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Wind press

The Renewable Energy Foundation has been pressing the Scottish Government and its bureaucrats to explain some of the answers it has given in Parliament about the performance of windfarms. These seem to have been prompted by Gordon Hughes' report on the poor performance of UK windfarms compared to those in Denmark (see earlier BH post here). The new correspondence has been published at REF's website here.

It seems that Hughes' findings have been discounted by the bureaucrats on the grounds that the turbines installed prior to 2002 were "immature". Which is it bit odd when you think about it. Why would immature turbines be installed in the UK but mature ones in Denmark?

Amazingly, the bureaucracy also seems to be arguing that one should not correct for different wind availability when comparing performance in the two countries.

The REF are, unsurprisingly, unimpressed:

The fundamental question that is raised by the correspondence is whether the Scottish Government is committed to the development of policies that rely upon the best evidence available or whether it is more interested in creating policy-based evidence.

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Reader Comments (30)

Since 2005, Denmark has been dumping wind surge power to Nordic hydro via the Scandinavian power grid with which Denmark's western grid is connected via AC interconnects.

They then claim that the 10% of their enregy they get from spot pice Nordic hydro and nuclear is wind power.

The fact is, without that dumping at zero earnings to Nordic hydro, it makes Aluminium at SundalWerk, that energy would still have to be exported to Germany, at zero earnings.

Scotland must invest in massive pump storage.

Jun 13, 2013 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

'Policy based evidence'

Good one!

Jun 13, 2013 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterRog Tallbloke

Not content with the results of lying to us they resort to lying to themselves.

Jun 13, 2013 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

An Immature Wind Turbine.

A childish stroppy Wind Turbine like something from Harry Hill TV Burp.

"Im not turning now I hate you I wish I had been adopted im phoning Child Line its so unfair"

Worth a josh cartoon.

Jun 13, 2013 at 9:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Look on the bright side. If Scotland's wind turbines are immature it should be a long time before they become senile!

Jun 13, 2013 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Not so much "Immature Wind Turbines",

More like, immature decisions to build them.

Jun 13, 2013 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

I don't suppose 'location, location, location!' has anything to do with it?

Jun 13, 2013 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

I didn't think Hughes' reported that Danish windmills were better than UK ones, but rather that they were all dreadful.

Hughes found from studying generation data (not a mathematical model) that onshore windmills capacity factor (CF) declined by 1 % (nominal) per annum, so that after 10 years of operation their CF had fallen from 26 % to 15 %, and after 15 years to 11 %. The lifetime capacity factor is reduced from 26 % to ~16 %. He didn't have sufficient data to report on offshore windmills with any confidence, but there are already hints that they're worse (what a surprise).

I suppose the offshore windmills we're putting up are also immature? They appear to be, many of the damn things still have gearboxes!

Jun 13, 2013 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

fig leaves

Jun 13, 2013 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

Apparently SSE's brand new 68 turbine (2.3MW) Griffin wind scheme managed an average load factor of 15.5% between June 2012 and May 2013. This was despite assurances from the developer at the public inquiry that 30% would be the norm. Sadly the Inquiry Reporter (the Scottish equivalent of the Inspector) stated in his report: "I find the applicant's working assumptions to be reasonable, including the 30% capacity factor..." See Do Wind Farms Help to Fight Climate Change?, Comment, May 28th 2013 for more details.

In the last year, two hen harriers have been killed by Griffin windmills, and again the evidence submitted at the public inquiry that the turbines would present a threat to these Appendix 1 species (which should have been protected by UK and European law) was ignored. (both the RSPB and SNH refused to object to the scheme and it was left local ornthologists to make the case against).

Amazingly SSE now wants to extend the wind farm by building another 15 or so turbines.

Jun 13, 2013 at 10:52 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Yet again we see a Government in denial of the truth revealed by a study of empirical data. They sure prefer policy-based evidence over evidence-based policy. No lies are too big for Governments to use to cover up their idiotic policies. Unfortunately the politicians responsible for the policies and accompanying lies will have long retired to their foreign homes with their fat tax-payer funded pensions by the time the bovine scatology has hit the large useless rotating object.

Jun 13, 2013 at 10:52 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

'It seems that Hughes' findings have been discounted by the bureaucrats on the grounds that the turbines installed prior to 2002 were "immature".'

There are simply just too many bureaucrats taking IQ lowering medication.

Jun 13, 2013 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterManfred

Just looked again at the Hughes report. The Danish windmills do perform better (but they're not exactly inspiring). I think it's easy to see why. In Denmark the windmills are almost always installed in lowland, farmed areas with good road access for maintenance; in the UK (and thus mainly Scotland) they're built in remote, boggy uplands where the costs of getting maintenance machinery such as cranes to the windmills probably means that when they fail they stay failed. So the solution is obvious, but I expect unpalatable.

