PowerSwitch Main Page
PowerSwitch
The UK's Peak Oil Discussion Forum & Community
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Renewable Energy & Capitalism
Goto page 1, 2  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    PowerSwitch Forum Index -> Wind Power
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Potemkin Villager



Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Posts: 917
Location: Narnia

PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2018 3:52 pm    Post subject: Renewable Energy & Capitalism Reply with quote

Interesting article in Der Spiegel concerning unhappy bunnies who have invested in wind energy.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/wind-power-investments-in-germany-proving-riskier-than-thought-a-946367.html

" Volker Hippe also thought that he was making a safe and beneficial investment. Thirteen years ago, his wife died -- he was in his mid-40s at the time. He received some €35,000 from her life insurance and decided to invest the money for his children. The youngest of his three daughters was six at the time.

Hippe invested the money in a wind park in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. The fund promised annual returns of 5 to 6 percent initially and more than 20 percent beginning in 2012. But it wasn't long before the payments ceased.

Investors who end up with such lemons in their portfolios are often told that they should have been more careful. But Hippe made the same mistake that many have made: He trusted a bank. And it wasn't just any bank; it was UmweltBank (Environment Bank), which specializes in green investments. In an informational brochure from the year 2001, the institution hailed investments "in a solidly calculated wind park" as an "ideal pension supplement." "

_________________
"Test to destruction: engineers like to do that. Only with a test to destruction can you find the outer limits of a system's strength".Kim Stanley Robinson
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
RenewableCandy



Joined: 12 Sep 2007
Posts: 12550
Location: York

PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't help feeling that, in addition to the technical problems in that particular industry, this is also part of a more general trend of investments 'not paying off'. For a variety of reasons, starting in about 2008 and carrying on to the present with things like Carillion.
_________________
Soyez réaliste. Demandez l'impossible.
Stories
The Price of Time
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kenneal - lagger
Site Admin


Joined: 20 Sep 2006
Posts: 10246
Location: Newbury, Berkshire

PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't put all your eggs in one basket especially what is, unfortunately, a very politicised one.

During a visit to the Green Park wind turbine, adjacent to the M4 in Reading, we were told that that wind turbine was the least efficient, in terms of the wind available, of all the turbines in the UK but that it was more efficient than all the wind turbines in Germany. That fact must have a bearing on the economic return from the installation even if the energy return is positive.
_________________
"When the last tree is cut down, and the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find out that you cannot eat money". --The Cree Indians
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
BritDownUnder



Joined: 21 Sep 2011
Posts: 334
Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A sobering article and I could waffle on about doing some research before you invest in background to projects such as average wind speeds for the area, previous company performance, whether the directors sound like they know what they are doing (I.e. are accountants and lawyers or is there an engineer among them). Granted, the unfortunate Herr Hippe may not had have had too much access to this info in 2001 but a fool and his money are soon parted.

I often wonder whether developers of wind farms do enough research into the places that they go in such as measuring the wind speed on site for several years beforehand etc.

I can’t believe that the least efficient wind turbine in the UK (which I think had a factor of 9%)would be more efficient than the most efficient one in Germany though the nearer you are to the sea the more windier you are in general. This rule does not always apply as the Great Plains of the USA are very windy and also consistently so.

Investors beware but don’t let these things put you off. I have invested in a few lemons myself mostly by considering just the ‘politics’ of the market sector itself and not looking at the individual company in great detail as well.
_________________
G'Day cobber!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
RenewableCandy



Joined: 12 Sep 2007
Posts: 12550
Location: York

PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2018 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's surprising just how windy this country is, simply because we're an island.


_________________
Soyez réaliste. Demandez l'impossible.
Stories
The Price of Time
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Potemkin Villager



Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Posts: 917
Location: Narnia

PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A big part of the problem our friends in Germany have is that much of the Country has not got a particularly impressive wind regime as the map shows ( or would if we knew what the colours meant) whilst highly in thrall to the concept of wind energy.

I remember discussing this with a wind energy modeller in Aachen on the German/Dutch border. He pointed at a 1MW turbine just outside city limits and said "That turbine gives us a feel good factor but does not produce much energy or profit."

