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Adding wind power saves CO2

Posted on 21 June 2012 by MarkR

Over the past decade, engineers and scientists have studied questions about the effectiveness of wind farms. They found that turbines produce much more energy than they take to build and that even though wind needs backup power stations for when it's calm, they still make big carbon savings.

When calculating these carbon savings the researchers found they had to include some surprising factors like the accuracy of weather forecasts and how efficiently gas power stations turn on and off. Wind isn't zero carbon, but it's very low carbon.

Turbines produce about 20 times the energy used to build them, and are low CO2

A wind farm 'life cycle assessor' adds up the energy needed to mine, refine, process and transport the materials in a turbine and adds the energy used to maintain and decommission a wind farm at the end of its life. Then they compare this with the energy produced.

A 2010 University of Vermont study brought together data for 119 wind farms and found that, on average, they produce almost 20 times the energy used to build them; twice as good as coal (Kubiszewski et al, 2010).

For the 69 that also reported carbon emissions, the average was 25 grams of CO2 for each unit of electricity generated; 98% savings versus an average coal power station. This fits with figures reported by others like Weisser, 2007 and Tremeac and Meunier, 2009.

 

Figure 1 - 'Energy Return on Investment' (EROI) for different technologies. This is the amount of energy they produce divided by the energy needed to get them running. A value of 10 means that they generate 10 times as much  electricity as is put in. Wind outperforms coal, which needs lots of energy for mining and transporting the fuel. Figures from Kubiszewski et al, 2010.

Running backup power stations reduces savings, but the savings are still big

When the weather calms other power stations have to take up the load. Turning a generator up and down is inefficient: many of us experience this when we pay for the difference in mpg between stop-start city driving and smooth highway driving.

Valentino et al, 2012 have now calculated this effect based on real weather data and wind forecasts for 15 sites in Illinois. The inefficiency from turning power stations on and off takes a bite out of the savings that wind power brings, but since the most polluting power stations get turned off first the savings are still big. If Illinois got 10% of its electricity from wind, the savings in CO2 would be about 11%. The savings are bigger than 10% because about a quarter of Illinios' power is low carbon nuclear and this wouldn't be turned off.

As more wind turbines are added, they still make savings but if Illinois got 40% of its electricity from wind, its CO2 emissions would drop only 33% as nuclear reactors scale back slightly.

Figure 2 - For the state of Illinois, fraction of electricity from wind (left) and reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (right), the gas mostly responsible for global warming. Figures reported by Valentino et al, 2012.

But what about the newspapers that said wind isn't that good?

Some think tanks and newspapers have been critical of wind power based on 'back of the envelope' calculations from a pair of retired Dutch physicists, de Groot and le Pair which were reported in a website article. In the article they made it clear that (emphasis added);

"How much efficiency is lost in this way and how much extra fuel is required for this extra balancing of supply and demand is unknown. In this article we attempt to make an educated guess."

They guessed that wind power does not reduce CO2 emissions, a very different result from Valentino et al who did use real weather and real power station data. The de Groot and le Pair results were so different because they assumed that wind forecasts aren't used and that all backup is provided by the least efficient power stations possible.

They made it clear that they didn't have the actual figures and that they "hope to connect with the experts that have the real data or who can significantly improve on our estimates." Fortunately, Valentino et al have now done this and found that the result is not as bad as feared: wind power does reduce CO2 emissions significantly.

Lessons

Wind power is low but not zero carbon. Its biggest problem is the need for backup power stations, which burn fossil fuels and are inefficient. Even including these effects it would still save carbon in a state like Illinois, but the savings would likely depend on the electric grid and the local wind climate.

Even areas as large as Germany or Illinois can suffer from the variation of wind, and by spreading wind farms further afield and linking grids together the fluctuations and inefficiencies could be reduced. Or by storing energy from windy days to be used on calm ones. However, both of these would take energy to build and add to the cost.

Think tanks and the media widely publicised an 'educated guess', which they called a 'new report' that showed wind farms don't save CO2. Thanks to the work of Valentino et al we know these first calculations were wrong. When deciding what technologies to use we should include all of the costs, but they should be worked out using proper scientific method rather than an 'educated guess'.

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Comments

Comments 1 to 42:

  1. Another research paper (2009 thesis) by Bart Ummels from TU Delft in cooporation with grid operator TenneT that focusses on the situation in The Netherlands shows roughly the same results as Valentino et al. 2012: high levels of windpower can be integrated into the grid without large changes to the grid and provide significant CO2 emission reductions.

