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Curiouser and curiouser

While looking for something else, I came across an article in the Mail about the recent report on Net Zero from the Committee on Climate Change. Apparently, in order to reach that target, we are going to need to quadruple the offshore wind fleet to 7500 turbines.

This took me aback somewhat because 7500 is a much smaller figure than I had assumed would be necessary. Reading on, these 7500 turbines were supposed to produce 75 GW of output, implying that they are all 10MW machines. (This also caused me to raise an eyebrow, because it’s quite a lot larger than anything in operation today, but that’s by the by.)

The problem is that 75GW of output at a load factor of 40% will produce only 261 TWh, or 22,466 kilotonnes of oil equivalent, which is about 15% of current energy demand.

This raises all sorts of uncomfortable questions. How much energy are we going to be allowed to use in this brave new world? And where is it going to come from if not from offshore wind?

A little further digging reveals the CCC’s illustrative scenarios for power generation in 2050. Item 2.5 gives us the CCC’s idea of total energy use: a figure of 645 TWh, around 40% (!) of current levels. (Update - this is electricity not energy - they have 270TWh of hydrogen too) Of this, 369 TWh is “variable renewables (largely offshore wind)”.

Which causes my eyebrows to raise again. How are you going to get 75 GW of offshore turbines to generate 369 TWh of electricity? That implies a load factor of 55% averaged over the lifetime of the turbine. This is entirely implausible. The best, biggest, newest turbines start out at around 40% and decline from there.

Incidentally, the cost of 75GW of offshore wind turbines, at an optimistic £3m/GW, is £0.2 trillion.

The CCC seems to be using a figure of 58% for offshore wind load factor (see p.27 here). They cite as their source a BEIS report, which can be found here. BEIS do not explain how they arrived at this figure.

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Reader Comments (19)

Without trying to be too much of a cynic...

Those who propose such things aren't visibly bothered by the possibility that there will be *less* not more power delivered to customers in future. Not only are the load factors suspect, but the area (square miles) of land/sea that need to be allocated to wind is being ignored. Their view is that it's "ok" since we can live will less due to forced consumption reductions, efficiency gains, hydrogen as an energy source, batteries, and let's not forget all the CCS energy sources. And confusing "energy" (input) to "power" (output and paid for by customers). And buying into to the "woke" narratives. And of course there are those so-called electric smart-readers out there that can (in future) be worked by the power producers to manage the demand side when electric power can't be delivered.

or .. as has been observed, they have scientists, politicians, and PPE bureaucrats doing the designs/numbers and not involving chartered engineers who have to sign-off on life-threatening designs under penalty of law if the designs fail ...


Jun 7, 2019 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered Commenterrms

As the support for British Steel and our car industry demonstrates, the plan is to need less energy by having less industry.

We will be a clean, garden country. With picturesque, quaint little villages for foreign tourists to wander through while photographing the ruins of a once great civilization.

That would explain our energy policy.

Jun 7, 2019 at 7:37 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

When the arithmetic is that brutal - where are the prominent public figures dismantling the fraud?

BEIS is stuffed with activists - who by some accounts busy themselves heading off honest arithmetic produced by the competent folk working in the same department.... - I've been to public lectures where the extents of the political / ideological meddling have been exposed by insiders - especially with regard to fracking and nuclear power.

The mendacious gits need calling out in the very strongest terms - but the mania is such a pitch that the zealots can smear and misrepresent to destroy careers .....

The country will be filled with back yard generators.

Jun 7, 2019 at 11:08 PM | Registered Commentertomo

"With picturesque, quaint little villages for foreign tourists to wander through ... "
Jun 7, 2019 at 7:37 PM | M Courtney

Us country bumpkins in quaint little villages would be happy to give foreign tourists a lift in our carts, but we are not sure how they will get here from those foreign places in the first place.

Jun 8, 2019 at 12:24 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Industry is already a minor component of the UK energy balance .
The fat and muscle are gone already.
The objective is clearly to both reduce residential consumption even further and yet import more people so you will have neither a prosperous people nor a green and pleasant land .
The simple objective is rationing & control .
Sadly the distributionists and social creditors are the only people outside the circle who seem to understand this diabolical system .
The rest of you sorry lot are floating up the Nile

Jun 8, 2019 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Assumptions are the termites of greenergy.

Any time I look at data projecting the performance of wind turbines in the future that is used to justify high renewables programmes I find the data have been manipulated to over-egg projected production and to try to hide the impact of intermittency.

Jun 8, 2019 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Where will all that Hydrogen come from?

If you had some large quantity of Hydrogen which you could a.) keep perfectly contained (which you can't) and b.) had a power plant to convert it with perfect efficiency (which is impossible). you wouldn't get enough power to lliberate an equal quantity of Hydrogen from what ever source you choose.

