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Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Windmilling Executive Actually Debating

   This is from a post by Roger Helmer on his estimable blog. It is a debate between myself and Steve Gilkes and I am reprinting it because his is about as intelligent a case as you are going to get from windmillers.

    I do not, of course, accept his, or rather the government's claims, that onshore wind is reaching competitive costs and am unlikely to do so as long as it needs subsidy.

   He asks if I am campaigning in favour of cutting gas prices and can confirm that I have long done so through supporting fracking. The point about people's interests follows a number of posters on Helmer, newspapers etc where it is obvious posters are not interested in debating facts, let alone being susceptible to them, which can only be credibly explained by assuming they are state funded propagandists. Steve is clearly better informed than that but his income does still depend on believing in windmillery.

   "Steve Gilkes appointed as Global Wind Turbine Leader as growth in wind farm development increases demand for technical assurance and safety.
Lloyd's Register has appointed the industry-respected wind turbine specialist Steve Gilkes to lead its ambitious technical support programme for operators and manufacturers serving the wind sector.

Lloyd's Register has appointed the industry-respected wind turbine specialist Steve Gilkes to lead its ambitious technical support programme for operators and manufacturers serving the wind sector.

Gilkes, who has started the role of Global Wind Turbine Leader after joining the organisation from GL Garrad Hassan, will be based in Bristol and is expected to bring a wealth of experience to the job, having spent more than 21 years in the industry before joining Lloyd's Register earlier this month."

   I don't think you could get a better technically qualified debater.

  Neil craig says:
  1. Steve, bearing in mind how much time “environmentalists” devote to denouncing us for being paid by Big Something or Other, perhaps you should have introduced yourself as an employee of the windmill industry. Of course that cuts both ways and you do appear to have expertise not displayed by most renewabilists here.
  3. As such perhaps you could say when you expect, at least the onshore side of your industry, to be able to compete in the commercial market rather than depending on subsidy, as so often promised for some time in the future.

    1. Steve Gilkes says:
    To Neil Criag,

  •  I didn’t see the necessity to declare my day job, as no-one else has done, and my name is in plain view and quite unusual, so no hiding there. Perhaps you would like to declare your interest.

  •  It shows that a new gas plant power (figure 7.3) provides electricity at £65/MWhr (without carbon costing), coal is 60, onshore wind 85, nuclear 95, offshore wind 175. I think this is with something close to current actual gas prices and with the current locations for onshore wind.
  • With the carbon pricing assumptions (i.e. polluter pays), onshore wind and gas are equal cheapest at 85. Given the current strike prices, these numbers look reasonable.
    In some markets, wind is considerably cheaper. UK wind cannot use the most windy parts of the country due to planning restrictions, development costs are high due planning costs and planning induced project failure rates. With good wind sites and low development costs, prices are much lower, The Scottish farms of the early 2000′s were paid £35/MWhr, current US projects average £40 and go as low as £20. No Deletion due to the Real Price there.
  • But wind isn’t there to reduce the cost, it is there to reduce the CO2 pollution. It could do this at negligible additional cost, With Carbon pricing and in comparisons to nuclear, it even does quite well in the UK.
  • Does that help?
    • Neil craig says:

      Thank you Steve, it does. As I have written previously, comparing known Chinese nuclear costs to ours shows it is being artificially increased by government action at least 4 to 8 fold which puts that £95 in perspective.
    • You acknowledge that wind “isn’t there to reduce cost but to cut CO2″. So you will acknowledge that if we are not experiencing catastrophic global warming; or indeed if one accepts that Britain’s contribution is negligible; or that the entire “cuts” in CO2 from the Kyoto process would be minor; or that far more good could be done by spending the money on other humanitarian measures as Lomberg proposes; or that the reduction in CO2, after including standby costs is negligible; or that there are geoengineering solutions at a fraction of the cost then we should not be wasting money on windmills. I happen to believe the evidence is for all 5.
    • Or, if the real objective is genuinely to cut CO2, then nuclear is far more effective, cutting virtually 100% whereas wind only works about 1/4 of the time, as well as nuclear being far cheaper.
    • PS Though I blog regularly on these subjects I have no financial interest beyond the interest we all have in low bills and a growing economy that high energy costs are preventing.
  1. Steve Gilkes says:

    Going back to the headline topic, if you follow the analysis here
    you will find that given the real mix of displaced and modulated power plant, then use of wind plant results in gaining 97% of the CO2 savings from the displaced CCGT systems. In addition at night in the UK, wind displaces coal, giving considerable savings.....
    1. Steve Gilkes says:
    Brian, in too many places to mention, you will see that all electricity production is subsidized. The renewables/nuclear ones are just more obvious. Thanks to very low coal prices, coal does very nicely. Everyone knows what the likely mix and capacity factors are because the statistics of demand and non-dispatchable sources (wind and nuclear) are well known. Prices can be well set.

