Monday, 30 March 2015

One of the windiest nights of the year sees Ireland dependent on UK coal

With storm like winds hitting Ireland tonight, lets see how our electricity system is coping.

Jetstream Forecast

Between 9pm and 10pm wind speeds rose all around the country apart from 4 locations (click on picture to zoom in) :

So how efficient are our € 4.4 billion worth of wind turbines (2,200MW) at converting this energy sweeping across our country into power ?

Well at 9pm, they were producing 1,631MW and approx 218MW was curtailed. In otherwords, we shut down 218MW of wind power, about 12% of the potential power:

In the next hour, wind speeds rose in most areas around the country, notably in Cork and Donegal where most of the wind farms are (see Met Eireann data above).

Well, it turned out that our wind farms could not make use of this additional wind. Instead, wind generation dropped to 1,374MW, a drop in output of about 16%. Curtailment of wind rose significantly from 218MW to 483MW, an increase of 220%.  So 26% of available wind generation had to be dumped. Wind farm companies that have "Firm Access" will be compensated for this.

At 9pm we were importing 378MW from the UK (EWIC in the above graphs). By 10pm, we were importing slightly less - 340MW. Demand dropped in the same period from 3,790MW to 3,464MW, a drop of 326MW. As wind and UK imports do not provide the same type of power as that produced by conventional sources  - they are termed non synchronous generation sources - there is currently a cap of circa 50% on their use in the system at any one time (more explanation here). We can work out that total non synchronous generation (wind plus imports) at 9pm was 53% of demand, while at 10pm it was at a safer 49%. 

So part of the reason for all this curtailment of wind was to bring wind generation down to a safer level for system stability. But they had another option - switch off the UK imports and replace with the excess wind. But instead it seems that commitments made to the UK National Grid, or some other reason, meant that we were using power generated in the UK for 10% of our needs while at the same time shutting down 26% of available indigenous wind power. And what was this UK power made up of ? Well, the largest share was dreaded coal at 30% (which we are all taught to despise) and behind that was the even more dreaded nuclear (which we are all taught to fear) at 23% :

One can only wonder. Is there anyone left who actually thinks the people in charge know what they are doing here ? 

Why are we building more wind turbines when we are dumping more and more wind power ?

Saturday, 28 March 2015

What is ESB's position on the current energy policy ?

ESB is Ireland's largest and oldest energy company. The company built Ireland's first hydro plant at Ardnacrusha in 1929, a great engineering feat at the time. They now operate 10 hydro plants around the country and play an important role in fish stock conservation. They at one time controlled and operated the National Grid which is now run by Eirgrid. However, ESB Networks still play a role in maintaining the grid and transmission infrastructure.

They own 10 thermal (or conventional) power stations from Moneypoint Coal Power station in Limerick to Poolbeg CCGT gas fired power station on Dublin Bay. They currently operate 10 wind farms in the Republic of Ireland (about 10% of the total wind power capacity in Ireland), 4 in Northern Ireland, 2 in England and 1 in Wales. Until this year, they had not installed a wind farm in the Republic since 2010 (in Co.Limerick), preferring Northern Ireland and the UK. They are, however, currently installing a 20MW wind farm overlooking the banks of the River Blackwater in Co.Waterford, an area rich in natural beauty and heritage :

The base of these turbines (Nordex N90s at 2.5MW each) consists of 1,000 tonnes of concrete and 40 tonnes of steel.

They are also involved with Bord Na Mona in building a large wind farm at Oweninny, Co.Mayo which is still going through the planning process.

So back to the main question. What is ESB's position on our energy policy ? Well they obviously want a return on their investments on wind here. Their wind power company made operating losses of €1.6 million in 2012 and € 33,000 in 2013. One would expect that their thermal plant operations have also taken a hit in the past few years with the increasingly intermittent running of plant behind the wind. It is because ESB have such a diverse power generation portfolio that the company often has a more independent position on energy issues than other companies who have a sole focus on renewable generation. We also get more of a macro look at energy issues, rather than the single issue rent seeking views of a wind company.

