Stopping the dash for gas: both possible, and necessary


by Guest    
9:16 am - November 6th 2012

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contribution by Will McCallum

As campaigners from No Dash for Gas finish their first week on top of the chimneys of West Burton power station, braving over 80 hours of high winds, rain and cold with minimal food and water rations, people might be right in asking – why all this effort?

For all those participating – from campaigns, unions and other NGOs across the country – they are united in saying one thing: the ‘dash for gas’ is a senseless and dangerous shift back towards fossil fuels at a time when we need major investment in renewables and energy infrastructure that works to resolve climate change and fuel poverty.

They’re there because West Burton, owned by EDF, is the latest development in the government’s planned attempts to construct 20 new gas-fired power stations. These plans are due to be confirmed in the already delayed Energy Bill; and therein lies the strategic reasons for this occupation.

The Energy Bill is a source of much controversy, with the most recent statements from John Hayes on windfarms highlighting just how conflicted the coalition is over Britain’s energy future. After a string of coalition U-turns going back to July 2010 and ranging from forests to pasties, a U-turn on the dash for gas is possible; and the longer West Burton power station construction is halted, the longer we have to talk about all the reasons why a dash for gas is exactly what we don’t need at this point in time.

In 2011, Ofgem reported that the average household energy bills went up £150, £100 of which was due to rising gas prices. With every 1% rise in energy bills, an estimated 40,000 more people enter fuel poverty; and last week, EDF raised their prices by 10.8%.

A government that cares about the people it is meant to represent would not allow the Big Six profiteers to continue to pull the rug out from under the feet of the poorest in our society by denying them heating and electricity.

The renewable technologies needed to supply the energy demands of the UK population already exist and yet because the profits from such a sustainable system are not so immediately obvious they are actively ignored.

It might seem like a radical way to make these points; but by stopping emissions, halting construction and highlighting the senselessness of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s latest whim, the activists occupying the chimneys are acting out their belief in the necessity to go beyond any legal framework when the basic needs the law is meant to protect are not being safeguarded against political whims and corporate profits.

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Reader comments


Please do tell us how much higher energy bills will be under your proposed alternative.

“A government that cares about the people it is meant to represent would not allow the Big Six profiteers to continue to pull the rug out from under the feet of the poorest in our society by denying them heating and electricity.”

Yet you, with your green energy plans, do intend to deny the poor heating and electricity. Are you going to be one of those shivering in the dark? Why do I think not?

In 2011, Ofgem reported that the average household energy bills went up £150, £100 of which was due to rising gas prices.

But renewables are more expensive than gas, aren’t they? So if you turn off gas production, bills will increase even more. Also, if you’re genuinely concerned about high energy prices, the best way forward is to exploit UK shale gas reserves, as they’ve done in the US where gas prices are at their lowest in over a decade.

4. Man on Clapham Omnibus

Stopping gas consumption locally doesn’t mean stopping gas consumption does it? I though Gas was internationally traded isn’t it? I would be interested in your view as to how this combats global warming which is a world wide phenomenon.

In 2011, Ofgem reported that the average household energy bills went up £150, £100 of which was due to rising gas prices.

I could just about stand this ignorant self satisfied tosh until the above sentence.

Gas bills are considerably higher than they need be because the energy companies are COMPELLED by government to buy expensive renewable energy.

6. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@5

or expensive nuclear energy

7. Chaise Guevara

While I generally support drives to push renewables over gas, this piece seems light on specifics, mainly how much renewable capacity we would need to make up the difference, how quickly we can install it, that sort of thing.

@ 7 Chaise

….and how much gas generation capacity we would need on standby, burning at about 80% of potential output, just incase the wind doesn’t blow.

I’m never a fan of the climbing up chimneys type actions these days.
It sounds like what the Famous Five might have got up to when they were a bit older.

10. uiyfytshdclj

I’d rather that we DID get the gas under our country, and rather than squander the proceeds as was done with North Sea gas, we should set up a national gas fund similar to the Norwegian oil fund – now one of the biggest sovereign wealth funds in the world – so that the UK population can really benefit from the reserves that they already own.

11. Chaise Guevara

@ Tyler

Well, exactly. I’m all for renewables, but “fossil fuels suck!” is only half of the argument. Sustainable tech needs to be phased in at a speed, and to a point, that it can handle.

