Wind turbines’ CO2 savings and abatement cost

by Peter Lang

Wind turbines are less effective and CO2 abatement cost is higher than commonly assumed.

Wind turbines are significantly less effective at reducing CO2 emissions than commonly assumed. This means the CO2 abatement cost (i.e. the cost per tonne CO2 avoided by wind turbines) is higher than commonly recognised. It is likely the CO2 abatement cost of wind turbines is commonly underestimated.

Effectiveness here means % reduction in CO2 emissions divided by % electricity supplied by wind turbines. Wind turbines supplied 2.9% of Australia’s electricity in 2012-13 (latest figures available). It is likely wind energy was around 80% effective at avoiding CO2 emissions. That is, each unit of electricity generated by wind turbines avoided about 80% of the emission that would have been emitted generating a unit of electricity in the absence of wind.

The actual CO2 abatement cost is higher than commonly estimated. In fact, the abatement cost is inversely proportional to the proportion of electricity supplied by wind power. At 80% effective the actual abatement cost would be 25% higher than the analysts’ estimates if their estimates did not take effectiveness into account. At 50% effective the actual abatement cost would be twice the estimates. The chart below illustrates the relationship between effectiveness, CO2 abatement costs increase and the proportion of electricity generated by wind (fictitious numbers but approximately correct for Australia’s National Electricity Market).

Slide1

Economic analyses conducted for the 2014 Renewable Energy Target (RET) Review projected that wind power will supply about 15% of Australia’s electricity by 2020 if the RET legislation remains unchanged. At 15% of electricity generated by wind, international studies of other electricity grids suggests effectiveness could be nearly as low as 50%. At that rate the CO2 abatement cost would be double the estimates (if those estimates did not take effectiveness into account).

The cost of abating CO2 emissions with wind power in Australia in 2020 could be 2 to 5 times the carbon tax, which was rejected by the voters at 2013 Federal Election; 6 to14 times the current EU carbon price; and more than 100 times the price of the international carbon futures out to 2020.

The Senate ‘Select Committee on Wind Turbines’ has been established to inquire into impacts of wind turbines in Australia. My submission (No. 259) focuses on the effectiveness of wind turbines at reducing CO2 emissions from electricity generation in Australia and the impact of the effectiveness on estimates of abatement cost ($/tonne CO2) by wind energy.

I would appreciate constructive critiques of my submission so I may have an opportunity to submit an addendum, with any needed clarifications and corrections, before the 4 May deadline.

Below is an edited version of the Executive Summary.

“The Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 states:

“The objects of this Act are:

(a)      to encourage the additional generation of electricity from renewable sources; and

(b)      to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector; and

(c)      to ensure that renewable energy sources are ecologically sustainable.”

Object (b) is, arguably, the principal objective because if it is not justifiable, on the basis of objective evidence, (a) and (c) are not justifiable either. This submission presents evidence that wind turbines are less effective at meeting objective (b) than is commonly assumed. Therefore, the CO2 abatement cost estimated from economic analyses is frequently understated (CO2 means ‘carbon dioxide equivalent’ in this submission).

It is often assumed that effectiveness of wind energy is 100%, i.e., a MWh of wind energy displaces the emissions from a MWh of the conventional energy displaced. But it is usually much less, and values as low as 53% have been reported (Wheatley, 2013). Effectiveness means % reduction in CO2 emissions divided by % electricity supplied by wind.

Empirical analyses of the emissions avoided in electricity grids in the U.S. and Europe indicate that (1) wind turbines are significantly less effective at avoiding emissions than is commonly assumed and (2) effectiveness decreases as the proportion of electricity generated by wind turbines increases.

Unfortunately, neither the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) nor the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) collect the CO2 emissions information needed for an accurate empirical estimate of effectiveness. Without good data for the emissions from power stations at time intervals of 30 minutes or less, estimates of emissions avoided by wind are biased high (i.e. overestimated) and have large uncertainty, i.e., we don’t know what emissions reductions are actually being achieved by wind generation.

Under the Renewable Energy Target (RET), the proportion of wind generation is increasing so it is projected to supply about 15% of electricity by 2020 (interpreted from the 2014 RET Review Report, Figures 11 and 13). In this case, effectiveness might approach as low as 53% by 2020.

When effectiveness is properly factored into calculations, wind energy has a high abatement cost; I provide a simple analysis using Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) which estimates abatement cost of wind power at $168/t CO2 by 2020.

In comparison, the RET Review summarised economic analyses of the abatement cost of the Large Scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) at $32-$70/t CO2. These analyses, however, are likely underestimated as they do not appear to take effectiveness into account, or at least not fully. If the economic analyses do not take effectiveness into account, and if effectiveness decreases to 53% by 2020, the estimates of abatement cost would nearly double to $60-$136/t CO2 with effectiveness included.

To put these abatement costs in context, the ‘carbon’ tax was $24.15/t CO2 when it was rejected by the voters at the 2013 Federal election. The current price of EU ETS carbon credits and the international carbon credit futures are:

  • European Union Allowance (EUA) market price (10/3/2015) = €6.83/tCO2 (A$9.50)
  • Certified Emissions Reduction (CER) futures to 2020 (9/3/2015) = €0.40/tCO2 (A$0.56)

Therefore, the LRET in 2020 could be 2 to 5 times the carbon tax, which was rejected by the voters in 2013; 6 to14 times the current price of the EUA; and more than 100 times the price of CER futures out to 2020.

Clearly, the RET is a very high cost way to avoid greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The rational policy decision is to close the RET to future investments.  Or, as an interim measure, wind the target back to a real 20% of electricity generation.

I urge the Select Committee to consider: has the RET passed its use-by date?  Why not allow Direct Action to do what it is designed to do, to achieve emissions reductions at the lowest cost?

Recommendations:

In consideration of the issues outlined in this submission, I recommend that:

1.  The Government task an appropriately qualified agency, such as the Productivity Commission and/or Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) with estimating the full economic cost of wind energy ($/MWh) as well as the CO2 abatement cost ($/t CO2 avoided).

2.  To get an early indication of the abatement cost of wind energy, contract an appropriately qualified consultant to:

  • assemble the best estimates it can of the ‘high quality’ data required for a sophisticated analysis (this may include seeking information from generators with appropriate ‘commercial in confidence’ agreements), and
  •  estimate the CO2 abatement cost with wind power (including all the hidden costs and the effects of higher electricity costs on the Australian economy).

3. Either, repeal the RET legislation which will:

  •  avoid what will become an escalating compliance cost of emissions monitoring if it remains in place, and
  •  allow Direct Action to operate without the RET being a major market distortion.

4.  Or, if repeal of RET is not politically acceptable, close the RET to new entrants and incorporate the existing and committed RET installations into Direct Action.

5.  Change the name of Direct Action to ‘CO2e Emissions Reduction Scheme’ (CO2e ERS). This should be technologically neutral with the primary selection criteria being objectively justifiable CO2e avoidance cost (i.e. $/t CO2e avoided).”

Constructive critiques welcome. The full submission is No. 259 here.

About the Author: Peter Lang is a retired geologist and engineer with 40 years’ experience on a wide range of energy projects throughout the world, including managing energy RD&D programs and providing policy advice to Government. Energy projects included: hydro-electric, geothermal, nuclear, coal, oil and gas and a wide range of energy end-use management projects.

 JC note:  As with all guest  posts, keep your comments relevant and civil.