In the Green Paper submission last year, they outline some of the problems of the current renewables based energy policy :

   Technology-Specific Supports: The establishment of RES specific technology targets by the EU rather than low carbon outcomes has the unintended effect of the EU and National Governments attempting to pick technology winners when there is significant uncertainty as to how innovation will unfold. For example, the long-term cost trajectory for Wind vs Solar energy is currently far from clear. In addition, support for specific forms of generation especially those that have zero marginal cost has the inadvertent effect of undermining the investment economics for other forms of generation that remain necessary to provide back up to these intermittent renewables.

   Carbon-Leakage: The thrust of the greenhouse gas target is production-based rather than consumption-based and as a result creates the prospect of carbon intensive industries relocating to carbon friendly jurisdictions, reducing carbon production in the EU but merely shifting it to other locations.

So lack of investment in back up plant and outsourcing of heavy industry to outside the EU are two issues ESB have with current policy - both issues addressed on this blog. They are also concerned about government policy and regulation interference in the market driving down wholesale prices but driving retail prices up and where only 40% of the electricity price is subject to the competitive market (issues also addressed in this blog) meaning that the price of electricity is kept artificially high by government policy:

For the industry, the subsidisation of renewable energy generation has had serious impacts at an EU level. The increase in subsidised generation in wholesale markets has led to the undermining of wholesale market prices to non-commercial levels, reducing returns and rendering investment in the sector unsustainable. Major European utilities with household names have been brought into financial crisis. Utilities are less interested in investing in the European energy sector, instead preferring the emerging BRIC countries. This is driving the absolute need for capacity markets to complement the energy-only market that was prevalent in continental Europe. To compound matters, in spite of wholesale electricity prices decreasing, retail electricity prices in Europe have increased at exactly the moment when the large scale production of shale gas in the US has reduced energy prices there, worsening Europe’s global competitiveness. The need to incentivise the choices needed for the policy priorities not addressed by the market, has caused levies and taxes to increase to the point where only 40% of the electricity price is subject to the competitive market; the balance is set by policy measures and regulated prices (Eurelectric, 2014).

The fact that wind energy is non dispatchable due to its intermittency is also highlighted as a problem which results in boosting power generation capacity rather than replacing old capacity :

It is a reality that the technology choices that Ireland and Europe need to make to arrive at a sustainable and secure energy system at a reasonable cost are not yet clear. For example, a sustainable form of generation that can be switched on and off as needed and is not reliant on the weather or sunlight is required. 

They also have doubts about the future of EU policy :
 At the same time, total renewable subsidies have reached unprecedented levels...and in the face of Europe’s declining competitiveness, a doubt must hang over the immediate future of the sustainability policy in the EU.

Much of ESB's paper focuses on renewable subsidies and their impact. Wind energy is described as more "capital intensive"  than a CCGT plant, meaning that the ability to re-coup costs is more unpredictable and over a longer period. So policy makers will be more inclined to bring in policies that set fixed electricity prices to support wind energy with detrimental effects for the consumer :

In such a world, the cost of capital and the risk premium that funders will demand to invest in such projects will be a more critical driver of the price that customers will pay. These will be ultimately driven by the industry’s perception of the stability and coherence of energy policy and regulation. In addition, making the wrong policy decisions with such capital intensive projects would lock society into decades of high costs for its energy – costs that customers have to bear.

It is this warning about locking society into high energy costs for many decades that is the most crucial part of ESBs paper. Many in the "green" movement are unconcerned or oblivious to this and instead carry the belief that setting long term high fixed prices for electricity generation will somehow lower energy bills. ESB's position on subsidies and supports for wind energy is very clear - after 2020, they should be removed.

ESB has been a strong supporter of Renewable Energy Sources and will continue to be so into the future. We fully support Government’s target of 40% RES by 2020 and the EU regulations that underpin it as we believe that both provided a really strong kick start to the RES sector and the wind sector in particular. However we believe that further RES targets beyond 2020 and accompanying support schemes should be discontinued for mature technologies such as Wind and Solar. Instead we believe that continuing decarbonisation of the electricity sector should be driven by a strengthened EU –ETS. Our reasoning behind this is as follows - 
 By 2020 the RES industry will have operated on the back of subsidies for some 20 years and there comes a point when such subsidies should be discontinued both in the interest of producers and of consumers.

