Watching the ships (part 3): Humber Gateway and Westermost Rough

Posted by – 2014/08/27

There are two wind­farms being built right now near the mouth of the Hum­ber Estu­ary: Hum­ber Gate­way and West­er­most Rough.

Here’s a map of the ships serving the wind­farms.
Read more…

Capacity factors at Danish offshore wind farms

Posted by – 2014/07/17

Thanks to the won­der­ful stat­ist­i­cians and data man­agers at ENS and Energinet.DK, we have a large amount of detailed data from Dan­ish onshore and off­shore wind farms. Here’s one quick cut of it: the aver­age capa­city factors, to date of every Dan­ish off­shore wind farm, newly updated to include data to the end of July 2014. The Anholt 1 wind­farm, which only opened in 2013, hit an aver­age capa­city factor of 49.6% for the last 12 months.
Read more…

Decarbonising the Irish grid

Posted by – 2014/01/01

Fol­low­ing on from this ques­tion on the Sus­tain­ab­il­ity Stack Exchange about decar­bon­isa­tion in Eire, and a dis­cus­sion on the Claver­ton Energy Group about the Brit­ish and Irish grids, I took a quick look at the data on car­bon intens­ity and wind gen­er­a­tion in the Irish grid. This uses all the avail­able data at time of writ­ing — 38 months, from Novem­ber 2008 to the end of Decem­ber 2013.

Here’s the impact that its wind gen­er­a­tion has on the car­bon intens­ity of the grid: each MW of wind power that’s gen­er­at­ing, reduces the car­bon intens­ity of elec­tri­city by 0.138 gCO2/kWh: 1GW of gen­er­a­tion reduces the car­bon intens­ity by 138 gCO2/kWh. For con­text, aver­age demand is about 2.9 GW, and peak demand is about 5 GW.

Scatter graph of wind generation and carbon intensity in Eire
I’ve used Robust regres­sion, as there are some report­ing errors in there (fur­ther clean­ing has refined the estim­ate to 0.136 from 0.138).

The y-axis is baselined at 200 gCO2/kWh, because there’s very little real data below that line at present.

I note that Eir­grid has heat-curves for every thermal plant on the grid (which is how they cal­cu­late the car­bon intens­ity). Does National Grid have any­thing like that for GB? Do you? Would you like to share them with me?

And re the data-cleaning — just in case any­one else down­loads the wind fore­cast and gen­er­a­tion data, nto that every year on the last Sunday in Octo­ber, the wind data for each of the four quarter-hours when the clocks go back is duplicated.

The UK is the Saudi Arabia of wind energy

Posted by – 2012/08/11

An art­icle by Zoe Wil­li­ams in The Guard­ian, towards the end of July 2012, began:

The UK is the Saudi Ara­bia of wind

Dale Vince of Eco­tri­city said the same thing back in 2011:

Mr. Vince con­tin­ued by say­ing that the UK is the ‘Saudi Ara­bia’ of wind energy, which makes Bri­tain a poten­tial to become an inde­pend­ent pro­du­cer of energy.

And back in Octo­ber 2009, I said the same thing at the Claver­ton Energy Con­fer­ence. Any­way, enough of the source of this: let’s look at the numbers.

2011 was some­thing of a boom year for Saudi Ara­bian energy pro­duc­tion. The Arab Spring upris­ings res­ul­ted in reduced out­put from other coun­tries, mean­ing Saudi Ara­bia could sig­ni­fic­antly boost pro­duc­tion without trash­ing the oil price. So let’s use its 2011 pro­duc­tion as our bench­mark. From the OPEC Annual Stat­ist­ical Bul­letin 2012, and con­vert­ing from mil­lions of bar­rels of oil per year into gigawatts, and from mil­lions of cubic feet of gas per day into gigawatts, we see that Saudi Arabia’s annual rate of energy pro­duc­tion was just under 800GW. By com­par­ison, in 2011, UK aver­age final elec­tri­city demand was 36GW and total final energy demand (includ­ing all gas for heat­ing, and all trans­port fuels) was 183GW.

