Saturday 5 September 2020

Higher Levels of Back-Up for Ireland's Renewables Based Grid

The grid operator in Ireland has always required back up generation, known as operating reserves, in the event that a power station fails which could cause a widespread blackout. Usually, these are powered by fast acting fossil fuel plant which can be switched on in an instant. But Ireland's transition to a wind powered based grid has not resulted in less back-up, but more back-up generation which obviously has an impact on the ability of wind to reduce emissions.

The first table below is from a few years ago and shows four different types of operating reserve with a minimum requirement of 110MW during the day and 75MW during the night.

The next table is from 2020 and shows that Reserves have increased to 155MW during the day and 150MW during the night - a 40% increase during the day and a doubling during the night.

 In a 2007 report, prepared for Eirgrid, titled "Wind Variability Management Studies (P.Meibom et al)" , Danish scientists and University researchers concluded that:
 "Generally, the demand for replacement reserves increases with
increasing wind power capacity installed.
The occurrence of high demands for replacement reserves is
mainly driven by a high number of simultaneous forced outages that happens
simultaneously to relatively high wind power. The value of these peaks tends to increase with increasing wind power capacity installed."
In another 2005 study by R. Doherty and M. O’Malley of UCD Dept of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, titled “A new approach to quantify reserve demand in systems with significant installed wind capacity” it was stated that :

The methodology is applied to a model of the all Ireland electricity system, and results show that as wind power capacity increases, the system must increase the amount of reserve carried or face a measurable decrease in reliability [i.e. increase the risks of a blackout - blog note].

So this was well known, that as you increase wind energy, the grid becomes more unstable, and more back-up reserves are needed. It's becoming increasingly clear that Ireland has already reached it's limit on wind generation, where the benefits are more than offset by the costs.

Tuesday 1 September 2020

Ireland's Handling of the Covid-19 Crisis Poor for Countries of our Size

Contrary to public opinion here in Ireland, Irish officials were among the worst in handling the Covid-19 crisis  in the EU/EEA area when compared with countries of a similar size.

Ireland has a population of about 4.5m and has reported 28,000 cases of Covid-19. Croatia, Finland, Slovakia and Denmark have similar populations but they have reported 10,000, 8,000, 4,000 and 17,000 cases respectively. So we have more cases than the first three countries combined. Bulgaria with a population of 7.5m has about 12,000 less cases.  

Hungary has a population of nearly 10 million, almost double that of Ireland yet has only 6,000 cases of Covid-19, nearly five times less than Ireland.  Many in the Irish media who have been very critical of Hungary in recent years should take heed.

Only Austria has a similar amount of cases as Ireland, but they have about another 4 million people so on a per capita basis, Ireland has twice as many. The only comparable country is Sweden which has double the population but three times as many cases. 

So Ireland has only handled the crisis slightly better than a country that choose not to impose a lockdown. The measures implemented here in Ireland have failed. Right from the start, the idea of closing down our borders was rejected, a rejection of common sense - the virus cannot travel on the wind. 

The focus on pubs and restaurants and lockdowns was misplaced, instead the focus should have been on nursing homes, meat factories and direct provision centres, most of which is a failure of our immigration and housing policies which results in large numbers of people living together in the same accommodation.