 

108 responses to “Wind turbines’ CO2 savings and abatement cost

  1. The writeup was not clear why the abatement cost is higher than commonly stated. It is clear the reason is the lack of needed dispatchability. The back up power system needed (battery for very short periods, and alternate generation means for longer) when wind is not ideal adds to the total cost. At low supplied wind power levels, the conventional power generation (coal, oil, gas, nuclear, hydro) can be adjusted some to make up for the variation in wind generation (but at reduced efficiency). As wind (or solar) becomes a larger fraction of total capability, a large standby capability is need for cases of extended periods of low wind (or cloudy sky and night for solar) power loss, and combining this backup and convention system adjustment, the system actually would use more of the conventional power that for no wind (or solar) power used. Wind and solar are useful at very low system power levels, and for special uses, but not for large scale use, and are clearly not a solution to energy needs.

    • Leonard Weinstein,

      See Quantifying CO2 savings from wind power http://joewheatley.net/how-much-co2-does-wind-power-save/

      And Quantifying CO2 savings from wind power redux: Ireland 2012 http://joewheatley.net/quantifying-co2-savings-from-wind-power-redux-ireland-2012/

      For more, see the linked papers and the The Sustainability Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) report.

      • Peter, I understand your train of thought because we perform this type of analysis in my line of work, but I think some readers will get lost. I don’t want to get personal, but senior corporate types have trouble following intricate systems with lots of moving parts, so I got used to drawing simple sketches and graphs with thick lines and huge axis labels.

        I think the Spanish grid keeps detailed records. The system is highly optimized, has a lot of overcapacity, is very reliable, exchanges power with France, uses essentially all the hydro to back up wind and solar, has some energy storage using pumped power, and it may be possible to get historical data. Spain gets very good sunlight in the south, has mountains and rain in the north, enough wind, and a pretty compact shape.

      • Fernando,

        Thank you. Are you referring to the Submissions of to the post above? Are you finding the submission hard to follow?

      • For the above graph, it appears to indicate:
        1. If the backup to wind is peat there is almost no CO2 reduction (in some cases more CO2 is generated).
        2. The aggregate result of using coal fired backup systems is half the CO2 reduction of using gas fired backup.

    • PA,

      From memory, peat is ‘must take’ in Ireland for political and energy security reasons. So peat does does not back up for wind. It is a baseload generator. See Wheatley’s paper. He explains all of this. There is a great deal to be learnt from his paper and also the SEAI report.

      • The takeaway from the Wheatley paper:
        high levels of wind penetration may even be counterproductive in terms of emissions.”

        Ok, I understand the graph now. Wind is priority dispatch and mostly displaces gas generation.

        The CO2 savings are the difference between the centroid of the light blue and dark blue areas.

        Peat plants in Ireland are “must use” and completely unaffected by wind.

        The right side shows the effect of low (beige), average (brown) and high (light green) wind generation on CO2 emissions.

  2. “When wind reaches 50% at times of high wind and low demand it can be noted that the CO2 intensity of the fossil generated electricity increases significantly, for example check the EirGrid website data for January 25th 2013; when wind hit 50% the CO2 intensity of fossil generated electricity increased by 66% over the level reported at the lowest wind period earlier that day. A 66% increase implies that 40% of the fuel burned at peak wind is wasted in order to facilitate 50% wind generation on the grid. This increased CO2 from fossil scenario happens frequently, just browse through the EirGrid data, many similar occurrences can be found.” http://joewheatley.net/how-much-co2-does-wind-power-save/
    Highly variable and unreliable supply doesn’t fit well with other parts of their supply grid. Wind power asks that the rest of the grid be efficiently nimble enough to cover for its shortages.

    • It is also concerning that someone at some point will use this decrease in efficiency that is demanded by wind, as a reason to move further away from coal and more into wind – the exact opposite of an effective solution!

      • Marginal costs or from the other side, marginal benefits. Lang I think is looking at marginal benefit. In one way of looking at it, you change one thing, and calculate your benefit. Since the grid is a system, if you increase wind power, something else changes, and if you ignore that, your answer may be arguably wrong. At the same time, marginal analysis is only one way of looking at things.

      • It seems there’s something called Merit Order that goes something like this: Resources with the least marginal costs are brought online first as demand grows during the day. A utility’s own renewables have the lowest marginal cost little. They burn no fuel. The last things brought online cost the most per kilowatt hour. The vulnerability is when it’s not windy and not sunny. The most expensive energy obtained from the spot market then replaces what was the least expensive energy that’s not there. An alternative to this is to bring renewables online last if they are available or buy from the spot market. With small private renewables, to the utility it’s likely that supply is not the lowest cost because that market is so distorted by government. An alternative for that is to let small private renewables only sell to the spot market, when demand and prices are high. The utility now sees some help. Perhaps buying at 80% of the spot price locally rather than at full price. The idea is to throw resources at the problem when prices are the highest, not when they are the lowest. As peak demand approaches each day, a weather forecast can be used to help set the spot market price. Sunny and windy means it will be a lower price than otherwise. This renewables last approach may switch renewables from being an annoyance, to an actual help some of the time.

      • Another comment. It was brought up the generally utilities want solar panels facing West for peak demand. Those who don’t want that are saying to me, I want money. Those that want to face theirs West are saying, I want to help.

  3. Pingback: Wind turbines’ CO2 savings and abatement cost | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  4. Curious George

    I find one word strangely absent: Subsidy. Peter calls for an estimate of a full economic cost, but until then we can only state that wind (and solar) generate electricity without directly producing CO2.

  5. Intermittant wind requires back up by conventional
    energy plants for when the wiind doesn’t blow, blows
    too gently or too severely. The relatively high CO2
    emissions involved in ramping up and down or in
    keeping back up plants running necessitated by
    wind inefficiency need to be regarded as intrinsic
    aspects of using wind technology… Oh and then
    theres the CO2 emitted in the production of wind
    turbines.

    See Ch 3 of CIVITAS Report, references to studies by
    David White and C le Pair.
    http://www.civitas.org.uk/economy/electricitycosts2012.pdf

  6. Danny Thomas

    “Oh and then theres the CO2 emitted in the production of wind
    turbines.”

    This is an area I’ve not seen referenced. There are plastics, forged metals, etc. Peter, do you or perchance Beth have a resource?

    Thanks!

  7. Peter:
    To be blunt, you need to get an editor. The posts here, even when dealing with very technical matters, are normally easy to read. You may be on to something important, but I simply gave up.

  8. The wind capacity factor (production/nameplate) is known for several years for several countries (UK, Germany, Denmark, US, …). Seldom more than 25%. Not the >50% posited here. So wind is worse by half.

    • Rudd Istvan.\,

      The 50% refers to effectiveness, not capacity factor. “Effectiveness here means % reduction in CO2 emissions divided by % electricity supplied by wind turbines. “

  9. Danny,
    My reference to production, C le Pair, p6.
    Wind turbines are large structures that require energy
    for their components, construction and foundation and
    installation A firm doing this work figured it out. It boils
    down to an amount of energy equal to the assumed
    production of the wind turbine during a period of 1 1/2 yrs..

    This energy investment has to be ‘written off’ during
    the lifetime of the installation. Wind supporters claim
    25 yrs but it is less says P le C, 12 -15 yrs

    http://www.clepair.net/windSchiphol.html

    • Clarification 6th line, 1 1/2 is ‘one and one half.’

