Cost of Wind Power

We have been contemplating turning off FM steam radio, but looking at the UK national grid power demand data today around midday it makes me wonder if they are also turning off wind power as we are producing next to nothing today.   

The principle sources of power generation in UK are CCGT, Nuclear, Coal & Wind (not including solar, hydro, bio & the various ICT interconnectors to & from other countries)  At around 13:30 today CCGT is producing 13.6GW, Nuclear 7.9GW & Coal 0.86GW (nice to see that so low)    but Wind is only 0.32GW.       

Then looking at Met Office wind for all UK its around 15/20mph (24/32km/hr) around the coasts & its made me wonder why wind power is so low, especially so when the French ICT is supplying us with 2.0GW.  

Digging around on 'tinterweb it seems the cost of wind is significantly higher than other power sources & France with a surplus of Nuclear that's not so easy to turn off is cheaper. Anyone have some better & confirmed info/data on this?

Original Post

Once wind is installed, the incremental cost of generation is effectively zero (minor maintenance costs), and in a perfect world it would run whenever possible. BUT in the UK market (and many others), however, contractual terms distort the strategy. Base-load generators have a contractual right to generate and sell a certain minimum amount (this has the effect of de-risking their capital investments and is effectively a subsidy), so if the grid doesn't need it, they have to be paid to not generate. This leads to the odd position where the apparent cost of wind generated power equals the subsidies that would have to be paid to the base-load generators for the displaced power. A less expensive solution is to turn the wind-power off. Idiotic, for sure. Not sure if that's what is happening, but it's a possibility.

Adam Zielinski posted:

A cost of building one wind-power turbine is somewhere in a region of Eur 1 mln... I think it's the infrastructure start up that make the whole thing a bit expensive.

Yeah, the economics are still a bit challenging. No fuel cost, but the cost of building a turbine is significant. Having said that, adequate return on that capital is harder to realize when the base-load gas/nuclear sources are so heavily subsidized. Nevertheless, the cost of capital in the markets for renewable energy is very low, reflecting a long-term view in the stable and predictable future of renewables.

Wind power likely wouldn't exist in the US if not for government subsidies. It's simply not economically feasible. The only selling point being that it's "green" and buys power companies C02 credits. There's some silly caveat in my billing options that allows me to pay more for "green" energy generation from wind, landfill gas, and agricultural waste. While I can support the notion of capturing energy from these factions it's all rather costly and currently insignificant in the large scale.  Traditional power generation is much cheaper and unlike wind, on demand. There may be regional areas where wind generation has promise for the future, but in the near term utilizing energy from the Carboniferous Period or Nuclear Age still makes vast economic sense. And economics are really the driver here.

Mike, there is huge ongoing investment into the East Anglia Zone wind  farms situated in the North Sea between England and the Netherlands... The enormity of it is amazing, with channels cut through the turbines for shipping. Additionally there are landing points to connect to the Supergrid, and one major point is the same connection point that Sizewell Nuclear Power station uses. I hear inshore fishing stocks are on the rise as the fish have the immediate safety of the turbines with their immediate fishing exclusion zone around the structures..

However I still hear that more energy is consumed in making a wind turbine that it will generate over its lifetime. If this is still the case this doesn't sound sustainable to me at the moment. Perhaps someone on the forum has the latest gen on this. I do understand manufacturing costs have significantly fallen however.

Simon

Simon,  I've been looking at the details for East Anglia Wind Gen Zone,  it's some investment & with 1200MW for each of the panned EA Zones we will not be short of meeting our commitment for renewables.  It still seems strange that this morning the NG is reporting only 0.5GW (500MW) on line.  Considering the vast sums for such investments I really can't believe its questionable, but it would be good to get some real data on all this,  more so now we are separating from EU & all that might involve.   It's a shame that a lot of this is imported technology.

 

The true cost of producing high quality electricity to meet demand is difficult to assess.

A quick Google and Wikipedia gives MWh Gas £55 - 130; Nuclear £80 - 105; Offshore Wind £150 - 210

On this basis, economics is going to prevail, regardless of virtually all other considerations and gas and nuclear are going to dominate the supply.