12. margin4error

For thos raising questions about costs…

The average 2010 USD cost of each Megawatt hour for a gas plant – is either 132.0 for a conventional turbine, or 105.3 for an advanced turbine.

This is a US average – and costs vary somewhat by region due to local practices, rules and transportation costs.

For wind turbines the average is 96.8 – so considerably less.

The likely trend is of course that as wind cost will fall as new technologies tend to advance quicker than old ones, which have already advanced along the lines of the biggest and quickest cost-savings.

Similarly, the long term trend in global gas prices is upwards – mirroring the long term trend in global oil prices – which reflects rising global demand (China and India and elsewhere are industrialising)along with the increasing cost of extraction resulting from the relatively easy-to-extract gas having been drawn upon already.

Similarly nuclear averages a cost of 112.7 (A little more than wind, a tiny bit more than an advanced gas turbine, but still less than convential gas turbine)

And again, nuclear rod costs are not matching gas costs on their long term rising tradjectory – suggesting that gas will be more expensive than nuclear for the majority of a new plant’s lifetime.

Solar PV is more expensive than these options at 156.9 – though experience in Germany (which has significant PV penetration) is that costs are falling with new solar technology advancing relatively quickly.

These figures can be found in Annual Energy Outlook 2012 http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/

13. margin4error

Oh – and for those wanting an abridged version of my last post – here it is.

Will the same old ignorant trolls please stop pedling what are basically lies about something they are too lazy or too stupid to bother to look up and be informed about.

14. Robin Levett

@Tyler #8:

….and how much gas generation capacity we would need on standby, burning at about 80% of potential output, just incase the wind doesn’t blow.

None. Next question? Or are you suggesting that the wind is likely to stop blowing instantaneously across the whole of the country?

The UK’s current onshore capacity is of the order of 3.5-4GW, with the 2 largest individual farms both being rated at 120MW; offshore there’s about another 2.5MW. Its is highly dispersed, so hourly fluctuations are not major – generally much less than 10%. That’s 600-650MW, or the output of a single conventional generator set, with an hour’s warning, plenty of time to pull in other sources or even start a gas station from cold.

For comparison, if Sizewell B, outputting 1.3GW, drops off grid, and is then joined by Longannet (2.4GW) within minutes, you are losing virtually instantaneously output equivalent to more than half the installed windpower capacity. And that isn’t a theoretical example – see 27 May 2008; they were also joined by another 5 conventional power stations within hours.

There is a requirement for variability cover; but extra spinning reserve just won’t be needed.

I am slightly confused.

If wind is so cheap, why does it require subsidy?

16. margin4error

It’s an interesting point Robin – that those who (again, rather ignorantly) protest about the wind stopping blowing rarely consider the impact of losing major power stations for the countless reasons that they drop off the grid from time to time.

And that’s before the georgaphic diversity of wind power is factor in as a strong mitigation (as you say, the wind never stops everywhere) – or before that geographic diversity is extended by the development of the North Sea Grid and other cross border interconnecters – or before factoring in the role of pump storage – or before factoring in that few argue wind alone would be our only alternative to fossil fuels (there is of course nuclear, bio-mass and Solar power – even before less tried-and-tested tech like tidal and wave power are added to the mix).

But hey, ignorance is bliss I guess.

@ Robin

are you suggesting that the wind is likely to stop blowing instantaneously across the whole of the country?

“There were 124 separate occasions from November 2008 till December 2010 when total generation from the windfarms metered by National Grid was less than 20MW. (Average capacity over the period was in excess of 1600MW).”

Sometimes it was less than 10MW but that was irrelevant because 20MW is pretty useless for the grid anyway.

“The very existence of these events and their frequency – on average almost once every 15 days for a period of 4.35 hours – indicates that a major reassessment of the capacity credit of wind power is required.”

http://www.jmt.org/assets/pdf/wind-report.pdf

And before you accuse me of selective evidence, this is from a report commissioned by the John Muir Trust, a conservation charity.

@ M4E

But hey, ignorance is bliss I guess.

I’m sure it is.

18. margin4error

Pagar

You should read more carfeully. You’ve just offered up a paper – though written to suit the anti-wind bias of the funding organisation – that actually spells out numerically why this isn’t a problem.