    • Danny Thomas

      Beth,
      Thank you. Will take a look at the link.

    • Those pesky wind turbines.Given the emission costs of
      production, cited in le Pair, and given the costs of back-up
      by OCGT, faster but about half as energy efficient as CCGT,
      wind projects do not fulfill ‘sustainable objectives. They cost
      more fuel than they save and cause no CO2 saving but on
      the contrary, increase our environmental ‘foot print.’ Ref the
      Schiphol Study, 21/08/2011.

  10. This problem with CO2 abatement cost looks like an example of the economic concept of diminishing returns. I think there might be another similar problem with wind turbines that needs to be studied and given a catchy name. When just starting out, wind farms are new, shiny and flashy. It’s probably the easiest way to start adding CO2 free electric capacity. But there have been no plans made for how to deal with intermitency at high percentages. There needs to be some smart, high sounding term for this political short sightedness.

    • Wind works out when you have sufficient hydro balancing resources.
      The last I checked the Chinese long term energy plan is 2 parts hydro to 1 part wind.

      In the pacific Northwest it was originally estimated that the hydro resources of Bonneville Power Administration would be sufficient to load balance 18 GW of wind…at 6 GW of wind Bonneville started experiencing ‘over generation’ events…there are minimum stream flows and maximum spill rates on hydro to avoid killing the fish. In an ‘over generation event’…no one planned on the fact that the wind and the rain go together like a horse and carriage.

      • harrywr2,

        Do you have a reference I can refer to for the rule of thumb of “2 parts hydro to 1 part wind“. Is that ratio on the basis of generating capacity or energy supplied?

  11. http://www.vestas.com/Files/Filer/EN/Brochures/Vestas_V_90-3MW-11-2009-EN.pdf
    Go to page 14
    “TECHNICAL data for V90-3.0 Mw”

    Divide the numbers by 3 and you have the amount per nameplate MW (nameplate MW is about 4 times actual production).

    The usual assumption is about 200-300 kg rare earths and 100 tons of stainless steel per nameplate MW. This is 400 tons steel and 800-1200 kg rare earths per actual MW.
    ,

  12. Peter:
    I appreciate your willingness to accept feedback. I certainly do not mean to be rude or patronizing in any way.
    I think everyone, me especially, would benefit from a short paragraph summary of your main thesis.
    CO2 savings from 1 KWh of wind generated electricity is lower than might be expected because… As you increase the % of KWhs derived from wind, the CO2 savings per KWh decline faster because…

  13. Considering the price trajectories downwards for renewables, possibly upwards for coal, in 20 years it will be a case of minimizing the costs by using renewables as much as possible with gas or biomass or nuclear filling in or maybe some form of storage being a factor. People still getting any power from coal will be paying a premium and their customers may be clamoring for modernization. Give it a couple of decades.

    • Jim, let’s wait 20 years, if you are right, we’ll adopt renewables. At present their use is, in most cases, an absurd waste of resources which could be directed to something of value.

      • If we wait to act it will take longer. The private sector won’t innovate quickly if we don’t have the right conditions in place

      • Huh? The CO2 level isn’t going to exceed 500 PPM.

        If we wait longer it isn’t going to make a lick of difference.

        The one thing that history has proven is that any system that has a high content of electrical/electronic components will be cheaper and more efficient in the future.

        The “do it nowers” have to demonstrate a clear and compelling need to deploy more expensive less efficient systems now. It appears that more CO2 is beneficial, the case that more CO2 is on balance bad just isn’t there to be made. Rising CO2 is insufficient reason for panic deployment.

      • The more investment you get the more innovation you get. And right now most of the investment is in fossil fuels.

      • I am with joey, on this one. If the private sector can’t get it’s act together we need government investment to get this done quickly. We need to finance a thousand Solyndras. Hey, one of them is bound to succeed. The laws of physics can’t be that hard to beat. All we got to do is throw enough borrowed money at the problem.

      • No, Don, we need to stimulate demand for alternatives and more efficiency which will stimulate investment. There are a number of ways to do that.

      • Joseph | April 28, 2015 at 11:10 am |
        The more investment you get the more innovation you get. And right now most of the investment is in fossil fuels.

        Power storage is currently filthy and expensive compared to any other technology.

        As NASA proved going to the moon, if you try to solve difficult technical challenges there is a lot of innovation, but most of the innovation is tangential to your primary purpose.

        It takes time for best of breed technologies to climb to the top. Liberals tend to think throwing money at a problem solves problems. Sometimes it just buries them in paper.

        Nuclear technology is the current winner – if the “clean technology” people were serious about the urgency they would be pushing nuclear hard. The fact that the “clean technology” people aren’t pushing nuclear indicates that the CO2 issue isn’t urgent, that they aren’t serious, and there is another agenda being served.

      • I am with you on that too, joey. And the way the gubmint can create artificial demand is to subsidize with borrowed money all sorts of renewable schemes and mandate the use of renewables. We can throw in a hefty carbon tax, or let’s just stop messing around and outlaw fossil fuels. Problem solved. We are very smart, joey, but there is not public support for our drastic BS. Who cares about them, we still got the pen and the phone for another 20 months.

        http://www.gallup.com/poll/182105/concern-environmental-threats-eases.aspx

        You gotta wonder why after all our efforts, money spent and scare stories told to stampede the public into drastic CO2 mitigation that the public is no more concerned about global warming/climate change/whatever than they were back in 1989. Dead last when it comes to environmental worries. I hate to have to say it joey, but we are abject failures.

      • There are decisions to be made now, such as whether to invest in a shiny new coal plant that will become a white elephant in a couple of decades. You would be surprised how far the energy sector has to look ahead when it comes to building, renovating or replacing things. Infrastructure lasts decades, and has to last long enough to repay its investors.

    • JimD, nuclear and coal plants lack the ability to do load following for wind or solar. The best load follower is a hydropower plant or a natural gas turbine. The system requires gas turbines to fill the gaps once all hydro is devoted to offsetting intermittency by solar and wind.

      The need to fill gaps also depends on the local climate. For example, southern Spain has nice solar exposure but this is interrupted by cloudy weather, rain, and dust storms blowing sand from the Sahara (the dust covers the panels and it takes time to wash them down).

      Maybe I can do a theoretical design for Spain using the current system architecture with hypothetical hvdc connection via France to Great Britain and Northern Europe, to see what it can do. The fact that such a mega project isn’t being discussed tells me it isn’t economically viable, but maybe after oil and gas supplies start getting very expensive it will be the solution.

      I believe sometime within the next 25 years we will hit peak oil, peak gas, and possibly peak coal. These solutions do need to be planned for.

      • “southern Spain has nice solar exposure ”
        True, but only for about 7 hours each day (each 24 hours). You need something for the other 17 hours…

  14. Peter
    What is the total cost of abatement bearing in mind the mining and transport of rare earths the and manufacture and transport of steel etc.

    Also can you tell me the depth of concrete needed to secure a 100 metre tall wind turbine and what that represents in terms of tonnes of concrete and co2 emissions to make it? Thanks
    Tonyb

    • Tonyb

      What is the total cost of abatement bearing in mind the mining and transport of rare earths the and manufacture and transport of steel etc.

      All those costs are included in the economists estimates. It is explained in the commissioned analyses and submissions in the Renewable Energy Target Review https://retreview.dpmc.gov.au/4-approach-modelling-ret .

