Engineering Fiasco…Spiegel On Offshore Wind Parks: “Does Not Fulfill The Hopes Of Reliable Energy”!

Bard Offshore windparkToday I have a short but interesting report from Spiegel.de here concerning the performance of North Sea wind parks, which were once seen as the future backbone of Germany’s energy supply. Unfortunately things are not working out that way at all.

Photo right: Bard

Delivering only a tiny fraction of rated capacity

Spiegel writes that Germany now has some 3000 megawatts of North Sea offshore installed rated capacity, but which at times “delivers only single or double digit megawatts” and that “it does not fulfill the hopes of a reliable energy supply“. Spiegel writes that on one Tuesday morning in mid December the “total power fed-in dropped to just a single megawatt” (0.033% of rated capacity!)…”enough to supply only a few hundred households“.

Oh my, what a stunning efficiency.

Dogged by engineering woes, shoddy planning

Germany’s drive to offshore wind energy has been dogged by multiple technical problems and shoddy planning. Even when the wind does blow, the cross-country power transmission needed to deliver the power to markets still have not been constructed, and so it is impossible to deliver the generated power where it is needed (if needed). Wind parks operators are often ordered to shut down their turbines in order to prevent grid overloads. Also read here.

Wild output fluctuations

Spiegel writes that mid-December was not the first time that offshore power output fell to just a tiny fraction of rated capacity, and the flagship news weekly describes how the offshore wind power output has been fluctuating wildly this fall:

On  a total of 25 of 91 days wind energy production in part on many occasions fell into the single or double digit megawatt range. On the evening of November 11, the most power was fed in with 2631 megawatts. Grid operator Tennet had to compensate by switching on and off conventional power plants.”

Offshore wind power was once regarded as a viable solution for providing consistent power because it was often claimed that “the wind is always blowing offshore“. However harsh conditions, unpredictable weather, complex installation and high maintenance needs have made the cost of offshore power twice as expensive as the landscape-eyesore onshore wind energy, which also fluctuates wildly and poses other technical and health problems in addition.

It’s time to face the reality that harnessing offshore wind energy in the tempestuous North Sea is technically and economically unfeasible and thus can be only a very limited solution when it comes to energy supply.

Hat-tip: Wochenblatt.de

 

46 responses to “Engineering Fiasco…Spiegel On Offshore Wind Parks: “Does Not Fulfill The Hopes Of Reliable Energy”!”

  1. Walter H. Schneider

    Pierre, you probably wish to change “Unfortunately things are working out that way at all” to “Unfortunately things are not working out that way at all.”

  2. K. van der Pool

    It’s not just the wind: BARD offshore 1 still has major technical problems. The chronology of woes is faithfully listed on the EEX website giving reasons such as: ‘unknown’, ‘reduced availability’, ‘maintenance’ etc.
    One bizarre thing in the error reporting is the strangely precise number of non-available megawatts, for example 119.5 MW on 11/19/15. For 80 windmills of 5MW each the smallest increment should be 5MW. The press also has gone pretty much silent on BARD so no explanations on what is going on out there.

    1. Curious George

      Accounting may require this degree of precision. Producers are sometimes paid for NOT generating electricity, see http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2015/12/15/windfall.html

      1. K. van der Pool

        Hi Curious,
        You are probably right, I would have never thought about that.
        Thanks,
        KvdP

  3. turboblocke

    Here’s DE electricity generation https://www.energy-charts.de/power.htm Wind is kicking butt.

    It also lowers the wholesale price of electricity thanks to the merit order effect as you can see here: https://www.energy-charts.de/price.htm

    1. DirkH

      “It also lowers the wholesale price of electricity thanks to the merit order effect as you can see here”

      That’s just great! Because, the private customer will pay exactly the same ultrataxed tariff no matter the bulk price! And, the lower the bulk price for which wind energy is sold, the higher the subsidy, meaning, the momentary glutt of wind power MAXIMIZES the economic damage!

      You warmunists have created a perfect machine for economic destruction!

      Basically, you should be interned as a group of enemies of the state.

    2. sod

      Thanks for the links. If you look at the data (change to dezember, and to “exapnded2 to see percentage data) and you will notice how big wind power has become.

