David Bidstrup: Some more about wind.

Thanks to those who read and commented on my recent post titled “Where were the renewables when we needed them”. The notes below refer to total wind only. Solar is minimal and useless.

The main criterion for electricity security is the ability for generators to meet demand at any time. When renewables boosters talk of the percentage of electricity that renewables provide they invariably use averages over a year. This is misleading because there are times when the renewables contribute virtually zero.

In the recent post I used January 18 2018 as an example because it demonstrates how low renewables output coupled with high demand puts the “fossil fuel” and hydro plants at the forefront of generation. The two days 18 and 19 January 2018 were the days of highest demand for the entire year and in both instances renewables failed to contribute much to the peak demand – see charts in previous post.

At the point of maximum demand for 18 January, (30,899 MW at 17.45), the contribution from wind was 578 MW or 1.87%. The maximum demand for 2018 was 31,844 MW on the next day, January 19 and wind supplied 6.2% at the time of maximum demand.

If the planet savers wanted renewables to supply 50% of the electricity then to meet maximum demand on the worst day the wind capacity needs to be increased by a factor of 26. For 100% the factor is 53 times. It will still be “intermittent” and on days of lesser demand the system will be hugely over capacity and output would need to be curtailed.

If the solution was to use batteries to “store excess renewable power” then 50% renewables would need 2,697 100 MWh batteries to fill the gap. At around $100 million each the cost is $269 billion. For 100% they would need 5,676 of the same for a cost off $567 billion. Batteries might last for around 10 years before needing replacement. The tricky bit would be getting them recharged in time for the next day.

The table below compares 18 Jan and 19 Jan 2018. The first column shows the maximum demand and the second the corresponding contribution by wind. The third expresses this as a percentage. The next two columns give the daily total MWh for the total system and for wind. Next shows the MWh deficit that needs to be made up if the system was “all renewables” and finally the number of 100 MWh batteries needed to store that deficit and the cost using $100 million each as a “budget” cost. Recently there have been a number of proposals put up for 100 MWh batteries in SA and the cost is given as $100 million each so I have used that number.

In terms of deficit 18 Jan is the worst day so there needs to be “storage” for 567,618 MWh and this would need to be “re-charged” to 100% to cope for the next day. “Snowy 2.0” is supposed to have a capacity to store 350,000 MWh and release it over a week – say 50,000 MWh per day –  which is about 8% of the daily deficit so we would need 12 “Snowy 2.0’s” worth of storage for each day. The reasonable question to ask the renewables spruikers is “where is the “excess renewable energy” going to come from?”

Note that in terms of MWh the contribution from wind on 18 Jan was 4.74% but in terms of meeting maximum MW demand it was 1.87%. For 19 Jan the corresponding percentages were 10.53 and 6.19.

The table below shows the time that wind is less than a certain percentage of demand over the whole of 2018. The intervals in the data are every 5 minutes and although the sum of these is expressed as hours or days it does not mean the time intervals are consecutive. The maximum percentage ever reached is 19.3% and the minimum is 0.0%.

It also shows the minimum and maximum for both % demand met and capacity factor. The average % demand met over the whole year is 7.2%.

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14 Responses to David Bidstrup: Some more about wind.

  1. Bruce of Newcastle

    If the planet savers wanted renewables to supply 50% of the electricity then to meet maximum demand on the worst day the wind capacity needs to be increased by a factor of 26. For 100% the factor is 53 times.

    The problem with that is the quality of wind sites falls with more turbines being installed, because naturally the wind operators build the windiest sites first. So as time goes by the places where wind turbines can be built become more and more marginal.

    So the real capacity needed is going to be a whole lot higher than 26 or 52 times, because the yield factor is progressively going to drop.

    Meanwhile we’re about to be buried under giant plastic blades.

    The environmental fiasco of wind energy (4 Sep)

    A wind farm near Albert Lea, Minn., brought dozens of their old turbine blades to the Sioux Falls dump this summer.

    But City Hall says it won’t take anymore unless owners take more steps to make the massive fiberglass pieces less space consuming.

    The wind energy industry isn’t immune to cyclical replacement, with turbine blades needing to be replaced after a decade or two in use. That has wind energy producers looking for places to accept the blades on their turbines that need to be replaced.

    Turbine blades are very tough, very stiff and very hollow to save weight. So mincing them up would be difficult and energy intensive. They are also full of glass or carbon fibres, which if released in milling would be harmful. If dumps are already refusing old blades what will it be like with 26 or 52 or however many times more of them. And if they have to be replaced every ten or twenty years because of wear and tear, then the size of the pile is going to rival Everest.