    As a sidenote: De Groot and LePair appear stereotypes for the retired physicist who venture into an area they know too little about but with an axe to grind. They are notorious in The Netherlands for their anti-wind news articles. They indeed show their true colors when they falsely argue that wind forecasts aren't used and that all backup is provided by the least efficient power stations possible (Open-Cyle Gas Turbines). Bart Ummels has also commented on the claims by LePair&co., unfortunately in Dutch, but his critique agrees with the critique provided here by MarkR.
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  2. Question about:
    "The inefficiency from turning power stations on and off takes a bite out of the savings that wind power brings, but since the most polluting power stations get turned off first the savings are still big."

    I recently had an online discussion where I claimed this, since gasturbines (e.g. STEG powerplants) are much more suitable and efficient in loadfollowing then coal-plants, the wind-intermittency would be balanced by the gasturbines.
    The other claimed that gas (in Western-Europe) is currently so expensive that coal-plants are used to do the balancing, causing massive CO2 releases from wind-balancing and very high balancing costs (i.e. 30 Euro/MWh which is 10x higher then most studies show in even high wind grid penetration levels). I have a hard time to believe this but he claims to have this information first-hand from the plant operators.

    Can anyone from the business comment on this?
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  3. Some one please explain to me how a coal plant can produce more energy that it consumes? The coal generating station would have to operate at greater than 100% efficiency to produce numbers on the graph. I thought coal plants needed about 3 units of energy (sorry I have no reference for this) for every unit they produced? To my mind wind is a far better deal than this article suggest.
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  4. cynicus
    The anti-wind lobby do a good job of disinformation and sadly the wind industry seem singularly inept (here in UK) at presenting its case.

    In 'your recent online discussion', I'd say I smell a rat. Getting information "first-hand from the plant operators" sounds like rubbish unless it is a public source, one which "the other" appears to be keeping private.
    Note also to crazy logic of saying "gas is currently so expensive" so the coal plants are used as the 'spinning reserve' resulting in "very high balancing costs."

    A few years back, the UK power industry was trying to get subsidies for new gas power-plants by pleading that high wind capacity would result in all their new gas power-plants running intermittently as the 'spinning reserve'. .e.g. here.

    Their latest wheeze to get gas catagorised as 'low carbon' for the next 30 years appears to be more successful. e.g.here.

    And of course, within such a political ding-dong any amount of crazy logic is par for the course. However, such talk, whatever the source, doesn't mean it describes something that is actually happening.
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  5. john @3: This calculation does not include the energy in the fuel. This is strictly looking at the energy coming out of the plant divided by the total energy it takes to build and operate the plant over its lifetime. That includes the energy to make the materials out of which the plant is built, to build it, to maintain it, to mine/pump and transport the fuel, and to shut the plant down safely when it's no longer useful.

    So, coal takes a lot of energy to mine and transport, which reduces the lifecycle efficiency. Nuclear plants, OTOH, get a lot of power out of a smaller amount of mining (I think), but their decommissioning takes a lot of energy. Wind turbines probably cost more per kW to build and install than coal plants, but they require almost no energy to operate and decommission. So they win in this measure.

    The reason this is important is that you could imagine wind turbines being so large and complex that the energy needed to build them would be more than the energy you would ultimately get from them. Ethanol from corn, for example, is on the hairy edge of being energy neutral in this way. Growing the corn and processing it takes roughly (i.e. within a factor of 2) the same amount of energy as you get by burning the ethanol.
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  6. #3 john mfrilett
    Johnny Vector is right. The Energy Return on Investment counts the energy in the fuel as 'free'. This is a way of getting an idea of the useful energy returned to the economy based on inputs.

    A random figure I didn't want to bulk out the text with: ORNL says you get ~6150 kWh of electricity per ton of coal. A 3.6 MW wind turbine weighs hundreds of tons and over 20 years produces ~30,000 tons of coal worth of electricity. Suddenly the EROI figures sound a bit more believable.
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  7. Based on the EROI plus uncertainties shown, even if future studies show a significantly lower EROI for wind it's looking good compared to coal.
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  8. I just don't see how or why anyone is putting money into new coal plants these days. It seems to me that by the time they come on line they are not going to be cost competitive with other resources.

    MA @ #4... I think the fact that the situation with anti-wind lobby and the wind industry is indicative of the state of build out. Coal (which I assume is the main source of the anti-wind lobby) is established. A large portion of their infrastructure is in place and even fully paid for, so they are fully in the black and can put money toward lobbying efforts. The wind industry is the upstart kid on the block and all their money is getting invested in building and installing new units. That means they're not going to have anything close to similar resources to use for lobbying efforts and PR.

