Author: Robert Wilson

Is renewable energy growing quickly enough for Britain to meet its renewable energy targets?

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Thanks to Tony Blair not knowing the difference between energy and electricity, Britain must get 15% of its final energy consumption from renewables by 2020.

Is this doable, and is Britain on track to do it? Read the rest of this entry »

Lulls in Californian wind farm output can be severe

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Last week I wrote a post on wind farm capacity factors in America. Below is the key graph showing monthly variations in capacity factor:


This tells a simple story. The average capacity factor of America’s wind farms is very higher, much higher than most other countries. However, to imagine this is the same throughout America would be a mistake. The climate in California is rather different to that in North Dakota or Texas. And wind farm output follows a very different pattern.

We can find out how much wind farm output varies in California by looking at the hourly data provided by CAISO. Let’s look at it from a number of angles. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t press publish by accident

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My hand is clearly looser than I imagine. I was just chucking a couple of plots into WordPress for a blog post I’ll throw out in the next few days, and I seem to have pressed publish.

So if anyone arrived here via Twitter or email expecting a piece on the variability of German solar output you will just have to wait, til Thursday or Friday.

How reliable are Britain’s wind farms?

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According to the Telegraph website, Drax (the owner of Britain’s largest biomass power plant) has attacked wind and solar power for their lack of reliability.

The Telegraph reports:

Dorothy Thompson, Drax chief executive, said the UK’s wind and solar farms were “increasing the instability of the grid”, with “mounting” cost implications, citing forecasts suggesting the bill for balancing supply and demand would rise from £1bn this year to £2bn by 2020.

Yet “aggregate wind farm and solar output in the UK can be expected to fall below 1pc of total electricity production with reasonable regularity”, she argued.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hillary Clinton’s climate change goals aren’t going to save the planet

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Hillary Clinton announced her climate change policies last night. What should we make of them?

Let’s look at her two main policies.

The first:

Have more than half a billion solar panels installed across the country by the end of Hillary’s first term.

To say that this policy is worded in a deliberately misleading way is accurate. The average voter knows nothing about energy or climate change. Open season for a politician like Clinton. Read the rest of this entry »

Do they check facts and logic at The Conversation?

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One of the easiest ways to get away with dodgy analysis of energy matters is to assume that your readers are completely ignorant about what is going on in other countries. If you live in Britain, you can point to Germany, Denmark, or any other country, and claim they are doing much better than you on renewables, climate change, or whatever you choose. If you are German, you can point to Britain. Read the rest of this entry »

What are the capacity factors of America’s wind farms?

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In energy it is important know what to count.

Consider this simple question. Which country is number one in terms of wind energy? In terms of total installed wind capacity it is China. At the end of last year it had 114 GW of installed capacity, in contrast to 66.2 GW in the United States (BP, 2015).

China is number one, then, by a long way. Not so fast. Last year America’s wind farms produced a total of 183.6 TWh of electricity, whereas China’s produced 158.4 TWh (BP, 2015).
Read the rest of this entry »