So, as the chart above shows, the UK’s annual aver­age off­shore wind resource is some­where between 1.5 times lar­ger, and 11 times lar­ger, than 2011 Saudi Ara­bian energy pro­duc­tion. And the great thing is that the wind won’t run out. It will vary, at all scales from seconds to dec­ades, but it won’t run out as long as the sun keeps shining.

My own earlier estim­ate (shown above as Smith 2011) of over two ter­awatts as the UK off­shore wind resource is doc­u­mented on the Claver­ton Energy web­site. Using the same method as described there, and con­sid­er­ing all UK waters, the resource is given above as Smith (2012).

Stu­art Gat­ley, in his Mas­ters of Engin­eer­ing thesis at the Uni­ver­sity of Not­ting­ham, mod­els a range of poten­tial future scen­arios both for tur­bine dens­ity and tur­bine tech­no­logy. His Scen­ario A-T1, assum­ing cur­rent tech­no­lo­gies, is given as Gat­ley 1 above; whereas Gat­ley 2 is his Scen­ario C-T5, which assumes advances in tur­bine tech­no­logy and the open­ing up of all UK sea depths as access­ible to wind.

Gior­gio Dalvit, in his Mas­ters thesis “UK Off­shore Wind Source”, pro­duced a set of estim­ates, for dif­fer­ent con­straints. His estim­ate for the resource at less than 200 metres depth, and within 200km of shore, is given above as Dalvit 1; his all-area resource is Dalvit 2.

Why are there such dif­fer­ent fore­casts for the UK off­shore wind resource? Because each ana­lysis uses dif­fer­ent assump­tions. And they each use a dif­fer­ent estim­a­tion method. Though, not­ably, they all use the same under­ly­ing data set: the Renew­ables Atlas. A future paper (being writ­ten now, in Sum­mer 2012), will set out the dif­fer­ent assump­tions for each fig­ure, and pro­pose a new pro­tocol for such assessments.

2050 Calculator

Posted by – 2012/06/12

Intro­du­cing the Ener­gyNum­bers 2050 Path­ways calculator

The DECC 2050 cal­cu­lator is a good start at pro­du­cing a toy model to give some ideas of the trade-offs, and approx­im­ate orders of mag­nitude of costs involved in con­vert­ing Britain’s energy sys­tems into a low-carbon system.

But it has its flaws.

So I’ve revised some of the model’s weak­est parts, and re-released it. Here’s the Ener­gyNum­bers 2050 Path­ways calculator

A sum­mary of the changes (most recent, first)

  • Added a new option to change the amount of fossil-fuels (coal, gas, oil) extrac­ted in the UK. This option exists in the DECC spread­sheet, but wasn’t pre­vi­ously avail­able in the web interface.
  • Added a whole new sec­tion with per­form­ance against national and inter­na­tional tar­gets. In the top-left corner of every page, you’ll find indic­at­ors show­ing pro­gress against tar­gets. Click on them to read an explan­a­tion of each tar­get, and how well the selec­ted path­way per­forms against each.
  • Change nuc­lear level 1 to phaseout by 2020; bumped all the other levels up by one (so old level 1 is new level 2; old level 3 is new level 4), and updated all the “expert” path­ways accord­ingly. Old level 4 wasn’t plaus­ible, wasn’t used in any of the “expert” path­ways, and so has been removed
  • Added estim­ated dam­age costs for greeen­house gases: low £70/tCO2e; medium £100/tCO2e; high £200/tCO2e
  • Added estim­ates of nuc­lear liab­il­ity costs: low 0p/kWh; medium 11p/kWh; high 100p/kWh
  • The choice of car and van techo­logy, between fuel cells and elec­tric bat­ter­ies, is a cat­egory scale (A,B,C,D), not ascend­ing order of dif­fi­culty (1–4)
  • Ensure coal capa­city has a floor of zero
  • Select­ing bio­mass plant will not drive up coal use
  • Updated nuc­lear build costs: high £4.548/Wp rising to £5.072/Wp; medium £3.50/Wp; low £2.478/Wp
  • Onshore wind, level 4 upgraded to hit 50GWp by 2020 and stay steady
  • Off­shore wind fixed-foundation, level 4, from 2020 onwards, upgraded to 10GWp annual install­a­tion rate


Live mapping of ships building the London Array

Posted by – 2012/04/13

The map below shows the live pos­i­tions of ships work­ing on the Lon­don Array off­shore wind farm, Phase 1, off the coasts of Kent and Essex. It’s almost like sit­ting on the dock of the bay, watch­ing the ships roll in and roll out again.Read more…

Why the Green Economy?

