. Die griechische Wirtschaft hätte damit ein wettbewerbsfähiges Exportgut und ein begehrtes dazu. Ohne solche und andere Wachstumsperspektiven würde ich mich sehr schwertun, dem deutschen Steuerzahler das erhebliche Risiko eines neuen Programms aufzubürden.

Schäulbe is proposing a similar arrangement for building solar plants in Greece and exporting energy to Germany.

by Jute on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 03:56:32 AM EST
My translation (BTW, use blockquote):

Third, we must open growth perspectives for Greece. A potential step could be to take Mediterranean countries more strongly along in the turn to renewable energies, for example in solar electricity. Greece has a much higher number of annual sun hours than we in Germany and could export electricity to us. With that, the Greek economy would have a competitive export goods, and a coveted one at that. Without such and other growth perspectives, I would struggle very much with burdening the German tax payer with the significant risk of a new [rescue] programme.

It is not clear to me whether the "export good" he means is just electricity, or PV panels, too (e.g. the creation of a manufacturing base in Greece). But if the latter, I am all for it.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 05:12:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Likely Schaüble means germany selling panels to Greece, and importing electricity. Perhaps the middle ground is licensing technology to Greece, so they can build their own.

windmills?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 05:56:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What makes me uncertain is that "competitive export good" is a strange description for solar electricity.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 05:59:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe he is just putting it in terms that will appeal to German sensibilities...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 07:31:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Importing solar energy from Greece may be cheaper than producing it in Germany, if transport won't cost too much.
by Jute on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 07:54:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
High Voltage Direct Current lines (HDVC) do the transportation with surprisingly little loss compared with AC lines.

There's still the material / capital cost of building and maintaining those lines, however.

And that's exactly where the stimulus from the printing of Eurobond money could come into play.  Or better still some asset-based energy currency which includes the grid assets.

by Pope Epopt on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 06:33:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anyone know what % of power is lost through transmission losses in an average national grid?  I.e is it 1%, 5%, 10%?  Is it significant in terms of relative energy efficiencies, costs, and global warming?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 06:57:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An old source gives US transmission losses in 1995 at 7.2%.

Online commentators will often give a far larger number from misunderstanding an energy efficiency of electricity generation figure that is dominated by efficiency of power plants.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 07:39:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's interesting since I've always heard the far larger numbers. Especially with regard to building a new American energy grid. One of the biggest arguments for it is that so much energy is lost with the old grid.
by Upstate NY on Fri Jun 24th, 2011 at 01:24:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Two sources:

(1) total confusion of losses in generation with losses in distribution ~ if you carelessly read "energy source" when the aggregate energy flows through the system are described as being on the "after the generator" side, you easily get 60%~70% losses, the majority of which are really are losses between the energy content of thermal fuels and energy output at the generator.

(2) confusing maximum long-haul AC losses with average grid losses, because the long haul AC interconnects do not carry a majority of the power consumed, but rather only excess of local production over local consumption or deficit of local consumption over local production.

There are two type of "new energy grid" required:

wholesale-grid: inter-regional connections allowing cross-haul of volatile renewable, scheduled renewable and dispatched renewable sources (eg, wind, biocoal, and dammed hydro). This is grid to grid, high voltage DC, which is an excellent efficient long haul point to point technology. In the US we've been relying on natural gas pipeline infrastructure and locally sited natural gas power plants to avoid expanding our long-haul network as energy consumption expands, but we cannot sustain that strategy indefinitely ~ sooner or later we have to catch up with the long-haul power infrastructure deficit, if we are going to take advantage of economy of geographic scope to reduce total volatility of volatile renewables;

retail-grid: "smart" grid to final consumer to permit greater system efficiency by permitting power consuming devices to intelligently shift demand, eg, an energy efficient DVR that charges an internal battery pack when power is cheap and shuts down the power connection when power is expensive or, for consuming device that draws less power than a DVR/set-top box in the average American home, a refrigerator/freezer that schedules topping up the ice-cube tray for periods of inexpensive power.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 02:56:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What proportion of retail electricity consumption is really "re-scheduable" and how can this be increased.  Electrical cars recharging at night and storage heaters seem to me to be almost the only non-trivial applications. Fridges don't use much extra power to freeze a few ice-cubes and the extra cost of the smart appliance - unless such features are mandated for all new appliances - would strongly disincentivise significant take-up.