Nuclear is a clean, reliable and sustainable supply, suited to base-load generation. Gas is reliable and flexible, suited to base load and meeting peak demands.

Offshore Wind is expensive to build and maintain, clean (but there are other adverse issues) but unreliable.

For offshore wind to feature more, it needs to be developed together with electricity storage. That is its main drawback and part of its true cost. Meanwhile it is unreliable. Who wants an unreliable, expensive supplier ?

Don Atkinson posted:

For offshore wind to feature more, it needs to be developed together with electricity storage. That is its main drawback and part of its true cost. Meanwhile it is unreliable.

It's the wind and it's timing that's unreliable, but I get your point. Solar seems a better option than wind in that it has more potential for increased efficiency in the future, and expectations for solar consistency can be calculated on a daily and seasonal basis. Solar offers direct storage of electricity to a battery-type system but beyond wind also storage of heat to be used later for electric production.

Re solar:  UK has the ability to produce more solar power than coal it was announced in May this year.    That said it the significant decline in coal than the growth of solar.  It was also announced in May that UK produced no coal power for a few hours for the first time ever & coal will be gone completely by 2025.   Problem with solar is that it needs a huge land area & it renders the land more or less useless for other purposes;  the sheep we have in my local solar "farm" are primarily for grass cutting purposes.  The actual power we get from solar is estimated to be significantly higher than the official number as private house & other small array roof panels are not (cannot) measured centrally.   

My other frustration with power generation is the advancement in efficiency & carbon capture with CCGT makes it the lowest cost of the principal power sources.  However the cost of gas & the fact that it's mostly imported & is not an ideal strategic situation;   problem is the UK is sitting on top of one of the planet's largest natural gas fields thats estimated to be enough for well over 300 years. Apart from the gas recovered from offshore,  this huge untapped deposit is under the UK land area,   but it carries the "F" word.   Its a whole other subject but the politics, untruths, myths & public opinion surrounding fracking will probably mean we will never fully exploit this resource - & that to me is a big missed opportunity.  

Don't think of solar as traditional panels directly converting sunlight into electricity. Molten salt energy storage offers much promise as it is cost-effective and operates on demand, much like a fossil fuel production plant, but with no emissions.

The other thing with Solar that has put me off purchasing panels at the moment is the rapidly improving efficiency of panels. The latest multijunction panels are at 30% + efficiency and are improving every year. Cheap panels can be as as little as 10 to 15% efficient. I happen to think large rectangular slabs of glass on roof tops is hideously ugly, especially if your roof is very visible.. But highly efficient roof tile shaped panels would be another matter. With UK rooftop installation limited by regulation to a max of 4 kW alternatives to ugly glass panels shouldn't be too far away.

Simon

No good producing all this energy then letting it escape from our buildings we need to up the requirement for far better insulation properties and the way energy is used and stored in all types of new construction.

It can be done and long term is very cost effective.

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

The other thing with Solar that has put me off purchasing panels at the moment is the rapidly improving efficiency of panels. The latest multijunction panels are at 30% + efficiency and are improving every year. Cheap panels can be as as little as 10 to 15% efficient. I happen to think large rectangular slabs of glass on roof tops is hideously ugly, especially if your roof is very visible.. But highly efficient roof tile shaped panels would be another matter. With UK rooftop installation limited by regulation to a max of 4 kW alternatives to ugly glass panels shouldn't be too far away.

Simon

Autonomous solar power at the home level seems idealized to me and you're still going to have to rely on the grid, especially during winter. I doubt most homeowners want to be faced with the additional maintenance of rooftop solar. Best left to the power companies to get a large scale handle on solar and deliver it to the masses.

Cost effective, large-scale energy storage is a basic requirement of renewable energy. The intermittent nature of virtually all renewable energy supplies is its Achillies Heel. Supply patterns simply don’t match demand.

Large-scale storage of compressed air could be one possible solution. Stored in otherwise redundant salt mines, or vacated oil/gas fields, close to off-shore wind turbines, might be a viable option.

Air, compressed to about 60 bar, would be stored and released to drive turbines as and when demand is made.