      The commissioned analysis by ACIL-Allen https://retreview.dpmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/ACIL_Report.pdf states, p4:

      In this exercise, ACIL Allen has been engaged to undertake sectoral modelling of the impact of the RET upon electricity sector outcomes. This includes detailed analysis of the impacts of the RET and how the RET may influence Australia’s electricity mix, electricity prices, emissions and some of the direct costs associated with those impacts. This is done under the range of scenarios and sensitivities outlined above.

      Extending this analysis through to the broader economy requires different but complementary types of modelling and analysis to be undertaken. The economic impacts of a government policy/program are usually assessed using one or more of the following economic analysis tools:
      • Social Benefit-Cost Analysis (SBCA)
      • Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) modelling
      • Input-Output (I-O) analysis.
      Importantly, additional spending or direct employment associated with a policy/program will not always have a positive economic impact on the local, state or national economy. Although various aspects of a policy/program – such as the number of jobs or the size of the investment expenditure – are of relevance to particular stakeholders, the key aggregate measure of the macroeconomic impact of a policy/program is the extent to which the total income of the economy has changed as a result of the policy/program. Typically this is measured by real gross national disposable income (RGNDI), although real gross domestic product (GDP) and consumer surplus (among others) can also be important aggregate measures depending on the nature of the policy/program being analysed.

      The main factors that need to be considered when analysing the macroeconomic impacts of a policy/program include:
      • The direct and indirect contribution to the economy as a result of the activities associated with the policy/program
      • Any crowding out implications as resources are potentially diverted from other productive activities to undertake the policy/program being analysed
      • Any productivity effects generated as a direct result of the policy/program activities – particularly any enduring productivity changes or productivity impacts on other activities not directly associated with the policy/program
      • Any changes to the factors of production in the economy
      • Any implications associated with changes in terms of trade or foreign income transfers
      • The extent of any dynamic aspect of any of the above effects (for example, associated with different phases of the policy/program).

  15. Goody, Pete. Now let’s talk about junking and recycling the bloody things. Just because I hate ’em so much. Oh, and I particularly detest their ubiquitous cabling. God, does that cabling ever suck.

    I know it will likely cost too much to smash up the bases and rip out all wiring but at least we can reclaim our ridges. Let’s roll.

  16. According to the principle of enerconics, the price of a commodity is a good proxy for energy used in securing that commodity. (http://scottishsceptic.co.uk/2013/10/18/enerconics-the-relationship-between-energy-and-gdp/)

    So a good rule of thumb is that if an energy source is cheaper than carbon alternatives then the total energy used in securing that source (most of it from carbon sources) is less than the energy it produces. In other words using that energy source reduces CO2 output (e.g. Hydro in Scotland)

    This means that in an economy where most energy comes from carbon sources, that the total carbon-based energy used in creating the energy source is less than the carbon based energy it replaces/

    If however the cost is higher than carbon alternatives, then it is likely that the sum total cost of energy used in securing that energy source is higher than the carbon-based energy it produces.

    That means that if the cost is higher MORE CO2 IS PRODUCED using that energy source.

    In other words, wind “energy” isn’t so much a form of energy production, but is instead rather like a battery – the energy is not “free”, but instead energy appears to be “free” but we only have it because more energy goes into producing wind power through the steel work in the machinery and the concrete in the foundations and the transport – and the energy costs of having all those sales-people and consultants.

    But like all this non-science, you will never find research into the total energy costs of wind because that doesn’t suit anyone benefiting from this scam.

  17. Twice modded, how can someone of my meek and pleasant disposition be treated so? Faustino

  18. Bernie1815,

    The main point of the submission is stated in the first paragraph of this post:

    Wind turbines are significantly less effective at reducing CO2 emissions than commonly assumed. This means the CO2 abatement cost (i.e. the cost per tonne CO2 avoided by wind turbines) is higher than commonly recognised. It is likely the CO2 abatement cost of wind turbines is commonly underestimated.

    Thanks to everyone for the comments. I’ll get back to general comments and questions about wind farms later.

    • Peter:
      I read that paragraph repeatedly. I still do not believe that it says anything that is either specific or compelling. There remains no hint at an explanation or a “because…”.
      For example:
      Wind turbines are significantly less effective at reducing CO2 emissions than commonly assumed because … This means the CO2 abatement cost (i.e. the cost per tonne CO2 avoided by wind turbines) is higher than commonly recognized because…. It is likely the CO2 abatement cost of wind turbines is commonly underestimated.

      • Come on, bernie. Didn’t you see the chart with the fictitious numbers?

      • Berine1815,

        … because that’s the facts = it’s what the statistical analyses of the CO2 emissions from electricity generations, estimated at 5 minute intervals, tell us. This Submission is not attempting to explain the speculations about the many reasons for that. It is telling the facts. However, if you read the Wheatley paper, and /or the SEAI report, they will explain their interpretations of the reasons for the facts. I’d urge you to read Wheatley first, then the SEAI report, then the Submission to answer your questions. I’ll give a short summary of the reasons later in the thread, but fo now I want to stay on topic for this thread. My purpose is to ask for critiques of my analysis, not go off track onto the many other debates about wind power. If I go off onto discussing that, we’ll lose focus on what is important.

        I should have been clearer. Submission close on 4 May. I’d lie to hear if there is any serious error in my analysis. I’d like to focus on that first.

        More specifics on the main point of the paper:

        Wind power

        in 2020 could be 2 to 5 times the carbon tax, which was rejected by the voters in 2013; 6 to 14 times the current price of the {EU ETS carbon price; and more than 100 times the [international carbon price] futures out to 2020.

        Clearly, [wind energy] is a very high cost way to avoid greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

      • Peter:
        In my view, things went off track precisely because you remain insufficiently clear in your presenting argument. Folks, therefore, added their own various critiques of and issues with wind power and wind turbines.
        I will try to read the reports you mentioned but, seriously, your arguments are less likely to be heard and understood if you cannot succinctly summarize them.

      • Peter:
        I just read you submission. The argument is still too dense, particularly when you consider yours is one of nearly 350 submissions.
        Your argument appears to me to boil down to the simple fact that wind generation does not displace the most carbon intense way of producing electricity. Rather it displaces those methods that are easiest and fastest to ramp up and ramp down. Moreover, expanding the volume of KWhs from wind increase the need to displace generation methods that are easiest to ramp up and ramp down. Given that coal based generation is the hardest to ramp up and ramp down, it will be the last to be displaced.
        Do I have this correct?

  19. Curtailment of wind has not yet been discussed here.
    It has been calculated for the Irish system. At the share of wind increases to 50%, 30% of the wind production cannot be incorporated in the Irish grid.
    This situation has been temporarily alleviated by installing a 600 MW connector to England. As soon as the English wind plans are realised, the connector will loose its significance.
    A plot of the calculated curtailment can be found in:
    http://www.clepair.net/Udo-curtail201205.html

    The self energy of a wind turbine is treated in:
    http://www.clepair.net/Udo201303payback.html

    • Thank you Fred Udo for joining in. I’d welcome your help to respond to many of the general questions about wind power, and I’ll stay (mostly) focused on the effectiveness and CO2 abatement cost up to 15% penetration (which is approximately what the current Australian legislation requires us to achieve by 2020). I’d learn a great deal from your contributions.

