07 January 2010

2.5 Wind Turbines per Day

The title of this post is, according to the FT, the answer to the question: How many offshore wind turbines will have to be installed per day by the end of the decade to meet the UK's renewables target? Through 2016 the UK should be averaging one installation per day (see figure above). The FT finds this prospect doubtful:
The average rate of offshore installation up to now has been one turbine every 11 days. To hit the government’s target that Britain should source 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, that figure will have to rise to more than two a day by the end of the decade.

Offshore wind is one of the most expensive forms of electricity available. The extra difficulties faced by the Round Three developments will make them more costly, unless there are radical improvements in technology.


  1. Even if we could build all these turbines it will not solve our problems, I looked on the neta/Electricity summary page at 20.25 on the coldest night in Britain for many years our 2762 turbines with a design capability of 4000MW are producing just 76 MW or 0.1 per cent of our electricity needs

  2. I am an engineer with some experience in power grid design. Whether you believe in the AGW scare scenario or not wind power is a huge disaster we are inflicting on future generations with forward contracts. It is expensive ,erratic and unreliable and power grids cannot tolerate more than a small percentage without losing stability. The costs should also include the cost of parallel (carbon) plants that need to built as well. It is the ultimate in green folly. Modern society needs base load generation not power depending on the whims of nature.

  3. This is all pie in the sky nonsense that makes no economic sense in the real world, especially here in the UK where we are lucky if we get 30% of the wind to drive these wind turbines. Also, there is, thankfully, not the manufacturing or installation capacity to reach these fantasy targets, and the whole thing will fade into the great void after the next election and the necessary public spending cuts that will occur.

  4. The Combined Power Plant shows that the grid will stay reliable.

    "The secure and constant provision of power anywhere and at anytime by renewable energies is now made possible thanks to the Combined Power Plant. The Combined Power Plant links and controls 36 wind, solar, biomass and hydropower installations spread throughout Germany. It is just as reliable and powerful as a conventional large-scale power station. ..."

    Please read for yourself:

  5. But one needs to turn the page on the FT to find a solution

    Why Britain must take the nuclear path


    I would agree that both Solar and Wind are really only effective in order to reduce the 'utilization rate' of existing carbon based plants.

    If nuclear is in the mix it doesn't make much sense to 'turn down' the nuclear plant because the wind is blowing today, the cost of the fuel is negligible.

  6. Chris M ,
    Would you have a URL for the wind generation you quoted - thx in advance.

  7. Diego,
    The site you quoted was a fairyland site with no attachment to reality . We are to run a modern economy on solar and wind ( which may not be there for weeks at a time) , burn straw , and store power in compressed air and batteries.
    If straw had the same thermal output as coal per Kg then a one gigawatt power station burning biomass would require 800,000 Kg of straw per hour or 20 million Kg per day. Of course this would have to be grown without inorganic fertilisers and harvested with draft horses to avoid carbon emissions.

  8. Pulling this out of my butt, 2.5 per day seems terribly reasonable, especially if this is seen as a "UK life in the balance"/Apollo/Manhattan Project kind of event.

    Sure, in the end, they will be literally tossing the turbines off the barges and allowing the turbines to float almost freely, but there is tech in the works for that.

    There are floating "spar buoy" turbines being tested:


    And even innovative "flip" boats that can carry two turbines at a time are being discussed/designed by these students:


  9. Baron,

    I think the URL is

  10. Roger:

    I think you may want to read the 2006 Annual Prestigious Lecture I was asked to the ‘North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers’ and the ‘Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (North East).

    It was titled
    ‘A suggestion for meeting the UK Government’s renewable energy target because the adopted use of windfarms cannot meet it’.

    It can be read at

    It assesses the UK renewable energy target, windpower and all other existing and potential ‘renewables’, and their abilities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power generation.

    Its Introduction includes this paragraph:

    “The objectives set out in the White Paper(1) were endorsed by the Energy Review(2) published by UK Government in July 2006 . The White Paper and Review did not say that their proposal for increased use of windfarms would require 15000 x 2 MW wind turbine units to be constructed at the rate of 3 per day for the next 15 years. This ambitious project is being supported by large subsidies.”

    And its Conclusion says:

    “The UK Government is spending much public money to subsidise on-shore and off-shore windfarms in an attempt to contribute to its target of a 20% reduction to CO2 emissions from power generation. This policy is endorsed by the Energy White Paper 2003(1) and the Energy Review 2006(2). However, the intermittent supply from windfarms means they provide no useful electricity and no significant reduction to CO2 emissions. But tidal coffer dams can provide continuous, controllable electricity so they do not suffer from these problems. And OFGEN estimates that tidal coffer dams would produce electricity at similar cost to off-shore windfarms when taking no account of the high return that can be expected for the controllable output from tidal coffer dams.

    It is concluded that the UK Government should cease the waste of public money that is the subsidising of windfarms and use the saved expenditure to subsidise tidal coffer dams instead.”


  11. Baron

    The URL of the site I quoted is as climatemedia said at No.9

  12. As with all significantly large endeavors there are unintended consequences. Such as climate change due to large scale deployments of wind farms:


  13. Well the Spanish added nearly the same amount in 10 years and it's been a big success so it's likely do-able. Offshore might be more expensive but then there is also a lot more return. It is possible to combine with hydro or combined heat and power plants to even the load but yes older carbon and nuclear plants will still be needed. How many new plants are needed is down to whether efficiency overall can be reduced: negawatts via better insulation and geothermal heating can do a lot of that. Coal to gas tech is also being tried on the firth of Forth and could be tried on other currently abandoned deep coal mines where there is around 200 years worth of coal.

    The real problem is that the UK doesn't have the money for any public projects and they didn't do anything even when they did have the money. With the ever-increasingly huge sums needing to be spent on decommissioning old nuclear plants, unless a miracle happens they have the choice of the private sector or going bankrupt.

  14. When you consider what needs to be done for the 2050 targets does this make sense anyway? I like to come back to this analysis posted by Roger some time ago http://www.withouthotair.com/

  15. Question for our Brit friends:
    How do these things work under conditions of snow and ice? I have privately thought that they might be practical generators in Southern climes but not Northern but maybe I'm wrong. Now,you aught to have good experience.

  16. edsamel:

    You ask:
    "Question for our Brit friends:
    How do these things work under conditions of snow and ice?"

    I answer: usually not at all.

    The UK gets severe cold weather when there is a static region of high pressure over the country (as now) so there is no wind. For example, the installed UK wind capacity could provide nearly 5% of UK peak electricity demand under ideal conditions but yesterday - when UK weather was the coldest for decades - windpower supplied less than 0.1% of demand.

    This is an extreme example of the intermittency problem explained in my item I cited above that can be read and/or downloaded at


  17. Oops I meant "efficiency overall can be increased".

  18. Wind: An expensive failed solution for a non-existant problem.
    And now there is evidence that windmills, on large scale uses, are disruptive of wind patterns.
    So what do we have?
    - bird and wildlife destroying, landscape cluttering, wind flow disrupting, undependable and terribly expensive.
    Sounds like a great government program to me.

  19. Some of you are overlooking the fact that this is an offshore project. Norske Hydro and Siemens seem to have something to say about that:
    "wind turbines offshore have obvious advantages, such as reduced visual impact and increased power production due to strong and stable wind conditions"
    Two very profitable companies in the energy putting their money where their mouths are.

    As for no-wind periods onshore in the UK:
    today 11th Jan, in the middle of a high pressure freeze:

    "Remaining cold with further sleet or snow for some places.........Windy everywhere with gales in the southwest."

    Back to normal then..

    Less propaganda, more facts please!