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Let's do wind

by Jerome a Paris Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 04:34:02 PM EST

A few graphs from the European Wind Energy Association's Pure Power study (PDF) about the prospects of wind power published earlier this year.

One of the most annoying arguments against wind is that it's too small to make a difference. Well, it's as big as nukes were in the same phase of development, and there's no limitation to it growing further.

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About 70GW have been built in 2002-2007. If you exclude the 15GW built in China and India, about 55GW have been built in the OECD, and my bank has participated to roughly 15-20% of that, leading the way, ie negotiating and putting in place the financing in half of that.

Now, because of the financial crisis, which has nothing to do with wind power (I don't think a wind farm as such has caused any bank to lose any money yet), lending capacity is drying and seriously handicapping projects - including for the projects I'm working on.

Irresponsible bankers and financiers are a truly evil breed.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 04:51:13 PM EST
Your points are valid, and I'll drink a toast to wind any day. Of course, to really make it zoom, you'd have to figure out how to make a weapon out of it. And, of course, you'd have to figure out how to create giant boondoggles for the cronies of the ministers who give or need campaign money to get elected.

I object to only pointing out that it is irresponsible bankers and financiers who are truly evil since there are so many other enablers...including irresponsible consumers.

I wonder: Suppose we define a banker as someone who facilitates the saving and exploitation of saved money in a manner that benefits the short and long-term community requirements. Now, if there are instead those who are called bankers who instead shenanigan the system such that every few years (after the previous shenanigan gets patched up) a new fix is required...are these putzes really bankers and financiers at all, or just crooks and incompetents in positions above their skill?

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 05:51:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Suppose we define a banker as someone who facilitates the saving and exploitation of saved money in a manner that benefits the short and long-term community requirements.

The problem is that what you just described is not a Bank - it's a "Credit Union", or "Deposit Taker" (as they used to be called here in the UK).

If all Banks did was take in savings and lend them on, then there would be no "new" money = credit, and no development, either.

Banks create credit as a multiple of their capital base - essentially their Equity.

And doing so does indeed involve risk.

The problem has been that banks have been "outsourcing" that risk to a "shadow banking system" of investors through the mechanisms of securitisation, credit derivatives, credit insurance, and toxic mixtures of all three.

Now that the capital provided opaquely by these investors has gone, it's only governments who can replace it.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 07:49:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Two minor niggles:



  1. Is the comparison with installed capacity completely fair? Each MW of nuclear power will produce more energy than a MW of wind. I don't have the numbers here but I wouldn't expect that you would not get more than 2.5TWh out of 1GW of wind power, but it should be possible to get more than 5TWh out of the same installed capacity of nuclear. Of course, given the growth rate of wind power that would only mean that you would have to wait another 3-4 years and then make the comparison again.


  2. They somehow forgot solar energy (in practice PV). According to EPIA
    the installed PV capacity in Europe at the end of 2007 was 4500MW, with 1500MW installed in 2007, which is more than the "other" category in the graphs. It's not nearly as much as wind (yet), but it should at least be visible on the graphs. Admittedly, PV gives an even lower output per installed GW, at 1-2TWh/year depending on location.


Real capricorns don't believe in astrology.
by tomhuld (thomas punkt huld at jrc punkt it) on Tue Oct 7th, 2008 at 03:33:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
1 - you are absolutely correct. A wind MW does not generate as many MWh as a nuclear MW. Still, in terms of showing that the scale of development of wind matches that of nuclear, the graph is relevant.

2 - the study I quote only uses data up to 2006, so the boom in solar over the past 2 years is probably not visible in these graphs.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 7th, 2008 at 03:56:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. The comparison is between the exponentiality of the curves, using ad-hoc starting dates. The same could be done for generation, using different starting dates.

    I note that given the longer construction time for nuclear, an interesting comparison would be using the start of the construction of the first commercial plants as the respective starting date.

  2. No, it's until 2007, and PV installations were in the same ballpark in 2006. In fact, I suspect they committed another error: it seems they inserted the PV data backwards, given that the green column decreases from 2000 to 2007.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Oct 7th, 2008 at 08:33:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But wind doesn't scale... < / troll>
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 04:57:02 PM EST
Fig 0.1 seems weird : the scale on the left goes up to 100,000 MW, the scale on the right up to 50,000 MW. So the evolution is made to look similar, but is not. Nothing to tell us which is which either...
by iSoph on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 05:01:58 PM EST
My reading is that the right is annual growth, and the left is total.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 05:03:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My bad, one scale is for annual, the other for total... You can delete my comments.
by iSoph on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 05:07:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anyway, welcome to posting on ET!

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 05:41:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the welcome!

About renewable energy, recently the first Pelamis were installed in Portugal, but I haven't heard of the CETO technology in Europe.
It's about underwater buoys compressing seawater so that it reaches the shore, and can either be used to produce electricity, or desalinate through reverse osmosis.

