Sign up | Login with →

Comments by Vicky Portwain Subscribe

On Bird and Bat Radar Detection For Wind Farms

Grumpy - I agree but only to some degree.  Clearly the impact on capacity factor will depend on how likely it is that sensitive birds will be around.  In reality I cannot believe someone would actually invest in a wind farm with this sort of risk re: electricity output.  What would seem to be much more appropriate would be if the radar could encourage birds to fly around  the wind farm rather than through it....
November 12, 2009    View Comment    

On David MacKay turns on a light

Good video

Good also to see he supports expansion of wind!

November 9, 2009    View Comment    

On MP Says We Don’t Want Wind Turbines Near our Homes


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and some have better taste than others :)

Unfortunately in the UK we do not have as much room as you do in the US - but that is not the point.  The point is that it is a buffer without basis - a bit like saying nukes should be x distance from houses without any real evidence basis as to why.  Also I am sure the intention is actually to try and stop onshore wind.



November 3, 2009    View Comment    

On Last of the Round 1 Offshore Wind Farms Heads for 2009 Completion

Charles, ignoring your criticism but answering your questions:

 Capital costs for offshore wind energy in the UK currently total over £2.5million (over $4 million U.S) per MW installed (including grid connection for closer to shore sites, which Rhyl Flats is).  This has more than doubled since North Holye was built in 2003.  The major issues are relate to the supply chain.

The total capacity of the wind farm is 90MW and yes of course the homes figure quoted takes into account the relevant capacity factor (circa 30%) otherwise it would be a meaningless figure.

September 8, 2009    View Comment    

On Nuclear Power Station Proposals Threaten Wind Farm

It amazes me that anti- renewables people use government subsidy as a reason for opposition when they support nuclear.  Nuclear would not even get a look in, if it were not for vast government commitment - at a minimum taking on some of the decommissioning liability.  Do you know of any nuclear power stations built and decomissioned / waste disposed of all on the open market?  I am not saying the need for government involvement is wrong - but you cannot use it as something against renewable technology when nuclear is likely to need more subsidy.

So all renewable advocates are the same - in the same way as all Americans are the same or all Africans?  Please tell me what facts I have been careless with.

As I have previously mentioned - many renewables advocates also support nuclear (around 50/50 with many "uncertain") so please do not put them all in the same box.  I have not attacked nuclear - I have merely asked some questions about costs which have not been answered.  



April 29, 2009    View Comment    

On Nuclear Power Station Proposals Threaten Wind Farm

Charles and Geoff - the renewable energy industry is made up of people from a wind range of backgrounds, from ecology and engineering (including people who have worked on nuclear projects) to environmental scientists and planners and in most cases I suspect not the "pro wind-mill idiots" you think they are.  In reality I very much doubt that the Haverigg wind turbines will be moved and that this situation is very much a "communication issue".  I am sure that both parties will find a way of making the two energy projects work together.  This situation is interesting in that it is very much reflective of what needs to happen on a national scale.  Yes there is an obvious difference in energy generation - however that does not mean that there is not a place for decentralised renewable energy - utlising an indeginous energy resource - it is an essential part of the energy mix both in terms of carbon reduction and security of supply.  Even the big utilities believe this - which is why they are piling $millions into wind energy.  Would you class these utilities (i.e. RWE and EDF) as part of the "crazy windmill crowd".  The nuclear issue is sensitive and we all know why - whilst we may need it there is much in the way of smoke and mirrors when it comes to the financial costs and the issues of decomissioning and waste. 
April 29, 2009    View Comment    

On Renewable Energy Grid Infrastructure Reality Sinks In

Access to the grid network is currently a key constraint for increased wind energy development.  As Robb H notes our existing network is optimised for traditional (centralised) generation.  Robb makes some interesting comments about smart grid and raises the question as to how more efficient and new grid projects are going to be funded.