      Also notice that Germany is exporting a lot of electricity and there is very little change in the export percentage when wind fluctuates.

      https://www.energy-charts.de/power.htm

      Germany is also starting to use wind to stabilize the grid.

      http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/stromnetze-windkraft-wird-jetzt-zur-regel.697.de.html?dram:article_id=340477

      Forecasts of wind power are getting so good, that wind can serve this purpose.

      Wind power is not an “engineering fiasco”, it is showing some technical problems of a new and growing industry, which are similar to what we see in old fossile sources (i linked to the botched coal power plant in Hamm, which was abandoned recently).

      1. Fernando L.

        Looking at German offshore wind power objectively, one has to conclude its a poorly designed system because grid-wide integration analysis and project planning were badly neglected.

        I suspect this is the result of government subsidy mechanisms, which allow for large scale offshore wind investments. In my engineering career I found very smart but specialized engineers who failed miserably at integration, and were quite cavalier and risk prone in their project designs. The German offshore wind project is a good example of poor planning, lousy government policies, and the power of corporate and enviromental lobbies to screw up things. It should be taught in engineering schools as an example of what not to do.

      2. DirkH

        “(i linked to the botched coal power plant in Hamm, which was abandoned recently).”

        You still haven’t explained how a coal power plant in Hamm would have been a catastrophy for you who lives 400 km farther south. You called the planned power plant “catastrophic”. So, it’s a catastrophy for you when the people in NRW have stable electricity? Funny, I never thought about it that way but maybe you’re right and we should just let NRW decay into savagery, they’re right on track anyway though not because of a lack of electricity for now.

  4. Bruce of Newcastle

    Don’t fly too low in a sleigh.

  5. sod

    Offshore wind is a new technology. These are problems that we would expect. The article is using a typical trick: It is only looking at one part of the system, ignoring the rest.

    So a few bad days in the north sea and one troubled project generate news while the real stuff happening does not.

    Over the last 2 months we had very strange weather conditions, with a lot of sun (so less wind, but more solar power). We also had some rather good wind on shore over the last few days, so this might also compensate some little wind on the sea.

    A look at the statistics does not show any significant problems:

    http://www.agora-energiewende.de/de/themen/-agothem-/Produkt/produkt/76/Agorameter/

    Agora is showing a average of 20 GW of alternative power (last 31 days, on the 26.12.), against a total use of about 80GW, and no extreme wind gaps (instead you can see how solar is nearly perfectly filling up most of the weak wind days. The match is extremely good!)

    And if we look at other reports, we can find rather positive stuff (wind parks over performing!):

    http://www.abendblatt.de/region/article206744619/Windkraft-beschert-Helgoland-Millioneneinnahmen.html

    If we look at international offshore wind news, we see projects getting started in many countries (USA, Canada, India, …). Basically the technology is taking the next big step. So far, most projects were “first” in some sort of way. A lot of stuff is done by specialised ship, specifically build for this one wind park. In the near future, we are looking at normalised procedures, using standard material and experiences and technology transfered between countries.

    1. DirkH

      sod 26. December 2015 at 10:01 PM | Permalink | Reply
      “Offshore wind is a new technology. These are problems that we would expect. The article is using a typical trick: It is only looking at one part of the system, ignoring the rest.”

      Well if the turbines don’t turn there’s not much that’s gonna come out of it, right? Also, how will offshore wind guarantee constant wind once the technology has matured?

      “So a few bad days in the north sea and one troubled project generate news while the real stuff happening does not.”

      You mean the blocking high was not real?

      “Over the last 2 months we had very strange weather conditions, with a lot of sun (so less wind, but more solar power). ”

      So, you say, the weather was just being unfair. We get that. Problem is, weather has the nasty habit of being unfair quite frequently. Maybe outlaw it?

      1. sod

        “You mean the blocking high was not real?”

        When was the significant “blocking high” over the last 31 days? It is not in the data!

        http://www.agora-energiewende.de/de/themen/-agothem-/Produkt/produkt/76/Agorameter/

        “So, you say, the weather was just being unfair. ”

        That is garbage. You are not being fair, the weather is fine. If we have lots of sun and little wind, you focus on wind power. Idf there is little wind in a single part of the north sea, you focus on that part of the north sea. If there is a single offshore field with some technical problem, you will focus on exactly that field.