So it recognised that there is more pump-storage capacity already in place than maximum wind capacity presently installed.

And it recognises that pump storage can run at capaity for five hours – about the same time as it’s “horror story” examples of low wind output. (It can then run for a further day at about half capacity, before effectively running out of pumped water).

So the upshot of the report is that we have enough energy storage capacity to overcome periods of very low wind blowing if the whole island is hit at once.

And that is before any factoring of new pump storage capacity – or the role of interconnectors through the North Sea Grid.

In many ways Pagar – I love you. You sum up the stupidity of those who have an opinion – have no evidence of facts to back that opinion – so search on google for anything that seems to back their opinion – but is too lazy or stupid to actually read or think through what they are linking to.

love it.

19. margin4error

cjcjc

It doesn’t.

There is a subsidy for two reasons.

One is that governments historically (and rightly) believe that by supporting growth of a technological industry in their country – they will gain a competitive advantage in that industry for the long term. Germany and solar power is a perfect example, as is the UK with off-shore wind tech.

Two is that while it is now no longer in need of subsidy to make it viable – there is a sense that government wants to be seen to pro-actively support the environmental agenda. And the subsidy probably does go to people that government’s like to hand out taxpayer money to (landowners who benefit from the footprint of the turbine being on their land). This is especially the case in the USA where wind subsidies are basically a bribe to farmers in the midwest.

I should say of course, that offsore wind remains more costly than onshore wind by quite some way. And in the UK especially, the first of thos reasons is a big factor in subsidisation, because it combines well with a rather strong NIMBY influence on planning. MPs and councillors can make good hay by opposing local windfarms. So government maintains subsidies to encourage more of the windfarms to be built offshore. (Boosting our development of offshore tech industry, but also easing a politically touchy situation).

20. margin4error

ps

ha ha – just noticed Pagar thinking the john muir trust was, as a conservationist body, some how impartial – despite its entire outlook being to protect wilderness from any sight impact from man made structures.

Love it. Genuinely wish I’d noticed that sooner. so funny.

21. Chaise Guevara

Owned.

12 – I’ve had a flick through your link, and can’t see where the $/MWH analysis is – what page is it on?

The UK Govt analysis has CCGT clocking in at £76.6/MWH
http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/about-us/economics-social-research/2127-electricity-generation-cost-model-2011.pdf

While the Renewables report has onshore wind at a medium estimate of £91/MWH and offshore wind at £169/MWH
http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/consultation/ro-banding/3237-cons-ro-banding-arup-report.pdf

Solar comes in at £282/MWH by the way.

Either the US is calculating its figures in a very different way, or we’re talking about different things.

23. Robin Levett

@pagar #17:

Quite apart from what m4e has pointed out; not only did you not read my comment, you didn’t read the comment to which I was replying, did you? The issue was spinning reserve, not reserve capacity.

So the upshot of the report is that we have enough energy storage capacity to overcome periods of very low wind blowing if the whole island is hit at once.

The stated conclusion though is:

“The logistics of backing up wind energy with pumped storage hydro are such that even if there were enough suitable locations, the scale and cost of the Civil Engineering exercise to construct it would be prohibitive.”

Which you can disagree with (it’s not my area) but it’s not quite a rebuttal of what pagar was saying.

25. margin4error

Chaise

Not sure I’d want to own Pagar – the maintenance costs alone might be prohibitive.

” In 2011, Ofgem reported that the average household energy bills went up £150, £100 of which was due to rising gas prices. With every 1% rise in energy bills, an estimated 40,000 more people enter fuel poverty; and last week, EDF raised their prices by 10.8%. ”

” The renewable technologies needed to supply the energy demands of the UK population already exist…”

Around 80% of our domestic heat is from gas. Due to NS depletion we can now only internally produce around 50% of our gas needs. Even that number is obviously in decline. So where are you going to get this renewable gas? Renewables may give us more electricity but they are not going to heat our homes which require gas. We are simply not going to stop using gas if we do not develop new sources. What will happen is what is currently happening, we will import the difference to make up the deficit from Norway and Qatar.

Norway is a reliable supplier but Qatar with lots of gas is in a dangerously unstable part of the world where disruption to supplies is a constant threat. Moreover, they are not really interested in long-term gas supply contracts, so gas tankers can be rerouted to any other country who offers more money.

