Tuesday 28 November 2017

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rise Despite Large Investment in Wind Energy

Want to reduce GHG emissions? Don't put all your eggs in the windfarm basket.

This week the EPA reported that emissions have risen across all main sectors in the Irish economy. It was widely reported on in the Irish media but certain details were either omitted or not focused on. 

In 2016, we had about 2,800MW of wind energy in Ireland, enough electricity generating capacity to meet about 50% of demand on a winter's day like today. If the wind was blowing constantly all the time. As it doesn't, we get about 840MW output on average. But this output varies every day and year. 

An interesting fact can be gleaned from this, although it is not apparent in the EPA report or in media articles (investigative journalists are in short supply, hence the need for blogs like this one). We built about 460MW of new wind farms in 2016. The EPA report states that :
Renewables now account for 25.6% of electricity generated in 2016 (down from 27.3% in 2015).

     So we built more wind farms, costing somewhere in the region of €600-800 million, but the total share of renewables contribution to electricity actually decreased. Yes, I hear you say, but what about demand ? Demand increased by 2.3%. We can infer from Eirgrid's reports that this was an annual increase of about 630,000MW/hr. This converts to an average growth in power demand of about 70 MW.

This means that the 460MW of new wind farms were not able to keep pace with electricity growth of 70MW or just 15% of the new wind capacity. So you can see the folly of adding more wind. New wind farms do not automatically mean more renewable energy or reduced emissions. 

Meanwhile, eco warriors and greens are warning about the dangers of Irish agriculture. Beef exports make up about 25% of total Irish exports. The same people egging on the eradication of our beef production are also (mostly) the same people freaking out about the negative impact of Brexit on the Irish economy. Looks like a serious case of cognitive dissonance to me.

1)  Eirgrid Report on wind energy 2016 - http://www.eirgrid.ie/site-files/library/EirGrid/Annual-Renewable-Constraint-and-Curtailment-Report-2016-v1.0.pdf


  1. Using the old annual target capacity of 250 megawatts per annum. I calculated that output would flatline at about 18%. Never likely to exceed 20% no matter how many megawatts of wind generation you add. At higher levels of capacity add it would be natural to get a slightly higher total for wind penetration However as the totals claimed include 3.5 % hydro and about 3% exports over the EWIC . The actual penetration of wind generation of the domestic market is not much over 18%. As the commissioned capacity of wind generation increases the levels of waste or curtailment increases as does the output loss due to wind turbine ageing. You also got to keep in mind that as capacity increases output will drop due to the use of less productive sites and high density commissioned wind turbines taking wind energy from down stream wind turbines. The wind program has failed and it too late convert Moneypoint. This outcome would have been obvious if Feasibility Studies were carried out along with Cost Benefit Analysis and the legally required SEA. I would say that the cult is beginning to panic.

  2. There is no hard evidence to prove intermittent wind energy added to a fossil fuel system saves any fossil fuel at all. The system must always be based on fossil fuel, with wind kept to below a certain percentage. There is a marginal percentage at which the system becomes unstable and if more wind is pushed in it will collapse. The question is, how much?

    A petrol car will still run if some diesel is pumped into the tank. It won't run as well, but it will run. As a percentage of diesel increases, a point will be reached where the car will stop. Pepper or salt added to a nice meal will add to the palatibility but as the amount increases, the meal is ruined.

    What is happening in Ireland is that wind farms are being built for the sake of getting government subsidies, not because they do any good. The output cannot be used so they must be paid to turn off. We will soon need schedules allowing individual wind farms get a slice of the action.

    In a worse case scenario, adding wind to the system is like adding artists to the painting of the Sistine chapel. Adding artists hinders the result, if government insists, the best thing is pay them to stay in the canteen and let Leonardo get on with it.

  3. It is Government policy to decarbonise Irish energy consumption (​Ireland's Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030). Decarbonisation is a euphemism for "powered by renewable energy", and more particularly, powered by electricity generated from renewable sources; in Ireland, this is wind. In the short term, Government commitments are to 16% of total energy to be met from renewables by 2020, with 40% from renewable electricity, 12% from renewable heat and 10% from the renewable transport sector.