There seems to be another type of problem when hill top windfarms near me in a very energetic wind regime appear to be losing money hand over fist!
_________________
"Test to destruction: engineers like to do that. Only with a test to destruction can you find the outer limits of a system's strength".Kim Stanley Robinson
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kenneal - lagger
Site Admin


Joined: 20 Sep 2006
Posts: 10246
Location: Newbury, Berkshire

PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Strange things happen when you live in Narnia, PV, so we can't sensibly comment on your post.
_________________
"When the last tree is cut down, and the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find out that you cannot eat money". --The Cree Indians
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
BritDownUnder



Joined: 21 Sep 2011
Posts: 334
Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Potemkin Villager wrote:
A big part of the problem our friends in Germany have is that much of the Country has not got a particularly impressive wind regime as the map shows ( or would if we knew what the colours meant) whilst highly in thrall to the concept of wind energy.

I remember discussing this with a wind energy modeller in Aachen on the German/Dutch border. He pointed at a 1MW turbine just outside city limits and said "That turbine gives us a feel good factor but does not produce much energy or profit."

There seems to be another type of problem when hill top windfarms near me in a very energetic wind regime appear to be losing money hand over fist!


I think the Germans should not be underestimated. They generally don’t do things wrong. Looking at the electricity map app it seems that right now the Germans have about 50 GW of installed wind with a generation right now of about 12 GW. Compare with the UK with about 16 GW installed and a generation right now of 2 GW. Not only the Germans have much larger installed capacity of wind but they are getting a higher capacity factor of wind at the moment anyway in spite of their apparent overall lower average wind speeds.
One can only assume they have a greater diversity of wind sites than the UK either by design or by good geography, perhaps a better east west spread meaning that if it is quiet wind in one area this will be compensated by another area being windy. Perhaps the UK is just too narrow so that it is either very windy or not windy at most sites.

On an unrelated point the app also shows the Germans current generating 20 GW from coal and hardly anything from gas whereas the UK is just about the opposite.
_________________
G'Day cobber!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Potemkin Villager



Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Posts: 917
Location: Narnia

PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you look at windy.com you can get some idea what is going on! I think when you looked conditions over the UK were pretty calm but there was a good blow off the German North Sea coast.

They have invested a fortune in off shore in the North Sea the over the last number of years (because onshore was saturating) which I suspect delivers a very significant percentage of output but of course at very significantly higher installed and o&m costs than onshore.

I spent a number of years working on wind energy sites in remote areas and on Scottish Islands but never could work up the enthusiasm for off shore turbine maintenance! At least nowadays gearboxes have been taken out of the equation.

I must check and see if RISO have updated or refined the European wind atlas recently (they also do an offshore version).
_________________
"Test to destruction: engineers like to do that. Only with a test to destruction can you find the outer limits of a system's strength".Kim Stanley Robinson
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
PS_RalphW



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 5347
Location: Cambridge

PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Note that Portugal has worse wind resource than most of Germany, yet due to massive investment they have been generating 100% of electricity demand from renewables over recent months, albeit with heavy use of interconnectors to export and import and energy as needed.

It may not be particularly economic, but it does show that you can be almost fossil free if you are prepared to pay for it.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
BritDownUnder



Joined: 21 Sep 2011
Posts: 334
Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found a few useful links on wind.

European Wind production by country. It even gives and onshore/offshore split in one page. German production declined from 14GW to 3GW in one day yesterday.

German Electricity Production by source

Global wind atlas shows that a lot of wind potential in mountainous areas. Unfortunately a lot of the UK potential is in National Parks.

Looks like Portugal has a lot of hydro (4GW about equal with installed wind also at 4GW and also a lot of hydro pumped storage that they can use to store their wind power when necessary. Also a relatively big link to Spain. They have made good use of their geography having more hydro than the UK but far less population.