ESB have played an important role throughout Ireland's history - from installing the first power plant to rural electrification. They have helped to make Ireland a better place to live in the 20th Century. In the early 21st Century, they have followed the money and invested in wind power but are best placed to see the overall effects of energy policy and the best route for Ireland to now take. Our policy makers would do well to heed their advice -  but will they listen ?

Saturday, 21 March 2015

What's In Your Electricity Bill: Part 5 - The PSO Levy

PSO Levy could increase by € 550 million by 2020

The PSO Levy is possibly one of the craziest schemes ever introduced by an Irish Government (along with electronic voting machines, bank guarantee etc). While the idea is to promote fuel from indigenous sources, the result is bad for competition and bad for the consumer. The levy reimburses generating companies when the wholesale prices are low. It props up peat and wind plants aswell as some idle gas plants. You could be fooled for thinking that the substantial capacity payments already been paid to these plant was for this very purpose, but nothing about the electricity market in Ireland is straightforward.

Imagine if the price of bread was suddenly cut in half but the government slapped a levy on the bread to bring the price back up to normal levels. But instead of the levy going to the government, as happens with petrol, it goes back to the bakery. This would result in a win-win situation for the baking companies and a lose-lose situation for consumers. In effect, it acts as a buffer against market forces. Yet we were told by Minister Dempsey in 2007 that "we are introducing structural changes in the electricity sector that will create a more attractive investment climate for existing and new players, deliver increased competition, reduce the cost of electricity and offer greater choice for consumers”. But in 2010, instead of enjoying the fruits of a competitive electricity market, consumers began paying the PSO Levy which ensured energy companies made profits on certain generators regardless of what happened to prices in the market (Note 1).

It's true that only a portion of the levy goes to wind generation. But a closer look is required to see what is going on.

This chart shows where the PSO Levy goes :

Gas generation

The single biggest beneficiary of the PSO Levy is Tynagh gas plant whose profits soared to €40 million in 2013 :

Tynagh is not run very often but cannot be allowed to close down as this could affect "security of supply" - in otherwords, when the weather does not deliver in terms of wind energy, the good old reliable fossil fuel plant will step in. Lower demand is also a factor because this means the plant receives less income from the market. Tynagh will receive €69 million from the PSO this year - about 21% of the total levy. The Energy Regulator explains :

 This is because most of Tynagh’s allowed PSO costs are fixed rather than related to its output, so the less the plant runs and receives correspondingly lower SEM revenue, the higher the PSO subsidy needed to cover its allowed fixed costs.

But as we can see above, Tynagh does not just recover its fixed costs, it makes substantial profits from the PSO.

Aughinish and Tynagh entered a contract for differences (CfD) agreement with Electric Ireland, whereby EIectric Ireland recovers or returns additional monies paid under the agreement from/to the PSO levy. These arrangements were put in place for a 10 year period, and are accordingly expected to end in 2016, at which
point they will no longer receive ex-ante PSO payments.

It will be interesting to see if the PSO Levy will be extended next year for Tynagh but for the purposes of this blog I will assume that it will extended. Indeed, in Eirgrids recent capacity statement, on page 51, you can see that the plant is expected to remain open up to (at least) 2024.

Peat generation

Peat receives the largest proportion of the levy at 35% but there are no new peat plants in planning. So we can assume that this charge will remain roughly static in the coming years. There will come a time when these peat plants will have to be closed down and replaced as the fuel runs out. Bord Na Mona, the semi state company that runs these plants have now diversified into wind energy. But as wind energy (non dispatch) is incapable of replacing dispatchable peat generation, there will still be a gap in the power generation supply market of about 340MW when the peat plants close down that will have to be met by something else e.g. biomass or gas.

Eirgrid expect the 3 peat plants to still be in operation up to 2024 at least.

Wind generation

Wind energy is given a fixed price plus 15% for electricity generated called REFIT (Renewable Energy Feed In Tariff, it works out at around €80 MWh compared to €43 MWh for gas). The PSO levy finances REFIT by making up the shortfall wind receives from the market.

Wind makes up 27% of the levy but this is one to watch as 1,000's of new MWs are planned. I have seen various reports of the amount of planned wind farms ranging from 4,000MW to 6,000MW and even more than that. But Eirgrid seem to think around 4,000MW is required to meet the targets. So that means that about 2,000MW more is due to be built by 2020. So how much will this cost the consumer in terms of PSO Levy ?