In the UK renewable energy generators pay to connect and use the grid network as part of an "invest and use" strategy currently operated by National Grid.  This incremental strategy will not however be sufficient in the long term and there has been much debate recently as to how we can maximise the use of capacity left in the existing grid network whilst at the same time fund new grid infrastructure.  Suggestions for 'auctioning' grid capacity have been controversial in the industry.

There is currently no effective mechanism for building new grid infrastructure and we are stuck in a 'chicken and egg' situation i.e. developers need to know they can access grid capacity before spending on renewable energy projects but NG need projects to justify building additional grid.  Centralised funding for new grid planning would be a step in the right direction followed up by a system that allows appropriately timed cost reflective payments by developers to National Grid.

I wholeheartedly agree with many comments raised here in relation to a sustainable, decentralised energy network being the way forward.  However - we need to look at the right balance between 'the more locally generated electricity, the better' and increased output from larger renewable energy projects - including the different issues caused in relation to grid management - for example, small, local generation results in a more complex system for DNO's.  As with everything else in this world - it is all about getting the right balance- see my post on little or large wind farms at wind energy planning.  In relation to the comments on peat, it goes without saying that the negative impacts need to be weighed against the positive - every wind farm application that could affect peat should have an assessment so that the carbon payback can be objectively analysed.
March 22, 2009    View Comment    

On Spain’s Record Breaking Wind Energy Generation

and presumably EDF's comment in relation to wind "undermining efforts to reduce dependence on non-domestic fuel sources" is completely objective - although I am not sure what it is referring to as the uranium is unlikely to come from the UK
March 19, 2009    View Comment    

On Spain’s Record Breaking Wind Energy Generation


Working in the wind industry gives me a more informed view of the issues surrounding the practicalities of delivering renewable energy.  Discussions with distribution network operators is part of my everyday work.  You describe my post as not objective and go on to say wind energy is variable.  I do not say anywhere that it is not and in terms of the facts we seem to be at one - i.e. the issue with regard to managing variable generation on the grid network at the moment is the financial cost to the consumer.  The difference between us appears to be my view that this cost (at around £5/MWh) is worth it and I assume (given your reference to wind energy being 'parasitic') you do not.  It is clear that you have a negative view of wind energy but my view (one that I know is shared by the big utilities - even the ones looking at new gas and nuclear are developing wind energy) remains that we need a broad mix of energy sources as no one technology can provide for all our needs.  All energy sources have their own pros and cons (and for the avoidance of doubt I am not saying that fast instantaneous reserves are the same as long term reserves) but wind energy is essential if we are to include renewable energy in the mix.  If longer term (beyond 20% renewables) we have to consider significant changes to the grid network then this is something that will have to be investigated seriously. 

March 19, 2009    View Comment    

On Spain’s Record Breaking Wind Energy Generation

Conventional plant – coal, gas, nuclear – cannot be completely relied upon to generate electricity at times of peak demand as there is, very approximately, a one-in-ten chance that unexpected failures (or “forced outages”) in power plant or electricity transmission networks will cause any individual conventional generating unit not to be available to generate power. Even with a system margin, there is no absolute guarantee in any electricity system that all demands can be met at all times. Wind is an intermittent form of generation however the question is not "how the grid operators felt" but "how much did it/ does it cost".  There are various studies on this - in the UK there is an Oxford University study "The Costs and Impacts of Intermittency: An assessment of the evidence on the costs and impacts of intermittent generation on the British electricity network.  I have a detailed post on the issue on this issue at windenergyplanning
March 9, 2009    View Comment    

On My New Green Collar Job

I've been in the wind energy industry now for over 5 years and it is difficult for it not to take over your life.  Keep the passion and the faith - you'll need it to keep all those anti's in check.... and ignore people when they call you a geek because you know an N90 from an V80 because of the nacelle shape. 

Vicky Portwain
Wind Energy Planning

October 20, 2008    View Comment