Saturday, 28 February 2015

Putting the brakes on

Wind turbine braking system
Example of brakes on a wind turbine

As I write on a very windy night in Ireland, we are curtailing 220MW of wind to keep non-synchronous generation under 50% of total demand (at times it reaches 51%).

But the remarkable thing is that we are still importing 150MW from England. Imported electricity is a form of non-synchronous generation, just as with wind. So in effect, it is competing with wind to get in on the grid in the restricted non-sync slot. So surely we should be allowing that additional 150MW wind in and exporting the surplus to the UK. But instead we are importing coal and nuclear power, when we could use up all our wind, and paying wind farms to shut down.

So we need to get the message. UK does not want our wind energy during the day and at peak times. They are generating enough of their own - 5.5GW at the moment and have no intention of ramping down their CCGT gas plants any further to allow Irish wind in. If they ramp them down any further, they will most likely use up more fuel and create more emissions than if they were running at full load (it results in inefficiencies like driving your car in first gear).

We cannot sell our excess wind to England whenever we want, only when they want, which is during the night when demand is low and they can pay us a low price.

The trouble is that Eirgrid and the authorities now know this so why are there still plans for exporting wind energy after 2020 ?


  1. The reason is obvious - our great leaders still believe in Santa, and we like lemmings are destined to fall off the cliff. You would have thought the pain from the 2008 soft landing would still be remembered, but then, perhaps not . . .

  2. Actually at one time on that windy night, I checked it and we were importing 300 mw.

  3. So having been engaged with government of all sorts recently, I understand they intend to install wind energy by whatever means possible (even breaking the law) up until 31st Dec, 2029. as follows, That will mean 6,200 mw of traditional plant, 3,000 mw of back plant and the rest wind = about 5,8000 mw. Total 15,000 mw. Take the 8th April 2029, with demand 3,500 mw, 1,575 fossil fuel base load plant will still be needed, and wind will be limited to 1,750 mw. So although 1,925 non base load could be allowed in, the 50% rule means that only 1,750 can be accommodated. There are a few scenarios, but one could look like this. 1,575 base load generation + 1,750 wind = 3325 leaving 175 from imports or back up plant. The total plant available is 15,000mw. subtract demand 3,500 mw = 8,500mw still to be paid for. 3500/8500 x 100 = 41% being used while 59% is not being used and still has to be paid for, An industry with a normal bill of 10,000 per year will have a bill of 10,000/41x100 = 24,400.

  4. It just occurred to me. if Ireland is importing British electricity on a very windy evening and paying some of their wind turbines to turn off, and if a stand alone independent energy export bridge as proposed by Element Power and Mainstream is installed, we will be exporting wind energy while importing coal electricity at the same time.

  5. On 28th February 2015 at 21.00 Ireland was importing 300 mw of British electricity. Most would be fossil fuel with a little nuclear and a little wind in the mix, At the same time we were paying about 200mw to 300 mw of wind to turn off. We know this because it was a very windy night. Element Power plan to build a huge wind farm in the Irish Midlands to export to the UK. It is to be totally independent with a separate interconnecter. When done and on a windy night, we will be simultaneously importing wind energy and exporting it. We will be paying our wind to turn off while exporting wind to Britain. If British wind becomes saturated, they will be paying Midlands wind to turn off. Meanwhile fossil plant which is moved off market by wind will be paid not to generate and all will receive generous capacity payments. Confused? if prices rise enough farmers and industries will install their own diesel and gas generators reducing the pool to pay for it. See Eirgrid's generating mix web site,