    Which is well and good if we don't increase consumption. By adding 1,000MW to our electrical load for new data centres. By adding 250,000 EVs to the electrical load on the national grid (10% of 2.5 million private vehicles, Dept. Transport). By converting 200,000 homes to electrical heating (12% of 1,650,000 homes, CSO). None of which are decarbonised by converting to electricity unless the source of that electricity is renewable. It only moves the beans, sells cars and storage heaters. Boosts consumption.

    ​Ireland's Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015 requires a large increase the number of wind farms in order to ensure that all the EVs and all the electrically heated homes are in fact powered by renewable energy. Otherwise Irish GHG emissions will continue to rise.

    1. Surely the whole point of this article is to show that adding more wind does not always equate to lower emissions.

  4. Put this in your pipe and smoke it. Wind Turbines are Machines and they are required to meet the requirements of the MACHINERY DIRECTIVE. They NOT REGISTERED IN THE JOURNAL of the EU as being compliant to the MACHINERY DIRECTIVE PERIOD.
    Therefore they are illegal. To give you more to suck on they will never be registered as they can never be made compliant. They are in effect an illegal pile of junk engineering . Destroying the countryside. A court injunction could close this whole wind farce down. Decarbonising the Irish Economy and expecting not to live in a Stone Age society. Is like trying to send a man to Mars in balloon . The Irish Government could pass a law in the morning saying that it is government policy that water freezes at 25c. I imagine they would have a difficult time telling the water to do that. You should try it may be it will work for you. But then that might cause global warming. You would not like that would you would you.

  5. Hands up , not Leonardo Michael of the little Angels.

  6. In answer E-005937/ 2015 from the EU Commission to question a question from Mairead McGuinness MEP. The Commission said that “Wind turbines are considered machines to which the Machinery Directive 2006/42/ec applies”

    “2.2 Design and construction
    A wind turbine and all its parts are to be regarded as a machine. This means that the rules
    resulting from the so-called " The machine directive applies to the construction. The
    manufacturer allowed an external party to review and certify the turbine type and tower
    height used in Lemnhult. This process followed an international standard, IEC 61400-22.
    However, the standard is not harmonized with the Machinery Directive, which means that the fact that a machine is certified according to the standard does not indicate that all requirements of the Machinery Directive are met.” The Swedish Accident Investigation Authority

    The opinion of the ARBETSMILJO VERKE in relation to wind turbine compliance with the Machinery Directive

    “There is no harmonized C standard for wind turbines that gives the presumption of
    machine directive. A harmonized standard must be published in the Official Journal of the
    European Union for its presumption Compliance with the current Directive in the parts covered by the Standard (Machine Directive 2006/42 / EC in this case), see Section 9 of the Machine Requirements
    A standard referred to by many manufacturers is EN 50308, Wind Power Plant - Safety
    and Protection in Care and Maintenance. The standard is not published in the Official
    Journal of the European Union (according to search 2016-09-09) and can not therefore be
    expected to comply with the applicable rules of the machine regulations.

    So why doe finance and build wind turbines when it appears that they do not comply with the LAW?. I thought that banks could loan or planning permission to projects with questionable legality?.

    1. This is fake NEWS, there is no evidence of technical problems with wind turbines. Wind turbines are clean and green and dont cause pollution unlike coal power stations. 25% of Irelands energy was powered by wind last year. This proves Wind turbines are built to last, strong and technically robust. Dont believe fake news from the fossil fuel industry.

  7. Correction. I should have said" I thought that banks could not loan money or county councils give planning permissions to projects using equipment of questionable legality.

  8. There are no problems with wind turbines main because they are not reported . Not that they do not happen.
    Failure to report previous breakage’s
    “Before the tower had been damaged, several wind turbines had problems with loose and broken tower screws. In 2013, in a single flange in a tower, there were 37 loose tower screws. If such a large proportion of the screws in a dressing are loose, the risk is very great for an event with damage consequences. No finding of loose screws resulted in a notification to the supervisory authority, County Administrative Board of Jönköping County, in accordance with the permit for the wind farm."