Let's look at this step by step :

  1. The allowance for REFIT increased from € 51.07 million to € 90.5 million this year. This is a hike of € 39.43 million.
  2. We are told that "Overall the amount of renewable generation, mostly wind, estimated to receive the PSO levy next year is 138 MW more than the current year (due to REFIT 2 primarily), hence increasing the levy". So we will be building approx 14 times more than this amount by 2020 (138 x 14 = 1,932MW).
  3. So 138MW of new wind generation requires € 39.43 million from PSO. We are building 14 times this capacity between now and 2020. Multiplying 14 by € 39.43 million gives us € 552 million additional PSO required for wind (39.43m x 14 = 552m).

So we will have to increase the PSO Levy by € 552 million to pay for all this additional wind. So who will pay for this ? Well page 32 of the PSO Levy Decision Paper shows how much extra each consumer type pays for the current PSO increase.  So we can deduce from that how much the € 552 million will cost for each consumer type (Note 2) : 

+ 2,000MW wind = + € 552 million PSO by 2020 paid for by :

Domestic customers  = + € 300 per customer per year
Small commercial customers = + € 1,285 per customer per year
Medium/large customers = + € 220 per kVA

As you can see a €300 increase will drive many families into fuel poverty. As for SME's, a near 
€ 1,300 hike in their bills will put a lot of them out of business. Large industry will simply look elsewhere to locate their plant - Poland, USA, India or perhaps China. 

It will be argued that this increase will be offset by savings due to more wind generation. But there are more system costs due to more wind apart from the PSO Levy as the Energy Regulator recently pointed out  :

So it's hard to see much savings, if any, from adding more wind at this stage. 

Our government has locked society into high electricity bills for many many years to come. The combined social impact of this along with the other charges recently introduced for water etc and carbon taxes will change the lives of many Irish families whose lives revolve around access to relatively affordable electricity. 

Disconnections will bring home to many people the true nature of the energy policy devised by the previous government.  But by then, like the banking collapse of 2008, it will be too late. 


Note 1

Noel Dempsey (Fianna Fail) was Minister for Energy from September 2004 till June 2007. He was succeeded by current Green Party leader Eamon Ryan who held the position until January 2011. So the question as to what happened between the time Noel Dempsey brought in the "structural changes" and Eamon Ryan's tenure ended could be the topic of another article or indeed a book to do it full justice.

Note 2

Workings based on information provided in CER PSO Levy Decision Paper 2014/15 - page 32

14 is the multiple of wind generation required to get to 4,000MW as per Step 2 above.

Domestic : €42.87  - €64.37 = €21.50 increase this year. 
€21.50 * 14 = € 301 per customer per year

Small commercial customers : €129.83 - €221.66 = €91.83 increase this year. 
€91.83 * 14 = € 1,285 per customer per year

Medium and large customers : €18.47 - €34.20 = €15.73 increase this year. 
€15.73 * 14 = € 220.22 per kVA

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Is storage a solution to wind intermittency ?

How much wind energy could be stored last week ? Well, as can be seen above very little.  But still we are frequently told that wind energy could be stored and that would be the answer to all our problems.

So the future still lies with fossil fuels or we might actually get real and at least look at nuclear like the French and English have done rather than building a nuclear plant in a panic in 2030 without proper planning and risk assessments.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Response to Irish Times article by Joseph Curtin

One and one equals two, six less four equals two, four by three equals twelve - can you do the maths ?

"To think that two and two are four, and neither five nor three, the heart of man hath long been sore, and long tis like to be" - A.E. Housman

Critics of Ireland's current energy policy have now been told by Mr Curtin of the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin that they can't count in an Irish Times article  :

Critics of Irish wind energy have got their sums wrong - Irish Times

So lets see who has the deficiency in mathematics.

The reason is not wind but rather the cost of importing gas. 
The problem is that more than half of Ireland’s electricity is generated from gas – the fourth highest share in the EU – leaving us more exposed than other countries to gas price increases. When gas prices increase, electricity prices here increase more, and Ireland’s competitiveness declines.
Wind replaces more expensive generation options, reducing their operational and fuel costs. The final net impact on consumer bills is minimal. 