Presumably some industrial processes can be rescheduled for off-peak times but what we probably really need is the mass production of ammonia based electricity storage devices to act a bit like a water header tank in the attic - a small local store of power for most domestic devices.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 06:03:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean, like air conditioners that freeze water into ice overnight and then use that as the heat pump sink during the day to shift AC demand from peak to off-peak.

Of course, you pluck the lowest hanging fruit first ~ first you convert from stand up to drawer freezer/fridge. Once you have that, though, time-shifting operation ~ taking it to a lower temperature at off-peak than on-peak periods, doing ice cube making off peak, etc ~ that's the obvious next step.

As far as cost, its already controlled by an electronic controller, powered from the mains power ~ taking the signal off the mains power and feeding it as data into the control board might add a few Euro to the cost, but its mostly programming.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 07:35:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This leads into a gripe of mine about recycling and energy efficiency. Right now it is mostly placed upon the consumer - at least on this side of the pond. There is a real limit to what can be done at that level. At a certain point it starts to cost real money and a fair amount of time for ever decreasing gains. Far more can be accomplished for a much lower cost by looking at the manufacturing sector and demanding that they start producing appliances/packaging that work with recycling and energy efficiency.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 12:02:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mining consumer product energy inefficiency is always an up-front strategy that has to be combined with a long term strategy to build up sustainable power generation and reconfiguration of the big consuming technologies ~ since with each efficiency gain, the mining the remaining inefficiency tends to be harder with less result.

The shift from upright to drawer refrigerator/freezers is a fundamental energy efficiency issue: upright refrigerators are just fundamentally less efficient than drawer refrigerators, because the drawer retains cool air when the upright looses it.

However, the smart grid applications cited are not about energy efficiency directly as much as they are about making use of volatile power as it becomes available ~ of shifting consumption to match harvest.

In the US, the scope for consumer side energy efficiency gains is still tremendous, and in New York State they are getting a serious start on it with establishing finance paid through the utility bill based on financial savings from lower operating costs. Given our thoroughly corrupt political system, having that financial support in place is part of the political pre-requisite for gaining producer side regulation, since the greater the prospect of a market side win as a result of complying, the more likely the regulation is to get put into place.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 01:11:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Central air conditioning and refrigerators combined account for 28% of US household electricity consumption.

AC is obviously a main driver of peak demands, and why the US summer peaks are higher than the winter peaks. Refrigeration is not as peaky, but is primarily focused on the hours of the day that the door is being opened and closed ~ and as a heat source inside the house, increases the load on AC.

Energy efficiency might cut 8 percentage points out of that. If half of the balance can be shifted from on-demand to on-supply-available, shifting 10% of average demand into, say, 8 off-peak hours could easily represent a doubling of off-peak demand.

In both of those cases, there are substantial efficiency untapped gains available right now if there was Connie Mae style financing available with payments made as part of utility bills, and the first step is to reduce the size of the peak by reducing wasted energy during the peak. But for the refrigeration case especially, its the energy efficiency that requires an overhaul in what people expect to see when they buy a refrigerator ~ given a switch from intrinsically inefficient uprights to intrinsically efficient drawer refrigerators, the switch to the smart grid shifting of refrigerating load to periods when power is being offered cheap is so inexpensive to add that you'd not notice it.

Of course, you have to have the smart grid available to pick all the low hanging fruit that may be there to pick once the smart grid is in place.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 01:37:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a pet peeve of mine. And it isn't just on-line commentators. I've corrected technical documentation that claimed 66% losses in transmission...
by jam on Fri Jun 24th, 2011 at 03:21:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or is that in the translation? "Competitive export product" would fit, though power export is more like a service export than a tangible good export.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 03:16:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PS. the first passive solar city was built in Greece BC.

Friend of mine wrote a book called The Golden Thread: 2500 years of Solar Architecture and Technology, where i believe it was first documented.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 06:00:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I understand it, the Chinese are way out in front when it comes to solar, blowing away American corporations.
by Upstate NY on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 11:29:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
comment above,  it's all part of their (central government) plan.  Before I retired in 2008, I was involved in producing high-purity silica crucibles for 11 years. I could see the market develop in geometric terms, then plateau, then re-accelerate. Suddenly, this Chinese 'shinkansen' of development blew by everybody in about two years, immediately following the government's '5-year' plan to spend $10 billion per year on wind and solar (primarily). It looked like a bubble, but it's playing out as solid investment.

paul spencer
by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Fri Jun 24th, 2011 at 01:15:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... is not growth rates but whether there are net new productive incomes to refund the original investment.

