Thursday, 22 September 2016

Rise in Ireland's Electricity Generation CO2 Emissions

SEAI have published the latest details on CO2 emissions in Ireland. Electricity generation emissions have risen in 2015 because of a rise in coal consumed in Moneypoint.

The graph is slightly misleading for a couple of reasons. It uses a simplified modelling system that doesn't take full account of increased cycling and ramping from back up generators. Hence the disclaimer on Page 26 :

There are clear limitations in this analysis but it does provide useful indicative results. 

The cycling effects are certainly not small as stated on Page 21 - see here for an analysis

In reality, the cycling effects increase as more wind is added so the CO2 per kWh of electricity may be fairly accurate back in say 2010 but starts getting progressively worse by 2015. 

The other problem is that by the end of 2012, the East West Interconnector was up and running sending Co2 free power to Ireland throughout 2013 and after that. This is because emissions are counted in the country of origin, in this case the UK. No account seems to be taken in the graph above of this. There is no Imports (avoided) in the legend.

Lastly, as stated recently on this blog, use of diesel generators is becoming more common with increased intermittent wind power, and is now at about 230MW capacity. I can't find any reference to them in the SEAI paper so presumably they are not included. 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Over 40% of Wind Energy Shutdown Last Night


Last night, over 40% of wind energy produced was shutdown or curtailed during a spell of gale force winds across the island of Ireland. This episode clearly shows the limitations of relying too much on an intermittent source of energy like wind. Billions of euros worth of turbine installations become worthless at both low wind and at high wind.   

Figure 1

The reason for the shutdown of so many wind turbines can be clearly seen in the System Frequency charts before and after the wind shutdown. 

As the gales gathered in strength on Sunday evening, maintaining the frequency of the grid became more difficult :

Figure 2

The zig zag patterns in the Figure 2 show how frequency fluctuated between 49.9 and 50.1 Hz. The dips represent periods of too much wind when system inertia drops (due to lack of conventional generation such as coal or gas). Should frequency drop below 49.7 Hz then a blackout may occur, so Eirgrid rectified this by shutting down some of the wind and allowing more conventional generation into the system. The frequency then rises again to 50Hz. Gas turbines are forced to ramp up and down more often to maintain system stability during such periods thus pushing emissions up and negating some of the benefits of  having all the wind in the first place. 

Figure 3

Figure 3 shows what happened when over 40% of the wind output was shutdown and there was more manageable levels of wind, in this case about 1,500MW. The frequency is very stable and there is little risk of blackouts. This has been normality in the grid for many years. Compare it with Figure 2. This is the future. It will certainly test engineering skills to it's limits. Gas turbines will have to function under greater strain than before. It will cost a lot of money. There can no longer be a guarantee that the electric kettle will boil when you want it to. 

The other option Eirgrid have to maintain a stable frequency in these situations is to cut demand - which is in effect a blackout under another name. The future is renewable. The future is green. I'm at a loss to figure out how this is "progress".

Saturday, 27 August 2016

The Northwest Passage Opens Up

NASA recently posted an image of a nearly ice free North West Passage :

 In mid-August 2016, the southern route through the Passage was nearly ice-free. For most of the year, the Northwest Passage is frozen and impassible. But during the summer months, the ice melts and breaks up to varying degrees. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured the top image of the Northwest Passage on August 9, 2016. A path of open water can be traced along most of the distance from the Amundsen Gulf to Baffin Bay.

Compared with 2013, there is a lot less ice. You can view a comparison here.  I was interested to find out if this had happened before in recent history. NASA state that an ice strengthened ship could get through the southern route without too much trouble. Well, it turns out that a ship did just that in 1903 and 1905.

Captain Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer, wrote about their voyage in Colliers Weekly (behind a paywall)

The ship did not face too much ice trouble on the Southern Route :

The passage they took was the exact same passage a ship today could take and at the same time of the year - August and September. They stayed on Gjoa Haven over the winter and the following year living and hunting with Eskimos. Then in August 1905, they sailed through a narrow rocky and icy passage to Amundsen Gulf. 

I have shown the route they took overlaid on the recent August 2016 NASA image. It's precisely the same route that a ship could take today. This means there is little sign of warming in the Arctic since early 1900's and now.

With the Northwest Passage conquered, Amundsen sailed to the nearest telegraph station - he had heard from whalers that Norway and Sweden had become independent.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Most EU Renewable Targets Will Not Be Met

While the media and lobbyists keep insisting that fines loom over us unless we act urgently and not wasting time to do a cost benefit analysis, what they don't tell you is that most EU countries are now on track to miss their 2020 targets. The EU have finally admitted that biofuels were a waste of time. Most countries are learning the hard way that other sources of renewables like wind and solar were not all that they were "cracked up to be" either. 

