Sunday, 26 July 2015

Europe to enter period of electricity rationing ?

The European Commission have been busy in recent months drawing up plans for a new electricity market. A press release last week stated the following :

Firstly, by spreading renewable energy generation across Europe through interconnected networks, high generation can compensate areas with lower generation. At the same time the market has to give clear financial incentives for renewable energy generators to make their production as predictable as possible. Furthermore, in periods of low generation, and high prices, by reducing their demand, consumers can help fill the gap by reducing their demand, while the market has to ensure they are adequately compensated for this role.
So peak demand is to be phased out by switching off customers at peak times.

Are the EC really expecting that people will have to use candles and torches when they come in from work at 6pm during peak demand ?  I have a feeling that this will simply transfer one form of fossil fuel energy generation (in power plants) to another local form such as diesel generators and gas cylinders.

What is happening is that once alot of intermittent forms of generation are integrated into an electricity system, consumption of electricity must also become intermittent. Supply must match demand. Smart meters are the wind turbine equivalent of an electric socket, an intermittent form of electricity use. I'm not sure how it's going to work for your local chipper who at 6pm will need to refuse orders. Or how families are going to explain to their hungry children that they can't switch on the cooker for another couple of hours.

EC "Power to Consumers" Fact Sheet, July 2015

Of course, energy efficiency should be encouraged, but what is being proposed here is a totally different ball game. This is about changing consumer behaviour to match the intermittency of wind and solar.


  1. Energy efficiency is a much-touted goal, but energy use seems to be a sacred cow.
    ● Do we need to build power-hungry data centres to store personal videos on Facebook?
    ● Do we need to drive to the corner shop when we have forgotten something on the weekly shopping list?
    ● Do we need to hold our stag party in Malaga with all the discretionary air travel that involves?
    Changing personal behaviour to reduce energy use requires no efficiency measures; the energy is simply not used in the first place.
    This is unlikely to happen whilst humanity aspires to a consumption driven society, and it is that obscenely excessive consumption that threatens the sustainability of human life.
    Flexible energy markets are just a case of tinkering with the (profitable) edges.

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  3. The general rule in economics is that a rise in income leads to a rise in consumption as does lowering the cost of goods. Wind energy promised to allow more discretionary spending due to savings on electricity bills or alternatively more enjoyment of cheaper electricity or surplus oil/fuel saved by wind farms then made available for air travel etc.. We now see that this promise was a lie. But what if it was not a lie. Suppressing oil/fuel prices demand due to wind farms would not halt fuel use. It would make it cheaper to other poorer consumers in less developed countries increasing its demand to near the original equilibrium. Fuel exporting countries would seek new markets at the best price it could get. Sir Robert Giffen noticed an exception to the general rule. Giffen goods.
    When the people are poor they rely on stable foods like potatoes and bread. If the price of these is high, people will be forced to buy them to survive, but if the price drops consumption will not rise. Consumers will buy more meat, fish and fancy foods and somewhat the same amount or less of stable goods. Cheaper electricity prices would not significantly increase its consumption, but would increase consumption of other goods such as air travel. Increasing the prise of electricity (a stable good) on the other hand will reduce demand in all other areas of the economy. All of this assumes that wind energy works, it does not work and therefore all it does is simply increase the price of electricity forcing consumers to chose between it or food. (2 staples).
    Observe that socialist governments seem more in favour of wind/carbon taxes than right wing ones. Socialists tend to rely on poorer voters to get elected. If poorer people become comfortable, they are unlikely to vote socialist. In the past 20 years, the poor were becoming more comfortable. Something had to be found to pull out spare wealth, to tax by stealth. Carbon taxes, renewable levies originally going to developers, but now shifting to local authority business rates amount to a new public revenue stream leaving more cash to be spent by central government to get them re-elected. The problem is, our competitors do their own thing, as we get poorer, they get richer and as they get richer, they buy our country and we become their future domestic servants.

  4. In the recent EU Commission report "2014 JRC wind status report" a significant portion deals with potential solutions to technology problems with wind turbines. The EU is being premature if it assumes that these significant technology problems can be resolved. There are many different solutions proposed to these issues. Which indicates no coherent single solution is available. However we can say that over the last 38 years as wind turbines increased in capacity output reduced as the wind turbine aged and the average operating life reduced. The trend line is negative with a wider range around a reducing average life. The assumptions of the wind industry that operating life, of a wind turbine, and output life averaged 30 years and performance became more stable is not borne out by the facts. In Denmark for instance for wind turbines commissioned between 1990 ad 2000 the average operating life was 15.6 years with a massive range. 66% of all wind turbines decommissioned were decommissioned before they reach 20 operating years. The number of of operating years before decommissioning commenced was 3. Before committing to a 50% target for renewable generation, most of which is likely to be wind,The EU Commission should address the issue of the unreliability of current wind turbine technology and the declining performance associated with the increase of operating capacity.

  5. When Ireland generates its own electricity needs on a very windy day like today, half must come from fossil fuel. No more than 50% wind can be allowed in. If Pat Rabbitte's dream of the energy bridge (exports of up to 8,000 mw) to the UK had been realised. If it was now installed and commissioned, we might be exporting 8,000 mw, right now, but half would still have to be produced from imported fossil fuel. That means that in addition to importing all our fuel needs for transport, heating, industry plus at least half our electricity generating fuel needs from abroad, we would have to import fuel to generate and extra 4,000 mw of electricity. Electricity accounts for about 1.5 of the 6 billion euros for fuel imports at present, If this had happened, that figure would increase to 3 billion out of 7.5 billion. It would increase fines for failing to reach targets. We would also need to build 4,000 mw of new fossil fuel plant, paid for by consumers, not the British and not the wind companies. This was a real plan by the Irish government, they were disappointed when the British pulled the plug. It was a close call

  6. West Cork Wind comment is formidable.