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/stories/2008/2378304.htm

The CETO website mentions no problems or downsides at all, which is a little too much I guess, but it's interesting.
http://www.carnegiecorp.com.au/

by iSoph on Tue Oct 7th, 2008 at 04:01:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I also found the scales confusing at first, as they are not labelled.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 05:44:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To make it worse, they are confusing the timespans in the accompanying text.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 05:47:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why did they combine 2 graphs in one in Fig 0.1? At first, I thought these charts were inconsistent with one another, until I noticed that Fig 0.1 had two different scales, one on each side.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 05:02:44 PM EST
I am guessing they want to emphasize the 1974 peak in new nuclear power installations that makes most of the small difference between the two cumulated installments graphs.

On the other hand: I'd like to see a graph comparing electricity produced. (Probably with different starting dates.)

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

by DoDo on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 05:14:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, I'm putting myself at risk there (this is Jérôme territory remember).
Is the comparison fully honest when few countries adopted nuclear, for a variety of reasons that had little to do with the ability to build a nuclear plant?

If we were to have the same graph with the comparison being in the top 5 countries for each technology, wind wouldn't look as good.

This is not to say that I don't reckon wind should be a large part of the solution, I'm just trying to avoid bias.

On top of that, I have been told (by someone who works in the field, but in Australia, so maybe it's due to the peculiarities of a sparse network with few redundancies) that you couldn't run a power network with more than 25% of your sources being either wind or solar.

Is that true, and if yes why?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 05:17:49 PM EST
If we were to have the same graph with the comparison being in the top 5 countries for each technology, wind wouldn't look as good.

For most of the 1991-2006 period, c. 80% of wind capacity was in only five countries: Germany, Spain, India, USA, Denmark. Though the reason wind played a small role elsewhere wasn't lack of technological capacity, but the lack of the legal and financial framework, I think that makes the comparison fair.

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

by DoDo on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 05:22:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just checked: the five countries I mentioned were still on top and combined 78% of all installed capacity at the end of 2005. Two years later, Denmark was pushed to sixth place by China, but the original Big Five were still 70% of the global total.

(For a look at earlier situations on the wind market, see for example 1999 and 1998.)

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

by DoDo on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 05:46:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...or just check all the data for the original Big Five plus China from 1980 (though that table is a bit incoherent: non-matching numbers taken from various sources).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 06:08:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On top of that, I have been told (by someone who works in the field, but in Australia, so maybe it's due to the peculiarities of a sparse network with few redundancies) that you couldn't run a power network with more than 25% of your sources being either wind or solar.

It may be true locally, with a given power grid that is not expected to get an upgrade. It may also be the unquestioning acceptance of a rule-of-the-thumb number. (And even that number is for an average.)

However, a study for one of the two Danish grid operators found that 50% wind is possible with only minor tinkering. And that's wind alone: if, in theory, you combine similar large capacities of wind and solar, there is actually a 'natural balancing' between the two that reduces the combined intermittance.

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

by DoDo on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 05:26:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't want to answer Starvid and his bias, so i'll put it here.

On the day we dedicated the new wind tunnel, there was enough wind in Schleswig-Holstein that some 120% of the entire Land's energy came from wind.  The rest was either exported or dumped, because the grid is not yet reinforced.  In a sane future, north Germany would have exported southwards a huge slice of the country's needs.  What happened last week was not an anomaly.

Grid balancing with the addition of other technologies, both future renewables and existing plant, is not magic.  Rather, the new paradigm of grid management using existing technology goes up against entrenched archaic views, hence Australia's "25%" number, which comes out of thin air.

The entire Spain has been over 100%, as has Denmark.  This does not mean that wind alone is a solution, for there are times when there is no wind.  But such occurrences point out that we're not talking about technical problems here.

In terms of cost, should we check wind v. natural gas in a few years, since every wind turbine that has paid its debt produces electricity for about a cent and a half... for the next 15 years.

The intermittency argument is a sham red herring from the opposition, period.  No one intends to live with existing grids into the future, because smart grids and cross-border wheeling have already proven themselves.  The E.ons of the world just need a bit of prodding as it were... with some firebrands if necessary.

ferchrissake, there are wind turbines which can black start.

Wind reinforces the grid.  Wind minimizes voltage fluctuations.  Wind diminishes transmission losses.

And wind keeps both local and international economies humming, including all levels of real jobs, from the truck drivers and service techs to the data crunchers to bankers and lawyers.

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

by Crazy Horse on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 06:10:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, you can have much more at times. But you still need significant other sources for when there is no wind, and he was explaining that there was an issue with the speed of ajustment when new power was needed.

What percentage could we have for the whole of Europe (wind and solar combined) in terms of capacity?

Before my friend gets some abuse about this 25%, may I say that he is trying to get his State (Tasmania) to invest more in renewables (combining with hydro would seem to be a good idea there). He would welcome more wind!

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 06:24:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PS: I don't know about Starvid's bias in that respect, but it seems to me that he was pretty much in agreement with you that wind would have to become much bigger for excessive density to become a problem.

By which time technology may have evolved to make it not a problem at all.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 06:26:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's already not a problem where annual incursion is over 20%.  All the short-term backup in virtually all modern grids is already built in.  Demand side management is the new technology which allows for intermittent generation such as wind to co-exist beautifully.