        Again, look at the data above. Alternative power is putting out a rather solid 20GW with 3 tiny gaps. Storage will move in fast (north link, batteries), so do not worry.

        1. DirkH

          “You are not being fair, the weather is fine. If we have lots of sun and little wind, you focus on wind power. Idf there is little wind in a single part of the north sea, you focus on that part of the north sea. If there is a single offshore field with some technical problem, you will focus on exactly that field.”

          Well ok, ok, I’m being unfair. The combo of Wind + Solar is really great.

          Now, let’s look at those damn NIGHTS which are SIXTEEN HOURS LONG in WINTER with a sun that barely rises above the HORIZON… So sod, HOW MUCH overcapacity in solar panels will you build for that, and HOW wasteful (not even talking about the money but the resource usage!) will THAT be?

          Oh and plaster the country with storage hall sized NaS batteries 300 degrees hot maybe to have the nighttime storage right…

          “Not fair! Now you start talking about NIGHTS!”

    2. K. van der Pool

      Well, Sod, I still admire your strong faith but you must have missed the archive on Euan Mearns’ blog regarding the future of renewables:

      http://euanmearns.com/the-renewables-future-a-summary-of-findings/

      Apart from that, you must be looking at a different graph on the Agora website than I do – the wind generation does go down regularly to virtually zero even in windy December (wind ‘kicking butt’, as somebody wrote above). The little yellow solar pips really do not match up with anything except the middle of the day, let alone ‘perfectly filling up’ failing wind, as you state. BTW – a far better resource is

      http://www.netztransparenz.de

      I grant you that offshore parks are relatively new, however, this is not ‘just a few bad days in the North Sea and one troubled project’. The poor Bavarians really count on offshore when the last nuclear plant goes dark a short six years from now – better get Bard straightened out after three years of tinkering and while at it, build a few dozen more.

      Regarding your remark about the future with all these great new things on ‘normalized procedures’ and ‘technology taking the next big step’, don’t forget its still about the same old wind. . . . . . .

      1. sod

        “the wind generation does go down regularly to virtually zero even in windy December ”

        That is simply not true. There is always about 5% of wind and basically always more than 10% even.

        https://www.energy-charts.de/power.htm

        (change to month dezember, change to “expanded” to see percentages.)

    3. Walter H. Schneider

      The poor sod stated, “http://www.agora-energiewende.de/de/themen/-agothem-/Produkt/produkt/76/Agorameter/

      Agora is showing a average of 20 GW of alternative power (last 31 days, on the 26.12.), against a total use of about 80GW, and no extreme wind gaps (instead you can see how solar is nearly perfectly filling up most of the weak wind days. The match is extremely good!)”

      He either does not know how to read the graph or he is not looking at the graph that the URL produces. At any rate, to be charitable, the observation that “The match is extremely good!” is at best ill-fitting satire.

  6. Ole Jensen

    3 year old mega prayer-wheel collapsed in Sweden:
    https://youtu.be/pH65y7Wta3I

  7. John F. Hultquist

    sod is like a Chicago Cubs Fan – a good supporter of a long time loser. The difference is the Cubs won back to back World Series in 1907 & 1908. It is amazing they still have fans. [I’d use a German analogy here if I knew the society better. Help, anyone?]
    When Berlin is disconnected from all sources of power except wind and solar for the four months of Nov. through the end of Feb. , I’ll join the fan club. Meanwhile, my heater, AC, refrigerator, freezer, lights, computer, and on and on feel that power 24/7 is a good idea.
    That should not be hard to understand – too many just don’t.

  8. yonason

    “new technology” – sod the believer

    That’s right, and our top engineers are diligently working to get the bugs out of the system at this very moment. It won’t be long now.

    1. DirkH

      Well you gotta give the 17th century Dutch that by optimizing their wind turbine design they were the first ones to have assembly line production of parts for merchant sail ships, in wind-powered sawmills, making them filthy rich, becoming the main customer for the developing coal-powered industries of Britain.

      Wind power was a great kickstarter for Europe’s industrialization.
      Using it to maintain current standards of living is an obvious nonstarter – as wind power today is just not competitive. Google notived that when they closed down their “RE smaller C” project.
      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/11/21/renewable_energy_simply_wont_work_google_renewables_engineers/

      1. yonason

        Delicious! Thanks for the history lesson.