  20. Most analyses using renewables for grid electrical power start with the existing sources (nuclear, coal, gas, hydro) and add wind. The non-technical first impression is that a megawatt of wind eliminates a megawatt of carbon generation. And this may be nearly true for the first megawatt. But for the non-technical reader the carbon cost of additional megawatts are hard to see.

    I suggest building (on paper) a system that starts with wind and lists the power and emissions from wind and carbon power generation under several scenarios.

    1. Windy day: megawatts from wind; carbon emissions from spinning backup.
    2. Some wind, little variability: megawatts from wind; megawatts and carbon emissions from carbon sources; carbon emissions from spinning backup
    3. Some wind, large variability: megawatts from wind; megawatts and carbon emissions from carbon sources; carbon emissions from spinning backup
    4. No wind: megawatts and carbon emission from carbon power sources; carbon emissions from spinning backup.

    This is a simple model with three easy to understand variables.

    Be sure to mention the capital costs of building the carbon backup sources and that inadequate spinning backup will result in brownouts or rolling blackouts – terms that people in California (for example) know well.

    • Rovingbroker,

      Thank you. Your first paragraph is a good explanation.

      Regarding your suggestion:

      I suggest building (on paper) a system that starts with wind and lists the power and emissions from wind and carbon power generation under several scenarios.

      this and many other scenarios are done with models such as applied in the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland analysis here: http://joewheatley.net/category/wind-energy/. I’d urge those interested read this report. It explains a lot. But also remember that it is a modelling analysis.. It helps for developing and understanding of the reasons for what has happened and for projecting the future. But we also need to validate the model using real world data of what actually happened. That’s what Wheatley’s analysis for Ireland does. A similar analyslis is being done for the Australian Electricity Market (NEM) for 2014 data. although Australia does not have emissions data of the same quality as Ireland.

      • If your audience is non-technical (journalists, politicians, general public) they intuitively understand that a wind turbine generates electricity and emits no CO2. They reasonably believe that plugging a wind turbine into the grid reduces the CO2 emitted in direct proportion to the electricity generated by the turbine. They have little or no understanding of the complexities of providing stable and reliable power from a portfolio of sources and most technical explanations have them nodding off or checking Facebook and twitter.

        If you start your story (and you need to use stories to convince the non-technical) with a wind turbine and its variable output and then add CO2 emitting power sources to make the system reliable you can make them understand that even when the wind is blowing, CO2 will be released. At no time should you present non-technical people with statements like, ” … the abatement cost is inversely proportional to the proportion of electricity supplied by wind power. At 80% effective the actual abatement cost would be 25% higher than the analysts’ estimates if their estimates did not take effectiveness into account. At 50% effective the actual abatement cost would be twice the estimates.” I didn’t understand that and I knew what you were talking about.

      • Rovingbroker,

        That’s not what works here. The submissions that have effect are like those to the RET review. I’ve linked to some of them. But mine is being traken seriously and has cut through, along with a few others so far. But the most important one will be submitted on the last day or two before submissions close They will be from industry bodies.

        This comment is in response to my similar post on Catallaxy Files:

        DavidLeyonhjelm
        #1666117, posted on April 26, 2015 at 10:58 pm
        As a member of the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines, and the one who drafted the terms of reference and moved the motion to establish the inquiry, I have a keen interest in this thread.

        I encourage those with expertise or special knowledge in this area to make a submission to the inquiry. We are especially keen to receive submissions incorporating economic and environmental assessments of the kind mentioned in the post.

        The terms of reference are here: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Wind_Turbines/Wind_Turbines/Terms_of_Reference

        http://catallaxyfiles.com/2015/04/26/guest-post-peter-lang-wind-turbines-are-less-effective-and-co2-abatement-cost-is-higher-than-commonly-assumed/comment-page-1/#comment-1666117

  21. The problem as I see it with current alternative energy policy is that it is aimed at subsidization of the technologies, rather than on improving them until they are competitive in the energy market.

    What happens when you subsidize the existing technologies is you de-incentivize the market from investing in technological improvements, and you place a barrier up against further federal research.

    As I see it, the basic issues here are:

    1) From the marketplace perspective: If we can earn a profit, after subsidies, less need to develop technological improvement.
    2) From the federal funding agency perspective: If Congress says the current technology is “market ready”, it’s difficult to justify spending more of their limited research dollars on further improvements.

    • Excellent points. I agree with all you said, but with reservations about the implications of this bit:

      rather than on improving them until they are competitive in the energy market

      We’ve been subsidising renewables for over 30 years on the basis of beliefs and arguments that they can become economically viable. I recall the solar thermal advocates (professors) saying in 1991 that solar power is baseload capable and cheaper than nuclear now, if the stupid government an bureaucrats would just give us more money to demonstrate it. They are no closer to being economically viable than they were in 1990, or even 1980 (here’s a photo of Australia’s first solar thermal power station).

      Subsidising and effectively mandating renewables is an example of governments, bureaucrats and NGOs thinking they can pick winners better than the competitive markets. I’d argue a better policy is to deregulate!

      • Peter Lang, I absolutely agree with the need to deregulate. Controlling the market is not something governments do well at all.

        However, I do think there is a role for government support of basic and applied research on alternative energy. I think the government funded research should focus on improving the economic viability of these alternative energy sources.

        Note this means investing in improved methods for construction, as well as just “gee wow” sorts of blue sky research:

        Solar power has succeeded largely in spite of US subsidizes (which targeted more energy efficient but very costly solar panel designs) rather than because of it. Today the market is flooded with low-cost multi-crystal solar panels, and I think the days of the slicker designs favored by the US government are limited, other than for specific niche markets.

      • Carrick,

        … there is a role for government support of basic and applied research on alternative energy. I think the government funded research should focus on improving the economic viability of these alternative energy sources.
        Note this means investing in improved methods for construction,

        I agree there is a role to play in supporting RD&D, but I strongly disagree with interventions to distort the market to favour some technologies over others. On what basis to you decinde to favour renewables and disadvantage nu clear, for example. That’s what’s been happening in USA, Canada, UK, EU, Australia and other developed countries (led by NGO activism) for the past 50 years or so.

        I strongly disagree that solar is a success – at 0% of global electricity supply after massive incentives for the past 30 years of more. And unlikely to ever be viable because it is not sustainable (for many reasons; here’s one important one: http://bravenewclimate.com/2014/08/22/catch-22-of-energy-storage/ )

      • Peter Lang, there seems to be some confusion here: I have never suggested picking one technology over another. I happen to like nuclear, though I recognize it realistically as not a sustainable technology without a serious effort to address the waste problem.

        But I think you have an overly myopic view if you think the only use of an energy source is on grid.

        What what I need solar power for (power applications in remote regions with high solar exposure), it is totally a ringing success.

      • Carrick,

        ‘Myopic’ would be advocating to spend most time and effort arguing about technologies that can have no significant impact on global GHG emissions and supply only a very small proportion of global electricity. Solar’s role is minute. I do agree it is an important role for a minute proportion of the population, but this role has nothing to do with climate mitigation or GHG emissions policy (which is the main reason it gets subsidies). So, it is a different discussion, not relevant here other than as a distraction. I’ve had 25 years of this distraction.


        http://grist.org/climate-energy/a-way-to-get-power-to-the-worlds-poor-without-making-climate-change-worse/

        Even in outback, remote parts of Australia, renewables are not economic to only barely economic even with subsidies:

        Only 2 per cent of Australia’s population live in off-grid areas, however over 6 per cent of the country’s total electricity is consumed in off-grid areas. Around 74 per cent of that electricity is generated from natural gas and the remainder is mostly from diesel fuel; making it Australia’s most expensive electricity due to the underlying high gas and diesel prices in the remote areas. However, due to lower levels of coal generation, the off-grid market has the lowest average emission intensity of all of Australia’s electricity markets despite only 1 per cent of electricity is generated from renewable sources. An estimated 15,575 GWh of electricity was produced in 2012 by off-grid generation in Australia; supplied from a total installed off-grid generation capacity of approximately 5GW.