Ok, so compressing air requires energy and produces heat, raising the temperature of such compressed air to about 500 deg C. Heat recovery/storage in nearby water storage might help conserve some of this otherwise wasted energy. And releasing the pressure of cooled stored air would reduce its temperature to about minus 150 deg C – so the stored heat from compression might be useful after all to raise this temperature as required.

Early tests at St Andrews and about half a dozen other universities look promising, achieving about 70% efficiency in the energy storage system.

 The primary purpose of pumped storage is to boost the NG during sudden/unexpected demand periods for short periods - it takes up to an hour to get CCGT generators up to power & days for nuclear.  Dinorwig in Wales is 8th most powerful in the world & = 1st in Europe at 1800 MW.   The power up cycle is extremely rapid,  from a cold start it takes around 75 seconds to synchronise & be at full load.  But if the demand is anticipated (as is normal) they go into standby mode & the 6 generators are spun up & synchronised in air, then they can be at full load in 16 seconds.  Dinorwig can run for 6 hours continuous before the upper reservoir runs out of water.    Pumped water storage is a net user of power (it costs more power to pump to refill the supply reservoir than it generates),  however thats no concern & is useful as the refill is done at night when there is a surplus of power available & avoids the cost of power cycling CCGT.

Agreed Mike,

and that is why we need a national strategy for our electricity supply, which we used to have, but at present seems to be in disarray !

assuming as a nation we have agreed to eliminate coal-fired power stations, we need to bring on line an alternative, guaranteed supply that will meet demand, when demand is demanded !

CCGT is one economic option, but the fuel supply (gas) isn't totally guaranteed. new nuclear is another option, and the government needs to pull its finger out and get building underway and/or extend the life of existing installations and/or delay the decommissioning of coal stations.

The above generators (Coal, CCGT and Nuclear) are base load generating systems. We can meet forecast demand quite easily, including peaks if we have enough of them. Any surplus capacity during off-peak times can be used to top up storage systems as we do now. Nuclear is safe, clean and sustainable. It will help us meet our environmental commitments as well.

By all means let us harvest wind power. And hydro-electricity. Both use free fuel and are sustainable in that sense. But wind power on its own is not able to meet demand, when demand is needed. It might help reduce the consumption of gas in CCGT. Is that cost-effective ?

Wind power, wave power, tidal power, solar power need to come with their own storage systems if they are to be effective contributors to our power-on-demand requirements. There are two (sort of) viable storage systems in existence in the UK at present. Chemical (batteries) and pumped hydro eg Foyers and Ben Cruchan (small) and Dinorwig (largish). But that's it. I don't think there are any more viable pumped storage sites available and the battery systems don't seem to be effective.

So until we come up a large scale, viable storage system, I think we need a medium term strategy based on extending existing coal for another decade or so, extending existing nuclear for a decade or so and start building new nuclear as the long-term solution. And I wouldn't rely on the Chinese or the French.

 

Well put Don, we have not had a long term energy policy for many years and
this is why we are in the position we find ourselves in.

To much reliance on foreign investment the new Nuclear power station is so
far behind schedule it's beyond beggars believe and with the problems they
are experiencing in France with the same type I can see it falling behind
further and costs escalating.

Might pay for us all to buy some candles and see if Naim can do 250DR with
a petrol engine.
Don Atkinson posted:

............. and that is why we need a national strategy  .............. +1 x 100

CCGT is one economic option, but the fuel supply (gas) isn't totally guaranteed 

Dare I mention the "F" word ????   Its a simple & fast track solution to secure our own gas supply & covers the inevitable delays that we will have with nuclear.  Its done wonders for the USA & we have it under our feet in zillions

Pcd posted:

No good producing all this energy then letting it escape from our buildings we need to up the requirement for far better insulation properties and the way energy is used and stored in all types of new construction.

It can be done and long term is very cost effective.

Agreed. One of the things that goes with renewables and their relatively high cost is the incentive to use less energy. This is at it most obvious where people go "off grid". Their local solar panels can only supply a fraction of what an average household uses, so they end up being ultra-efficient in their energy use (by necessity). Insulation is part of this, as are simpler lifestyle choices.

winkyincanada posted:
Pcd posted:

No good producing all this energy then letting it escape from our buildings we need to up the requirement for far better insulation properties and the way energy is used and stored in all types of new construction.

