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« The warmist's MO | Main | Energy prices rises caused by government »

Energy impact

I'm grateful to reader Mark for the image here (click for full size). It shows an area near Barenburg, Saxony in which there are both wind turbines and gas wells. Mark explains the importance:

I think it rather illustrates the point we have been making the last few years. There are 11 gas wells in the photo, but they are extremely difficult to spot due to their small size relative to the wind turbines (they can be located by the things that look like mobile phone masts).  In fact the gas is from sandstone, rather than shale rock, but I understand that they were hydrofractured in the 1970s to improve recovery (like the Wytch Farm wells in Poole Harbour).

On a similar theme, Mark sends this map showing the area of land required to produce 300MW of power from various power sources, superimposed on a map of Hanover.


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Reader Comments (26)

and the MSM are keeping up the pressure

editorials in both the Sun and the Times

now what do the Sun and the Times have in common???

Jul 21, 2013 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterOneTrophyWin

And the Mail on Sunday have the temerity to make fun of our beloved climate alarmists

Prof Belcher, who heads the university’s meteorology department was doing his best to enjoy the heatwave, rolling up his shirt sleeves, and wearing slacks and trainers. Living on the edge, he even opened his window.

Perhaps it was my Hawaiian shirt, lobster-red forehead and flip-flops but he was beyond tight-lipped when I offered him a courtesy sombrero and beachball.

Our other gift – a Zoom lolly – might have lured him but sadly it had long since melted into a sticky mess.

‘No,’ he said tersely, as I invited him to embrace summer with The Mail on Sunday, before escaping to the shadows behind the university bike shed.

See rest here

and now I will go forth and multiply

PS if Westwood wins the vase today I will have to consider another change of name!

Jul 21, 2013 at 10:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterOneTrophyWin

On a similar theme, fun(?) to estimate the area of land required to generate UK energy demand using onshore wind turbines with same load factor as this one. There's not quite enough. Terrifying.

Jul 21, 2013 at 10:22 AM | Registered CommenterPhilip Richens

So simple to see the environmental advantages for shale-gas, but will the greenies and DECC see, no their are blind to any rationality.

Jul 21, 2013 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeilC

Well, we won't be seeing that photo, or many like it, in the Guardian or on the BBC. Andrew Neil would probably think it worth showing, but his bosses will probably be leaning on him now to be "impartial" and follow the advice of the 28 "climate experts" who drew up the correct line for the BBC to take.

Jul 21, 2013 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

I've seen a lot of people framing the debate as a false choice between 'a windmill' and 'a shale well'. Setting aside the point that a shale well generates less visual impact and less noise than a 100m tall industrial wind turbine, I also feel it's an unfair comparison since a single shale well generates much more energy than a single windmill ( not to mention that the gas can easily be stored for use when needed unlike the wind ).

Here's my rough attempt to calculate how many wind turbines you'd need to equal one shale well:

A quick google indicates a typical average flow rate over the typical 5 year life of a fracked well is about 700 thousand cubic feet per day [1]

Using a conversion factor of 1Mcf = 1 GigaJoule implies 700 Mcf = 700 GJ in one 24 hour period. 24hrs x 60 mins x 60 seconds = 86400 seconds, so the shale well is producing energy at a rate of 700 GJ / 86400 secs = 8.1MW

So, on average over its 5 year life, a shale well produces about 8MW continuously.

By comparison a typical wind turbine with a 2MW name plate capacity will produce only 25% x 2MW = 0.5MW due to wind variability. 

So by this crude calculation a shale well is worth 16 x 2MW wind turbines - although this still neglects that the shale gas can easily be stored for use on demand whereas the wind is only available when it blows.


Jul 21, 2013 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterChilli


One gas well in the Bowland shale will produce far more gas than any well so far drilled in the US, Bowland shale is known to be at least 6000 ft thick (10 times thicker than the best US shale). Nobody yet knows just how thick it is because they stopped drilling at 6000 feet ^.^

Jul 21, 2013 at 11:42 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Chilli .....16 x 2MW follies is not hugely different to what we can see in that picture. And 11 wells. There is clearly no comparison. I would add that the wind follies will be in place for longer, much of the concrete bases will never be removed, and the folly blades are not recyclable. They are an environmental disaster.

Jul 21, 2013 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

Another point about the visual impact of shale v turbines in the UK is that there will be no "mobile phone masts" left on the site of a well once fracking has been completed, it will be almost invisible.

Jul 21, 2013 at 12:03 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I remember the lovely day when I was first exposed to the term 'power density'.

Jul 21, 2013 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim


In fact the calculation assumes about half that gas flow per well, but assumes there would be a cluster of 20 wells on one pad (typical no in the US). That would produce 30,000 m3/hr gas, equivalent to 300MW. By comparison you'd require 200 large 6MW wind turbines running at 25% efficiency (typical for Saxony) to produce the same amount of energy.
So the 11 gas wells in the photo might produce about 150MW, equivalent to the power produced by 100 wind turbines. Those in the photo are a mix of small and large, in which case you'd need more. Nowadays the 11 gas wells could probably all be covered from one well pad, but directional drilling technology was not available when these wells were sunk.