  9. Graeme No.3

    http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=4149
    The ABC reports – Peak oil losing credibility as renewables shift accelerates and Fairfax chimes in – The price drop that’s really worrying big oil –

    (for overseas readers the ABC and Fairfax Press don’t differ from the BBC or The Guardian in the UK).

    That should suck sod in, but he won’t like reality.

    1. sod

      “The price drop that’s really worrying big oil”

      Your link goes to a conspiracy theory (Saudi arabia decreasing oil price to damage Iran).

      But of course the rise of renewables is troubling oil. It is the exponential growth at the bottom of that graph, that is threatening their business. They know, that every tiny growth down their will keep an amount of the billions they own below the ground.

      Saudi Arabia is pumping oil like crazy, because they know that the will not be able to sell the stuff in 40 years.

      1. DirkH

        “Your link goes to a conspiracy theory (Saudi arabia decreasing oil price to damage Iran). ”

        You’re such a plant. Well governments would NEVER “conspire”, right?

        (That’s exactly why the CIA invented and propagated the term “conspiracy theory” following the assassination of JFK (and DOCUMENTED it in classified, by now released papers!) – to discredit anyone questioning the motives of the state. When ALL THAT THE CIA (and all other secret agencies) DO is CONSPIRING.)

      2. Graeme No.3

        And the graph showing how much “renewable energy” is actually used?

        They are only “renewables” while the subsidies last.

  10. Euan Mearns

    I graphed and stacked wind output for Sweden, Denmark, UK, Germany and Spain for September and October. Several occasions when wind drops to near zero across whole of Europe.

    euanmearns.com/the-wind-in-spain-blows/

    And this feature under construction graphs all UK power output for 2014 and 2015, more years to be added in future

    http://euanmearns.com/uk-grid-graphed/

    1. sod

      “Several occasions when wind drops to near zero across whole of Europe.”

      If you look at the graph (month December, “expanded” to get percentages) you will see that even for Germany alone wind and solar rarely fall below 5% (short dip of 3%?)

      https://www.energy-charts.de/power.htm

      On the few (consecutive) bad wind days at the beginning of november we had incredibly high solar output, so just looking at one technology is simply giving a completely false impression.

      And so far, there is utterly ZERO incentive to place solar or wind in a way, that it helps filling gaps in output at other places (all plants are build for maximum output so far). The very moment we start changing that, we will see different numbers.

      1. David Johnson

        Oh wow 3 or 5% What a waste of time and money

      2. Euan Mearns

        Sod 27

        UK solar June 2015

        http://www.euanmearns.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/jun15niws.png

        UK solar Nov 2015

        http://www.euanmearns.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/nov15niws.png

        And you say:

        On the few (consecutive) bad wind days at the beginning of november we had incredibly high solar output

        I’m afraid your just babbling BS.

        1. K. van der Pool

          Hi Euan,

          Sod does that most of the time. I just stepped through November on this website:

          http://www.sma.de/unternehmen/pv-leistung-in-deutschland.html

          and its not ‘incredibly high’ (maybe in the eyes of the beholder). Germany is an extremely poor location anyway – 10% load factor.

          Best,
          KvdP

        2. sod

          “On the few (consecutive) bad wind days at the beginning of november we had incredibly high solar output”

          I am sorry, but that is, what the data shows.

          https://www.energy-charts.de/power.htm
          (change to november and to expabnded)

          first of november had 30% solar PV (of total demand) at peak. the other start of november days with little wind also had extremely high solar output (over 20% peak).

          I still wonder about that Spiegel article which we are discussing here (i did not get my print edition for some reason …)

          The Fraunhofer page is giving a really detailed look at the data. (you need to switch to month again and then to solar/wind, to get a more detailed look.)

          https://www.energy-charts.de/power.htm

          Over december, we have a rather constant output of slightly above 2 GW. The gaps are really small, around the 7. and the 14.. Why would anyone write an article about this?

          And that is no surprise, as little wind often means sunny days.