 The Academy of Engineering point out the fuel price differentials in their July 2014 report :

 SEAI’s recently published analysis of the” Benefits of RenewableElectricity in 2012”  indicates that in the Republic of Ireland the 4.09 TWh of wind generation is estimated to have saved €177 million in fossil fuel imports i.e. €43.2 per MWh and reduced CO2 emissions by 0.37 tonnes per MWh - indicating that wind almost exclusively displaced highly efficient gas-fired CCGT generation. Wind generators received in excess of €80 per MWh for wind output in 2012. This means that wind generation added almost €40 per MWh to the electricity sector cost base in 2013 i.e. €165 million. This does not include the impact of wind-related transmission cost increases or system operation cost increases.  
So if faced with a choice of paying € 43 MWh or € 80 MWh , which would you prefer to pay ? I don't know about you but personally I would like to pay € 43 MWh. So if we stopped all fuel imports and powered our electricity completely by wind (which is impossible), we would have to pay almost € 40 per MWh extra in our bills. This is because gas does not receive a subsidy while wind does.

Simple Maths Sum # 1

Cost of gas  ---   € 43 per MWh

Cost of wind --- € 80 per MWh

Difference  ---  € 37 per MWh --- which is the additional amount we must pay when wind displaces gas

The reason is not wind but rather the cost of importing gas. Between the summers of 2009 and 2013 wholesale gas prices almost doubled across the EU. Analysis by the International Gas Union shows that between 2007 and 2013 prices increased consistently in all regions except North America.

2009 was the last time a crash occurred in oil and gas prices. So obviously prices increased after that.

So gas (and oil) prices hit a peak in 2008. There then was a dip in 2009 and a slight rise after that. This is reflected in the Annual Energy Payments (The market price per MW sold per half hour) below provided by SEMO :

As you can see Energy Payments, which are a direct reflection of wholesale prices, hit a peak in 2008 of € 2.7 billion and have not come anywhere close since. So our electricity bills should have come down since then by Mr Curtin's logic. But instead our bills have gone back up again and now exceed 2008 prices :

So Energy Payments (which gas prices determine) fell by about half of a billion euros between 2008 and 2011 but our electricity prices continued to rise in this period. So can you do the maths ? What else could be pushing up our bills ?

Lets look at the electricity bills in 2014. Have they come down yet ? Do you know how numeracy works - € 24.05 (2014) is greater than € 20.33 (2008) i.e. electricity was more expensive in 2014 than 2008 , but Energy Payments were higher in 2008 (€2.7bn) compared to 2014 (€ 2bn) (click on each table to zoom in) so the bills should have come down by Mr Curtin's calculations.


So what else could be pushing up our bills ?

Well, the answer is we are in the middle of an energy bubble that is really indefensible :

All this additional capacity must be financed through electricity bills, whether that capacity is used or not. Excess capacity is financed through capacity payments and the PSO Levy. Most of this excess capacity is due to the € 4 billion investment in wind generation - it's not an anti-wind position to state this, it's simply a statement of fact.

Another factor is Ireland’s lower population density. We need about 70 per cent more metres of cables per person than the average, which feeds into higher prices.

This was always the case in Ireland. As can be seen from the below graph, it didn't prevent Ireland from having a very competitive electricity price during the 90s before they started this renewable gig :

In 2015 electricity prices will decline further, driven again by lower forward gas prices. The correlation is as clear as day.
Has anyone seen these lower electricity prices ? Last time I checked my bill the PSO Levy was going up once again. Can anyone find one of these bills with lower prices ? Please do let me know.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Ireland must import its gas from the UK through interconnectors, and Irish consumers bear this additional cost.
Funny then that we once had lower electricity prices that the UK during the 90s when we still were reliant on UK fuel imports :

Others have identified “hidden” network costs they argue are necessary to facilitate wind. It is true that Ireland is currently modernising an electricity network that for many years suffered from chronic underinvestment. Current investments also support traditional generation, increased demand in the regions, and indeed a more responsive, intelligent and modern grid generally.
It is now accepted by almost everyone that Grid 25 is required to facilitate renewables, including Eirgrid :

The implementation of GRID25 is essential if Ireland is going to meet its targets for generating electricity from renewable sources (link). 