    I expect that will likely change in the not-too-distant future.
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  9. #7 Composer99: there seem to be a number of reasons for the spread including different LCA methods, changes in turbine size and how well they are sited.

    However, wind does seem to have improved with time. For studies from the 1980s, only 1 in 8 reports an EROI > 10. For the 2000s this has risen to 41 in 48.
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  10. #8 Rob: I don't think we can make it that cut-and-dried.

    Coal doesn't need to include backup, and it's cheaper to fit into the current grid system. Wind has to pay for these extra costs and I suspect that in many cases this means it's still more expensive than new coal, although my focus here is purely on the technical aspects rather than the economic ones.

    And of course, coal gets an enormous subsidy, paid by the rest of us, for being able to dump its pollution into our air for free. If this externality was closed by charging for pollution rights like econ 101 says it should be, then the market would work it out pretty quickly.
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  11. The other real eye-popper is how bad solar thermal is.
    If so, why are so many companies opting to put huge solar thermal farms in the US southwest? Is it all tax incentive based?

    Solar thermal, I think, is more efficient at converting solar radiation into electricity than solar PV (at least outside of a lab environment). Obviously the embedded energy costs of the steam turbine plant, the mirrors, the land prep, etc must be really high. Is there a breakout of these costs available online?
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  12. Rob @ #8: The Union of Concerned Scientists has a good analysis explaining why new coal plants are no longer a prudent investment. It's called A Risky Proposition (click on "Executive Summary"). With the new EPA regulations, it's very possible that the last new coal plant has already been built in the U.S. (but many will still be retrofitted with pollution controls and be with us for decades).
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  13. Larry... Exactly. That's about what I would expect to see. It takes a lot of money to build these things and the ROI is so long, and the cost of renewables is going down while the cost of extracting coal is going up... I just imagine the people who usually finance these things are saying, "I'm not seeing how this can work long term." And with those sums of money people are very, very risk adverse in their investing.

    That would be really good news if we are now seeing the last coal plant built. That plant will be with us for the next 30-40 years but at least it's the right direction.
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  14. Some of the naysayers of wind energy remind me--sadly--of the first cartoon on this website.

    http://info.ussolarinstitute.com/blog/bid/59854/Top-10-Solar-Energy-Cartoons

    I live almost within sight of one of Colorado's largest wind farms, Cedar Creek, and I think they are a *wonderful* resource that is steadily coming into its own, as an viable energy source. It's not really a matter of *if* we utilize the technology, it's that we *must* utilize it, where feasible.
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    Moderator Response: [Sph] Hot linked for dumb, techno-incompetent geologist.
  15. Apologies to the moderator: I'm STILL not gettin' the hang of hotlinking. I *am* a geologist, after all...;)
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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] We all start somewhere. :) Html posting tips are here.

    Sphaerica invoked Poe's Law.

  16. Re comment 1 (cynicus).

    I think Bart Ummels was a post grad student when he wrote that report??
    It did get a lot of publicity.

    Has he continued research in wind energy since then?
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  17. This newspaper article describes severe coal shortages in India. I have seen articles saying private companies in India are installing solar PV because it is the cheapest source of power during blackouts (which are usually during the day). New sources of coal for the life of a power station are difficult to obtain even in the US. Perhaps we will get lucky and coal will run low before we fry from AGW. Wind looks good now. The problem with wind is long transmission wires to bring it to many major cities. In the USA we have large resources for both solar and wind.

    I would be interested in seeing a study comparable to the OP that looks at Spain. Spain has installed a lot of wind recently. In February Spain generated 22% of its electricity from wind. They have reached peak output of over 50% of electricity from wind at times. The linked newspaper article claims they saved a lot of money (power is apparently cheap in Spain) and didn't emit as much CO2.
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  18. A study questioning the need for back-up generation for wind power

    Wind power plants have been installed in the United States for long enough that detailed studies have been completed on the impacts and costs of its intermittency. A recent study concluded that, “...the results to date also lay to rest one of the major concerns often expressed about wind power: that a wind plant would need to be backed up with an equal amount of dispatchable generation. It is now clear that, even at moderate wind penetrations [up to 20%], the need for additional generation to compensate for wind variation is substantially less than one-for-one and is often closer to zero. … While wind power does have some costs associated with grid operations, it also has some advantages from the utility’s point of view, including short construction lead times, modularity, no emissions, and higher customer approval”

    - Utility Wind Interest Group (UWIG) “Wind Power Impacts on Electric-Power-System Operating Costs, Summary and Perspective on Work Done to Date, November 2003” [UWIG is a consortium formed by of a number of US utilities]

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/77535536/UWIGOpImpFinal11-03
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  19. I need help and am not sure where to ask this question, so I will ask the question here and if someone can redirect me it would be appreciated. I am in an online discussion on Amazon about climate change and I recently have received this post. It is the first one I have not known how to answer.