Just think for a moment, over 100% of all electricity in Schleswig-Holstein (which probably includes most of Denmark as well) was for a period from wind.  Not one disco was shut because the turntables revolved too slow.

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

by Crazy Horse on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 06:46:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
if the turntables slowed I would simply change from electronic dancing style to hip-hop dancing style.

The stage 1 and stage 2 energy alerts in California (voluntary energy reduction) have worked in the two years I've lived here. So much of it is purely cultural. Low wind and high temps? Just require commercial lighting to turn off at night so the air conditioners can run.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 07:15:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Crazy Horse:
ferchrissake, there are wind turbines which can black start.

What do you mean? That they can start without power?

Rien n'est gratuit en ce bas monde. Tout s'expie, le bien comme le mal, se paie tot ou tard. Le bien c'est beaucoup plus cher, forcement. Celine

by UnEstranAvecVueSurMer (holopherne ahem gmail) on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 07:06:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Remarkable how optimistic you are, even after living some time in the land of the bread. ;-)



Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 09:03:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Oct 7th, 2008 at 03:40:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you couldn't run a power network with more than 25% of your sources being either wind or solar.

The wind doesn't blow all the time. That means you have to be able to compensate power surges and declines using fast reacting power generators like gas and hydro. When you get more than about 20 % wind that becomes hard to do.

But this is really a pseudo problem. Wind is currently like 1 % of all power generated while even nuclear is just 15 %. That is, wind have to become bigger than nuclear power before we even need worry much about this issue.

Only Denmark has reached 20 % wind.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 05:31:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]

20% is what you can do with only minor tweaking of the network. But it's possible to go much higher if you invest a bit more in the grid. This has to be one of the silliest arguments against wind when it's only providing 1-3% of electricity.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 05:43:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
this is really a pseudo problem [...] wind have to become bigger than nuclear power before we even need worry much about this issue.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Oct 6th, 2008 at 06:18:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there any reference available for a study on this issue on the internet?

I think a study by an electricity grid regulator would be a good argument to quote. Because pro-wind rule of thumb alone is not enough to balance no-wind rule of thumb.

by Xavier in Paris on Tue Oct 7th, 2008 at 01:39:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No "pro-wind rule of thumb" -- actual studies. The one I cited is mentioned here:

DANISH WIND INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION - 50% wind energy in the grid is feasible

Grid integration of up to 50% wind energy in the Danish electricity system by 2025 is technically and economically feasible according to a new study from the system operator Elkraft System.

 

"The system is on an hourly basis able to absorb a vast amount of wind power. The system will reach its critical limit - meaning a situation where it is necessary to shut down wind turbines - only a few hours during the year," says Hans Henrik Lindboe, engineer in Elkraft System.

 

The starting point for Elkraft's new assessments has been an expansion of Scandinavian wind power by 17,000 MW. Wind energy installations in Denmark can expand from 3,100 MW today to 5,000 MW in 2025.

Also in 2005, EWEA released a large study on grid integration, you can read the full pdf. While it doesn't zoom in on one quote-able high-end number, I quote a longer passage from the executive summary:

...In the west-Denmark
transmission system
, which is not connected to the
eastern part of the country, some 25% of electricity
demand is met by wind power
in a normal wind year
and, on some occasions, the wind has been able to
cover 100% of instantaneous demand.

The integration of large amounts of wind power is often
dismissed as impossible and many grid operators
are reluctant to make changes in long established
procedures to accommodate wind power. In Denmark,
the grid operator was initially sceptical about how much
wind power the system could cope with. The attitude
of many grid operators to wind power can best be
illustrated by the following quote from Eltra, the TSO in
west-Denmark, at the presentation of its annual report.

...Seven or eight years ago, we said that the electricity
system could not function if wind power increased above
500 MW. Now we are handling almost five times as much.

And I would like to tell the Government and the Parliament
that we are ready to handle even more, but it requires
that we are allowed to use the right tools to manage the
system».



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Oct 7th, 2008 at 01:55:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks for posting that DoDo, i haven't had time to post, refuting the idea that some of us are just "pro-wind."  The average reader here has no idea of the three decades experience behind the comments, and the number of reports, studies, and operational hours by the hundreds of thousands that some of us have.

In germany (auf Deutsch) there are the E.on and DENA studies, but i can't translate them, i can barely read them.  But they're so positive especially coming from entities which were the biggest barrier just a few years ago.

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

by Crazy Horse on Wed Oct 8th, 2008 at 02:30:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This one or This one (the last part of the text).

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 7th, 2008 at 02:19:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are basically no technical reasons why wind can't have as high as a 40% penetration. The issues become economic as the penetration goes from low to medium to high and are primarily based on the stiffness of the existing grid. A very weak grid may only be able to take 10% without some type of economic investment.

Technically, wind farm outputs don't fluctuate as quickly as the demand requirements of large systems, so the load-following generation can easily keep up with any variability caused by wind.

by jam on Tue Oct 7th, 2008 at 05:47:53 AM EST


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