Feeds

Research: Wind power pricier, emits more CO2 than thought

'Windfarm output is never zero. Sometimes it's less'

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The relationship between wind power and demand was analysed by considering the moments of peak electrical demand in each of the last 6 years and ... the wind output for these moments ... each of them occur on a winter’s day between 5 pm and 6 pm, as this is the time when commercial and domestic demand combines into the day’s peak. As can be seen ... 16 January 2001 and 2 February 2006 were times of very little wind output ... and would likely fall into the category described as ‘low wind cold snap’ ... on 2 February 2006 the electricity demand in Britain reached its peak for 2006. The wind power model suggests that the output for the wind farms of Britain at that time would have been zero ... wind farm output for neighbouring countries has been determined for the same moment in time ... the measured output from NorthWest Germany, Ireland, and Spain was low ...

This passage in the report aroused particular ire from the British Wind Energy Association, speaking to the Sunday Telegraph on the matter at the weekend.

"When you look at the UK system as a whole, there is electricity coming from wind 100 per cent of the time," expostulated a testy spokesperson. "There is no moment in time when the output of the pool falls to zero."

Oswald's report partly agrees with this, saying that it is true that aggregate wind output is never exactly zero. Sometimes it's less than zero, though. It was during the nasty calm of 2006, for instance:

The [output of the UK's real-world] wind farms monitored by the National Grid [from 5-6 pm on February 2nd 2006] is shown as negative as the consumption of electricity used by these wind farms (to drive auxiliary loads) exceeded the total output.

And a supergrid to Europe wouldn't have helped, as everyone else had calms and high midwinter early evening demand too. That demand peak in 2006 was especially bad for wind power, but it was far from freakish. Such "low wind cold snaps" are routine, caused by midwinter high-pressure systems lurking on top of northwest Europe.

Like all such high-pressure systems they can easily hang about for a few days - sometimes longer - and according to Oswald this means you aren't going to cope with them by using pumped-storage kit. Such systems, typified by the Dinorwig installation in Scotland Wales, could lift water uphill using spare wind power on breezy mornings and let it flow down through hydropower turbines on calm evenings. They are much fancied by wind power advocates.

But speaking to the Reg yesterday, Oswald said that a realistically feasible UK pumped-storage base would only cope with one or two days of low winds at best. He said that there's a five-day calm most winters; and every twenty years or so you can expect a ten-dayer.

"I'm quite rude about pumped storage," he told us.

In his view, all this means that - certainly in a 2020 timeframe - the only feasible backup for the planned 25-gig wind base will be good old gas turbines. These would have to be built even if pumped storage existed, to deal with long-duration calms; and the expense of a triplefold wind, gas and pumped storage solution would be ridiculous. At present, gas turbine installations provide much of the grid's ability to deal with demand changes through the day.

The trouble is, according to Oswald, that human demand variance is predictable and smooth compared to wind output variance. Coping with the sudden ups and downs of wind is going to mean a lot more gas turbines - ones which will be thrashed especially hard as wind output surges up and down, and which will be fired up for less of the time.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.