        It is unlikely off grid will be more than 5% of electricity globally, so focusing on solutions for that is a waste of time. But that’s what the climate alarmists and advocates have been doing for the past 25 years at least. My point is that it is irrational to be spending so my time focusing on non solution to the main problem

      • Peter Lang:

        Myopic’ would be advocating to spend most time and effort arguing about technologies that can have no significant impact on global GHG emissions and supply only a very small proportion of global electricity.

        First again—please be careful about putting words in my mouth. Otherwise you’re arguing straw men. Neither of us have time to engage in that.

        Secondly, based on your argument we should stop 99+% of all research because it doesn’t address “technologies that can [have a] significant impact on global GHG emissions”. That’s the part that is extremely myopic on your part.

        There are other variables than energy capacity and other problems to address besides solving the global warming crisis. I suppose for example you would advocate running this thing on diesel :

        https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRegTHVtT-OIYWHWy5sgPME0uu5ogfUf-ySmG5UBHwsEP6i8dBhsw

        :-D

        [We’re looking at crossing the 4000-sol mark soon with Opportunity btw. That’s an amazing accomplishment.]

        There’s no question that the drop in the cost of solar panels has had a substantial effect on people’s lives in very direct ways, especially in remote places where they can’t afford the billions of dollars of infrastructure support that they get in the US and which you happen to count when you compare oil, gas and other established technologies against nascent technologies that don’t require a grid.

        It may seem trite to you that only 0.5% of power is solar. No this won’t solve any energy crisis. But in Africa it can and does save lives. Think hospital that doesn’t require a grid or very costly diesel fuel to run generators in locations that don’t have a good road transportation system.

        There are many engineering problems that can be solved using solar power that can’t be solved using grid power.

        It will likely be the case that solar power usage will continue to grow in this country, but it is most effective if we allow the market to drive its growth.

      • stevefitzpatrick

        Carrick,

        The drop in cost of solar panels has moved PV power closer to competitive with grid based power. The bugbear remains storage capacity and storage cost. If net storage costs (AKA batteries) were under ~$0.10 per KWH average lifetime storage cost, there would be many sunny places where roof-top solar would already economically replace grid power. But short of the kind of battery cost reduction that Elon Musk keeps promising (http://rt.com/usa/231911-tesla-batteries-home-power/), the grid looks to remain the economical option for most.

        The craziest thing about PV power is that in the few places where it should already be displacing very expensive grid (often diesel) power, like many of the Bahama islands, the government slaps ~100% tax/import duty on panels and batteries…. keeping PV power out of reach for residents. The humor of this is probably lost on the avowedly “green” politicians passing such laws.

      • Pumped hydro comprises 99% of global electricity storage. It is many times cheaper than battery storage and even it is rarely competitive at current prices. Economically viable energy storage at the scale needed to make intermittent renewables like wind and solar baseload capable is vey long way off, and probably never attainable. Compare it with the energy stored in nuclear fuel which can be stored at near zero cost – years or even decades of energy for a large industrial country’s electricity generation can be stored in one or a few warehouses.

      • Carrick,

        We are pretty much in agreement on matters of substance but have a misunderstanding I’d like to clear up. You said:

        First again—please be careful about putting words in my mouth. Otherwise you’re arguing straw men. Neither of us have time to engage in that.
        Secondly, based on your argument we should stop 99+% of all research because it doesn’t address “technologies that can [have a] significant impact on global GHG emissions”. That’s the part that is extremely myopic on your part.

        I’d like to clear this misunderstanding up and get it out of the way so we can have a constructive discussion about what is important.

        I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth nor use a strawman argument, not do I believe I did that. You may have misunderstood what I meant by my comment (typos corrected):

        I agree there is a role to play in supporting RD&D, but I strongly disagree with interventions to distort the market to favour some technologies over others. On what basis [should we] decide to favour renewables and disadvantage nuclear, for example? That’s what’s been happening in USA, Canada, UK, EU, Australia and other developed countries (led by NGO activism) for the past 50 years or so.

        You are advocating for solar power, even though it supplies near 0% of global electricity and can make near 0% contribution to reducing global GHG emissions. Therefore, I strongly believe we are wasting far too much time, effort and resources debating and incentivizing renewables instead of putting our focus into how we can educate the population about solutions that can reduce the emissions intensity of electricity by 90%.

        Your comments show that you are clearly advocating for solar power. For example you said:

        Solar power has succeeded largely in spite of US subsidizes … rather than because of it. Today the market is flooded with low-cost multi-crystal solar panels,

        I disagree with these points. Without the incentives for solar power, it would be a very small proportion of what it is.

        The cost of PV cells is irrelevant. What is relevant is the cost of electricity supplied to consumers through the electricity systems. PV is not a low cost way to supply electricity. With all costs included the cost of electricity from PV is 2 to 5 times higher cost than electricity from conventional generators and grid.

        Since nuclear power can reduce emissions intensity of electricity systems by up to 90% with existing technologies, and the cost can come down massively (over time) just by educating the population and removing the regulatory impediments, whereas solar can have negligible effect on emissions intensity of electricity, I suggest we should change our focus from renewables to nuclear.

      • Carrack,

        I posted too early. I meant to deal with this too so we can get the accusations of strawmen put aside:

        Secondly, based on your argument we should stop 99+% of all research because it doesn’t address “technologies that can [have a] significant impact on global GHG emissions”. That’s the part that is extremely myopic on your part.

        I didn’t argue “we should stop 99+% of all research”. That;s a strawman :)

        I suggest we can leave these arguments about strawman and myopic aside and deal with the matters of substance.

        I’ll repeat, I did not mean to misrepresent you, and I don’t believe I did.

      • Carrick | April 29, 2015 at 1:23 pm |

        Secondly, based on your argument we should stop 99+% of all research because it doesn’t address “technologies that can [have a] significant impact on global GHG emissions”. That’s the part that is extremely myopic on your part.

        Ok, I accept your challenge. To do anything at all about CO2, a beneficial gas, is stupid and myopic. CO2 accounts for about 1/3 of historic warming (if you discount the added computer generated anthropomorphic global warming completely) and much of the rise in CO2 is due to the warming or burning down rainforest..

        To do anything with the purpose of reducing CO2 is flushing money down the toilet twice. Once for the CO2 benefits, and once again for the cost of flushing those benefits down the drain. We can’t drive the CO2 higher than 500 PPM. No sensible person would consider that level of CO2 a problem.

        So we don’t give a rat’s ass about CO2 emissions. Research on natural forces is good. Research on the effects of CAGW ( a 4°C temp rise in temperature) is just a waste of time and money. Greenpeace and the WWF can generate their own propaganda. The Federal government should be banned by law from writing their propaganda for them.