Next we are told:
Current investments also support increased demand in the regions
There is no expectation for "increased demand in the regions". In fact, there are gas plants lying idle in the Western Region for example, Tynagh which ran for the equivalent of 2 months in 2013 (link here) and Rhode oil plant in the midlands which ran for a total of 17 hrs in 2013 - "A further trend of decrease for the stations total running hours is predicted for the coming years. This is attributable to a lower demand from the National Grid" (link here). 

Current investments also support traditional generation

Current investments in the grid have nothing whatsoever got to do with traditional generation. This shows a very poor misunderstanding of how power generation and grid infrastructure works. Traditionally, power stations were placed close to towns and areas of large population. The grid infrastructure was larger at the power stations and towns and then progressively smaller as it reached remote regions. With the advent of wind generation, grid infrastructure now has to be built inversely i.e. larger cables in remote locations are required to bring the energy to the towns and cities.

There are also other hidden costs which are directly attributable to wind such as constraints payments for conventional plant which I have written about here :

You can see that they have risen every year since 2010 as wind penetrations got higher and the smooth running of plant got ever more interrupted. The Energy Regulator accepts that "More and more wind on the system adds extra costs."

Total investment in wind will reach €3.5 billion by 2020. This is a frightening number, leading several commentators to make the simplistic assumption that consumers will have to foot this bill.
Simple Maths Sum # 2

4,094MW onshore @ € 2 million per MW = € 8.1 billion

555MW offshore @ € 3 million per MW = € 1.6 billion

Total investment = € 9.7 billion not € 3.5 billion

External Sources for these figures can be found on this blog
and this one

Since we are engaging in simplistic argument, it is not the Irish consumer but the king of Norway who will pay. We import the largest proportion of our gas from Norway, and investment in wind will reduce coal and gas imports by nearly €300 million per annum by 2020. Consumers will benefit by not having to pay for these imports.
Why deal with simplistic arguments when one can actually look at the detail ? Could it be that simplistic argument is the coinage for a propaganda machine ? Dr Fred Udo has done an analysis using SEAI and Eirgrid data and found that running our CCGT in an efficient way would save more fuel than the investment in wind did.

That's right, using modern CCGT in an efficient way saves fuel - thats the rationale behind using fuel efficient generators whether its the engine in your car or the generator in a power plant. The King of Norway in no way feels threatened by 13th century technology. In fact, wind power is very reliant on gas for its own house load needs.

The deployment of wind creates economic growth in Ireland and investing in Irish wind instead of Norwegian gas boosts activity in the local economy. Analysis suggests that GDP would be boosted by €500 million per annum by 2020, creating thousands of jobs in the process.

Airtricity operate 25% of Irish wind farms - owned by SSE, a British company

Energia operate 25% of Irish wind farms - owned by Veridian plc, a British company which is ultimately owned by Arcapita Bank based in Georgia, USA.

Bord Gais operate 15% of Irish wind farms - owned by Centrica plc, a British company. It was rumoured in July last year that Qatar were attempting to buy a large stake in the company.


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

New Report by Dr Fred Udo - Wind Turbine Build-outs and CO2 emissions in Ireland

Dr Fred Udo, a distinguished engineer from CERN in Geneva, now retired, has published a new analysis on the Irish electricity system. In his previous report (link here), he used CO2 emission data from Eirgrid to show the inefficiencies created in the system by adding more wind.     In this latest report, he uses fuel input data from SEAI to show that the Eirgrid data actually underestimates CO2 emissions by about 6% and therefore the losses referred to in his previous report were too low.

The conclusions are really a damning indictment of the energy policy that resulted in such huge investment in wind and interconnector infrastructure. There is also an added sting in the tail - the investment of billions of Euros in new CCGT plant that could consume fuel more efficiently than before has been pretty much a waste because they have been forced to run inefficiently.

The performance of the system in 2011 shows clearly, that without the extra windmills and without the EDW link, but with the new CCGT gas units operating one does better than with all the new wind turbines and EDW link.