    Here is the posters question, any advice would be appreciated.

    "A couple of years ago I surveyed some of the scientific literature on global warming. (The actual scientific literature, not the NYT Science Column or something of that nature.)

    Now, we know that the earth warms and cools in natural cycles, and the question is "Has human activity been speeding up the warming, and has it done so to such an extent that it will overpower those natural cycles and create a run-away greenhouse effect?"

    The atmosphere is about 360ppm, that's parts-per-million, carbon dioxide. Due to human activity, this number is increasing by about 1-2 ppm per year. Over 90% of that increase is from industrial processes, and less than 10% is from the day-to-day activities of people, such as driving cars. So we would have to devastate industrial production, including agriculture and electrical generation to make a dent in that 1-2 ppm increase per year.

    Now, here is my question. Can you cite me some scientific literaure that would support the idea that a 1-2 parts-per-million increase in carbon dioxide would have a significant impact on the thermodynamic properties of the atmosphere?

    I don't want to hear "but all the scientists who receive large grants from the EPA agree", I want an actual reference to something published in a peer-reviewed journal that would support that statement about the thermodynamic properties of the atmosphere. Will you (or anyone else) please send me that information?"

    Thoughts? Or peer-reviewed articles which address this topic?
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  20. @bmac3130, The number of peer reviewed papers making up the body of evidence of AGW is significant. In order to find some guidance for an obvious novice like yourself I would recommend to use this website's Resources section: http://www.skepticalscience.com/resources.shtml where you will find all the science you will need for a good start on your quest.
    BTW: Since the industrial revolution we have gone from 280ppm to just about 400ppm now and are on a clear path to DOUBLING the CO2 content of the atmosphere in as little as a century and a half with significant implications to the climate, the ocean acidity and the future of our civilization.
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  21. #11 jimvj: it's worth bearing in mind that Kubiszewski brought together studies from as far back as the '80s and that for newer technologies, the probability of big leaps in EROI is higher.

    Sherwani et al 2010 considers mostly post-2000 solar PV reports and gets values of energy payback time of 1-3 years in most cases. Since the panels tend to last for decades, it seems realistic that modern solar PV could be somewhere around 10-30 EROI depending on how sunny your area is. Production efficiency, reduction in silicon use and higher efficiency panels needing less materials (double efficiency and you half the panel mass and all the framework etc) probably explain most of the advances since then.

    Whether there have been similar improvements in CSP I don't know. I have only really read about wind & solar because my country is building lots of wind farms, and my masters was on new electrical contacts for solar cells based on quantum tunnelling. Solar PV is just more fascinating to me!
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  22. bmac3130@19

    The actual contribution individuals make to CO2 emissions is greatly influence by where you live. So from a policy perspective, driving a car in the UK or US has a major contribution to emissions, but from a science perspective (eg, local CO2 emissions are less important than the total global concentrations) then an individual driving a car in the UK or US would seem less important.

    And there is the misinformation. In order to confuse the issue all one has to do is use the science perspective to imply local policy does not need to impact on the car driver in a developed nation. Hence the antagonist only has state that their car driving habit has little impact globally.

    Locally in the UK road vehicles contribute a massive 25% to UK emissions, but from a global perspective when the huge number of non car drivers are included, then vehicle emissions would seem small.

    Ironically the implications for the 'skeptic' is that they are implying they would need a world government to control car emissions. Where as the AGW proponent recognises a local policy needs. In order for a skeptic to consider national borders, they would need to accept local emissions factors and that their car driving habit is a big issue.
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  23. #19 bmac - there is a search function at the top left of the site, and you can go to the 'Most Used Climate Myths' section to look for particular claims too.

    The claim that it will 'devastate' economies is just not right, according to the economic analyses here.

    But I'm a natural scientist, not an economics one, and I feel much more confident answering the other comments. The human caused increase in atmospheric CO2 is now around 120 ppm or parts per million, from ~280 to ~400.

    There are 15 references here showing fingerprints of human caused global warming, but to start with I'd go here.