Perhaps they will build a pipeline from the sun?

Jun 8, 2019 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterdadgervais

On the plus side, maybe the need for an economical source of hydrogen, may lead to a reluctant support of fracking.

Jun 8, 2019 at 7:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterCanman

People also seem to conveniently neglect line losses - which are NOT negligible.
Line losses were a pertinent consideration when the old codgers were planning the best places to site power stations.

Jun 9, 2019 at 1:04 PM | Unregistered Commentertoorightmate

There was a recent revelation of the cost of this "free" off-shore wind: while "conventional" electricity costs £45/MWh, the "free" stuff is only £158/MWh. What a bargain!

Jun 9, 2019 at 11:15 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

I always think that if we had politicians (and their advisers) with any brains they would scrap all subsidies for (so called) renewable energy and spend the money on developing power from nuclear fusion as soon as possible, as that is the only way our descendents will have a future based upon energy.

In my rural part of the country the landscape is being ruined by huge solar pv farms - and guess who is raking in the huge subsidies - the already very rich!

Jun 10, 2019 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterCrowcatcher

Robin Guenier says
In his article in the Torygraph this morning Boris Johnson informs us, amongst other absurdities,

The cost of solar power has fallen by 70 per cent in the UK.
There are now 30 countries around the world where it is cheaper to rely on the sun than on fossil fuels.
A miracle is taking place” and “Britain is respected and admired round the world for its leadership in tackling climate change…
And he could soon be the PM.

Jun 10, 2019 at 8:42 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

The Times doesn't do Climate Doom everyday, but rather every 3 days
Today : Simon Clarke Conservative MP for Middlesbrough
Alex Chalk Conservative MP for Cheltenham
Theresa May should look to climate change for a positive legacy
#1 few people botherered to read/comment cos top comments only get 14 likes
#2 Comments as always flow to skeptics
- "My god, and we are ruled by the likes of Tweedledee and Tweedledum here.
You could lose the will to live reading how otherwise intelligent people are buying into this rubbish."
- "How pitifully uninformed these chaps are. ."

Jun 10, 2019 at 10:00 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

4 people tweet that article

#1 @AlexChalkChelt himself
(Chalk's constituency has previously been solidly liberal

#2 Sarah Newton Member of Parliament for Truro and Falmouth.
tweets "Ace piece chaps @SimonClarkeMP @AlexChalkChelt"

#3 Grantham LSE
"Committing to end Britain’s contribution to climate change could provide a positive legacy for Theresa May’s premiership & may help bring people together after the divisions of Brexit say MP"

#4 Bob Ward
"Theresa May should look to climate change for a positive legacy"

Jun 10, 2019 at 10:41 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

"This raises all sorts of uncomfortable questions. How much energy are we going to be allowed to use in this brave new world? And where is it going to come from if not from offshore wind?"

We are plagued by people in charge who are experts at not looking at the detail. They're 'bigger picture' types for whom the realities of delivering promises are irellevant. They assume that getting their grand ideas to work is someone elses responsibility. They think that they earn their place just by having ideas that the little people aren't clever enough to come up with.

So to those people, the difference between supply and demand is a mere detail that the clever plebs can work out. Some boffins will invent near zero energy stuff, built in near zero energy factories and we'll all be near zero energy users because we'll own all those near zero energy things and never leave a light on when we're not in the room. Sorted... There's no malign intention by those in power. Any energy misery they cause will be the fault of those involved in carrying out the plans, not those who think them up.

Jun 11, 2019 at 8:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

tomo: "When the arithmetic is that brutal - where are the prominent public figures dismantling the fraud?"

Or one could say folly - but the question stands. And why is thequestion posted on a niche blog rather than being asked until answered by journalists at every media outlet that covers the output of the CCC?

Jun 11, 2019 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Trudeau on um ah plastic water bottles um boxes

Jun 12, 2019 at 11:52 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Ive done a quick estimate of where our power will be coming from and it's not pretty relying on the interconnectors.

As to on street charging for electric vehicles a conversation with a local SWEB employee confirmed there was no way the existing cabling to the street lamps could cope with multiple charging points. The cables were designed for an approximate 500 watts per lamp and as most terraced houses tend to be the older ones the cables are no way near modern standards so the streets would have to be re-cabled and the local substations and their feeds up graded to cope.

Jun 20, 2019 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterADRIAN KERTON

On the plus side, maybe the need for an economical source of hydrogen, may lead to a reluctant support of fracking.

Jun 8, 2019 at 7:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterCanman

We should also point out that it could be an economical source of large amounts of money, something more likely to win hearts and concentrate minds.

Jun 23, 2019 at 7:46 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

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