  • Coal plant is shutting down because it pollutes (Sox, Nox and CO2) so badly. At the moment, nobody will build more because of teh possibility of a carbon tax, and the current non-feasibility of CCS.
    • Brian H says:

    • Horse feathers. Per MWh, wind and renewables are a couple of orders of magnitude more heavily subsidized. Further, other sources pay taxes FIRST, and get some tax breaks. Renewables lose money FIRST, pay no taxes, and get profit from handouts.
      Big difference, and it’s been going on for decades with no sign of improvement.
      CO2 is pollution only by perverse EPA definition. Sox and Nox are scrubbable. Coal plants are shutting down because they are being barred from earning their own way. By Leftist politicians and bureaucrats.
    • Neil craig says:

      Steve I think it is disingenuous to claim that the falling price of coal is a “state subsidy”. Actually the reason it is falling is because US shale gas is replacing it in the USA. There is an absolute difference between commercial costs and state subsidy or state regulatory parasitism.
    • I previously answered your post by giving 6 reasons for doubting the need to subsidise wind to cut CO2. I would be interested to know if you have any factual dispute. In particular with the last point – that nuclear is far better at cutting CO2 than windmills (as well as cheaper, less visually intrusive, safer, continuous & not producing unhealthy low frequency sound).
    • Steve Gilkes says:

      Neil, you asked for a breakdown, but I really should end the conversation after this, because we will both be able to find evidence that supports opposing views in which we each believe.
    • I am not sure of the meaning of comment on Chinese Nuclear; to clarify, the Atkins report takes all the relevant costs and reasonable financial return in to account for the actual UK situation.
    • Climate change: Accepted by all important decision makers
      Britain’s small contribution: Maybe, but we all have to make one if you want China and India to follow.
    • Kyoto process: I don’t understand why “entire cuts” are “minor”.
      Lomberg’s humanitarian aid priority: I would like to read more on this one, thanks.
      Negligible CO2 saving: The saving from wind are substantial, operated in the real system. All the papers that I have read on the lack of savings have been based on one mistakes; that wind exits in some system only with open cycle gas turbines because wind is unpredictable, and this is compared with an all CCGT system. Actually wind is very predictable. Coal and CCGT can be adjusted in plenty of time to match most of the change. The rest could be done by OCGT, but in the UK at present the pumped storage and hydro systems are used so the wind is 97% effective in returning a CO2 saving.
      Geoengineering: I didn’t know it was so cheap; I will have to read more.
      Nuclear alternative: Personally I think the risks are too high. The current technologies can not be modulated, so they cannot make up too much of the system. The cost appears to be roughly the same as onshore wind.
    • Presumably, your motivation to reduce energy costs also means you are campaigning to deal with the real cause of recent price rises, the wholesale gas prices? As I have shown above, with fewer planning restrictions, UK wind could be our cheapest form of new build electricity.
    • Another clarification: I didn’t imply that coal prices are reduced to the low level by subsidy, I believe it is due to cheap fracked gas displacing coal in the US, leading to a glut.
    • Thanks for the discussion.
    • Neil craig says:

      On the Kyoto process being minor this is the BBC (from some time ago):
      “Most climate scientists say that the targets set in the Kyoto Protocol are merely scratching the surface of the problem.
    • The agreement aims to reduce emissions from industrialised nations only by around 5%, whereas the consensus among many climate scientists is that in order to avoid the worst consequences of global warming, emissions cuts in the order of 60% across the board are needed.”
    • Since minor action has put those countries doing it into the worst recession since the 1930s I doubt what is allegedly actually needed will be done. The only practical way to cut that much CO2 would be going nuclear which those who, even while claiming to believe the alternative is catastrophe, generally oppose
    • Here is a link to my favourite geoengineering – stratospheric sulphur crystals:
      “what if the cost to get started was not trillions of dollars but $100 million a year — less than the cost of a good-size wind farm?”
    • I think you are right that we will not persuade each other but I hope you and others find the links informative.


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