    The heating caused by CO2 has been calculated using physics and has been measured by satellites. Harries 2001, Griggs 2004 and Chen 2007 are all scientific articles reporting the satellite results.

    It seems unlikely that your questioner looked very hard at the science if he claims he didn't find these papers, or the hundreds of others that contradict what he said.
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  24. ModComm@14...I *resemble* that comment!!!!

    >;-)
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  25. I, too, am very surprised by the figures on solar thermal and PV. The US Department of Energy (DoE)10 calculates that the energy payback for polycrystalline modules is four years for systems using recent technology and two years for anticipated technology.

    However, of course it very much depends where they are installed. Sunnier climates like North Africa will pay back their energy sooner than northern Europe.

    The DoE adds that on average amorphous silicon takes one to two years to generate the energy needed to make it, and three years including the frame and support structure for a roof-mounted, grid-connected system.

    For off-grid systems, the payback will be much longer.

    The DoE refers to findings by Dones and Frischknecht that PV-systems fabrication and fossil-fuel energy production have similar energy payback periods (including costs for mining, transportation, refining and construction).

    Assuming a system life expectancy of 30 years and that fossil-fuel-based energy was used in manufacture, 87–97 per cent of the energy that PV systems generate will be pollution-free.

    These figures were from 2004 or earlier, and so it is likely that they are shorter now. I quote it in my book, Solar Technology, where I also outline the other environmental hazards of PV.

    Thanks for the post, it is very interesting.
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  26. Also, a very recent policy brief from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, which is chaired by Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the 2006 Stern Review and located at the London School of Economics, looked at the "back-up need" issue for wind turbines and found it to be a myth.

    In fact, they found that wind turbines are not too unreliable or expensive to contribute significantly to Britain's electricity generation mix, and that it is wrong to think that gas is a useful relatively low carbon fuel.

    There are three myths commonly repeated in anti-windfarm rhetoric:

    Myth 1: that there is a requirement for gas-powered backup to counter the unreliability of wind power. “This is plainly untrue," said Bob Ward. “Only 1% of carbon savings are wiped out, because there are many ways of managing both demand and supply due to the intermittency of the wind." The report says: "The cost penalty and grid system challenges of intermittency are often exaggerated. There are several other ways of compensating for the variability, such as bulk storage of electricity, greater interconnection, and a more diversified mix of renewable sources, as well as measures to manage demand, like smart grids and improved load management.”

    Myth 2: that onshore wind is expensive. “We found that it is the cheapest of all low carbon forms of electricity generation," said Bob Ward. The report says: “A key attraction of onshore wind over other low-carbon forms of electricity generation is cost. In terms of levelised cost – an economic measure which takes into account all of the costs of a technology over its lifetime – onshore wind is currently the cheapest renewable technology in the UK. The choice between more affordable electricity (which would favour onshore wind) and local environmental protection (which may favour other low-carbon technologies) is ultimately a political one."

    Myth 3: that using gas power generation is low carbon and will help us meet our climate commitments. “This is only true if we stop using gas in 2020," said Bob Ward, because at that point emissions need to drop further than relying on gas can permit. The report concludes: "It is clear that the further decarbonisation required in the 2020s cannot be achieved by heavily relaying on unabated gas power stations. Rational policy-makers need to anticipate this and avoid locking in high-carbon electricity generation.”

    “The thing is," continued Bob Ward, whom I interviewed on the topic, “those who have an agenda against wind farms then seek to find proof to back it up. They twist the evidence to make it fit."

