Monday 24 October 2016

Cold Winter Could Spell Disaster for EU's energy policy

There are significant signs that a cold winter is on the way for Northern Europe. The Polar Vortex is notably very weak for this time of the year. This means a weak jetstream, eastern winds and a cold winter. During the previous two winters we had a strong jetstream and strong westerlies, which explains why they were so mild. The Polar Vortex looked very different at this time of the year to what it looks like now i.e. much stronger. While Europe had mild winters, America had cold severe winters :

Coupled with the current weak Polar Vortex is a projected negative Atlantic Oscillation. There were also signs of a cold winter back in August when heavy snow fell in Germany to an extent not seen since 2009.

The problem for Europe in the event of a severe winter is inadequate generation capacity. France will be shutting down five of its nuclear reactors over the coming months.  This creates a big problem because other countries that have invested heavily in renewables are dependent on French imports. 

Comparing the French grid for October 2016 Vs October 2015 shows up a change in imports / exports profile :

You can see that last year, France was exporting large amounts of power whereas this year it is exporting much less and indeed importing half of the time. Belgium has also been having problems with their nuclear fleet recently. Spain which was importing up to 2GW this time last year is now exporting most of the time. Germany are also full time net exporters. This can change if output from renewables declines in these countries.

A cold winter accompanied by high pressure and low winds will put the Energy Union to the ultimate test. 

Sunday 9 October 2016

Valentia Observatory Records Record Rainfall

On October 4th, Valentia Observatory recorded it's highest level of rainfall in a single day since the station opened 150 years ago. There was 105.5mm of rain in 24 hours. The same station also recorded it's wettest September in 10 years and December 2015 was the wettest December on record.  However, May 2016 was a remarkably dry month, well below average.

To get the bigger picture to see what is going on, I've taken a look at mean air temperature records. 

Previous very wet years were 1924, 1930, 1946, 19472002, 2008 and 2009. Is there a trend of floods and heavy rainfall occurring directly after years of warming ?

The past five years were cooler than the warming peak of the 2000's. We will have to see how 2016 plays out. So far, 2016 is over half a degree warmer than 2015 (up to September). This makes 2016 warmer than any of the last five years but still cooler than the 2000s. 

The sea surface temperature maps still show a large body of cool water out in the Atlantic :

Compare with 2006 and 2007 :

A colder Atlantic would normally mean a colder winter in Ireland. 

Monday 3 October 2016

Curtailment Payments to Wind Farms will Increase Over Winter

From Irish Independent

The compensation will be based on the market price per megawatt of power produced, which is currently at around €50. If an operator could not transmit 100MW, they would be entitled to €5,000. "There is no doubt that at some stage over the coming months we will have to curtail," a source said.

The unavailability of the East West interconnector also means that Eirgrid will have to revise their Winter Outlook :

The capacity margin of 3199 shows how much spare capacity we have over and above demand. This can now be reduced to 2699 with the loss of the interconnector. The Danes generally assume that wind has a capacity credit of zero whereas Eirgrid assume a 14% figure for Irish wind. If we get a prolonged period of High Pressure, then the output of wind will be close to zero and will contribute nothing to adequate capacity. So that leaves a capacity margin of 2,266 MW. If the winter takes a sudden cold turn, then that will put added pressure on this margin as demand rises. 

Climate Saint Mary Robinson says "Eat Less Meat"

From Irish Independent

Meanwhile back in the real world, the skies over County Cavan, Ireland yesterday :

If you look closely, you can even spot Saint Robinson's plane on the way to Mayo.