        We want to research new technologies emphasizing three criteron:
        1. Lowest land footprint
        2. Easiest grid integration (some integrated dispatchability).
        3. Lowest manufacturing and installation environmental impact. Impact from real pollution like silicon tetrachloride and cadmium. Not Faux pollution from plant food like CO2. Sacrificing most of the avian and bat population is dumb if we can avoid it.

  22. As others have pointed out above, Peter doesn’t consider all of the total direct costs in adding wind power to the electric power grid.
    Even more significantly, he does not discuss the opportunity costs of increased costs for wind power generation that replaces fossil fuel power generation.
    Those opportunity costs can be discussed, but not measured. They include what the taxpayers, or ratepayers, would have done with their money had it not been taken to fund wind energy. It also includes the lost revenue suffered by fossil fuel E&P companies, by those who provide services to energy companies, and by landowners and mineral owners.
    Politically driven subsidies for wind power reduce incentives for market-based energy improvement. Politically driven subsidies and energy policies also reduce the incentive for private action in other spheres, discouraging innovation driven by market forces, and encouraging rent-seekers who suck up to politicians.
    The societal costs for taking money from people who earned it, and providing it to those who did not, are moral, in addition to economic.

    • Paulg23

      I think the economic analyses are not as bad as you suggest (see my reply to TonyB here: https://judithcurry.com/2015/04/27/wind-turbines-co2-savings-and-abatement-cost/#comment-698002), except that the economists analyses do not appear to take into account that CO2 abatement effectiveness is less that 100%. Analyses suggest it is near 80% in the NEM in 2014 (at 4.5% penetration) and my (rough) linear projection is around 60% effective at 15% penetration (all else equal). The RET legislation means wind would need to reach about 15% penetration by 2020. In that case, the economists estimates of the abatement cost (if they have not taken effectiveness into account in the analyses) would need to be increased by dividing their estimate by the % effectiveness. For example, if their estimate of abatement cost is $60/t CO2, then, with 60% effectiveness taken into account, the abatement cost would be $60/60% = $100/tCO2. A significant adjustment.

      This is the key point if my submission to the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines.

  23. There are many interesting submissions (many by engineers).

    One of real interested is an excellent submission by Pat Swords (Ireland); It explains how he managed to get the UN to take the EU Environment to court and the effect that is having on new renewable energy projects in EU. It’s No.253 http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Wind_Turbines/Wind_Turbines/Submissions

    Others are
    No. 05 David Archibald (USA):

    David Archibald is a visiting fellow at the Institute of World Politics in Washington DC where his research interest is strategic energy policy. The Institute is a graduate school for US security agencies, State Department and Department of Defense:
    http://www.iwp.edu/faculty/page/David-Archibald
    Mr Archibald has published several books and a number of papers on climate science. He has lectured on climate science in both US Senate and Congressional hearing rooms.

    William Palmer, P. Eng. (Canada), No.16. He begins:

    This submission is from a Canadian, but I
    have reviewed many aspects of the Australian situation, including the
    Executive Summary of your Renewable Energy Target Review Report, the ACIL Allen Consulting RET Review Modeling Report, and the information posted by your National Health and Medical Research Council. While not all of the details of Canadian experience may be directly applicable to you, I have selected relevant portions to include in this submission, which I believe may assist you.

    By way of introduction, I am a Canadian Professional Engineer. As such I am obliged “to report a situation that the practitioner believes may endanger the safety or the welfare of the public,” which is why my submission is sent to you. This submission is based on over 30 years experience in the electrical utility field, which dealt largely with the area of public safety and performance assurance, followed by over 10 years specific interest in the application of wind turbines in Ontario, Canada.

    • Formatting correction. The third example of an interesting submission from outside Australia is:
      No. 05: William Palmer, P. Eng. (Canada),
      Should be a separate example, not indented under David Archibald

  24. Peter

    Thank you for taking so much of your time and energy to channel your experience in a way which might improve the future for our kids and grand-kids.

    You are grappling with complex and interrelated systems, and hope to communicate the engineering and economic ramifications to both technical and non-technical audiences. Its a daunting task.

    You understand better than I how your contribution complements the other submissions. As a generality, I would suggest that you simplify things for your audience by showing how the “parts” of the system “move” as wind contribution increases. Give cases with 0-5-10-15-25-50% wind power. Show how the wind turbine nameplate power x power factor x effectiveness changes and how the cost and C02 per KWH of the generating mix changes in each case, showing each component’s contribution. Work each case out all the way to a bottom line total. Put this in a chart. Its concrete. Your audiences won’t have to integrate any concepts in their heads.

    Finally, use your arguments to explain why the components work together as they do, and why others may not fully appreciate what is happening and why. You will probably lose different parts of your audience at differing points along the way, but if you start with concrete numbers, then most will have some understanding of what your are trying to argue.

    And thanks again!

    • Thank you fr your kind comments. I’ve done most of what you ask in posts elsewhere. Eleven of them are listed here (the last may be the most relevant, but note the comment in my submission about the curve): http://bravenewclimate.com/renewable-limits/

      This shows the cost of scenarios with 100% and near 100% renewables: http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-the-cost/

      This shows the the above four scenarios and add a nuclear scenario to achieve the same emissions intensity of electricity – i.e. 90% reduction and same as France has been at for the past 30 years or more): http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.363.7838&rep=rep1&type=pdf . See Figure 6 for a comparison of capital cost, cost of electricity and CO2 abatement cost for the scenarios.
      http://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/lang2012_f6.png?w=300&h=193

    • The chart is for the four renewables scenarios. Open the pdf of the post that includes the nuclear scenario to see the chart (Figure 6 here):http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.363.7838&rep=rep1&type=pdf

    • sciguy54,

      As a generality, I would suggest that you simplify things for your audience

      I accept that suggestion. I now realise I should have done that much better than I did for the CE post. My focus had been on the Submission since early December. I only had one shot with the submissions and I needed to address many audience if it was to have any effect. My target audiences for the Submission are:

      1. The Members of the Senate Select Committee on wind turbines

      2. The Policy Advisers to these Members

      3. A majority of Senators

      4. Industry Minister, Environment Minister, Prime Minister, Treasurer, other cabinet ministers

      5. Policy analysts and policy advisers in Department of Environment, Department of Industry and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

      6. [deleted]

      7. Economic analysis groups: Australian Energy Market Commission, Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics, Treasury, Productivity Commission, ACIL-Allen, Deloitte Access Economics, Frontier Economics, Grattan Institute, The Centre for International Economics

      8. Industry bodies such as: Business Council of Australia, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australian Industry Greenhouse Network,

      9. All Parliamentarians

      10. Journalists who write about climate change, energy policy

      11. Environmental NGOs,

      12. Those in the public who are interested and discuss these issues

      I think I’ve done as well as I can for the first two in the list. Time will tell how much down the list the influence will continue.

    • sciguy54:
      Clearly and succinctly stated.

    • sciguy54

      I reiterate I appreciate your comment. However,given Bernie’s comments, apparently wanting an explanation of why wind power is less than 100% effective, and his additional comment here, I feel I need to provide a response to this part of your comment above:

      As a generality, I would suggest that you simplify things for your audience by showing how the “parts” of the system “move” as wind contribution increases. Give cases with 0-5-10-15-25-50% wind power. Show how the wind turbine nameplate power x power factor x effectiveness changes and how the cost and C02 per KWH of the generating mix changes in each case, showing each component’s contribution. Work each case out all the way to a bottom line total. Put this in a chart. Its concrete. Your audiences won’t have to integrate any concepts in their heads.

