Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Unhappy thoughts on Thanet’s offshore wind farm

I am just starting to put together my critique of the wind farm and in trying to point out how trivial this sort of panacea is to the very real problem of climate change and rising sea levels, I had to come up with a comparison that would be easy for the youf of today to understand.

Now if you fill up your car with 10 gallons of petrol in sixty seconds, the energy transfer rate from the petrol pump to the car is equivalent during the 60 seconds to the entire output of a 25 megawatt power generator for 60 seconds.

During the time that Thanet offshore wind farm runs efficiently and at maximum power, that is when the wind conditions are right I would guess about 25% of the time the whole wind farms energy transfer rate, from the turbines to the national grid is 300 megawatts, meaning that 24 – 7 it is able to produce about 75 megawatts or the same energy transfer rate as continuously filling three cars with petrol.

I took off my shop assistants hat for this one and put on my rather dusty engineering hat, I don’t think I have made a mistake here but would appreciate any corrections.


  1. Wind Farms are not the answer unless you are keen on making money from the subsidies financed by HM Taxpayers.

  2. I am not against Ramsgate benefiting by commercial activity with support for construction and maintenance of the wind farm. Technically, I find the project interesting, but as a saviour of our energy crisis it is not.
    If the government energy policy continues in this direction, perhaps refurbishing of Richborough might be viable a project to provide reserve capacity during windless days.

    These following figures are for UK.
    Peak wind generation forecast Thursday 2010-06-17 is at 21H00 and maximum of 90 MW out of a total metered capacity of 1588 MW.

    During the last 24 hours 2010-06-17 ( 09H00 to 09H00)
    Wind 475 MWh 0.1% usage
    Coal 219694 MWh 26.6% usage
    Nuclear 137164 MWh 16.6% usage
    CCGT 429450 MWh 52.0% usage
    intfr 29716 Mwh 3.6% usage
    PS 6671 MWh 0.8% usage
    NPSHYD 2315 MWh 0.3% usage

    CCGT combined cycle gas turbine
    intfr interconnection with France
    PS pumped storage
    NPSHYD non pumped storage hydraulic

  3. Michael, do you think Mr Diesil understood the implications of his invention when he first invented the diesil engine?

    Did they realise in the early 20thC, when cars had someone walking with a red flag in front of them, that they would become the premier form of transport and a threat to the planet in themselves?

    No, wind farms may not be the answer in purely mathematical terms but in the absence of better environmentally friendly technologies they should be allowed to develop.

    After all, the same technology used to grind flour for our bread

  4. I believe our government is being taken for a ride by these wind farm concerns,If the top men in our government were taken for a trip on a trawler and saw what happens when the trawl catches a wreck or obstruction on the sea bed their eyes would be opened to the power of the tide,many boats have been capsized by its power,We have 3000 miles of coastline nowhere is more than 75 miles from the sea, and the tidal flow is predictable every day,the wind farms are taking up huge areas,no generation on windless days, and not very reliable,Britain used to lead the world in new technology surely we can harness what is right on our door step.I do not believe in global warming,back in 1963 the experts said we were entering a mini ice age they were wrong then,going by our solar spells I think next winter will be worst than 2009.

  5. Stargazer, what you say about harnessing tides is very true but the experimental attempts so far seem to be too fragile for mass production.

    Your point about global warming is mis-guided, you should be considering planetary resorce depletion. This is a greater threat to us all.

  6. Should be Planetary Resource Depletion - sorry

  7. Thanks for the comments, very helpful as the scientist – engineer in me is getting progressively concerned that while some European companies are doing very nicely out of the grant funding, here in the UK we could wind up with a very expensive source of energy.

    There are many sobering thoughts when one looks into this issue and all forms of energy produce some sort of carbon footprint, the lowest being nuclear, I know that wind farms on land produce double the carbon footprint per unit of electricity as nuclear generators. I am not yet certain what the figure is for offshore wind farms but guess it is much higher than for those on land, due to the maintenance access and construction problems.

    Over the last five years the rise in sea levels has been roughly twice as much as predicted, this is important as based on the predictions the expected life of the planet in terms of it’s ability to support human life in terms of the predicted population was somewhere in the order of 50 to 100 years.

    One of the things that makes the sea rise is the expansion of the mass of water due to the rise in temprature, with ice melting and bits dropping off of glaciers things get much more complicated.

    One of the scientific puzzles I sometimes ask the youf of today is this.

    Two men are sitting in a boat with a large rock onboard, the boat is floating in a glass of water, when the throw the rock over the side into the water, what happens to the level of the water in the glass?

    Does it stay the same?

    Does it go up?

    Does it go down?

    So now a new question for them.

    Two men are sitting in a boat with a large block of ice onboard, the boat is floating in a glass of water, when the throw the rock over the side into the water, what happens to the level of the water in the glass?

    Does it stay the same?

    Does it go up?

    Does it go down?

    Then the ice melts, what happens to the level of the water in the glass?

    Does it stay the same?

    Does it go up?

    Does it go down?

    It’s all a bit sad really on a local level our politicians have sanctioned building a residential development that will hold over 1,000 people on land that has historically been engulfed by tidal surge storms, without the most rudimentary safety precaution of having the flood risk assessment recommended by the environment agency.

    While at a national and international level out politicians are behaving as though the tiny difference made by wind farms could do more than make the planet last for an extra year.

  8. At the current rate of consumption we need three and a half planets to sustain our demand.

    A sobering thought!

  9. If you people really do not know about the clean reliable wind energy which in turn generates thousands of jobs for local people....then they sinply should not comment.


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