Monday, 27 February 2017

Why does Wind Energy still require a subsidy ?

In 2015, wind generation accounted for 22.8% of the electricity generated and was the second largest source of electricity generation after natural gas - SEAI.

The SEAI have reported that wind was the second largest source of electricity generation and ahead of coal power for the first time in 2015.

This means it is now providing a considerable amount of power in a given year. Neither gas or coal power receive a subsidy. Instead they receive the market price.

Coal produced the same amount of power in 2014 as wind did in 2015 (22%) but without a subsidy.

So this begs the question - why does wind power still require a subsidy to compete when it is now out-competing coal ?


  1. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) states on its web site that "Since the first wind farm project was realised in 1992 at Bellacorrick, Co. Mayo, 1,630 MW of wind capacity has been installed at the end of December 2011".
    Disregarding the fact that the SEAI has not updated that web page for 6 years, the point is that whatever about the rest of the world, wind turbines have been installed in Ireland since 1992, meaning that the technology has been installed here for 25 years. This is the same duration over which a car becomes a "vintage" model. Surely wind turbine technology is now a mature subject, as turbine designers have sufficient data for reliable design, and the costs of initial product development have long since been written down.
    The SEAI web page also sets out that "Wind energy provides a clean, sustainable solution to our energy problems. It can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels in generating electricity, without the direct emission of greenhouse gases. And there will always be wind; it is inexhaustible and renewable." There is always wind, it is inexhaustible and renewable. And there is no fuel cost.
    So why indeed do we need to extend the REFIT subsidy? Is it possible that the profits from a mature technology with a cost free motive force are insufficient to cover installation and routine maintenance? The answer lies in any one of the prospectus' that are regularly advertised in the national papers. Tax relief on the capital investment and a 15-year guaranteed return (underwritten by subsidies). A direct transfer from the hard pressed taxpayer (you and me) to all those good folk who need to offset their annual tax bill.
    Beats putting your savings into the NTMA!

  2. The being disingenuous. The 37% target relates to supply of the internal market for electricity. The S.E.A.I.wind figure needs to be discounted for exports. A significant percentage which was sold , to The U.K.,at zero price or at negative prices. That is one if the reasons wind generation still needs subsidies. Another reason is that these large wind turbines are engineering junk. Which loose up to 50% capacity factor in 6 years.

  3. The pulling the old Danish con.Obfuscate the figures. The 37% wind target is for the supply of wind generated electricity to the domestic market. These figures include wind exports over the 2 interconnectors. Which were exported either at zero or negative prices to the U.K. The true Danish experience is that it is impossible to exceed more than 20% internal market supply of wind generated electricity. They need subsidies partly to give away at zero or negative prices to the British and allow for decreasing output as these junk wind turbines age.

  4. Wind energy already has an advantage over fossil fuels - there are zero fuel input costs. Both gas and coal have fuel input costs. But somehow fossil fuels doesn't require a subsidy while wind energy does. Something doesn't add up here.

    It's like giving a farmer who has free inputs a subsidy and not giving a subsidy to a farmer who has to pay for their inputs and raw materials. This doesn't happen in normal economic circumstances.

    Implicit in the Minister's decision to maintain the REFIT subsidy is an acceptance that wind does not provide the same quality of power as fossil fuels and as we know it is leading to grid and frequency problems. The net result being that we all have to change our behaviours as consumers of electricity.

    Paying extra for inferior quality electricity, how did we get to this ?

  5. The Jena Max Planck study confirms that you can only use the energy in the wind once. We have a situation that as more wind farms are built in Offaly up wind from Mount Lucas output from Mount Lucas will be reduced, depending on the number of up wind wind farms ,by up to 86%. I doubt BNM considered that when building Mount Lucas. So the claim that the wind is free and abundant does not stack up.

  6. There is a proven way to measure the contribution of all forms of electricity generation, which is capacity credit. (the amount of other plant saved) When it comes to (non hydro) renewables, such as wind, the rules are changed to capacity factor. (the amount produced, irrespective of what use it is). It's the only commercial activity in the world which escapes the normal accounting rules, there used to be another one, sub prime mortgages.

  7. Then of course is the issue of these large wind turbines falling into the bog after 3 years. Because the bolt fasteners were not properly torqued. As a result of the lads working in the rain letting the lubricating fluid be washed off the nuts or because the torquing tools were not calibrated as recommended. A bit of a problem if the bank loans are over 15 years. Coupled with the added issue of raising the cash to replace the fallen piece of junk engineering. Incidentally placing them too close together could also cause them to crash into the bog after as little as a couple of months.

  8. Can Post-Fossil Ireland Survive EWIC Outages?

    Energy Matters reports in the blog of 13th March 2017 that the UK inter-connectors worked really hard in January in order to share supply between the UK, Ireland and France, with nuclear closures in France, nuclear trips in the UK, a broken inter-connector with France during a period of low wind.

    It emphasises that the lesson from this is that the UK survived this only because it carried very large surplus generating capacity before the closures of coal fired plant began, but that since the closures, spare capacity is now thin. Had all CCGT and coal stations not been operational, the outcome could well have been blackouts.

    Is there also a lesson for an Ireland that is becoming more and more dependent on the EWIC in low wind conditions?

    Read blog at

  9. The Irish National Broadcaster RTE, is facing financial problems. Yesterday on morning radio, Dee Forbes the chairwoman asked for an increase in the television licence fee from 160 to 320 euros. Double. She then went on to deal with the problem for evasion. She wants the annual fee levied on the electricity bills. So those who use electricity will have to pay for conventional generation, wind generation, solar generation and the national Broadcaster. An unit is now 25 cents, 3rd highest in the world. RTE is a left wing, anti Trump Green propaganda outlet