    Then there would be that pile of old batteries next to it, which would be even bigger.

  2. All this talk about facts and reality is so yesterday. All that matters is whether it feels good. Now where’s that virtue signalling lamp of mine?

  3. Karabar

    We are often told that renewables are no more expensive than real electricity supply.
    Dollars and cents are not sufficient to determine the value of a commodity.
    In order to have value, an electricity supply must be reliable, secure, and affordable.
    Renewables do not support any of these criteria. For the most part hat includes hydro.

  4. John Bayley

    And if they have to be replaced every ten or twenty years because of wear and tear, then the size of the pile is going to rival Everest.

    Then there would be that pile of old batteries next to it, which would be even bigger.

    By that stage, it will be clear that Idiocracy was not really a pisstake, but a documentary, and the world will look like this, so it won’t matter.

  5. RobK

    Renewables will always come in cycles of gluts and droughts, on a variety of time scales, making storage an intractable problem to base a business model on. It is impossible to be sure of the value of the stored energy from one moment to the next.

  6. Rafe Champion

    David the complementary approach is to consider the choke points when the wind is at the lowest point that can be effectively zero as you say, about 2% of plated capacity.

    It is the choke points that will collapse the grid like the time you are under water for 5 or ten minutes.

    We need to convey a vivid sense of that situation to people in the street with limited capacity to handle a lot of statistics.

  7. We need to convey a vivid sense of that situation to people in the street with limited capacity to handle a lot of statistics.

    Only living through regular blackouts will any of this really begin to make sense to the majority.

  8. Wallace

    All of this is a non-argument because you can not have synchronous a/c without base load generation.
    We all know in our hearts that renewables will not work for us.

  9. teamv

    On Thursday 5 September 2019 at 6am, demand in the NEM was 20.6GW.

    Wind power which has an NEM installed capacity of 6.7GW was producing just 0.4GW.

    Solar power (rooftop and commercial) which has a NEM installed capacity of 11.4GW was producing 0GW.

    Source: https://anero.id/energy/2019/september/5

  10. Rafe Champion

    Another thing to explain is the real cost. This is not easy because so much is hidden in the cost of power in addition to the on-budget items like the subsidies and handouts including soft loans. That is all more complicated since the states went mad on RE.

    We can make more use of the Fisher modelling as well.

    A potential game changer will be when some body of opinion in Labor ranks becomes informed and articulate, if only behind closed doors at first.

  11. John Bayley

    Wind power which has an NEM installed capacity of 6.7GW was producing just 0.4GW.

    Solar power (rooftop and commercial) which has a NEM installed capacity of 11.4GW was producing 0GW.

    That’s a feature, not a bug.
    Soon we will have an Earth Hour or several on a semi-regular basis, and Gaia will be happy.
    Maybe.

  12. The Global Warmers solution is demand management; turn off all energy dependent industries (except in their workplace of course) and send their workers home (they would also go home)

    and they would ban air conditioning, (except in their workplace or homes of course).

  13. John A

    Forester #3148911, posted on September 6, 2019, at 2:41 pm

    The Global Warmers solution is demand management; turn off all energy dependent industries (except in their workplace of course) and send their workers home (they would also go home)

    and they would ban air conditioning, (except in their workplace or homes of course).

    Demand management = someone else telling me what I can and cannot do (mostly cannot).

    Always reminds me of the Goon Show character Willyum (mate) the Cockney, who wanders around London with no authority whatsoever telling people off: “Put out dat fag!” “Move along, now” “You can’t park ‘ere, mate!”

  14. Thank you David for another brilliant post about real wind metrics which we all know will never get a mention by either the ABC or the MSM.
    Australia’s wind industry is heavily promoted by a multitude of taxpayer funded organisations eg. ARENA for renewable energy grants, CEFC for favourable financing of the many renewable energy projects they say will lead Australia to transition, sustainably to nett ZERO emissions. DUH!
    No metrics that might detract from this fairy tale future are allowed.
    Your examples that show wind has failed to contribute to peak demand, the massive costs of battery storage together and your table of demand and capacity factors are much appreciated.
    I note that most wind studies claim a CF of 35%+ compared with your 26%.
    The wind industry and many politicians are happy to deceive voters about the desirability of high cost, intermittent wind energy and it’s always promoted as power for x number of homes, number of workers during construction and an amount of CO2 displaced with no mention of real generating capacity. Take the Macarthur wind farm with an installed capacity of 420MW but with a CF of around 25% is only equivalent to 100 MW capacity.
    Great post on Snowy 2

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