Proposal for Better Way to Rate Renewable Energy Windmills

May 26, 2017

I’ve always been uncomfortable when I read or hear media reports of the proud completion of yet another windmill far where they seem to always say something like “Will meet the energy needs of more than 60,000 homes” or something like that. How they come up with that number is never explained and I suspect what they do is take the sum of the name-plate power rating capacity for each machine, multiply by some “attractive” load factor (say 30 or 40% where in fact the number is often closer to 20% or below) and call it a day.

I have a proposal for a different and probably more informative way.

Developers of windmill fields surely do short-interval (continuous?) long-duration (a year or two?) time-series site survey measurements of the patterns of winds (speed, direction, vertical profile) in the locations where they plan to plant a machine. It is from this wind from which energy is transferred into useful power to be dispatched to the customer. Using that data with some science and engineering, and the Betz Limit one can surely compute a probability distribution profile of the expected power output of that wind stream passing the windmill. Regardless of the name plate capacity of the machine (and how many near-by homes there are), this probability distribution shows how much power can be expected to come out. Certainly the size of the machine and other machine parameters are part of the output energy computation, but the basic input is how much wind does and will pass through the machine. And remember, no wind–no power. Too much wind–no power.

Then, agree (government can do this sort of thing easily) the probability percentile to pick off the cumulative distribution curve as the “standard” rating for that machine at that location and the time over which power/energy is harvested. I propose we use 95%, which means the windmill operator can say “We have 95% probability that over the course of a year this machine will create produce XX mega-watt-hours of electricity over the course of a year for our customers.” They can compute the confidence factor on that number, but there probably is no need to quote in media, but the investors surely should be informed.

With other methods of power generation, e.g. burning fuel (coal, gas, oil, nuclear, etc.) to produce power based on the thermodynamics capability of the machine it makes sense to quote the power capacity of the machine as the economic basis of how much sellable power will be produced. This is because the machine operators will, for sure, keep feeding the machine with a constant supply of fuel to ensure the machine produces what the customers demand and the investors expect. Whatever it takes, they will do it.

However, this approach to look at the machine to quote power production capability is misleading for renewable energy machines. Yes, serves the interests of those who want more of these machines, but what about the customers and the rest of society?

With renewable energy machines using solar, wind, tides, and waves … the operators are no longer in charge or nor have any responsibility to fuel the plant. We are at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Hence measure and predict Mother Nature.

Will it happen? Probably not. Or maybe they do it now. I don’t know. But if I had anything to do with it we would.


Flooding in York

December 29, 2015

This was a man-made disaster. It was not “unforeseen” as it’s happened before–more than once, in fact. The cause has nothing to do with “climate change” (whatever that means!).

In this instance, the UK Environmental Agency in York noticed that “water was entering the building” (the building holding pumps which were to operate to mitigate the effects of fooding), and they decided that this electrical equipment was “at risk”. So, they lifted a flood barrier thus deliberately flooding a large residential area.

See Martin Brumby discuss this story, as an insider, at http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2015/12/27/the-eus-role-in-the-floods.html#comments, Dec 29 9:23 a.m. where he asks the pertinent questions:

So, were the pumps working and, if not, why not?

Were the electrics maintained and sited above flood levels? (Think:- Fukushima!) If not, why not?

Who made the decision to open the barrier and make the £8M (1982 prices) installation an irrelevance? Who was consulted?

How many of those responsible will be sacked?


Privacy of Account Transactions at Big UK Bank

June 30, 2015

My bank–let’s call it The Big Bank–recently let me know of a future new service called “CashBack” where they offer 3% cash back per month on utilities and household bills, e.g. Council Tax, gas, electricity, TV packages, water bills, phone, broadband, and mobile contracts. This “benefit” costs £2 per month.

The bank told me that their calculation for me indicates that I would get approximately £17 per month back. So … the idea is give the bank £2 per month and they give me back £17. Humm. As an “investment” looks to be a no-brainer. Better look more closely.

  • Who is paying the delta between £17 and £2?
  • I can’t imagine The Big Bank taking the hit. So the service provider is probably subsidising this partially or whole? Why can’t the service providers simply reduce their costs instead of this scheme?
  • Use a now-favourite term, this doesn’t seem sustainable. Doesn’t taste well.

Most importantly, why did The Big Bank feel the right to inspect my banking transactions to determine the £17 savings I could incur? They could not compute this possible savings without looking at my banking transactions. Is this proper and in conformance with banking privacy rules, regulations, and law?

Seems as if The Big Bank has a lot of time on their hands to shuffle money around to no benefit to society. I wonder who benefits by how much?

I declined this “benefit”.


Scotland Gagging on Wind Power

January 12, 2015

Terrific article by Euan Mearns Scotland Gagging on Wind Power. Read the whole thing. He focuses on “the vast electricity surplus that Scotland will produce on windy days in the years ahead. That surplus has to be paid for. Where will it go and how will it be used?”

“It seems likely that Scotland’s beautiful landscape is being wrecked in pursuit of an ideological, empty dream.”

All it takes is simple arithmetic, a bit of understanding of energy and power to see where this is heading. Not good.


Somerset Flooding Self-Inflicted

February 4, 2014

We hear all about how the awful recent flooding in Somerset (England) was do to government not taking action, and “climate change”. Turns out the floods are direct result of European Union Policy introduced in 2007 and adopted formally by the UK Environmental Agency in 2008.

See http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=84683

Finally, we get an explanation that makes sense and is understandable. Not the policy is necessarily a good one and perhaps not something the people of Somerset would agree with had they known, but at least a good explanation of the root cause.


Matt Ridley is a World Treasure

November 17, 2013

See a lecture he recently made in Australia:

Also recommended is his book “Rational Optimist”.


Ryanair

November 4, 2013

Ryanair is in the news today. They are reporting their financial outlook shows reduced earnings. The stock market is responding and crushing their share price.

While I don’t wish bad tidings on anyone or any company, Ryanair is one company with which I have twice experienced as a customer. The first was opportunistic with the spirit of “it can’t be as bad as I hear”. The second was a “let’s try again” as they flew where we wanted to go.

I have not, and promised myself, I would never ever, try again.