Let’s follow this wind of change

First published in Your Say

RE: Windmills, wind farms and all that.

SO where do you expect your electricity to come from? I have just returned from the “old East Germany” and they, in that efficient but pragmatic Germanic manner have addressed the problem on an industrial scale.

I was shown how they are getting rid of the old-coal fired power stations, at the same time turning some into theatres, cinemas, environmental centres and exhibition halls or just pulling them down.

They are now generating on average 23% of electricity by wind and photovoltaic. Not the domestic stuff that is just a pimple on the face of the problem, but on an industrial scale.

You build a coal, gas or oil-fired power station, it is expensive, produces a poisonous waste some of which also has to be disposed of, and at the end of its working life, the power station has to be demolished and the site decontaminated and we have not even started to talk about nuclear power.

Whereas wind generation, is by comparison, cheap to build, non-contaminating, and cheap and easy to dispose of at its end of life. Wind surely is good on all counts as “part of the basket of power production” .

Our coal for power generation mainly comes from Poland and Australia. Think of the carbon footprint that leaves behind. Gas for power generation, which is one of the most wasteful uses of a valuable time limited resource, comes piped from beyond the old Eastern Block or shipped in liquid form from the East, again a massive carbon footprint and at the risk of dodgy global politics, or alternatively we buy the electric power from Europe.

Tell me what do you want to do, switch off the power or at best restrict your domestic and commercial use of the stuff with the resultant problems that entails?

Not long ago, I was travelling in India and Nepal. Reliable electric power, no chance. Power outages, load shedding and so on, are the norm, not to mention the relatively high cost of nationally-generated electric power. Do your readers really want that?

Sadly, and I am by no means a fan of the “wind farm”, we have to be realistic and we must not be 100% reliant on power derived from imported fuel or electricity generated in another political state. That will entail wind farms, but remember in the greater scheme of things they, the wind farms will only be there for a blink of an eye, and when removed as some other more efficient method of power generation comes along, they too will be gone with no poisonous scar on the landscape.

Anthony Mealing, Totteridge Road, High Wycombe

Comments (1)

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7:05pm Mon 19 Nov 12

Bill Williams says...

Was there a field trip to Germany or something? Two letters on the marvel of Germany's energy policy. I'll copy my comment from the other letter here as it is just as relevant.

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The difference here is that there is 25% "installed capacity" and then there is what those turbines actually produce.

In reality the installed wind turbines in Germany produced 17 percent of their rated capacity. Not so great for all the money they put in.

Of course, what is never mentioned is that even this output is not constant. It can vary massively and rapidly. As such, open-cycle gas turbines are used to take up the slack when the wind drops. So most of this 25% reported here is actually gas being burned very inefficiently in order to stop the grid falling over. Again, not so great.

Further to this, due to the huge increase in fluctuation on the grid due to wind turbines, German industry is actually having to install backup generators to kick-in and protect industrial equipment from voltage spikes. Many large industries are now threatening to leave Germany because of this.

Amazingly, because of this, RWE are now building ~30 new coal and gas fired power stations to provide Germany's industry with the power it actually requires.

Germany is currently a brilliant example of what happens when the policy of uneducated lobbyists meets reality.
Was there a field trip to Germany or something? Two letters on the marvel of Germany's energy policy. I'll copy my comment from the other letter here as it is just as relevant. -------------------- ------------- The difference here is that there is 25% "installed capacity" and then there is what those turbines actually produce. In reality the installed wind turbines in Germany produced 17 percent of their rated capacity. Not so great for all the money they put in. Of course, what is never mentioned is that even this output is not constant. It can vary massively and rapidly. As such, open-cycle gas turbines are used to take up the slack when the wind drops. So most of this 25% reported here is actually gas being burned very inefficiently in order to stop the grid falling over. Again, not so great. Further to this, due to the huge increase in fluctuation on the grid due to wind turbines, German industry is actually having to install backup generators to kick-in and protect industrial equipment from voltage spikes. Many large industries are now threatening to leave Germany because of this. Amazingly, because of this, RWE are now building ~30 new coal and gas fired power stations to provide Germany's industry with the power it actually requires. Germany is currently a brilliant example of what happens when the policy of uneducated lobbyists meets reality. Bill Williams
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