Given the trajectory of international coal prices as China approaches its Peak Coal decade, circa 2005 "optimistic" income assumptions will by 2020 turn out to have been cautious in retrospect.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 03:19:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are the chinese doing anything on thermal solar or is it all PV?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 03:31:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is quite similar to the Desertec initiative. The difference is that the proposal is framed as a bi-lateral Anglo-Irish deal, which suits British mentalities, but reflects geographical realities too.

The deployment of solar in North Africa and the interconnects to Europe (to the whole of the Mediterranean, in theory) has to deal with similar historical legacy issues. The Arab Spring (including a transition to constitutional monarchy in Morocco) greatly increase the chances of it happening. If only Algeria could get its shit together.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 04:33:44 AM EST
The Arab Spring (including a transition to constitutional monarchy in Morocco) greatly increase the chances of it happening.

Why would you think that? Have we ever hesitated to make business with dictators?

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter

by generic on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 09:46:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not a simple extractive relationship. It's a matter of building sophisticated infrastructure in countries which are close neighbours, and with which there is considerable interpenetration in culture and population.

Desertec - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Obstacles

Centralized solar energy plants and transmission lines may become a target of terrorist attacks.[5] Some experts--such as Professor Tony Day, director of the Centre for Efficient and Renewable Energy in Building at London South Bank University,[22] Henry Wilkinson of Janusian Security Risk Management,[20] and Wolfram Lacher of Control Risks consultancy[20] -- are concerned about political obstacles to the project. Generating so much of the electricity consumed in Europe and in Africa would create a political dependency on North African countries which have corruption and a lack of cross-border coordination. Moreover, DESERTEC would require extensive economic and political cooperation between Algeria and Morocco, which is at risk as the border between the two countries is closed due to a disagreement over the Western Sahara. Cooperation between the states of Europe and the states of the Middle East and North Africa is also certain to be challenging. Large scale cooperation necessary between the EU and the north African nations the project may be delayed due to bureaucratic red tape and other factors such as expropriation of assets.[20]

i.e. it's got to be a win-win proposition, in countries without crippling corruption and insurgencies, otherwise it's a non-starter.

Algeria is currently the show-stopper. The pilot projects will mostly concern Morocco, so Algeria is not necessarily on the critical path yet.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Jun 24th, 2011 at 05:47:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In any case, to what extent is the higher solar radiation in N. Africa offset by higher transmission line costs and power losses compared to (say) Spain, Greece, Cyprus etc.?  The very high upfront capital costs and political risks would appear to mitigate against investment outside the EU at this point - especially post the Libyan intervention.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 24th, 2011 at 05:54:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I see it, we have three variables:
  • Inclination (the straighter the sun hits the athmosphere, the more penetrates - thus more radiation hitting your skin closer to the equator)
  • Clouds (more sunny days gives more output)
  • Transmission

I think the main factor would be that of placing it in a desert, that is a place with little or no clouds. The difference in inclination is not that great and HDVC is very good. Then again I do not know how much cloud you would have to put up with at the best sites in Greece, Spain and Portugal (abbreviation GSP?).

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 03:28:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends heavily on Morocco, doesn't it? Via Algeria to the Mahgreb, via Spanish Sahara to the Trans-Sahel, over the Strait to Spain.

Given either Algeria or Libya, Tunisia to the Italian peninsula via Sicily is also straightforward.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 03:29:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But dictatorships are stable. Until they aren't, but Who Could Have Predicted? and being unpredictable you don't have to budget for it and once it happens it is someone else's problem.
In a democracy you have to pay off a lot of groups that you could otherwise pretend to be be able to safely ignore. Of course for the long term viability of a project having to deal with objections before they trigger a revolution is a plus. Are you under the impression that our planning structure is overly concerned with long term viability?

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Fri Jun 24th, 2011 at 07:12:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the reasons corporations will only invest in Africa if the investments are projected to be massively profitable is because of the perceived geo-political risk.  

Of course if they weren't so busy extracting huge profits in the first place, the geo-political risk might be less. However that is the point at which corporate planners and financiers throw up their hands and exclaim that ensuring stability isn't their problem.  They deal with countries as they find them and assess the risks accordingly

Hence Singapore gets massive investment even though it is one of the highest cost places in the world to do business.