Some ferocious overselling (and little analysis) has taken place. 

The EU funded website Keep on Track shows which countries are on track and which aren't in meeting their 2020 renewable targets.

Here is the list of some of the countries NOT on track to meet their 2020 targets :

• Portugal
• Spain
• France
• Belgium
• Netherlands
• Germany
• Slovenia
• Czech Republic
• Poland
• Slovakia
• Finland
• Latvia
• UK
• Denmark (doubts)
• Greece

I would personally add Ireland to the list, we have done little on transport and heating initiatives, instead focusing almost entirely on wind generation. With about 20% of electricity consumption coming from wind over six or seven years, we have to make up another 17% by the next three years (in an increasingly legal quagmire).

That to me seems like a disaster for the EU and it's wall to wall green lobby groups. The question is will they admit they got it all wrong ? 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Green Party NIMBYISM

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” - George Orwell

The Green Party leader, Eamon Ryan, recently objected to the sale of land by NAMA in the Dublin Mountains.

In June, The Irish Times said that there were plans for a wind farm on the Glenasmole Valley but that "Any attempt to put a wind farm on the site is likely to be resisted by conservation groups, trekkers and residents of the city and county."

It's amazing really that after 6 years of Eamon Ryan and his green cohorts of pushing wind farms on rural communities all around Ireland against their will, that they now resist a wind farm in their own locality. 

This is NIMBYISM at it's finest.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Will The Lights Stay on in Ireland ?

A new report by the European Network of Grid Operators (ENTSOE) has shown that Great Britain may not have sufficient electricity generation capacity by 2020 to keep the lights on. This has a knock on affect here in Ireland where by 2022 it is envisaged that we will become more and more dependent on interconnectors.

ENTSOE have placed Britain at the highest risk level of grid blackouts in EU but state that expensive Capacity Mechanisms may prevent them from happening. For the layman reading, this is due to lack of investment in baseload generation - gas, coal, nuclear. Lack of sufficient baseload generation in UK means interconnectors to Ireland will lie idle (where Ireland is also strapped for reliable means of power to export to UK). 

Eirgrid this year published their generation adequacy assessments up till 2025

Take a look at the bottom section which excludes interconnection. Green means we have sufficient generation, red means we don't. By 2022, things start getting tight, by 2023 and 2014 we are in blackout territory, highly dependent on UK to send us spare power. 

Of course, we have spent billions on new wind farms. But as ENTSEO state :
The contribution of RES [renewables] for adequacy purposes is less than for thermal plant.

I've dealt with this concept before - capacity credit.  Wind farms don't keep the lights on, power stations do. 

There is a further problem for the Irish Grid operators - Eirgrid - and that is the new data centres that are been built around the country. They consume lots of power - Eirgrid estimate that if all the data centres that are contracted are built, they will add a whopping 1,700MW on top of peak demand of about 5,000MW. This would mean we get into the red a lot quicker. 

There is a quick fix to this, of sorts, and I hinted at it earlier - Capacity Mechanisms. This involves load shedding - paying factories large amounts of money to close for a period and / or diesel generation which can ramp up alot quicker than power stations. Ireland had about 60MW of diesel generation in 2014 (referred to as Demand Side Units), we now have 230MW ! And Eirgrid have said :

The capacity of Demand Side Units in Ireland has increased to 230 MW, and is set to increase further. 

How ironic that the green revolution, the de-carbonization of our grid, the clean, green future has lead to us using more and more diesel generation - the most polluting form of electricity production. And of course, our neighbours England are also going down this path. 

Incidentally, the data centres will have back up power in the event of widespread blackouts. No, not windmills, yes you guessed it - diesel generators. The new Apple data centre in Galway will have 18 generators with a total capacity of 288MW. The new green revolution is upon us !

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Broadcast of Wind Energy Advert Deemed Unlawful

A TV advertisement, featuring John F Kennedy, extolling the virtues of wind energy was yesterday deemed unlawful by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland because the advertisement was politically linked to policy development and wind energy guidelines and was intended to influence government policy in respect of energy.

This proves that Ireland still has strong independent oversight in some areas. The complaint was made by Francis Clauson who owns the first Passiv House in Ireland. Amazingly, his annual heating bill is now lower than his PSO Levy bill, that is used to pay for wind turbines. 

Unfortunately, the wind lobby was more effective than the Passiv House lobby.

Full article on the wind advertisement can be found here.