Posted by – 2011/11/15

A while ago, the French Cham­ber of Com­merce in Great Bri­tain invited me to write an art­icle for their magazine’s (INFO) spe­cial edi­tion on the Green Eco­nomy. Here’s the art­icle, updated (Feb 2013) and with links added to fur­ther information

Why the Green Eco­nomy? Summary

Mar­kets that exclude the impact on nat­ural cap­ital are dis­tor­ted. Mar­kets that exclude the costs of pol­lu­tion are dis­tor­ted. Mar­kets that allow the Tragedy of the Com­mons are dis­tor­ted. These dis­tor­ted mar­kets rep­res­ent eco­nomic effi­ciency, and leave us all worse off.

The polluter-pays prin­ciple cor­rects the mar­ket dis­tor­tion caused by unpriced pol­lu­tion. Joint-stewardship agree­ments allow us to sus­tain­ably man­age com­mon resources, pre­vent­ing the Tragedy of the Com­mons. Track­ing changes to the value of our nat­ural cap­ital base is just as import­ant as track­ing trans­ac­tion val­ues: both rep­res­ent changes to our wealth.

The Green Eco­nomy, in all those forms, is here because it fixes prob­lems that have been accu­mu­lat­ing for dec­ades. Why the Green Eco­nomy? Because in the long run, the Green Eco­nomy leaves us bet­ter off, envir­on­ment­ally and economically.

Back­ground to the Green Economy

The Green Eco­nomy is worth hun­dreds of bil­lions of pounds (euro / dol­lars) each year; it spans many sec­tors includ­ing the most fun­da­mental ones of energy, food and water sup­plies; and in the last fifty years, it’s gone from fringe to main­stream, grow­ing in value and cov­er­age each year. For example, in 2011, global invest­ment in renew­able energy was US$257bn; and there are elec­tric cars on the mar­ket that can out-run a Porsche.

But the Green Eco­nomy has been around for quite some time, and its aca­demic found­a­tions, in the “polluter-pays prin­ciple” dates back to the early dec­ades of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury. How­ever, more recently, the prob­lems have become global in scale, and the solu­tions have required inter­na­tional co-operation, for example in ban­ning the indus­trial pro­duc­tion of some of the worst ozone-depleting chem­ic­als. The next wave of prob­lems and solu­tions dwarfs what has gone before, requir­ing revolu­tion­ary changes to how we gen­er­ate elec­tri­city, how we heat our homes and offices, how we power our trans­port sys­tems, how we man­age our live­stock and fer­til­ise our crops. The eco­nomic risks (and oppor­tun­it­ies) are orders of mag­nitude greater than what has gone before.
Read more…

How Denmark manages its wind variability — paper launched today

Posted by – 2010/09/22

Today, at the 2010 BIEE con­fer­ence, I’ll be present­ing a paper on how Den­mark man­ages its wind vari­ab­il­ity, and some of the implic­a­tions for its tar­get of deliv­er­ing 50% of its elec­tri­city from wind by 2025.

Here’s the abstract of the paper:Read more…

Surpassing Matilda: record-breaking Danish wind turbines

Posted by – 2010/07/21

By 2008, Mat­ilda was the world’s most pro­duct­ive wind tur­bine, hav­ing gen­er­ated 61.4 GWh of energy by the end of its life.

But by the end of March 2010, this record had been broken four times over, Read more…

Live mapping of ships building Walney offshore windfarm

Posted by – 2010/07/20

The map below shows the live pos­i­tions of ships work­ing on the Wal­ney off­shore wind farm, off the coast of Black­pool and Barrow-in-Furness. It’s not as good as sit­ting on the dock of the bay, watch­ing the ships roll in and roll out again, but it’s bet­ter than a slap in the face with a wet cod.Read more…