Monday, 30 November 2015

Wind Energy Debate : Who is right - Alex White or Fred Udo ?

Image result for alex white

Alex White, lawyer and Trotskyite                                             Fred Udo, distinguished Dutch engineer

Ireland's Energy Minister, Alex White, was interviewed by RTE radio yesterday. It can be listened to here :

RTE Radio 1, This Week: Ireland and Wind Power

It was a groundbreaking interview in a way, as it was the first time the technical nuts and bolts of wind energy policy was discussed in the mainstream Irish media :

Richard Crowley, interviewer : What is the ratio of wind energy to CO2 emissions savings ?

Alex White, Energy Minister : We reduced CO2 emissions by 2.6 Megatonnes.

Lo and behold, our energy minister does not know this crucial ratio ! The answer (for 2012) is that for each kWh of wind generated, associated emissions and fossil fuel savings are 0.33 kWh* due to increased ramping and cycling of gas plants (well below 1MW wind to 1MW savings as often claimed). This ratio will get worse with very high penetrations of wind. Recent analysis by Irish Energy Blog shows that wind reduced gas imports by just 2% year on year in 2014.

His lack of technical knowledge was shown once again when the minister referred to two Canadian reports into health effects of wind turbines but could not say what the setback distances were that were used in these reports. If anybody knows which reports he was referring to please do let me know.

These are just a sample of our Energy Minister's lack of in depth knowledge of his brief displayed during the interview (e.g. comparing cost of biomass with wind). Have a listen yourself.

Fred Udo's excellent reports can be read here :

Oh and by the way it's Udo - not U.D.O !

*Correction to original ratio of 54% by Fred Udo

54% is the part calculated within the framework of SEAI.
Additional losses: 
Self energy plus extra HV lines: 10%
The SEAI calculation takes only the static behavior of the generators.
Indication: The CO2 emission calculated by SEAI/Eirgrid is 7% too low.
If one attributes one third of this to wind and the other ⅔ to the daily ramping, one loses another 10%
The total efficiency of wind is then 33%.


  1. Google E.on report on wind report 2005. See paragraph 7. Google The Bentek Studies It can be stated without contradiction that there is no agreed scientific way to measure the contribution of wind. See Irish Energy Blog 11/3/2015. I have asserted that when everything is counted, (excluding manufacture of steel and concrete). When properly measured, wind farms are appliances, net cosumers of electricity.

  2. According to Agnes Doolan: White was referring to the Health Canada Study and the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel Review of Wind Turbine Noise and Sleep Effects. I have contacted Carmen Krogh who is going to contact Alex White about these studies.

    1. Thank you. Do you know what setback was used in these reports ?

  3. If Ireland had 6,000 mw of conventional fossil plant and no wind energy for year 1. During year 1 they install 2,000 mw of wind to be commissioned on January 1st year 2. So year 1 there is no wind and year 2 there is.

    Average demand is 3,500 mw in both years. How much of the fossil fuel generation will the wind save in the second year?

    Year 1 demand 3,500 mw X 8760 = 36,660,000 or 36.66 million mwh. Thirty six million mega watt hours. (Say 36 m)

    Year 2 3,500 mw X 8760 = 30,660,000 of 30.66 million mwh , Thirty million mega watt hours. ( Say 36 m) Same as year 1.

    2,000 mega watts of wind gives a saving of 4 % of its own capacity. UDO studies, E.ON Netz study 2005.

    So 2,000 x 8760 x .04 = 70,080 therefore

    70,080 / 30, 589,920 = .0022 or .22% saved. Point 22 percent. Less than a quarter of one percent of total (not the same as wind only).

    Year 1 fossil fuel generated electricity = 30.66 m

    year 2 fossil fuel generated electricity = 30,660,000 mwh less 70,080 mwh saves by wind = 30,58 m

    What does that equate to? 70,080 / 8760 = an 8 mw power station. Moneypoint power station is 915 mw capacity So converting 8/915 = .87 percent to bio mass would do the same thing.

    To repeat, if only one hundredth 1/100 of the plant in Moneypoint were converted to bio mass, it would do the same thing and more. I believe the UDO and E.on Netz studies overstated the contribution of wind, because no one can find the .04 saving.

    The saving of Ireland's wind farms is less than a quarter of one percent of the entire demand. In reality I believe its negative, the turbines are appliances, no one can find a saving because there is none.

  4. For the benefit of readers living outside Ireland, this afternoon and night has seen very strong winds in Ireland. Gusting at ground level, it has all the indications of continuing through out the night and into to tomorrow. Imported power has fallen from 139 mw to a point where we are now exporting. When added to 1,891 of wind bringing non-sychronous generation to just under the 50% limit. As the night moves on, demand should fall to about 2,600 mw and this should see some wind curtailed to 1,300 mw,

    Times like these are rare, we have had several months of low wind speeds. Well spaced turbines in good locations and not spaced too close together, could be harvesting 1.7 mw of wind. A very big tractor engine is 200 horse power = 150 kw. Seven of them make 1 mw. So 11 would equal the torque transmitted through a turbine gearbox. The step up gearboxes will be experiencing pressures equal to 7 very large tractors on bearings and cog wheels.

    Market price is 35 euro cent, but consumers are paying 80 for wind. The more wind produced the more they must pay. They told us wind would reduce the price and some believed it. Google Eirgrid dashboard.

  5. Sean O'Dubhlaoigh2 December 2015 at 20:02

    Fred's figures are on the optimistic side they assume constant output from wind turbines as they age. Studies by Gordon Hughes, PF Bach and Fred himself show significant output drops from wind turbines as they age. Output drops of up to 50% every 6 years have been calculated by Dr. Gordon Hughes. This output drop will have to be replaced by fossil fuel. Another issue that would need to be considered is the declining operating lives of wind turbines , due to technology related issues. as they increase in size.

  6. No one ever explained why turbines keep increasing in size. If forced to speculate, I would compare to a forest of trees. A tree planted on its own will grow out wide because it does not have to compete for sunlight. The same tree planted in a forest will grow up very slender and very tall to get the sunlight at the top. However, a point is reached where it cannot support the weight and height by a trunk and roots. This is common to all trees and so they all limit their eventual height to the canopy. Turbine designers understanding the growing tall bit but not the technical limitations. As a result they keep making them taller until they learn those limits the hard way, or until those pension funds learn they were fooled.