It can be done and long term is very cost effective.

Agreed. One of the things that goes with renewables and their relatively high cost is the incentive to use less energy. This is at it most obvious where people go "off grid". Their local solar panels can only supply a fraction of what an average household uses, so they end up being ultra-efficient in their energy use (by necessity). Insulation is part of this, as are simpler lifestyle choices.

winky,

Mike (and others, including myself) have been talking about the production of electricity. Now i'm not entirely certain but I guess that most UK homes are heated by gas or oil. Electricity is an expensive option and certainly is used in some domestic places for space heating and water heating, but I suspect not many.

So, whilst insulation and frugility have their part to play, I don't think it will significantly reduce the UK's electricity demand.

Now in BC (the Okanagan), our house is better insulated than here in the UK and we are much more careful in both summer to keep it cool (saves on A/C costs) and winter to keep it warm by keeping doors and windows open/shut etc. Of course our heating/cooling/humidifier is powered by BC Hydro and I guess most of their electricity comes from the Columbia River Basin where the "fuel" is free.

Then again, perhaps some of their electricity comes from the Pincher Creek area where one day I wondered lonely as cloud, that floats on high o'er vales and hills when all at once I saw a crowd, a host of off-white windy mills.............now that is a landscape  environmentalist's nightmare, and mine too. Just wait until some bright spark builds an offshore wind farm alongside the West Coast Trail! Now these sorts of eyesores are certainly an incentive to use less electricity

Don Atkinson posted:

By all means let us harvest wind power. And hydro-electricity. Both use free fuel and are sustainable in that sense.

Speaking from a (US) Pacific Northwest perspective, hydro is viewed as 'clean' but not 'green'. Clean in that there are no emissions, but not green in that there are significant environmental costs, most notably to salmon runs, wildlife, and the overall riparian health of the affected ecosystem. Restricted streambed movement and alteration of daily, seasonal, and annual flows are also big detriments. Fortunately, folks in the Pacific Northwest have shown a willingness to pay increased electric bills to help try to mitigate these factors - foremost to sustain salmon, important to our cultural identity. It's also fortunate that increased cost promotes conservation. I can't see that there will ever be a free fuel for energy production but solar seems the closest at present. Even there, regional restrictions apply.

joerand posted:
'clean' but not 'green'

What is clean & green ???  maybe nothing !!!!     Hydro does not get a green badge,  but salmon runs can be a built in as part of the construction - OK they take a few years with active fish mngt to become established - & some downstream flooding can also be managed.   Solar has a visual impact & renders land useless,  but the visual impact of solar is nothing in comparison to land based wind turbines. Offshore turbines are favourable for many reasons  but unless they are beyond the horizon they still pollute.   Then what about the distribution,  not even thinking about the eye catching scenery,  nation grid 400kV pylons & double quad lines running across rural landscapes is offensive.     No easy answers for any of this, its part of the price we pay I guess.  

I live between Bristol and Bath so the topic of the new Hinckley Nuclear power station is on the local news a far bit.

Taking up on Mike-B his thoughts on the disribution policy this should be a major factor when these plans are put into place, it looks as if we are going to have pylons very close to the Mendips which is an aera of outstanding beauty and pylons should not be allowed to spoil that.

This cost of underground cables should be factored into the intial costing, the National grid are currently spending in excess of 500 million to replace pylons with underground cabling in three area's of outstanding beauty spots two in the Lake district one in Dorset they should have done the job properly in the first place.

Hinckley power station has an estimated cost of 18 billion I bet anybody a Naim Power-Line this will exceed 20 billion with ease so if you look at the cost of burying ALL the cables at 500 million by the time the costs have escalated well past 18 billion this will look like loose change.

By the way if the do build plylons I am located 30 miles away so I shan't see them but I feel very strongly about spoiling our lovely countryside.