Jul 21, 2013 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterWellers

Thanks to Mark and Chilli.
I have sent photos and appropriate text to Dr. Julian Huppert (Green fanatic, MP for Cambridge and with 0.34 followers/tweet)

for his comments.
I'll keep you posted:-)

Jul 21, 2013 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Thanks for that Mark. I was wondering how to account for multiple wells-per-pad.

My point is that the green lobby have their PR well sorted with all their nonsense about how many 'homes' can be (intermittently) powered by their wind farms. The shale lobby need to start talking in these human terms, not in 'Tcf' and 'Mcf''. They also need to tackle the wind lobby directly by telling the public eg. "This shale pad generates as much energy as 50 wind turbines" so would you rather have this small, low level industrial unit nearby, or a massive windfarm stretching as far as the eye can see?

Jul 21, 2013 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterChilli

This seems rather appropriate to the thread...
...while this is may also amuse...

h/t to this site...

Jul 21, 2013 at 3:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

The DC Superior Court upholds Michael Mann's right to proceed in his defamation suit against National Review and CEI.

It also allows discovery in the plaintiffs' records. Here's a chance to study the denier MO.

Jul 21, 2013 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

Jul 21, 2013 at 11:04 AM | Chilli

Unfortunately, your calculation is in error by three orders of magnitude for the gas. Viz:

700 thousand cubic feet per day [1]

Using a conversion factor of 1Mcf = 1 GJ implies 700 Mcf = 700 GJ in one 24 hour period. 24hrs x 60 mins x 60 seconds = 86400 seconds, so the shale well is producing energy at a rate of 700 GJ / 86400 secs = 8.1MW

See what you did? You said the well produced 700,000 cuft/day and used 700 Mcf in your calculation.

BTW I didn't see the 700,000 cf/d or the 700 Mcf/d figures in your reference. Was that the Barnett 60 month rate (~450) x 1.5933?

Jul 21, 2013 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Jul 21, 2013 at 7:19 PM | Entropic Man

Here's a chance to study the denier MO.

You appear to have posted on the wrong blog.

Jul 21, 2013 at 7:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

One thing you are all forgetting

To avoid Terrorists and Metal Thieves,Gas Pipes go hundreds of miles 20 feet underground.

Local Gas Generation in your local town on your Local Industrial estate.

No centralized grid needed

Get rid of Wind turbines spoiling the view of the Country Side

Goodbye Electricity Pylons.

Jul 21, 2013 at 8:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

"Tioga County Marcellus Shale Wells – initial production rates averaged 7.1 million cubic feet of natural gas equivalents per day.

Lycoming County Marcellus Shale Wells - initial production rates averaged 6.1 million cubic feet of natural gas equivalents per day."

Jul 21, 2013 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Entropic Man (Jul 21, 2013 at 7:19 PM), you say "Here's a chance to study the denier MO" and I agree: it's a poor gun that cannot point both ways and exposing Dr Mann's MO to a judge or jury should also be interesting... maybe the Bishop could provide some copies of Hide the Decline and The Hockey Stick Illusion?

Jul 21, 2013 at 10:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

Billy Liar
1 cubic foot contains approx 1 MJ
Hence 700,000 cf is 700 GJ.
Mcf is either wrong or misleading. Perhaps archaic imperial nomanclature.
Calculation is correct.

Jul 21, 2013 at 11:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterghl

This reminded me about the gridwatch site.....a quick look shows that our 5 or 6 GW of wind capacity has been trundling along at 1 GW or less - bar a few brief spikes - for 2 weeks now.

Jul 22, 2013 at 12:10 AM | Registered Commentermikeh

Sorry, good catch Billy. The conversion factor I gave above is wrong and should read 1000cf = 1GJ, so 700,000cf /day = 700GJ/ day = 8.1MW. So my result is correct, but I had a brain fart when I wrote my comment and incorrectly used 'mega' as 10^3 iso 10^6.

The 700,000cf/ day average over 5 years came from eyeballing the average of the graphs in that doc I referred to.

Jul 22, 2013 at 2:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterChilli

Re: using 'human units', I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the 'value' of the UK's estimated shale reserves on another site recently. I came up with approximately £10bn per Tcf of gas, based on current prices, so £1,300bn for the estimated 130Tcf extractable in the recently-publicised (BGS?) report.

For perspective, that's enough to *double* the NHS's budget for over a decade. Would the British public consider that a useful contribution to the nation's well-being? We won't know unless someone presents them with the figures (and assuming I didn't miss a decimal point or two along the way).

Jul 22, 2013 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris Long

To compare wind industry nameplate claims with advertising in other areas - how long would Head and Shoulders shampoo last if their up to 100% flake free claim was based on an average 25% flake free, but anywhere from 0 to 100% over a 12 month period.

Jul 22, 2013 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Dunford

Good picture. I used it in a response to this tweet.

Aug 17, 2013 at 6:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterSadButMadLad

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