Arguments against a ‘ dash for gas ‘ make a legitimate point that we will be even more at the mercy of Middle East geopolitics and international prices. However, the same type of people tend to also be opposed to any UK development of unconventional gas. As previously stated, we will not stop using gas if unconventional is not developed. Therefore, opposition to shale gas is just posturing that does absolutely nothing to reduce UK emissions.

@24

Until you factor in the effects of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels you’re missing the whole picture. Even if you want it to, it won’t go away.

28. Richard Carey

Anyone gonna answer cjcj’s question @15?

29. margin4error

Tim J

The civil engineering task of keeping our lights on in this country is almost certainly impossible whatever tech we decide to go with.

We have operated a market that has systematically failed to insentivise investment in new capacity for a long long time – and the Labour government only finally started to address this with a range of subsidy schemes towards what was (clear to all) going to be the last couple of years of their time in office.

Hence those subsidise failed because the lead time for such projects is so long that companies waited for the inevitable scrapping of those plans and systems by a new government (all be it no one imagined they would do so in such inept a manner – we are now nearly two years late with EMR and still waiting).

The report does of course play up the “impossibility” of the single solution it recognises as existing. But given its own figures suggest the solution works, this, along with no consideration of any of the other mitigating factors, can quite reasonably be put down to the deliberate bias of the company doing the publicity stunt (Sorry, I mean study).

@ M4E

You sum up the stupidity of those who have an opinion – have no evidence of facts to back that opinion

Of course you’re entitled to your view however I was responding to Robin’s assertion that the wind does not stop blowing across the whole country at once. The facts I quoted clearly refutes that (as does common sense).

As for the John Muir Trust, they describe themselves as a conservation charity. Maybe they’re wrong, but that’s what they think they are.

However, I think you are correct in saying that you would not enjoy trying to own me……..

31. margin4error

Richard (and cjcjc)

I did – but it hasn’t appeared.

Basically they don’t. governments subsidise them because they are following historic practice, think they are incubating valuable future sectors, and waqnt to be seen to pro-actively support the green agenda.

Also – subsidies to landowners are always politically useful.

Incidentally, the conclusion of the study reads.

“The nature of wind output has been obscured by reliance on “average output” figures. Analysis of hard data from National Grid shows that wind behaves in a quite different manner from that suggested by study of average output derived from the Renewable Obligation Certificates
(ROCs) record, or from wind speed records which in themselves are averaged.

It is clear from this analysis that wind cannot be relied upon to provide any significant level of generation at any defined time in the future. There is an urgent need to re-evaluate the implications of reliance on wind for any significant proportion of our energy requirement.”

I am sure you don’t agree with this so tell me which of the facts they have cited to back up this conclusion you dispute.

33. Robin Levett

@pagar #28:

Of course you’re entitled to your view however I was responding to Robin’s assertion that the wind does not stop blowing across the whole country at once.

…thereby neatly demonstrating my point – that you did not read my comment.

The issue was spinning reserve; will we have to keep significant numbers of gas-fired power stations fired-up and producing inefficiently at less than 100% capacity in case the wind dropped instantaneously. The issue wasn’t reserve capacity, that could be brought on-line from cold, to fill the gap should the wind drop over the periods it actually does drop.

My point was that the wind does not stop blowing instantaneously across the whole country at once. Your study doesn’t speak to that at all.

Secondarily, there is the fact that the spinning reserve is there to cover (i) the occasions – and there are many – when conventional stations drop off-line taking multiples of 660MW with them and (ii) Coronation Street ending.

Pumped storage – not gas stations – is the fastest-reacting and most efficent spinning reserve we have.

@ Robin

OK I take your point- that you said the wind does not drop everywhere instantaneously (rather than simultaneously).

However it is not correct to suggest (as M4E does above) that the pumped storage capacity is there and available to top up the wind turbine output when there is no wind.

“The existing 2788MW of installed UK pumped storage hydro already plays a key role in balancing the grid. If it is to be used as a replacement for wind in windless times, then it cannot do its current job as well.”

35. Chaise Guevara

@ 28 pagar

“As for the John Muir Trust, they describe themselves as a conservation charity. Maybe they’re wrong, but that’s what they think they are.”