 

Pcd posted:

I live between Bristol and Bath so the topic of the new Hinckley Nuclear power station is on the local news a far bit.   Taking up on Mike-B his thoughts on the distribution policy this should be a major factor when these plans are put into place, it looks as if we are going to have pylons very close to the Mendips which is an area of outstanding beauty and pylons should not be allowed to spoil that.

This cost of underground cables should be factored into the initial costing,

Interestingly going back to the East Anglia Offshore Wind project we posted about at the beginning of this thread.   The 66kV undersea lines come ashore & will all be going underground to the Bramford Substation.

Pcd posted:

I live between Bristol and Bath so the topic of the new Hinckley Nuclear power station is on the local news a far bit.

Taking up on Mike-B his thoughts on the disribution policy this should be a major factor when these plans are put into place, it looks as if we are going to have pylons very close to the Mendips which is an aera of outstanding beauty and pylons should not be allowed to spoil that.

This cost of underground cables should be factored into the intial costing, the National grid are currently spending in excess of 500 million to replace pylons with underground cabling in three area's of outstanding beauty spots two in the Lake district one in Dorset they should have done the job properly in the first place.

Hinckley power station has an estimated cost of 18 billion I bet anybody a Naim Power-Line this will exceed 20 billion with ease so if you look at the cost of burying ALL the cables at 500 million by the time the costs have escalated well past 18 billion this will look like loose change.

By the way if the do build plylons I am located 30 miles away so I shan't see them but I feel very strongly about spoiling our lovely countryside.

 

I agree whole-heartedly that visual intrusion in the landscape should be taken into account in any "change-of-use" scheme, whether this be highways, transmission lines, solar panels, wind turbines etc.

But your reference to "they" should have done the job properly in the first place raises some very interesting questions.

Firstly, who are "they". The UK national grid and power generation system generally was organised by either government or quasi-government organisations. "They" were charged by "us" the electorate, via MPs, Parliament and government to produce electricity and distribute it. It is up to "us" to persuade each other, whether to minimise cost or minimise impact or adopt some compromise. This is not easy, (as those of us in the UK know all too well at the moment)

Fortunately IMHO, society is beginning to consider the environment more carefully, but big-business still has a lot of clout when it comes to funding and running infrastructure projects.

 

joerand posted:
Don Atkinson posted:

By all means let us harvest wind power. And hydro-electricity. Both use free fuel and are sustainable in that sense.

Speaking from a (US) Pacific Northwest perspective, hydro is viewed as 'clean' but not 'green'. Clean in that there are no emissions, but not green in that there are significant environmental costs, most notably to salmon runs, wildlife, and the overall riparian health of the affected ecosystem. Restricted streambed movement and alteration of daily, seasonal, and annual flows are also big detriments. Fortunately, folks in the Pacific Northwest have shown a willingness to pay increased electric bills to help try to mitigate these factors - foremost to sustain salmon, important to our cultural identity. It's also fortunate that increased cost promotes conservation. I can't see that there will ever be a free fuel for energy production but solar seems the closest at present. Even there, regional restrictions apply.

Hi Joe, as Mike says, nothing is "free". hence all change has a cost.

In the context of my post, i thought that the term "Cost" and "Free" were obvious in relation to fuel.  However, I accept that even coal, gas and uranium are "free" as well as river water, sunlight and wind. The "cost" of using these resources includes separating them from their natural environment, transport, refining for use and the compromises we make, such as visual intrusion, subsidence, disruption to wildlife and food resources, in order to use them. Plus, in some cases, trades that we have to make if we wish to use resources located in someones else's territory.

I think we are getting a bit better at making informed choices with respect to electricity generation and that we are also beginning to make better choices. But not always.

I don't think wind power can be considered environmentally friendly until someone comes up with a means of disposal for cured CFRP used in the manufacture of the blades. The same argument applies to aircraft which are using higher proportions on CFRP in their manufactue.

Will the fact we’re leaving the EU, effect the cost/security of supply of imported gas from/though Europe.

Will we pay a tariff on the gas?

Will we pay a surcharge for importing gas through the EU gas transportation infrastructure?

If there’s a shortage of gas available to Europe, for some reason, will we be at the end of the queue. We are at the end of the pipeline.