Complex businesses (as opposed to simple extraction processes) require a diverse skill mix and a more sophisticated regulatory environment (i.e. bribery only gets you so far). It thus requires a diverse middle class and more sophisticated political structure.  

Generals/dictators are really bad at understanding and enabling complex economies to develop. Democracies are much better at facilitating the complex trade-offs between highly differentiated interest groups and skills sets required

Hence, with few exceptions, participative democracies are better than militaristic dictatorships at developing economically.  Conversely, economically underdeveloped states also tend to be underdeveloped politically - i.e. have militaristic/authoritarian command economies.

The myth that dictatorships are more efficient is one of the great myths of the modern age - unless you measure efficiency in terms of killing and imprisoning people.  

Interestingly, one of the things most holding back US economic development at the moment is an increasingly dysfunctional political system dominated by corporates whose individual interests are inimical to the development of their competitors and the economy as a whole.

It will be interesting to see how China's polity develops in the context of an increasingly sophisticated economy. The strains are certainly there.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 24th, 2011 at 07:57:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And that's cool for mining, or oil, or any other business with high variable and low capital costs. Because then you can loot while the looting is good, and then scoot once the shit hits the fan.

But if 90 % of your costs are capital costs, you need the project to survive until you've paid off the last loan.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 04:04:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yesterday there were the following two headlines in ElPais.com:

The economic crisis undermines the Egyptian transition: Tourism has collapsed and economic activity has slowed down after the January 25 revolt

Tourism in Tunisia collapses after the jasmine revolution: GDP drops, unemployment rises and foreign investment slows down

The narrative being set is delightful. But of course, for the last decade they're not bothering any more to sell capitalism with the argument that democracy needs capitalism to function. Soon they'll be arguing that capitalism needs authoritarian government. As Kalecki said in 1943:

One of the important functions of fascism, ..., was to remove capitalist objections to full employment.


Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 04:48:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Generals/dictators are really bad at understanding and enabling complex economies to develop. Democracies are much better at facilitating the complex trade-offs between highly differentiated interest groups and skills sets required

This may be true, and I'm inclined to think that the evidence of the last few decades has supported this.  However the contemporary counterexample is China and it's adoption of the Singaporean model of capitalism.  I tend to agree with Žižek that the future of capitalism is likely to be an authoritarian one along these lines.

And then again, the political formations that prevailed during fossil fuel abundance are likely to be different to those prevailing during the era of abundance.

That's not to say that we shouldn't do our damndest to defend what remains of participatory democracy in Europe, encourage it's development in Africa, and encourage the invention more particpatory forms.  We should be under no illusions however that any of that is compatible with the present form of capitalism.

by Pope Epopt on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 05:49:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
And that's cool for mining, or oil, or any other business with high variable and low capital costs. Because then you can loot while the looting is good, and then scoot once the shit hits the fan

In the case of China, the almost free abundant resource is not Oil or Coal, it is labour, and once you have millions of people unemployed in a zero social welfare environment, you can throw almost any shit at them and they will still do almost anything to get a job or cash - like selling their own organs.

As you get closer to peak (available) labour, labour become a much more valuable and powerful resource and can achieve a better share out of the fruits of economic productivity.

Thus capital needs unemployment to stay high to maximise its bargaining position - cf US republicans desperate attempts to prevent economic recovery under Obama.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 08:10:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The present form of capitalism isn't compatible with the present form of capitalism, never mind democracy.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 11:29:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes ~ while anticipating the form of economy over the coming century is intrinsically speculative, anticipating that the current form of capitalism won't be it is straightforward: it cannot survive in the environment it creates.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 01:42:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The figure of 23.5% average capacity factor for Irish windfarms seems low compared to British figures in the report below.  Does anyone have a source for average annaula capacity factors for wind energy either at national or windfarm level?  I am anxious to substantiate the frequently heard assertion that "Ireland has the best wind resource in Europe".
British Wind Association PDF
The report makes much of the fact that a recent estimate of the average capacity factor of wind in Germany in 2003 was 15% and that the average capacity factor in the UK was 24%. It fails to acknowledge that:
  • Average wind speeds in Germany are significantly lower than those in the UK, and
  • 2003 was a low wind year. The average capacity factor of UK wind has varied from the 2003 low to 31% in 19988. It is quite incorrect to say (REF, para 4), "this figure [30%] has never been achieved"
  • Assessments of the economics of generating plant invariably use load factors that are realistic for the particular plant, but may well be higher than national averages. The load factor of UK nuclear plant, for example, varied between 72.6% and 80.4% during the 10 years from 1994 to 2003 and yet the Royal Academy of Engineering report cited by the REF suggests that ".. availabilities exceeding 90% should be achievable"
  • Several wind farm operators have reported capacity factors significantly greater than 30%. Scottish Power, for example, expects its best sites to have capacity factors between 35% and 40%9. npower renewables has reported long-term capacity factors between 36% and 40% for five of their wind farms10 each. The output from the npower wind farms at times of peak electricity demand was above average, which contradicts claims in the REF report that wind power is not available at times of peak demand
  • The increasing number of developments in Scotland, where sites are known to be very windy, and in offshore waters is likely to increase UK average capacity factors