Missing the point, dude: “conservationist” is not the same thing as “environmentalist”, even if they both like trees and stuff, and often find themselves on the same side of the barricades. Conservationist tend to want to preserve what’s there, especially if that thing is natural. Environmentalists often want to make changes to improve the world (you can disagree that the changes would do that, but that’s their intent). It’s entirely to be expected that conservationists and environmentalists would differ over wind farms.

“However, I think you are correct in saying that you would not enjoy trying to own me……”

Your libertarian reaction to that concept is, of course, entirely correct.

36. Derek Hattons Tailor

I think a lot of people are fantastically naive about how much energy the country uses and what it is used for. Only 30% of total energy usage is domestic, of that, 60% is heating. Switching from gas to electricity for heating would not decrease emissions but would increase domestic fuel bills, significantly. The other 70% is industry, commerce and infrastructure (little things like the NHS, the tube and Heathrow airport). The big disadvantage of wind power (apart from it’s inherent electro-mechanical inefficiency) is variable output.
You cannot stop a triple heart bypass operation/a 747 landing/the central line, because the wind drops. This means you need storage (expensive, technologically challenging and not especially green) or back up generation. You cannot turn a power station (of whatever fuel) on and off at a moments notice. They take days to be taken on/off line and their efficiency plummets if they are not on most of the time. There is no point (economic or otherwise) in building a power station and not using it to the maximum capacity needed to meet demand.
If you are interested in reducing emissions, what’s important therefore, is not gross emissions, but emissions per unit (Kilowatt Hr, Calorific value, or whatever)of power generated.
I haven’t done the maths, but given that wind power is low emissions/low output, nuclear low emissions/high output and gas or coal high emissions/high output, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out what the most efficient is likely to be , although you can have quite a long debate about what emissions to include in the calculation.
The fact is, unless there is a gargantuan leap in technology, soon, we are going to need centralised power generation, using some combination of fossil/nuclear fuel for the foreseeable future.

37. So Much for Subtlety

12. margin4error

The average 2010 USD cost of each Megawatt hour for a gas plant – is either 132.0 for a conventional turbine, or 105.3 for an advanced turbine.

Wow that is a neat bit of selective cherry picking. For a conventional turbine perhaps, but that is not the cheapest option for gas:

Conventional Combined Cycle 66.1
Advanced Combined Cycle 63.1
Advanced CC with CCS 90.1

So a combined cycle with Carbon-capture-and-storage is cheaper than wind. But you don’t mention that. You also don’t mention the obvious problem – the best sites for wind were picked first. So new plants are more expensive than old ones because they are using worse locations. So how much does a new plant coming on line now cost?

Natural Gas-fired
Conventional Combined Cycle 81.0
Advanced Combined Cycle 76.4
Advanced CC with CCS 108.5
Conventional Combustion Turbine 152.4
Advanced Combustion Turbine 122.6

Wind 112.2

Wind still sucks.

The likely trend is of course that as wind cost will fall as new technologies tend to advance quicker than old ones, which have already advanced along the lines of the biggest and quickest cost-savings.

Your source specifically says otherwise.

Similarly, the long term trend in global gas prices is upwards – mirroring the long term trend in global oil prices – which reflects rising global demand

Until Fracking came along. Gas prices in the US have collapsed and the US is now looking at becoming an exporter.

38. So Much for Subtlety

18. margin4error

You should read more carfeully. You’ve just offered up a paper – though written to suit the anti-wind bias of the funding organisation – that actually spells out numerically why this isn’t a problem.

So it recognised that there is more pump-storage capacity already in place than maximum wind capacity presently installed.

Marge, I don’t want to sound cruel and I mean this in the nicest way possible, but you should understand what you are reading before you criticise others.

The fact that we have used the maximum possible number of pumped storage sites and it is enough for the existing level of wind capacity, doesn’t mean we will have enough when you get your way and wind makes up a significant amount of generating capacity. On the contrary, it will be almost impossible to do so.

And it recognises that pump storage can run at capaity for five hours – about the same time as it’s “horror story” examples of low wind output. (It can then run for a further day at about half capacity, before effectively running out of pumped water).

Which is great. As long as we build no more wind turbines.

Wind power really isn’t very efficient. It’s as or more expensive than gas *before* you take into account the fact that you *do* need significant back up generation.

