Doomed Planet

Wind Power: It Just Ain’t Gonna Work

Here we are in the depths of Winter on Sunday, December 19, 2021, 7.40am GMT. The Renewables entire contribution to the National Grid was as follows:

    • Wind – 0.957GW,
    • Solar – 0GW,
    • Pumped Hydro – 0GW,
    • Hydro – 0.518

Better get the firewood and candles in to keep warm before the lights go out!

The above is from a letter to the UK Telegraph on the news (17 January) that Scotland intends to triple the UK’s off-shore wind power. Same article, another letter writer:

17th Jan at 22.18pm. Demand 34.5GW. Gas 53.8%, Nuclear 14.4%, wind 7.6%, coal 2.8%, trees 8.4%. It doesn’t matter what the capacity is, if the wind don’t blow you don’t get electricity.

Bear with me. Gullibly trusting in the entrepreneurial skills of two sons of two billionaires, I once invested in a start-up telecommunications company (OneTel) which charged subscribers less than the variable costs of providing them the service. Needless to say, getting more customers onboard didn’t solve the problem. I lost all of my investment. Volume isn’t always the answer. Let me put it another way: one thousand times zero is not larger than one hundred times zero. Less theoretically, one thousand wind turbines not a-turnin’ provides no more power than one hundred turbines not a-turnin’.

Why am I belabouring the bleeding obvious, you might query? In order to emphasise what is so obvious that even dunderheads can work it out. It is the commonest of common sense. If the wind don’t blow you don’t get electricity from wind turbines, however large and multitudinous. Ordinary people, like us, well you might not be ordinary, so I’ll say like me, can see it; while progressive elites, some with impressive academic credentials, apparently can’t. What’s going on?

Clearly, they know something we don’t, otherwise we must conclude that they’re thicker than complete dunderheads. That’s too fantastic. No, they know something we don’t and I intend to rack my brains and find out what it is. However, racking itself won’t be enough. I’ll consult Australia’s latest renewable-energy plan. To wit, the draft 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP) issued by Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) in December.

Of course, Australia is a very small piece of the global puzzle. However, I suspect that the climateers behind each of the national plans compare notes and are on the same imaginary page when it comes to wind droughts and how to deal with them. Though, to be clear, the phrase “winds droughts” dare not speak its name in the ISP, as a search of the document revealed. Nevertheless, AEMO is not unaware of the issue and addresses it this way, in plan-speak. Pardon me for quoting at a little length; in order to avoid any understandable suspicion that I’m making it up.

By 2050, the most likely Step Change scenario would call for over 60 GW of firming capacity that can respond to a dispatch signal, including utility-scale batteries, hydro storage, gas-fired generation [green hydrogen or biogas, by the way, not dirty natural gas], smart behind-the-meter batteries or VPPs and (potentially) V2G services from EVs. The willingness of consumers to lower their consumption during high price periods (referred to as demand-side participation, or DSP) will also have an important role to maintain reliability and avoid involuntary load shedding. While the system today has approximately 43 GW of firming capacity, 23GW of this is coal capacity. As this coal retires, it needs to be replaced with new low-emission firming alternatives. New utility-scale battery and pumped hydro storage, located at appropriate parts of the network, will both enable more effective dispatch of clean electricity on demand, and provide critical system security services.

I want to leave aside whether 60GW of standby power will be enough when coal, oil and natural gas are gone and the system is heavily dependent on wind and solar. If we have 43GW today, as AEMO states, then only an extra 17GW seems foolhardily light on. But then I don’t have the prescient benefit of modelling.

To cut to the chase, bits and bobs aside, the AEMO plan depends on oodles of green hydrogen and pumped hydro. My own plan for living my final years in a grand seaside residence in Beaulieu-sur-Mer (par exemple) depends on a very, very large lottery win. Which is the more likely plan to bear fruit is my poser of the day?

One can have vision, like a dream. But a plan evokes concrete and doable ambitions. A plan can’t depend, among other dubious things, on the development of unknown technologies to produce cheap green hydrogen at scale. Or on unbuilt dams in an era when environmentalists and courts make new dams almost impossible to build.

AEMO is in the business of dreaming. I am too, I admit. The difference is that my dreams are idle and costless.

Back to my question. What do they know that we don’t? In fact, they know nothing more than we do. It’s the wrong question. The right question is why are they prepared, at any cost, to chase mirages when we’re not? The answer is not that they’re incredibly dumb. It’s that they are driven by their blind faith – the activists I mean, not their money-driven parasitical fellow-travelling carpetbaggers.

Climateers are zealots. They solely yearn for purest green and nought else. Zealotry and practicality occupy little or no common ground. “It won’t work,” is given very short shrift among the faithful. Now apply Australia’s dreamtime plan for supplying the energy needs of 26 million people to the planet’s 8 billion people. It just ain’t gonna work. And you can take that to the bank.