I believe  around 45% of UK gas comes from our own gas fields & 10+% from LPG (ship transport from USA & ME)   The rest is from various sources,  mostly Russia & Norway.  Although the gas is drawn from the combined European supply system, the contract is with Russia & Norway as I understand it. 

The other answers ............. I guess its wait & see what the next 2 years working on Article 50 will bring

You might ask when we can get fracking for our own gas & become a net supplier to EU Europe

Aren't those the questions that your polititians answered before UK went to a referendum?

After all only a decision based on facts is an informed one...

If the UK does leave the EU the negotiations on the trading status with the EU can only start AFTER the country has left. Not before. So it will take another 5-10 years after leaving that the UK may have some sort of agreement in place...

Adam Zielinski posted:

Aren't those the questions that your polititians answered before UK went to a referendum?

After all only a decision based on facts is an informed one...

If the UK does leave the EU the negotiations on the trading status with the EU can only start AFTER the country has left. Not before. So it will take another 5-10 years after leaving that the UK may have some sort of agreement in place...

Politicians thinking ahead (about anything other than themselves) ? I've a mind to ask Richard to transfer this post to the "Best Jokes" thread.

An electorate that asks meaningful questions before making up its mind ? Ha ha ha............

Don Atkinson posted:
winkyincanada posted:
Pcd posted:

No good producing all this energy then letting it escape from our buildings we need to up the requirement for far better insulation properties and the way energy is used and stored in all types of new construction.

It can be done and long term is very cost effective.

Agreed. One of the things that goes with renewables and their relatively high cost is the incentive to use less energy. This is at it most obvious where people go "off grid". Their local solar panels can only supply a fraction of what an average household uses, so they end up being ultra-efficient in their energy use (by necessity). Insulation is part of this, as are simpler lifestyle choices.

winky,

Mike (and others, including myself) have been talking about the production of electricity. Now i'm not entirely certain but I guess that most UK homes are heated by gas or oil. Electricity is an expensive option and certainly is used in some domestic places for space heating and water heating, but I suspect not many.

So, whilst insulation and frugility have their part to play, I don't think it will significantly reduce the UK's electricity demand.

Now in BC (the Okanagan), our house is better insulated than here in the UK and we are much more careful in both summer to keep it cool (saves on A/C costs) and winter to keep it warm by keeping doors and windows open/shut etc. Of course our heating/cooling/humidifier is powered by BC Hydro and I guess most of their electricity comes from the Columbia River Basin where the "fuel" is free.

Then again, perhaps some of their electricity comes from the Pincher Creek area where one day I wondered lonely as cloud, that floats on high o'er vales and hills when all at once I saw a crowd, a host of off-white windy mills.............now that is a landscape  environmentalist's nightmare, and mine too. Just wait until some bright spark builds an offshore wind farm alongside the West Coast Trail! Now these sorts of eyesores are certainly an incentive to use less electricity

I'm really thinking in terms of overall energy efficiency. It matters not whether you reduce your gas usage directly, or reduce the use of electricity generated by burning gas. Also, if one goes "off grid" it includes not buying gas for heating. The only energy one can generate is electricity, unless you own a forest and can burn the wood.

I personally don't find wind turbines to be an eyesore. To me, they look like the future.

Landscapes are almost all shaped by human interference; at least wind turbines look better than power stations and coal mines.

winkyincanada posted:

I personally don't find wind turbines to be an eyesore. To me, they look like the future.

Landscapes are almost all shaped by human interference; at least wind turbines look better than power stations and coal mines.

We obviously disagree on this one winky.

I can cope with a few power stations on the Yorkshire coal fields and a few on remote coast lines such as Dungeness, but wind turbines on every hill in southern England and the Borders in southern Scotland, plus that mass between the Prairies and the Rocky Mountains - no thank you.

I can also cope with Abbot's Hut even though it "intrudes" in the landscape both from the Lake Louise side and the Lake O'Hara/Oessa side of Mt Victoria. man's footprint between Banff and Siccamous and from the 49th to the Arctic between those longitudes is pretty insignificant in terms of visual intrusion. Put a few wind farms in there and I bet you wouldn't be the most popular environmentalist in BC !

Nice picture BTW

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