There isn’t enough pumped or capacitance storage available to cover times when wind speeds are too low (or too high – just as bad for wind farms). Building new storage is frighteningly expensive. Nor can you just “start” a large scale gas turbine plant. They take time to cycle up, which take a few hours. So they are just left running at reduced capacity.

Nor does it take into account the other costs which are unnaccounted for in wind farms. They are supposed to last for 25 years or more. The reality though, with good examples in Denmark and Germany, is that they tend to fall apart far faster than that. About 15 years tops seems to be normal before the transmission boxes wear out.

As some of you know, I’m based in South Africa these days. Eskom, the national power producer here, has jsut embarked (signed this week) on a massive public/private parternship for new green/renewable energy production. This has been years in the making, and they’ve done extensive research into the subject. Wind power is conspicuous in it’s absence – because it is far more expensive in real terms than other green alternatives.

Of which there are many. The company I work for is building a massive office/hotel/shopping mall skyscraper in Johannesburg, and we are going to be using a molten carbonate fuel cell (MCFC) as our main generator. Whilst it does use natural gas as an input (to generate hydrogen ions for the fuel cell process) it is about 80% efficient (if you include the water heating, which is being designed into the building) and it’s main exhaust byproduct is water. The C02 normally produced burning hydrocrabons is instead trapped in the molten carbonate. It’s a lot more efficient, with little in the way of “greenhouse” gas emissions.

It will pay for itself within about 5 years given current electricity and gas prices.

I’m all for renewables, but only if they make sense. Microgeneration on a smalll scale, with varied sources, along with “clean” gas and nuclear seems to me to be the way forward. I also think that so much focus has been placed on wind that other forms of energy production have been ignored, and so much focus has been placed on “global warming” that much more serious environmental problems are being overlooked – destruction of the environment is happening much faster simply through the acts of industrialising mankind than anything global warming will ever achieve. Just look at Brazil, China or India if you don’t believe me.

40. margin4error

SMFS

I would never claim existing capacity of pumped storage is enough for the large scale wind generation that the UK is already planning. It isn’t. But it is the only mitigation that Pagar’s publicity stunt (sorry, study) considers.

In reality an expansion of pumped storage is entirely possible and the civil engineering sector is looking at a number of major schemes at present. This is particularly so in Scotland for obvious reasons, (Which will probably upset the Muir Trust even more).

Likewise there is major capacity for expansion across Norway, which investment in interconnectors to create a north sea grid will make part of our energy network – along with making our energy production part of their network. Along with ensuring that “the wind stops blowing” becomes a much smaller concern (geographic range diminishes the extent to which the wind stops blowing across the network) it also replicates the German energy model which pumps energy south across borders when solar power peaks, and has it pumped north again when solar generation falls.

Oh – and you are right – I picked out the two models that are presently being focused on by industry as part of the proposal for a dash to gas. One would hope that government intervention, and a small number of good plants demonstrating the tech, will see combined cycle adopted widely. But ironically that may require some level of subsidy, especially if there is any indication that quick build is a priority (which given our energy crisis, is likely).

Also – don’t mistake the recessionary blip of short term falling gas prices with the long term trend. I was deliberate about saying it was a long term trend.

@ M4E

But it is the only mitigation that Pagar’s publicity stunt (sorry, study) considers.

Cheap shots like this are rather pathetic.

If you want to argue with the publicly available facts stated in the paper please feel free to do so.

1. Average output from wind was 27.18% of metered capacity in 2009, 21.14% in 2010, and 24.08%
between November 2008 and December 2010 inclusive.

2. There were 124 separate occasions from November 2008 till December 2010 when total generation
from the windfarms metered by National Grid was less than 20MW. (Average capacity over the
period was in excess of 1600MW).

3. The average frequency and duration of a low wind event of 20MW or less between November 2008 and December 2010 was once every 6.38 days for a period of 4.93 hours.

4. At each of the four highest peak demands of 2010 wind output was low being respectively 4.72%,
5.51%, 2.59% and 2.51% of capacity at peak demand.

5. The entire pumped storage hydro capacity in the UK can provide up to 2788MW for only 5 hours then it drops to 1060MW, and finally runs out of water after 22 hours.

Which one have they got wrong?

42. tigerdarwin

The dash for gas is more short termism from the Tories.