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 08:25:51 AM EST
Irish capacity factors are expected to range from 30% to 36%. Real world capacity factors for older existing projects are likely to be lower because the technology is older with less technical performance, and the turbines don't see higher elevation winds. (Real world capacity factors include downtime from maintenance and component failure.)

I would expect the far right side of the bell curve to be above 38%. this compares will with all but the best Scottish highlands sites. The Ireland Wind Energy Association states conservatively nationwide at 31%.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 09:46:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
AFAIK Irish wind farms have to date predominantly used smaller turbines which would be less efficient.  Also to date, none have been built at really high altitudes or in the more scenic areas right on the western coast - so many sites may be sub-optimal.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 11:04:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The 23.5% figure in the Wikipedia article comes from the same REF 'report'. Note that anti-wind spin by the REF propagandists came up on ET before (see here, here and here); and a 'report' by another anti-wind belief tank based on basically the same data for the UK also came up (see here).

Utility firm reports alarming drop in renewable power output > National News > News | Click Green

It said this finding is consistent with data from Ireland and Northern Ireland which showed output in 2010 was approximately 23.5%, as compared to 31% in the previous year, and the average figure of 32.3% for the years 2002 to 2009.

I haven't been able to double-check the 23.5% figure itself yet, but it is suspect: say, if they divided annual generation with year-end capacity, that would be a big underestimate due to the significant capacity added last year.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 10:27:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interannual wind resource can vary 20% or more as well. But thanks for digging.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 10:52:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I couldn't find a source with detailed stats, but it seems RES didn't invent the number, because Ireland's grid operator writes the following in its 2010 Annual Report:

However 2010 was a highly unusual year with a wind
capacity factor of 23%, significantly lower than the comparative figure of 29-31% over the previous 10 years.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 01:09:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is well within the realm of the possible. A 30% reduction (30/23-1=30%) in NCF represents a 16% drop in wind speeds (7.3/6.3-1=16%).

Numbers are from the model of my latest project adjusted to get comparable NCFs...

by jam on Fri Jun 24th, 2011 at 03:40:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
where does the 7.3 and 6.3 come from?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 24th, 2011 at 04:07:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looks like 2010 is an outlier compared to previous years if you accept the accuracy of the figures.  This year has been exceptionally windy to date and global warming is predicted to increase wind - bet REF don't factor that in!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 11:00:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Will global warming increase usable wind, or will it increase storms - hurricanes and tornadoes, or will it do both?
 

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 12:45:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Short Answer: nobody knows.

Meso-climate processes, such as El Nino, will obliterate GW affects, increase GW affects, or have no affect on local weather.

'bout the only safe prediction:

Climate is what you expect.  Weather is what you get.

:-)


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 01:15:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect it will be different in different parts of the world - Ireland tends not to get Hurricanes and Tornadoes, although we tend to get the the storms to which Hurricanes reduce once they cross the Atlantic - with wind speeds up to c. 100 - 150kph although the latter end is a once in a decade event and the absolute sea level record is a gust of 200KPH in 1974.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 01:24:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Generally known Emergent Properties are an outlier compared to historic data.  What is not generally known is the data gathered in a system with Emergent Properties can be identical with historic data.

This is a real pain when you're trying to Model what's going on.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 01:24:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Click Green article doesn't bother to link to REF, but the source is here, with this interesting introduction:

Low Wind Power Output 2010

In today's Times (02.02.11) it is reported that Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has published data confirming that its wind turbine fleet has reported a 20% reduction in energy generation in the last year. SSE is said to have released this data in response to requests from concerned shareholders.1

This is consistent with data examined by Renewable Energy Foundation at the request of the Sunday Telegraph, which resulted in a report by Andrew Gilligan to the effect that the UK wind fleet load factor in the year October 2009 to September 2010 was very low in comparison to previous years.2

"Concerned shareholders" and Andrew Gilligan of the Telegraph only have to ask...