15 thoughts on “Wind Power: It Just Ain’t Gonna Work

  • padraic says:

    “Climateers are zealots.” But some have difficulty passing from infancy to adulthood, still clinging to belief in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus (and Gaia) whilst others are cynically using zealotry to make pots of money. Like Peter, I am waiting for the big lotto win to retire to the Riviera, but I am not holding my breath and deal realistically with what’s in front of me. Let’s hope some realism creep in re electricity generation, viz the use of nuclear, for example.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    “The willingness of consumers to lower their consumption during high price periods (referred to as demand-side participation, or DSP) will also have an important role to maintain reliability and avoid involuntary load shedding.”

    So much for cheap renewables.

  • Biggles says:

    Making hydrogen involves an energy loss of 30%. See Prof Ian Plimer’s recent book ‘Green Murder’ for an account of why ‘green’ hydrogen is a fantasy.

  • Citizen Kane says:

    My humble little yacht is like a microcosm of the current energy market. It has PV solar panels, a wind turbine, batteries and a diesel motor. Now when conditions are ideal the PV panels and the wind turbine are sufficient to keep the batteries fully charged. If however I am running a lot of electrical output on the boat with lighting and equipment (depth sounders, chart plotters etc etc) then the deep cycle batteries surely but slowly drop charge until the output is diminshed and/or the recharging input increases. This recharging input is wildly variable depending on prevailing weather conditions ..and when the sun don’t shine the PV panels produce the only credible zero in this whole debate – zero power. And just between you and me that is generally between about 8PM and 6AM no matter what season and what part of the continent you reside in. Furthermore, if it is too windy the wind turbine needs to be shut down as the surges (corresponding with the often ‘gusty’ nature of wind) of amperage threaten to ‘cook’ the system. Now imagine if you will, a scenario whereby all the virtue signalers of Green St in Lithiumville, have returned to their opulent residences for the evening and plugged in their very power hungry EV’s all over the neighbourhood, to recharge for the following day but the wind ain’t blowing and the sun certainly ain’t shining. Well Cue the Lithium ion battery the zealots scream – about as Green and environmentally friendly as a cane toad in the Daintree. And when there are wind droughts coupled with heavily overcast days, those batteries will be depleted in the blink of an eye, not least by all those EV’s. This is clearly a brilliant idea if you are trying to run a large hospital with emergency department and surgery for instance. Bottom line is my boats energy system is ultimately underpinned and reliant on the diesel motor to keep it charged when the renewables don’t and that is a metaphor for the global energy market.

  • Citizen Kane says:

    …..additionally, just to pick up on your point POB, essentially that section you have highlighted is saying that for instance when it is at its coldest (generally at night) and the demand for heating and ergo consumption of electricity is at its highest, consumers will simply choose (‘willingness’) to switch off their heaters and freeze. I don’t know which human race the AEMO thinks its dealing with but it clearly ain’t the one the rest of us coexist with. That section alone highlights that this is simply an article of faith with no grounding in the pragmatic reality of the energy challenges for the nation. I say print it off and use it as kindling to start a fire to keep warm this winter. That’s about all it will be good for.

  • ianl says:

    Peter OBrien above reiterates the point I’ve made for over 3 years now.

    The aim of the greenies (including the AEMO, State and Fed bureaucrats, subsidy-grabbers …) is not increased supply but reduced demand.

    The mixed bag of zealots, subsidy parasites and cynical control mongers, while there is no broad “conspiracy” within it, understands that reduced demand is the key to its’ success. (By the way, that is Peter Smith’s missing puzzle piece). That suits the zealots and control mongers, while increasing prices and subsidies satisfies the greedy contingents.

    The onset of the Great Reset, the New World Order, is already here – in plain sight – and unstoppable. We don’t need to read The Fall of Rome, we’re watching a rerun in real time. The West sinks slowly into the sunset.

  • Lawrie Ayres says:

    I read a wotif last week. It was about a large hurricane approaching Florida in 2040 when everyone was driving EVs. Now mass migrations by Floridians before hurricanes is fairly common so the description of thousands of cars choking the highways North are based on experience. Add that it is summer and the A/C would normally be on. The writer asks what happens when batteries start dying and those cars block the roads and how will they be recharged? Well I guess some will carry a petrol powered gen set if they haven’t been banned by then but the charge they export to the car battery will be less than that which could be got from using the petrol in the cars engine. Another more serious question was posed if those cars were caught in a blizzard. How long will the battery last with the heater going?

    To talk of net zero without talking nuclear is a clear sign of stupidity and after the reaction to Covid it is obvious that stupidity is abundant in the halls of politics and bureaucrats. Perhaps they should all read Ian Plimer’s Green Murder that is if they can read which seems doubtful.

