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.

Scotland’s first Climate Change Adaptation Plan published. Makes Me Feel Much Better.

May 30, 2014

Scotland’s first Climate Change Adaptation Plan published:

Scotland’s first ever statutory Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme has been published. The aim of the document is to increase the resilience of Scotland’s people, environment and economy to the impacts of a changing climate.

(Via Scottish Energy News)

Change in Energy Generation in USA

May 29, 2014

This is not intended to be a political statement, but more of a timeline as to what has happened in USA over the last six years, probably for no real good reason.

Before President Obama took office in 2009, the amount of electricity being produced by coal-fired utilities was approximately fifty percent of the total. Today it is approximately forty percent and, when the Environmental Protection Agency regulations take effect as of June 2, more such utilities are likely to close their doors. The basis for the regulations is utterly devoid of any scientific facts.

Read more at:

Renewable Energy Industry Faces “Shelf” in Growth in 2019..

March 19, 2014

In today’s Scotsman paper, reporting on what was said at the recent Scottish Renewables Conference in Edinburgh.

Speakers at the Scottish Renewables conference in Edinburgh said the UK government needs to extend the pricing guarantees offered by its recent electricity market reform (EMR) into the next decade to give investors in wind farms and other green energy projects more certainty.

Mike Thompson, head of carbon budgets at the committee on climate change, said: “It’s a cliff edge for the power industry after 2019. The government have not said where we are going. When a new government comes in next year, the priority is to get EMR extended.”

Further confirmation of sustainability risks for the “sustainable” solution?

How Much Money Should We Spend?

January 17, 2014

I like this from

How much money should we spend?

Let’s spend nothing. Scrap all the carbon clauses, the subsidies to inefficient energy, the grants to climate models we know are broken. One-sided funding to scientists seeking a crisis has done more harm than good to science, but it has engendered a lot of namecalling. Unless there is a change, climate science will advance faster if the government gets out of the way. I have yet to see a single observational study suggesting we will improve the weather with carbon credits or windmills and solar panels. We could save lives and spend the money on medical research instead. The opportunity cost is ignored.

True cost of Britain’s wind farm industry revealed

June 16, 2013

Interesting and valuable article in Telegraph today on the true cost of wind energy. Not really news to some, but news to many, probably.

A new analysis of government and industry figures shows that wind turbine owners received £1.2billion in the form of a consumer subsidy, paid by a supplement on electricity bills last year. They employed 12,000 people, to produce an effective £100,000 subsidy on each job.


An Energy Bill, currently before Parliament, is the subject of wrangling over prices for renewable energy for the next 20 years. The wind industry says that without price and subsidy guarantees, a “green collar” jobs boom will not materialise.

The World is Getting Worse (and Other Lies): from Big Think

December 9, 2012

Andrew Cohen on “Big Think” uses the what he saw and felt in the film “Lincoln” to

wonder why so few people these days seem to notice how much our world has changed and continues to change for the better

He goes on to note how the majority of his friends and colleagues:

lament on one terrible truth or another about humanity’s seemingly unbroken predilection for ignorance and self-destructive behavior. The general trend of the narrative goes something like this: “Isn’t it shocking and appalling how selfish, materialistic, insensitive, greedy, shortsighted, and just plain dangerous we are as a species?” Some even go so far as to actually say that the earth was a better and more spiritually intact place before human beings appeared and, slowly but surely, started messing things up.

He goes on to contrast the Civil War era and how today we have increased standard of living, reduced violence, and decrease in disease.

We’ve made great progress on this earth. We are not a virus.