Link to view Dr Udo's Report :

Also, a link for download :

Friday, 6 March 2015

Fact or Fiction - is the Green movement scientific ?

Climate Change Fiddling

The most recent report released by the IPCC concluded that 2014 was the hottest year ever and that a climate catastrophe was on its way. They used temperature records from around the world which were then combined to form one graph which clearly shows the warm trend since 1890s :

But it since transpired that some of the data was adjusted to achieve this result. Various excuses were used to justify these adjustments and the debate continues. So was the temperature data in Ireland adjusted ?  

Well, make up your own mind. Figure 1 shows the GISS data for Valentia Observatory used by the climate change panel in their report. Figure 2 shows the raw data from Met Eireann.

Figure 1 : Valentia GISS Temperature Data

Mean Air Temps
Figure 2: Valentia Raw Data from Met Eireann (the top red/wine coloured line)

If we look at the periods 1880 - 1920, the GISS data regularly goes below 10C and at circa 1918 
the temperature goes well below 9.5C. 

If we now turn to Figure 2, the raw data, for the same period, we can see that the temperature never 
went below 10C apart from a couple of occasions when it hit circa 9.7-9.8C compared with 
the GISS data for the same period of circa 9.2-9.3C. 

Between 1920 and 1940, the temperature only reaches 11C on the GISS data once while on the 
raw data it consistently reaches 11C.

If we look at the end of the 1950s, the temperature went above 11C to approx 11.2C on the 
raw data compared to approx 10.8C on the GASS data and at 1961 we can see much lower 
temps on the GISS data than on the raw data. 

These adjustments had the desired effect of making the period 1880 - 1960 cooler than it 
actually was allowing them to construct a trend of warming over a long period in line 
with the use of fossil fuels.

Interestingly, I can't find any adjustments which made Valentia hotter than the raw data. 

Wind Fiction ?

A new website called makes some startling claims for wind energy in Ireland. According to the site, contributions have been made by engineers and others working in the wind industry. Thanks to a website called Windnoise for setting us all straight on the real facts on wind energy. Over 2,000MW of wind energy provides on average 16% of demand and just 7% of the time does it provide 50% of demand (based on analysis of data from Eirgrid for Feb 2014 to Feb 2015).

Embedded image permalink

I would also argue that the idea that X amount of kettles or toasters can be powered from a wind turbine is totally misleading. Equivalent power and reliable power are two completely different things. X amount of non-dispatchable power (like from wind) is not capable of powering anything. It can only work in a system with plenty of dispatchable power (like coal, gas etc) which can give power at times of demand, say at 6pm, when people arrive home from work and want to put on the kettle. Equivalent power that provides power one day and none the next is not of much use. 

Science becoming meaningless ?

The idea that science can mean whatever you want it to mean goes directly against the principles of its founders and originators. Either the Earth revolves around the Sun or the Sun revolves around the Earth - it can't be both. The mean temperature for 1919 cannot be both 9.3C and 9.9C. And the statement "50% of electricity at times produced from wind" is meaningless without adding that it only occurs 7% of the time. 

It appears that science is now becoming corrupted by public money as US President Eisenhower predicted in his farewell address of 1961 :

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocation, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet in holding scientific discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Energy Regulator confirms that wind energy will result in additional costs

This blog has consistently made the point that wind has and will result in more costs in the generation of electricity, because when you mix large amounts of non-dispatch with dispatch generation, the dispatch no longer runs as smoothly as before, meaning that the costs of running your dispatch goes up.

The Energy Regulator confirmed this in an Oireachtas Committee a couple of weeks ago :

Wind has been least-cost in the past, but that does not necessarily mean it will be least-cost in the future. More and more wind on the system adds extra costs. It is a question of the law of diminishing returns. To bring in more and more wind, we have extra network costs. We need more flexibility from the generators. The wind does not always blow. When the wind is not blowing, we need to have extra capacity there to keep the lights on. The cost of that increases with the levels of wind. Some of the microgeneration technologies, such as solar technology, start to become more competitive in such circumstances. They also have falling capital costs. We constantly need to look at this in a cost framework. While we have security of supply requirements and we need to consider the environment, cost is a major feature of our overall duty. 

It is good to see the Regulator now focusing on cost, because it certainly is going to become an issue into the future.