REF says it derives its 23.5% number from Eirgrid (no comment on the extremely narrow scale used to provide a dramatic graph - well, that's a comment...):

A footnote refers to:  Eirgrid (Jonathan O'Sullivan), "Facilitating the Transition to a More Competitive, Sustainable, and Low Carbon Electricity Future". Presentation to the Irish Renewable Energy Summit, 20th January 2011, Dundalk.

That presentation isn't online. The Summit has a site where Jon O'Sullivan is mentioned as doing a presentation with that title; but in fact the Speakers' Panel doesn't contain Jon O'Sullivan, and in the PDF brochure the presentation is down to Dermot Byrne, also of Eirgrid. But let's suppose the presentation was done for the conference (where it was followed by REF boss John Constable on wind variability).

Eirgrid offers system data on its site, with a page for Wind Generation. You can download generation stats (at quarter-hour intervals) for the dates you choose. But you don't get (or I didn't find) electricity delivered in MW/h.

As to capacity, the Wikipedia article is weird, since its own reference states:

Irish Wind Energy Association - Wind Energy in Ireland

The current* grid connected and operational installed wind capacity on the island of Ireland is 1746.7 Megawatts (MW) which will on average generate 4,743,339 Megawatt hours (MWh) in a year given a 31% load**or capacity factor.

... *Figures correct on 19/07/10.

According to a report (pdf) by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and Eirgrid, total island capacity (NI included) in 2011 is 2,163 MW.

That report is well worth reading in itself (it's quoted in the Wikipedia article re wind lowering costs in such a way as to cover FIT costs). But it doesn't give 2010 capacity. So the 23.5% still needs more digging to be validated.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 01:25:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Coincidentally I've been looking at the same site and managed to crash Excel by downloading a years data and trying to graph it!  I suspect most of the confusion is because the situation - both installed base and weather - is changing all the time and the data is therefore very variable.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 01:37:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I got the 2010 data into Excel - but I don't think it helps to get to the capacity factor.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 02:29:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was more trying to establish was there a secular downward trend which might validate the very low 23% Capacity factor for 2010, and whether the trend for 2011 was upwards of that.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 02:38:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you make monthly sums? Here you can find end-of-month installed power capacity data from April 2010, monthly capacity factors can be approximated with less uncertainty than annual ones.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 03:17:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it's not MW/h. And the sum is huge. The mean over the month is more like it. So, for April 2010, with an installed capacity of 1308 MW, average production was 239 MW, which (with a few ifs) would correspond to a capacity factor of 18.3%.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 04:13:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This compares monthly average generation (from Eirgrid data) with capacity as per the pdf you link to.

The colour schemes has nothing to do with the Irish flag, just my fear we may be comparing apples with oranges.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 05:37:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent work!  I don't see any sign of declining output there - I suspect the production trend line would be slightly upward.  My visual guess would be the average capacity factor is about 25% - higher than that given for 2010, but still below the average of previous years.  Can you confirm?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 06:24:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IF these are the relevant generation figures to the capacity figures, the percentage varies from 14.6% (June 2010) to 35.6% (Feb 2011), with an average of 23% and a rising trend.

But I'll try to get a longer view if I have time.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jun 24th, 2011 at 04:32:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The wind generation page at Eirgrid seems currently unobtainable.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jun 24th, 2011 at 08:56:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Probably storm damage - it's pissing rain here at the mo!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 24th, 2011 at 08:59:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
no comment on the extremely narrow scale used to provide a dramatic graph

That isn't even the worst visual spin in it. It's the background image. Look at that subconscious suggestion of a trend.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 02:05:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 02:29:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is nothing inherently wrong with a non-zero baseline. The background graphic, any background graphic, is "chartjunk" and shouldn't be used.
by jam on Fri Jun 24th, 2011 at 03:46:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From the Eirgrid report (PDF)

In Ireland wind generation is expected to meet approximately 37% of the 40% renewable electricity target in 2020. This is the highest wind integration target among European Member States up to 2020 and places Ireland at the forefront of Europe. To connect this amount of wind on the system between now and 2020 requires an effective connection process to be in place. The Gate 3 process involves offers for connection to circa 3,900 MW of wind generation and 1,700 MW of conventional generation and is fundamental to meeting our 40% national renewable energy target

For Comparison, Denmark's target for wind power is 30%, the UK is 20%, Germany's is 19%, and France's 10%.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 02:35:38 PM EST
My company bid on a wind project last year that would have entailed me moving to Ireland for a year. Alas, we lost and I'm still stuck in the U.S. ;)
by jam on Fri Jun 24th, 2011 at 03:52:53 PM EST
I've read through the the inaugural EirGrid Annual Renewable Report (PDF) and am reasonably reassured that they are serious about achieving Ireland's 40% renewable sourced electricity by 2020 target.