What I am seeing is that the UK wind production seems to rise and fall rapidly but with no storage in the form of pumped hydro and little export or import facilities (the largest link to France seems to be importing most of the time) the UK seems to have little option than having gas stations on standby to cover losses in wind. So basically when the UK builds wind turbines it needs gas to cover any fluctuations. Not an ideal situation.
Ireland is similar to the UK in not having much hydro but with a relatively large link to the UK that they over-invest in wind can export excess wind power to the UK when it suits them. The UK cannot really export its excess wind. It certainly helps to be small and mountainous in energy markets like Portugal or be very large and well linked to neigbours like Germany and over-invest. The UK is somewhere in the middle being large but poor in links and storage. Needs more of both in my opinion.

Maintenance of offshore wind must be a bit of a task. When those floating wind turbines come in it must be even more so.
_________________
G'Day cobber!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
RenewableCandy



Joined: 12 Sep 2007
Posts: 12550
Location: York

PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I often wonder what became of the Wind-Hydrogen project they were building at Ladybank (somewhere in Scotland). I think there's also one at Advanced Manufacturing Park (near Sheffield). I didn't stay in the industry long enough to find out for sure, but it seems likely that it's cheaper building the H2 infrastructure in to the wind farm at the get-go than putting it in later.

Unless H2 infrastructure has a steep learning-curve (like, for example Solar PV has had).
_________________
Soyez réaliste. Demandez l'impossible.
Stories
The Price of Time
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Potemkin Villager



Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Posts: 917
Location: Narnia

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenneal - lagger wrote:
Strange things happen when you live in Narnia, PV, so we can't sensibly comment on your post.


Even stranger things are happening next door to Narnia in Norniron, where the murky details of the infamous Renewable Heat Scheme, which involved big payouts to heat empty uninsulated barns mainly belonging to members of the political party currently propping up the May government.

Back on subject thanks to BDU for the links. The Fraunhofer site in particular is a happy hunting ground for all sorts of data. The UK does have a number of pumped storage sites I believe, the very largest of which is in Snowdonia in North Wales. I strongly advise anybody visiting LLanberis to do the "Electric Mountain" tour.

I have heard nothing more of Hydrogen energy storage at wind farms since a call by the evil European Commission for demonstration projects 4 or 5 years ago which I believe was based on electrolysis, hydrogen storage and fuel cells. Like a lot of things this seems like a great idea in theory until, for example you look at the practicality of storing hundreds of MWhs of energy as hydrogen and the cost of the fuel cells and power electronics at MW power levels.

It seems obvious that capitalism cannot ever really deliver high cost infrastructure and the whole thing depends on state funded corporatism one way or the other.
_________________
"Test to destruction: engineers like to do that. Only with a test to destruction can you find the outer limits of a system's strength".Kim Stanley Robinson
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
BritDownUnder



Joined: 21 Sep 2011
Posts: 334
Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I could not find anything about the Ladybank project on the internet. I could find that wind-hydrogen was being used in Orkney. Whether it could be used as an energy storage or medium on a grid scale economically I don't know. The round trip efficiency of electrolysis/fuel cells or electrolysis/combustion is quite low (less than pumped storage anyway). Hydrogen can be quite damaging to metals and may not be easily put into the natural gas pipeline system in high concentrations, for example, without lining the pipes somehow. I think also there are doubts if transportation of liquid hydrogen, or even storage is feasible. However, there may be no non-carbon alternative.

On the subject of capitalism for power generation and infrastructure I would guess that any project life or payback time of more than about five years cannot be wholly market driven as investors don't have that patience. Government guarantees such as at Hinkley point C are a case in point. I very much doubt that the pumped storage at Dinorwig would have been built by the private sector.

So far, in the UK anyway, capitalist electricity companies have, except for gas stations, simply bought government built power plants from cash strapped governments and run them down into the ground.
_________________
G'Day cobber!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Potemkin Villager



Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Posts: 917
Location: Narnia

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And to top it all Dinorwig, having been built with public money, this critical piece of infrastructure was then flogged off to the private sector!
_________________
"Test to destruction: engineers like to do that. Only with a test to destruction can you find the outer limits of a system's strength".Kim Stanley Robinson
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    PowerSwitch Forum Index -> Wind Power All times are GMT + 1 Hour
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group