    He says he finds the same misinformation cropping up again and again in anti-windfarm rhetoric. It gains credence by being repeated so often, for instance by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the new Welsh group No To Wind and in the letters written by a hundred Tory MPs recently to George Osborne.
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  27. @16 Paul D, yes, the cited paper was his PhD thesis, he has quite a list of publications but only few after having received his PhD. Afaik Bart currently works in offshore engineering at Siemens Wind Power A/S.
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  28. Lowcarbonkid, can you post a link to that Grantham Inst study?
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  29. @6 Mark R, What the citation from ORNL actually says is that the thermal energy in a ton of coal is equivalent to 6,152 kWh. About two thirds of that thermal energy is lost during the generation of electricity--the actual output from coal-fired generation is roughly 2,000 kWh per ton (making it easy to remember).
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  30. I'm a consultant and do some work (in communications) for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). In that capacity, I spend much of the time responding to, shall we say, "wind detractors"--many of them writing under the banner of the same groups and outlets that feature climate deniers. Quite a relief to come here and find a largely fact-based discussion, so thanks. EROI is not something that gets a ton of attention in the detractor-sphere, but wind's supposed inability to reduce emissions comes up fairly regularly. You can see AWEA's response to the Argonne study (the one that looks only at Illinois in isolation) here: Fact check: Coverage of Argonne wind and emissions study flawed, June 1, 2012.--Tom Gray
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  31. #8 Rob Honeycutt, I think your impression that there is a mismatch between established energy industries and emerging ones in terms of resources is correct. Not too long ago, I saw a brief report that said the advertising by a single large U.S. oil company for a quarter was larger than the advertising spending by all of the U.S. renewable energy industries put together for an entire year. It's hard to overstate the difficulties this poses, though I'm sure they are familiar to those working in the climate communications field.--Tom Gray
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  32. #9 MarkR Yes, wind technology has improved dramatically since the 1980s, and I agree this probably accounts for the difference in EROI. There is a significant advantage to larger scale--since A equals pi x r squared, a small addition to blade length means a large addition to rotor swept area--and today's larger machines take advantage of that. Also, taller turbines can harvest enough additional energy from the more energetic winds higher off the ground to more than pay for the extra tower cost. There have been many, many incremental technology improvements, but those are two of the big ones.--Tom Gray
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  33. #26 Lowcarbonkid It is also wind's misfortune to be the first major energy technology to come along after the advent of the Internet, which allows misinformation to spread at the speed of light, and everyone to become a publisher. Virtually every local anti-wind group in the world has a website that gathers and shares misinformation from all other anti-wind websites.--Tom Gray
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  34. #18 SoundOff Yes, UWIG (whose name has been changed to Utility Wind Integration Group) is an excellent source for factual information, in as much detail as anyone could want, about utility integration of wind power. Readers should be sure to use www.uwig.org and not just uwig.org to access it, as for some odd reason the latter will not work. See especially the Variable Generation Integration Library in the left column of the page--it contains many high-quality technical papers on the topic.--Tom Gray
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  35. Here is today's example of the crossover between climate change denial and wind detraction--an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by a Heartland Institute representative: The Anatomy of a WSJ Article on 'Europe's Green Energy Suicide'.--Tom Gray
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  36. MarkR, Tom, & Anyone Else

    Could you take at look at this chart for me? Information is here:

    Eirgrid Ireland "instantaneous" CO2 emissions & loess fit

    The author (who is not a climate science denier or possessed of hangups about renewables) suggests this shows CO2 emissions increase with wind power capacity above 1000MW. I have my own idea about what is wrong, but would like to hear some other opinions.

    Thanks.
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  37. Shoyemore@36

    Why on Earth would 1000MW be special??
    Thats about two average sized power stations in the UK (or anywhere). Should be noted that the population of Ireland is about 10 times smaller than the UK.

    Also on that article a number of commentors have pointed out the cherry picking nature of the data and a reference is made to Dr Udo. Seems like that research has been thoroughly rebutted. The commentor from AWEA points out that a cold period seems to have been chosen which boosted fuel burnt for heating.

    Also found this.
    http://coloradoenergynews.com/2011/09/fact-check-fred-udos-bogus-numbers-on-wind-and-emissions-savings/
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    Moderator Response: TC: Made link live.
  38. Paul D #37,

    I noted the data was very sparse on the right, relative to the left. The loess is probably inappropriate to show the trend, and an estimator should be used with error bars.

    The errors bars could be so large as to render the fit after 600MW or so meaningless. It is also not clear what is meant by "instantaneous CO2 emissions".

    PS I chose 1000MW arbitarily, could as easily have said 600MW.

    PPS Ireland has about 2000MW of installed wind power capacity.
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  39. Fyi, Fred Udo is great friends with De Groot and Le Pair, so don't be surprised when his 'science' appears as cherry-picked and deeply flawed like the others. He also trots out the false 'OCGT stations balance wind so CO2 savings are nil' argument.
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  40. You can get real time wind power data and CO2 emissions (calculated by a formula) from the Eirgrid website. Anyone who is in the business of refuting Udo & Co may find it useful.

    Eirgrid data

    The following shows CO2 emissions on the y-axis, and fraction of demand taken up by wind generation on the x-axis.



    I had to split the data because Excel gets huffy with more than 32,000 data points.

    Further calculations showed ~0.45tCO2/MWh, which I think is in line with industry expectations.
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  41. Cheers Shoyemore nice gentle ski slope there!
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  42. Paul D

    :))
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