Having been involved in corporate communications, I am aware these documents can contain a lot of waffle and spin and I am also not technically qualified to judge how much real progress they are making in addressing the technical challenges involved.

Some of the key enablers - to 2020 and beyond - appear to be:

  1. The development of a European supergrid, of which the North Seas Countries' Offshore Grid Initiative, and in particular the Irish sea, module is a key early component.

  2. Improved demand/supply planning and grid management software development including a Wind Security Assessment Tool (WSAT)

  3. Development of smarter grids and metering systems

  4. Development of less intermittent renewable sources such as water pump storage, hydro, wave, tidal, waste and biomass sources to provide load balancing assistance (solar really isn't an economic option in Ireland for the foreseeable future)

  5. Development of multi-grid spot and forward electricity trading markets - of which the Ireland/N. Ireland SEMO initiative appears to be an early precursor

  6. Greater development/deployment of electrical cars, goods and public transport systems - trains, trams, electric vans and buses etc. and battery/fuel cell operated systems generally which can be charged at off peak times.

Anybody else got any ideas which need to be added to the mix?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 24th, 2011 at 05:18:47 PM EST
On the battery / fuel cell line, note that hydrogen in the form of ammonia is a much easier to work with energy store than hydrogen as H2. Critical to this are new direct from electricity ammonia generation technologies that are sufficiently capital efficient so that Ireland could generate off-peak and shut down during external peak demands to take advantage of higher spot electricity prices.

As ammonia is also a fertilizer feedstock and with a small share of biodiesel can operate modified diesel agricultural equipment, it could be a triple-play for Ireland's economy (or hat-trick, even if Ireland does not focus heavily on cricket or baseball).

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 03:39:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
to the Wind power series

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 10:33:52 AM EST
Wind turbines, rural Ireland and my back yard - The Irish Times - Tue, Jun 28, 2011
Up to now, wind turbines had to be firmly rooted on the seabed with large and costly structures. In developments from Norway and the US, described to the Engineers Ireland conference in Dublin this week, turbines can be moored to the seabed while being kept upright by submerged but buoyant structures that act as counterweights for stability.

The prototype of Statoil's Hywind, designed to work in depths up to 700m, has been anchored in the North Sea off Norway since 2009 and delivering power to the country's grid. Statoil is considering locations for a first small "demo park", among them waters off the Isle of Lewis, in the Hebrides, and also off the coast of Maine, in the US.

An American system, for much shallower depths, will be tested off the coast of Portugal this summer.

Neither system is probably anywhere near ready for the worst of Ireland's Atlantic storms, but turbines built like icebergs could take a lot of offshore wind power even farther out to sea.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 27th, 2011 at 09:42:47 PM EST
No matter how important the development and maturation of offshore windpower, floating or fixed, the primary policy goal should remain aggressive onshore build. Especially where onshore winds are strong.

Many people still have a hard time dealing with that program.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jun 28th, 2011 at 01:42:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The bit I quoted are the final paragraphs from a long and rambling piece by Michael Viney, a journalist and environmentalist who retired from the Irish Times many years ago to live in a more self-sufficient way in a small house in a remote and beautiful part of the West of Ireland close to a Mountain called Mwealrea.  

He records his personal difficulty with reconciling himself to having turbines in his own backyard (and perhaps his hope that other solutions can be found) but ultimately, he is very pro wind, and didn't oppose the proposed development of turbines on the mountain.

I think his piece - which draws on some of the same sources as my diary - accurately reflects the conflicts people feel about having turbines in the most remote, unspoilt and scenic areas - but ultimately accepts that, particularly in the current economic climate - some sacrifices or trade-offs have to be made.

