Saturday, 22 April 2017

Emissions Rise at Ireland's Power Stations Despite €6 Billion Investment in Wind Energy

One of the things consistently pointed out on this blog is that no matter how much wind energy you deploy, you can never shutdown a single power station. Those who advocate for more wind are slowly realizing this as more facts come out. 

Last year (2016), electricity demand in Ireland rose by about 2.3%.  An additional 600MW of wind was added to the system but the capacity factor (a measure of the annual output from wind farms) fell from 33% to 27%. Also during 2016 the limit on the amount of wind allowed into the system at any one time (non synchronous penetration) was raised from 50% to 55% and then at the end of the year to 60%. 

According to reports by the EPA, emissions and fuel consumption increased in eight out of the eleven power stations for which records were available for 2016. 

Six of these power stations were operated by gas, the other three by oil. Poolbeg (gas), Tarbert (oil) and North Wall (gas) power stations had the largest rises in emissions. Aghada (gas) and Tarbert (oil) power stations had the highest emissions since 2011, while Rhode power station (oil) had the highest since 2007.

Power station
Emissions Increase 2016 Vs 2015
Highest Emissions Since
Fuel Type
Huntstown 2
North Wall
Great Island
Commissioned in 2015
Light Fuel Oil
Heavy Fuel Oil / Light Fuel Oil
Light Fuel Oil

Note the three oil run power stations at the bottom all had the highest emissions for many years.

Factors that lead to these increases were :

• The interconnector to the UK was out for four months at the end of 2016. This would partly explain the increases in Dublin power stations such as Poolbeg and North Wall.

• Electricity demand increasing by 2.3%. With new data centres on the way, demand will soon increase by much more than that. 

• Capacity Factor of wind dropping from 33% to 27%. It's an unfortunate fact that no matter how many wind farms there are, if there is no wind, you get no energy. Storage wont fix this problem either as the original energy source is still intermittent wind energy that can remain flat for months on end during periods of high pressure.

• The low price of oil and gas. 

• The low capacity credit of wind energy. Ireland now has 3,000MW of wind, but all these wind turbines cannot replace a single power station. All the power stations must remain on standby. An additional 600MW of wind was added in 2016, roughly a 25% increase on 2015. The only solution for this is nuclear. A nuclear power station can fully replace an existing power station and hence achieves much greater and much more consistent fuel and emissions savings in the long run than wind ever can.

How ironic that Ireland is now dependent on oil again for it's electricity needs after spending close to €6 billion on wind technology and another billion or two on grid upgrades to accommodate this wind. If this is not an indictment of the wind program, then I don't know what is.

Sources :

1) EPA Environmental Reports

2) Eirgrid Renewable Energy Curtailment Report 2016

3) Cost of wind is estimated to be €2 million per MW installed.  


  1. An analysis carried out by Dr. Fred Udo a number of years ago predicted that after 11% wind penetration of the grid CO2 emissions would start to rise again. An analysis I carried out based on officially projected capacity add came to the conclusion that the maximum penetration of wind generation supplying the domestic market was about 20%. Recently confirmed by a study by number of Australian Universities and The National Center for Atmospheric Boulder. With regard to increasing wind Access to the Grid output analysis of up to 50% penetration proves that very little output will be delivered to the grid. Most observed wind turbine output is clustered around zero output. Zero being the largest single analyzed activity. Research in Scotland , Holland and Denmark came to the conclusion that wind turbines experience significant falls in capacity factor as they age. Some configurations of wind farms showing a 50% drop every 6 years. So it is no surprise that wind turbine generation of electricity saves no significant amounts of CO2. As capacity increases this turns negative.

    1. Ideology : A set of doctrines or beliefs that are shared by the members of a social group or that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system. Product of philosophical thought and debate in past societies. Largely shaped in the present by commercially-funded manipulation of public perception.

      Doctrine : A statement of fundamental government policy.

      Ireland in 2017 : a country having the ideology of conformance with the European policy to 'decarbonise energy' which is largely shaped by commercial interests.

      And we, the great unwashed, are only pawns in the game!

  2. 600 megawatts added last year equals a €1.2 billion investment in junk. I suppose down the road scrap a metal business would be something to look at from an investment perspective.

  3. The main conclusion of the post of 27th April on ENERGY MATTERS is that it will be very difficult to orchestrate emissions reductions globally and to have any meaningful impact upon future atmospheric CO2, and that emissions need to be reduced a lot relative to business as usual, i.e. by at least 50% by 2050.
    If this is done, it is probable that there will be severe negative impacts upon OECD economies and the well being of the population.
    The post makes the point that fossil fuel plus cement emissions are running at close to 10 GtC per annum while removal by terrestrial and oceanic sinks is running at around 5 GtC per annum.
    Note: The concrete industry is one of two largest producers of CO2, half of the emissions from the chemical process and half from burning fossil fuel to make it. There is an average of 900m3 of concrete in each wind turbine foundation.
    This is done in the name of 'Decarbonisation of Energy'.
    Go figure . . .

  4. It's been a late cold dry Spring in Ireland this year. The swallows came late, there are very few of them. It seems there is inadequate insect food for them in the air. Grass growth is retarded, daffodils and snowdrops are very late. Late Springs occurred in 2010, 2011, 2013 and now 2017. There have been no early Springs since Al Gore's film in 2006. ---- Meanwhile President Donald Trump gave a speech to mark 100 days in office to a huge cheering crowd. He will make a decision on the Paris Accord within 2 weeks. He says China, Russia and India agreed to pay nothing, while most of the burden will be on the USA. From his body language (and aware his daughter is in favour of the deal in some form), my guess is that he will insist on all other developed countries paying their share and on strict monitoring of spending. Mugabe's palace will have to wait. As China, Russia and India won't pay up, it could end the deal. It's easy to spend someone else's money, not so easy to spend your own.

    He also said compliance with the deal is set to shrink American GDP by 2.5 trillion dollars causing the closure of factories.

    You can view his speech on line from several links. Go to minute 13 to 16 to view the comments on the Paris Accord. I am happy and relieved President Trump is on the right track. As a Cavan man, financial prudence is a known trait of ours. Donald is a mixture of German and Scottish, so he is nobodies fool. The green bluff is being called for the racket it is.

  5. In a graph in his Power Point presentation in Cookstown on the 16th of April 2014. Gordon Hughes showed that output from larger wind farms drops faster than smaller ones. For larger wind farms the capacity factor at year 1 is just over 30%. The capacity factor for year 6 is 15% a more than halving of output over 6 years. Whilst there may have been some reduction in wind speed for the concerned . I would say that the main cause for the reduction in capacity factor is the wind turbines themselves, You see massive output reductions in wind turbines in the Danish Data. Particularly for these large multi megawatt wind turbines. You will also note a significant drop in their operational lives.
    These observations were also noted in analysis carried out by PF Bach and Fred Udo. But the wind business continues to be in denial on this. They blame every else and ignore the fact that the problem is self inflicted.