Gas reserves globally, though increasing, are less than coal and uranium are need to be utilised carefully.

We are vulnerable to global price and will need to tear up our countryside to use it.

Not great is it.

We need to continue to develop renewables.

43. tigerdarwin

@ 36

”There isn’t enough pumped or capacitance storage available to cover times when wind speeds are too low (or too high – just as bad for wind farms).”

There doesn’t have to be. No one is arguing for all our energy to come from wind.

You appear to be under the impression that some people are.

Wind power is probably not very good for areas under the sub tropical high pressure systems.

It is pretty good for temperate lattitudes.

44. Derek Hattons Tailor

The primary argument in favour of renewables is low carbon emissions ? So the efficiency measurement needs to incorporate energy output as a proportion of co2 output. Something like CO2 emissions per kw gen. Then incorporate the money measurement, so you have cost per emission unit per KWh generated.

@40 is tearing up the countryside any worse than putting enormous windmills all over it, and the infrastructure to service and connect them to the national grid ? ?

45. So Much for Subtlety

40. margin4error

I would never claim existing capacity of pumped storage is enough for the large scale wind generation that the UK is already planning. It isn’t. But it is the only mitigation that Pagar’s publicity stunt (sorry, study) considers.

What other mitigation is there for the fact that wind is just not very reliable? And have you considered the expense?

In reality an expansion of pumped storage is entirely possible and the civil engineering sector is looking at a number of major schemes at present. This is particularly so in Scotland for obvious reasons, (Which will probably upset the Muir Trust even more).

Pumped storage sites are inevitably good hydro sites. So the best have been built already. We would need to use less and less suitable sites as we went along. That means more cost. It is also unlikely that the Muir Trust – or anyone else – would allow every glen in Scotland to be dammed. Ignoring the massive environmental costs which are non-trivial. Valleys tend to be used by wild life as it is. We could expand. But we probably don’t want to. Thames Water can’t even build a new dam for the growing thirst of London. No one is going to get away with concreting half the Highlands.

Likewise there is major capacity for expansion across Norway, which investment in interconnectors to create a north sea grid will make part of our energy network – along with making our energy production part of their network.

Sol we will no longer have any remote chance at energy security? We are at the mercy of the Norwegians who can turn off the national economy any time they like? They are not going to be building more dams either. And they too have built on all their best sites. It just, to use the cliche de jour, kicks the can down the road.

Oh – and you are right – I picked out the two models that are presently being focused on by industry as part of the proposal for a dash to gas.

Sad.

ut ironically that may require some level of subsidy, especially if there is any indication that quick build is a priority (which given our energy crisis, is likely).

Gas with CCS is still cheaper than wind. We would be better off with no subsidy at all than the dog’s breakfast we have now.

Also – don’t mistake the recessionary blip of short term falling gas prices with the long term trend. I was deliberate about saying it was a long term trend.

Fracking has changed the terms of the debate. You can’t make claims about the long term unless you mean the really long term.

42. tigerdarwin

The dash for gas is more short termism from the Tories.

Gas reserves globally, though increasing, are less than coal and uranium are need to be utilised carefully.

Why? The most sensible policy is usually a series of short term decisions. We don’t know what future fossil fuel technology is going to be like. There is no point keeping stuff in the ground when we will get better and better at getting it out. Even if we did, we are better off with a lot of money now than a little later. Economic growth now means that future generations will be vastly wealthier than we are. Let them find an alternative. What is the point in keeping so many Africans on less than a dollar a day when by the end of the century they are expected to be just shy of $100,000 a year? Then they can pay for all sorts of things.

We are vulnerable to global price and will need to tear up our countryside to use it.

If we frack we will not be vulnerable to global prices and fracking uses tiny drill holes on the surface. It is precisely a way to avoid tearing up the countryside.

43. tigerdarwin

There doesn’t have to be. No one is arguing for all our energy to come from wind.

There needs to be more if we want more than a token from wind. Which is all we really have.


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  1. Sarah Shoraka

    Stopping the dash for gas: both possible, and necessary. Article on gas station occupation in @libcon http://t.co/W6c0YOnX

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    Stopping the dash for gas: both possible, and necessary http://t.co/pQ0Nd24d

  3. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Stopping the dash for gas: both possible, and necessary http://t.co/UTF4L17v

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