Personally I would like to see combined wind and wave plants developed using floating platforms and generating at least some power all the time thus optimising the use of cabling and grid infrastructure and providing some more valuable non-intermittent power as well as wind (the Atlantic is never absolutely calm).  I have no doubt, however, that the bulk of Irish wind energy will be onshore for the foreseeable future because of the lower up front costs involved.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 28th, 2011 at 04:55:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing that a strong build out of onshore wind does is increase the returns to offshore wind, because of the portfolio ~ when you have harvesting of one volatile power resource already in the portfolio, adding an additional power source that is not strongly correlated reduces the volatility of the total of the two.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jun 28th, 2011 at 11:57:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Surely if this was the case, wind producers would be buying up coal and gas fired generating stations to balance their portfolios, whereas the impression I get is that coal and gas based utilities resent the wind newcomers because they are reducing their plant utilisation factors and thus profit margins?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 28th, 2011 at 01:20:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How does that follow?

Diversifying the harvesting of volatile energy sources across a broader geographic range and diversifying to volatile sources with different average patterns of diurnal activity results in a portfolio with a total output more stable than the output of any individual component in the portfolio.

So if you have a that is worthwhile harvesting anyway, given the variance of its own supply, then once it is in place, the benefit of adding additional low marginal cost volatile energy harvesting are their free-standing benefit, plus the portfolio benefit of reducing the variability of the combined power supply.

If they are all harvesting "use it or lose it" volatile sources and so are dominated by fixed costs with very little low costs, they all undermine capacity utilization of the fueled power in the portfolio,and the diversification benefit only increases their effectiveness in doing so.

Flow-of-river (or drain) hydro, solar PV, CSP (Concentrated thermal Solar Power), industrial co-generation, wave, tidal ~ they would all offer diversification value benefits once there is substantial penetration of any given wind resource.

What matters to the provision of power is not the volatility of any given wind turbine, but the volatility of the entire portfolio of low to very low marginal cost production.

So, yes, the entire portfolio of low marginal cost energy harvesting shifts coal off the bottom of the merit order in coal-dependent power grids, and for a power company that has institutionalized "burning stuff to make power" into their corporate culture, that social benefit is a threat to that corporate culture.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jun 28th, 2011 at 03:48:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BruceMcF:
the benefit of adding additional low marginal cost volatile energy harvesting are their free-standing benefit, plus the portfolio benefit of reducing the variability of the combined power supply.

I'm not really arguing with you, just wondering if there may be some justification in legacy carbon based generators feeling used because they are expected to be available to provide base load at any time wind etc. doesn't, and yet much of their main "market" is being undermined and undercut by wind. Their capacity utilisation (and revenue) goes down, while their costs go down much less (just by their variable costs).

It comes down to whether or not legacy producers should also get paid for providing capacity, not just output, to compensate them for their fixed costs.

Of course many legacy plants paid back their investors a long time ago and should be happy for any business they can get provided it covers their fixed and variable costs. However if at some point in the future they become uneconomic and start closing wholesale, the entire entire generation portfolio may become unable to meet peak demand at valley production times even with a wider range of renewable options in place.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 28th, 2011 at 04:22:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
just wondering if there may be some justification in legacy carbon based generators feeling used because they are expected to be available to provide base load at any time wind etc. doesn't,

What ticks off the baseload coal burners is not that they don't get to provide baseload. Because they do. It is that other people get to provide baseload as well.

A newly built coal-burner has similar economics to a wind farm - high up-front costs, low(ish) variable costs (if you exclude the subsidy-by-dead-Chinese-coal-miner). Which means that insistence on marginal pricing locks out new coal almost as effectively as it locks out new wind.

... but fully amortised coal has an equity cushion to survive higher volatility. Which means it gets to benefit from the higher average prices (due to the lock-out of capital intensive low average cost producers). If you repair the market structure to allow wind farms in, you undercut that particular source of rent for old, fully amortised coal-burners.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jun 28th, 2011 at 05:11:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Setting aside the crying over having fought for a false model of the future and having lost, boo fricking hoo.

As to the pragmatic question of what happens if if where they end up on the merit order curve leaves them unable to cover their financial capital obligations ... someone ends up taking a financial haircut, and the asset is revalued, either internally or on sale, as back-up generating capacity.

If a sound energy policy is pursued, its not necessary to expand the capacity of the coal-fired generators in particular, so the fact that their legacy capital costs might not be covered is no threat to the real system. Its a financial loss, sure, but covering for that is just corporate welfare ~ in a more capitalist version of corporatism, we'd apply the rule that you pays your money and you takes your chances.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jun 28th, 2011 at 05:37:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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