Jun 13, 2013 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Capell; your post prompted a cynical thought....When these windfarms are paid to not generate, is any cross-checking done to confirm the available capacity?
Given the track record, it seems likely that the despatchable capacity of a farm at any time may be well below its nameplate output.

Jun 13, 2013 at 11:23 AM | Registered Commentermikeh

I suspect they need the additional turbines to get the output up to the original predicted levels. Probably hoping that the approval will be nodded through and no-one will notice what has happened.

Jun 13, 2013 at 11:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

> Amazingly SSE now wants to extend the wind farm by building another 15 or so turbines.

With each of these a guaranteed subsidy generator for SSE, why is this amazing?

What _should_ be amazing is if they're allowed to.

Jun 13, 2013 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial


"the RSPB and SNH refused to object to the scheme"

I am constantly amazed by the behaviour of the RSPB. Have they been nobbled, and if so, how?

Jun 13, 2013 at 12:59 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp


That's a very good point.

Jun 13, 2013 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

'...more interested in creating policy-based evidence..'

Ooooh - I bet that hurt...

Jun 13, 2013 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

I understand the RSPB get a kick-back every time an RSPB member signs up to an 'environmentally friendly" energy tariff.

But if even the Institution of Civil Engineers (of which I am a Member) is riddled with eco-loons at high level, what price the amateur bird spotter and bunny hugger outfits like the RSPB?

Jun 13, 2013 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered Commentermartin brumby

Do immature wind turbines lock themselves in their, rooms dress all in black and listen to goth music for days at a time instead of producing power?

Jun 13, 2013 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

The only people creating policy based evidence are the renewable energy foundation themselves.


Jun 13, 2013 at 6:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterLeo Smith

The RSPB are a disgrace since their senior managers started to support wind turbines. I had supported that organisation for twenty years but stopped all support when they began to support the killing of birds.

Jun 13, 2013 at 6:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnB

JohnB; I did exactly the same. I tried a number of times to get the RSPB to provide some data on bird and bat mortality but they consistently ducked (sorry) the question. The refrain was that climate change was a greater threat to wildlife than any possible adverse impacts from turbines. I asked how they could say that without any figures (leaving aside the CC nonsense) and, if the data did not exist, they should be doing the studies. Then I read that they are applying for a monster turbine at their HQ...

Jun 13, 2013 at 7:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeH

I too (and many others I know) stopped being a member of the RSPB due to their love of bird-mincers.

Jun 13, 2013 at 8:22 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Traditionally hydropower plants buy nuclear at base load to store energy and sell it later at peak tariff, which makes hydropower a very profitable green energy (don't mention that most of it is recycled nuclear).
But what makes Nordic Hydro buy Dannish Wind, which I presume, cannot be a bargain?

Jun 13, 2013 at 8:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterPatagon


Birds are taken into consideration. The survivors, if migratory in nature, will be exterminated at the bottleneck of the European migratory superhighway, the Gibraltar strait. Here some of the same multinationals that are building mills in Scotland are also building more mature bird choppers. Rest assure about their efficiency, they have two ex-presidents of the host country in their advisory panels. Once birds are eliminated, wind mills are no longer a problem for the local or migratory fauna.

Jun 13, 2013 at 8:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPatagon

Its subsidy maximiser.
Under the government’s Feed-In Tariff (FIT) scheme, which aims to make renewable energies competitive with fossil fuels, the size of a turbine is measured not by height but by power output. If a turbine pumps out more than 500kW, its owners receive 9.5p per kilowatt hour. But a ‘smaller’ sub-500kW one receives a subsidy of 17.5p per kilowatt hour, supposedly to compensate for its lower efficiency. The idea is to lure smaller wind-power producers into the market.

Jun 14, 2013 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterBill Irvine

I don't have up-to-date figures but some year ago Norsk Hydro were buying danish wind at 26 € per MWh and selling it back at 89 € . Even allowing for the 25-30% loss from the double conversion it looked like a profitable business.

Since then many German wind farms have come on line, and there are reports that some Danish wind has to be sold at zero to get it taken. Bear in mind that Poland and the Czech Republic are both actively trying to stop german wind electricity being dumped into their grids. This is because there is not enough capacity in the german transmission lines to get power from the big new farms in the Baltic Sea down to southern Germany where it could be used.

So if the electricity can't be sent East or South, it has to go via Denmark to Norway. It's a buyers market and the Norwegians have memories of pillaging the helpless.

Jun 14, 2013 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

So wind turbines operate at about 50% of their predicted realistic output, which was less than 30% of stated capcaity. This means a gigawatt of wind capacity instead of delivering about 300 megawatts is only deliversing an average of about 160 megawatts. And apparently in the highly aggressive marine environment, that final small actual deliverable is reduced annually by wear, tear and environmental impacts.
The only good this sort of arrangement can offer is to the the party selling and installing them at government mandated inflated prices. No rational decision maker would ever choose to do this without huge government guarantees.

Jun 14, 2013 at 11:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

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