      Two comments on this. First, I agree with your first sentence about the need to write for the target audience. However, providing the simple explanation of the electricity systems in a post like this is not possible and not the topic of this post. The electricity system is very complex and the factors you mention are specific for each grid and each installation within that grid. And highly variable over time. If multiplying “wind turbine nameplate power x power factor x effectiveness changes and how the cost and C02 per KWH of the generating mix changes in each case, showing each component’s contribution.” could be done and was meaningful it would have been done long ago.

      Second, I’ll draw a parallel. I perceive that expecting to get a meaningful result about the effect of wind power on the electricity system by multiplying factors together as you suggest is akin to expecting to get a meaningful estimate of the probability of catastrophic human caused climate change by 2020 by multiplying ECS x RCP x damage function (or something like that).

      Third, for those (not you) who don’t read the submission or the references, there is little that can be done. Some want to discuss anything but the topic the post is about.

      • Peter:
        I understand why wind power is not 100% effective in reducing CO2 emissions. I have read your submission. I think you are making an important point and one I had not thought about previously. However, I think your way of making the point is overly complex and unnecessarily convoluted. As a result, you create confusion and dramatically weaken the potency of your argument.
        Finally, I would not under-estimate the ability of Climate, etc., denizens to master this type of information and argument.

      • Bernie1815,

        You made the criticism in your first comment, and I accepted it. Since then you’ve repeated the criticism about half a dozen times, but without asking a clear, concise question I can address. That’s unhelpful. If you want to ask a question to clarify something, state it clearly, and I’ll endeavour to answer it. the Submission and this post was not intended to cover all the many issues debated about wind power, or all the necessary background or the electricity system. It’s about the significance of CO2 abatement effectiveness on the estimates abatement cost with wind power. I wanted to avoid, initially, getting diverted into all the many side arguments. Most people have moved on now, so if you have questions, please go ahead and ask them. But no need for more criticism about how I write. I got that.

  25. Peter – I applaud your efforts and hope you are succesful. At this point in time, our energy needs require continued use of fossil fuels until sufficient political will and understanding come to realize that nuclear is the only true solution to our long term energy needs, at least for electrical power generation. We can only hope that those in power will soon wake up to the folly of solar and wind as viable alternatives.

  26. Barnes,

    Thank you. Appreciated.

    … until sufficient political will and understanding come to realize that nuclear is the only true solution to our long term energy needs, …

    I’ve been working on this for 25 years :)

    … at least for electrical power generation.

    Once we have low cost nuclear power I expect in the future we’ll be able to make unlimited transport fuels (e.g. gasolene/petrol, diesel, jet fuel) from seawater: http://bravenewclimate.com/2013/01/16/zero-emission-synfuel-from-seawater/

    The US Navy is already researching it for producing 100,000 gallons per day of pure, clean jet fuel on board their aircraft carriers (at $3 to $6 gallon current estimates). From the Navy’s perspective the main reason is to reduce the dependence on tankers which are the most vulnerable part of their supply chain.

    The cost would be even lower if hydrogen from high temperature nuclear reactors (like the Russian and Chinese HTR; Indonesia is looking at buying these from China), instead of electrolysis which is what the current cost estimates are based on.

    We really have no idea what the future will bring but we do know that cheaper energy will bring a better future faster for everyone on the planet.

  27. ‘But we do know that cheaper energy will bring a better future
    for everyone on the planet.’ Amen ter that.

    • It’s a head scratcher dear Beth, how the left doesn’t see that. But then again, perhaps not. Seems clear the libs are more concerned with mother earth, than actual mothers on the earth, struggling to feed their children. But to come to that radical POV, one must so wildly misinterpret the science. I find it all so deeply depressing,

      pg, aspiring serf, 2nd class.

      • Pokerguy, by virtue of the authority invested in me
        by the Universita Committee E Pluribus Unum, I
        hereby confirm upon you the honorary degree ,
        Oz, Serf Award, First Class. Congratulations. bts.

      • I’m truly humbled Beth. A very high honor, indeed.
        Now off for a little jog to celebrate. (Sounds good perhaps, but if I ran any slower I might just topple over..)

  28. An important point to make is this: since hydro is best suited to balance the intermittent wind supply, it is mostly hydro that is turned off when the wind blows (as far as hydro is available). So, 1 MW of wind replaces 1 MW of hydro, achieving exactly zero emissions reduction. (Hydro produces no CO2 emissions).
    See Spanish daily production data here (they have much wind and hydro):
    https://demanda.ree.es/movil/peninsula/demanda/total

    • jacobress,

      Thank you for your comment. I understand that wind generation delays rather than substitutes for hydro generation. When the wind blows, the hydro generation is reduced. The water in the dams (stored potential energy) is reserved for use at a later time. So, the same amount of hydro will be generated over the long term, but instead of it being used preferentially at times of peak demand, it will still serve that role, but it will also tend to be deferred to times when the wind is not blowing. So, it still avoids fossil fuels.

      The next step is to attempt to make an assessment of what is the emissions intensity of the generators displaced by the saved hydro when it is used (preferentially to fill in for low wind generation. All of this must be worked out by statistical analysis of the real world data,.

      • “The water in the dams (stored potential energy) is reserved for use at a later time.”
        That is true for dry countries (like Spain) where hydro suffers from low water availability in dry seasons. It is not true for countries where water is abundant (like Norway).

      • jacobress,

        It’s true for hydro everywhere because hydro is energy limited not capacity limited. That is, the amount of energy available from hydro over any given time period (years, decades, several decades) depends on the amount of inflow to the dams, the hydraulic head and the storage capacity available to level out flows over seasons. Your comment would only be correct if hydro was 100% run of river and had no storage capacity at all. All hydro systems have some storage capacity (by systems i mean a combination of hydro plants linked to an electricity grid).

  29. Peter Land
    Below is the US DOE 2015 status of wind energy utility scale power and roadmap plans.
    Thought it may be off interest to you

    http://www.energy.gov/eere/wind/wind-vision

    Scott

  30. Gag. What holes this entire analysis below the waterline is that the benefits sought are fictitious, and actually of negative value. CO2 production should be subsidized.

    Prove (empirically) that wrong.

  31. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?

  32. Peter Lang

    UPDATE:

    We now have a reasonable estimate of wind turbines’ effectiveness at reducing CO2-e emissions in the Australian National Electricity Market (NEM), i.e. 78% effective in 2014. Wind turbines generated 4.5% of the NEM’s electricity and avoided 3.5% of the emissions from electricity.

    See Wheatley’s analysis of CO2-e savings from wind turbines in the NEM, Submission No. 348 to the ‘Senate Select Committee on wind turbines’: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Wind_Turbines/Wind_Turbines/Submissions

    As wind’s proportion increases to about 15% by 2020 to comply with the Renewable Energy Target (RET), CO2 abatement effectiveness is likely to decrease to around 60% (all else equal). If that is the case, the CO2 abatement costs estimates in the recent RET Review are probably gross underestimates – e.g. the CO2-e abatement cost estimates with wind energy would need to be increased by ~67%.

  33. Pingback: Recent Energy And Environmental News – May 11th 2015 | PA Pundits - International

  34. Pingback: Wind turbines’ CO2 savings and abatement cost | ajmarciniak