  • Biggles says:

    Further to Lawrie’s ‘wotif’, (and slightly O/T), I suspect that Elton Rusk must know that he has sold the western world a pup with his Telstra car. With governments hell-bent on deleting fossil-fuel and nuclear power, owners of electric cars may, in a few years time, find that they have a bright, shiny, good-looking vehicle, but one which will not take them far, even at great expense. A possible topic for a future article, Peter Smith?

  • Peter Marriott says:

    Well enunciated Peter. Of course the whole thing is pie-in-the-sky dreaming, and very expensive unreality, writ large. All these ridiculous back up supplies, batteries, hydro, hydrogen,gas etc.etc.etc and all of it still relying on everyone dutifully and obediently running to turn off lights, cookers, aircons and heating etc. when necessary. Big brother will have to step in, a-la the PRC I think, and have all sorts of lights installed in mobile phones and homes going from green to orange to red to tell you when you’ve got to do it and we’ll all be in a sort of grid system, for the more efficient management of us all, and there’ll be thousands of volunteer grid staff, all young and fired up with zealousness no doubt, with special little uniforms to boot to run around monitoring us. And all this to save big brother, and sister from admitting they’re just plain wrong, and all we really have to do is just keep on using our high quality, hundreds of years supply, of coal and big quiet unobtrusive cheap mains power stations, with absolutely no back up, or house installed electrical usage traffic lights needed.
    Will the penny never drop with these people….it’s been tethering on the edge of dropping for years, with literally reams and reams of books and papers carefully explaining how the whole DAGW theory is just plain wrong science. If anyone has ever read Professor Plimer’s books Heaven + Earth and Green Murder, to name but two, plus Professor Lindzen’s many papers and Professor Parltridge on the subject, surely even the most diehard ‘climate change’ activist would have to stop a bit and think, hang on,….. maybe, just maybe, …..there’s nothing to worry about after all, and I can relax and get on with life.

  • Geoff Sherrington says:

    Peter, The failures of the AEMO plan are obvious, but the question is, “How do we get rid of the plan?” In my personal case, that moves me from my qualifications in Science, to the unknowns of The Law.
    I was astounded to hear Treasurer Josh say before Christmas that we will adopt a net zero carbon plan by some year, because international bankers have threatened to be unfriendly if we do not. I would call that unlawful and deserving of serious investigation and a charge, but I am not a lawyer.
    Poor AEMO was told from the start that their planning had to include Fed Govt policy which from the start meant that they had to include reduction of fossil fuels in their plan. They acknowledged this in their earlier reports. Rather then blame them totally (they were just carrying out orders), why not set about to discover who in Govt ordered this fundamental restriction and why the rest of the nation has to and will suffer enormously from it? Surely we, the people, should have a say in our energy futures, but that opportunity is not being given. The Law, again. Geoff S

  • pgang says:

    Citizen Kane, unfortunately your boat logic is fatally flawed in the same manner as most green modelling. To be representative of the energy grid you would need to keep the diesel motor running non stop as a backup, whether it is required or not.

  • pgang says:

    Peter Marriott it’s not about consumers reducing demand voluntarily. It will be about selectively shutting down power as required. Paying customers will have no say in the product they receive. This is all just another push towards centralized socialism.

  • Mike O'Ceirin says:

    It is all very well to say it just ain’t gonna to work but can that be shown with actual data. Well yes it can. Two years ago I wrote an article that was published on WUWT “the looming failure of wind energy”. On looking back at it now I should revise it at that time I did have the data but it was difficult for others to access it. It also did not show an accessible explanation of the problem. I thought it may be better to develop a website since I am an analyst programmer that was something I could do so after much work and expense by the way I now have a website I proceeded to write another article which again was published by WUWT. “Energy Storage: an estimate using actual data”

    The conclusion of it was that the cheapest form of storage was PHES and that using the proposed Snowy Mountains 2.0 plus 8 GW of wind 8% of demand could be satisfied. It became apparent to me this is a difficult argument to present. Certainly I cannot explain it simply here.

    What was needed I thought was to try and simplify it and the following two page article does that. It was published in “stop these things”
    It took as an example how much storage is needed to stabilise a 100 MW wind station through a particular wind drought. The typical output aimed for is 28 MW to stabilise that 831 MWh is needed. As far as I’m aware as yet there is no battery of that size and it is for just one 100 MW wind station. So Peter computing the actual data I agree it just ain’t gonna work.

    Note use Chrome for the article.

  • Claude James says:

    Mike O’Ceirin -great work you are doing with this. Thank you.

  • Claude James says:

    The Libs and Nats must along with the human-caused climate/renewables fantasy because too many voters in key electorates believe it as fact and truth.
    Practical question is this:
    How to supply these voters with the actual facts of these matters.
    And mind this: Such voters might not make decisions on actual facts.
    And note:
    Democracies always slide into centralised socialism and totalitarian control. Just a matter of time. Regard human nature and despair. Only a small minority of people, in any and all walks and stations of life, are willing and able to do the necessary work of making proper democracy work properly.

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