          Even your charts show similar solar PV on the first of november (slightly below 300ß0 MW) to the first of june (slightly above 3000 MW)

          1. K. van der Pool

            On Nov.1, the PV output peaked at 15.8 MW between 6.45 and 17.45 so roughly 90 GWh generated. The demand for that day was about 1250 GWh (Sod’s number of 30%) so PV supplied about 7%. Not really all that ‘incredibly high’ considering about 30GW installed capacity, apart from the fact that it peaked at high noon. By the very nature of PV, zero output when it gets dark and electricity is needed for all sorts of neat and useful appliances.

          2. sod

            “The demand for that day was about 1250 GWh (Sod’s number of 30%) so PV supplied about 7%. ”

            thanks for doing the calculation, but i think that this approach is misleading. you are adding in night time us, but this is much lower than daytime and of less value. We will not need additional backup for nigth for a long time.

            You can clearly see the difference of the “blocking high” between the greman numbers and those from the UK posted by Euan.

            http://www.euanmearns.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/nov15niws.png

            http://notrickszone.com/2015/12/26/engineering-fiasco-spiegel-on-offshore-capacity-as-low-as-0-03/

            The huge solar PV output is basically transforming a real problem (several days basically without electricity from solar/wind to a minor one)

            So please look at both sources at the same time.

  11. Colin Megson

    The raison d’etre for wind turbines – low-carbon electricity.

    Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Plant delivers low-carbon electricity. That one unit, on a 0.67 sq km site delivers 78% more electricity than all of the 6,650 [onshore and offshore] wind turbines in the entire UK wind farm fleet.

    All of those wind turbines cost £30.6 billion, that’s 25% more than Hinkley’s £24.5 billion.

    So, to get as much electricity from wind turbines as 1 Hinkley delivers, would cost £54.5 billion! WOW! That means we could BUY 1 HINKLEY AND GET 1 FREE – and – get £5.5 billion loose change.

    Can’t think why this shouldn’t work out in German Euros just the same.

  12. K. van der Pool

    @Sod, Dec.29.

    Look up Nov 1 on the Agora website. You’ll see the demand was a very stable 60GW over 24 hours (it was a Sunday) and a long gap of ‘nothing’generated between Nov 1 and Nov 2, hardly any wind, just some biogas & hydro. Since you feel that storage is not necessary ‘for a long time’ to come, it would have been a very dark night in Germany.

    I have concluded you are not really interested in a serious discussion.

    1. sod

      “You’ll see the demand was a very stable 60GW over 24 hours (it was a Sunday) ”

      Thanks for checking the data. You can get the actual data by moving the mouse from the top down to the energy source you are interested in.

      http://www.agora-energiewende.de/de/themen/-agothem-/Produkt/produkt/76/Agorameter/
      (01. November 2015)

      Lowest demand was slightly below 50GW at 6am. highest daytime demand was 63GW at noon. at that time, solar was putting out nearly 16GW, basically balancing the difference perfectly.

      But as you rightly pointed out, weekends will not be a problems for decades, because they have low use.

      On the 02. nov 2015, we have a much bigger night (53GW) day (83, noon again) difference, but we have a 15GW solar output in perfect matchup with the noon peak demand.

      This leaves a minor evening peak problem, which can easily be solved by battery storage, gas peaking and water storage.

      and again, we are looking at the worst days in a 2 month period!

      1. K. van der Pool

        I’m glad to hear everything will be well with the ‘Energiewende’. As you wrote, ‘We will not need additional backup for nigth (sic) for a long time’.
        Keep burning that coal!

      2. DirkH

        “weekends will not be a problems for decades, because they have low use. ”

        Also, what will the Peons do anyway when we simply have no electricity for them? Screw them, we’re stealing their money for decades now and they barely speak up. Warmunism, the biggest fraud in the history of mankind, what a heist.

  13. sod

    “what will the Peons do anyway when we simply have no electricity for them?”

    A 100% renewables grid will be completely different. For a long time (much too long, actually) we will still have fossil fuel reserve. We actually have much too much of that already.

    http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/soziales/kohlekraft-notreserve-fuer-ernstfall-zu-langsam-a-1059617.html

    We will have enough storage to bridge the small lows between those solar peaks soon.

    But it is true, that a 100% renewable grid will need some ideas to bridge a several days long blocking high, especially when, like in the UK case, there is also little solar. But these problems are 20 years in the future and we will have solutions by then.

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