Tuesday, 9 September 2014

No Wind Day - September 9th, 2014


But the Wind is Always Blowing Somewhere ?


As I sit here typing away, wind generation is providing 50MW of power from about 2000MW of wind turbines. In the UK, it is providing 0.18GW or 180MW of power. Given that the UK has roughly 11GW of installed wind capacity, thats a tiny amount, 0.47 of a percent. In total, between the UK and Ireland, wind energy is generating  230MW from 130,000 MW of equipment. It was even worse earlier today when between 7am and 5pm (when demand was at its highest), Irish wind power fluctuated between 2MW and 5MW. At 11.34 am, total UK and Irish wind power was 162MW, a capacity factor of 0.1 %.

We can see from this that the two islands share the same anti-cyclonic weather conditions i.e. both islands experience the same calm conditions at the same time. If coal powered stations in UK and Ireland tended to trip off at the exact same time, then it would lead to catastrophic results for our economies as loss of crucial baseload plant at the same time would lead to extended power cuts. And if gas powered stations tended to act as one, then on days like today, there might not be a way of filling the gaps left by wind. Herein lies the problem of the current carbon reduction policies of both governments. Reserves of coal and gas are crucial if we want the lights to stay on. In fact, the Irish regulator requires that power stations maintain 5 days worth of fuel on site at all times. As gas is not easily stored, the current regulations allow gas powered stations to keep reserves of oil instead.

Today also sees the day where the East West Interconnector (EWIC) was switched off. Since 12pm last night, UK have been sending no power to us in Ireland (We usually import 400-450MW during the day). So Eirgrid had to make up for three shortfalls today - loss of the interconnector, loss of wind power and loss of back up reserve (which would have been used to meet the gap left by the interconnector).

I wonder if the loss of the EWIC is a sign of things to come as the UK struggles with the loss of two of its nuclear and coal plants. In fact, it is now dependent on its own interconnector imports - from France and Netherlands. Coal power was a close second to gas as a source of UK electricity generation today. The more things change........

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