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Where are we going? Where’s the plan?

A few snippets from the last few weeks.


Insulation from E&T:

28 year plan at £7 Billion per year, a total of £196 Billion. 24 million properties to be upgraded so just over £8000 per property. Is that enough just to insulate let alone add a heat pump and replace the existing heating system?

Will it save the country Billions?


Hydrogen and carbon capture from the Guardian:

‘World-first’ hydrogen project raises questions about its role in fuelling future homes

Even the Guardian seems to be suggesting that ‘green’ hydrogen for heating homes may not be such a good idea.


Carbon capture and storage schemes, a key plank of many governments’ net zero plans, “is not a climate solution”, the author of a major new report on the technology has said.


Not all biomass is carbon neutral, industry admits as EU reviews policy

Small scale local biomass using waste wood may be ok. Big biomass is certainly not beneficial.


Let’s try fracking or new nuclear from the Engineer:

Moratorium on fracking lifted in government effort to ensure energy supplies.


Atomic Smitten: New nuclear gears up for net zero challenge.


All of these are engineering/science problems. Where is the engineering input? Do any of them actually make sense in payback on resources used?

Currently I see nuclear as the most practical solution but it is made difficult politically. Asia can build nuclear power plants faster and at less cost that the west, why?

The green movement has actively blocked nuclear developments for years, mostly using made up data as George Monbiot found out:

‘The green movement has misled the world about the dangers of radiation.’

‘We have to be sure our facts about nuclear power are right, as the latest exchange with Helen Caldicott shows.’


Even the green German government has finally held on to it’s last two nuclear power plants just in case:


So where are we going? What’s the Plan?

  • So much is driven by politics.  The government is thinking of restarting fracking, but still makes it almost impossible to get planning permission for on-shore wind farms.  On-shore wind is about the cheapest form of generation you can get, and we have no idea whether fracking in the UK will even deliver anything useful.  But the government defers to the big oil companies of fracking, and to the NIMBYs on wind farms.

  • lets not forget there's a massive upgrade possibility as Octopus energy recently highlighted. 

    Swap out the power conversion cabinets and gearbox (or similar) in older turbines with a higher capacity where analysis shows it's beneficial and you have increased power generation without needing a new wind turbine site. 

    This has been known about for decades, why is this new news :/ 

  • Do you have any more information on the Octopus proposal? All I can find seems to relate to one press release. 

    Wind farms are typically designed with a separation between turbines appropriate for the hight to avoid masking and foundations appropriate for the overturning force to match the output. For a given wind speed a certain force on the rotor is required to generate a given output. Increase the output and more force is required hence more overturning moment. Increase the height and the output still more overturning force. I am wondering how they have addressed these points?

  • Don't have any more info no. I saw the same kind of thing in the media. 

    On the turbine side I'm not totally sure, but I am aware during my tenure at GE, that we did projects relating to the upgrade of 3Mw systems to 3.6Mw for example, and 3.6Mw to 4Mw.

    Suppose it depends if the turbine is gearbox driven or PMG, as with the latter wouldn't you be able to handle the higher rotating force and essentially draw this off as either dynamic braking (heat) or feed it into the grid 

  • Found some bits you may find interesting! 

    "Wind turbine power upgrades have recently become a debated topic in wind energy research. Their assessment poses some challenges and calls for devoted techniques: some reasons are the stochastic nature of the wind and the multivariate dependency of wind turbine power. In this work, two test cases were studied. The former is the yaw management optimization on a 2 MW wind turbine; the latter is a comprehensive control upgrade (pitch, yaw, and cut-out) for 850 kW wind turbines. The upgrade impact was estimated by analyzing the difference between the post-upgrade power and a data-driven simulation of the power if the upgrade did not take place. Therefore, a reliable model for the pre-upgrade power of the wind turbines of interest was needed and, in this work, a principal component regression was employed. The yaw control optimization was shown to provide a 1.3% of production improvement and the control re-powering provided 2.5%. Another qualifying point was that, for the 850 kW wind turbine re-powering, the data quality was sufficient for an upgrade estimate based on power curve analysis and a good agreement with the model result was obtained. Summarizing, evidence of the profitability of wind turbine power upgrades was collected and data-driven methods were elaborated for power upgrade assessment and, in general, for wind turbine performance control and monitoring."

    Wind Turbine Power Curve Upgrades: Part II.: Discovery service from the IET (

    "Wind turbine repowering involves replacing older units with new, higher capacity turbines or retrofitting them with more efficient components – in both cases, this significantly increases wind farm production and extends wind farm life. On average, wind turbines repowered by GE have seen a 20 percent increase in annual energy production and 1.5 percent availability improvement as compared to their pre-repower performance. Since 2017, we have completed more than 2,500 wind turbine repowering upgrades, covering 4 GWs of capacity at 40 different wind farms across the United States.

    Our RePower wind energy program can include increasing a turbine’s rotor size, and upgrades to the gearbox, hub, main shaft, and main bearing assembly. But wind turbine repowering is about more than just the upgrades: GE provides end-to-end solutions for our customers, from servicing and grid solutions to forecasting and tailored financing solutions."

    Upgrades Refurbishment | GE Renewable Energy


    The product consists of three distinct upgrades to each wind turbine on site:

    1. Turbine controller retrofit – retrofitting state of the art controllers onto existing operating models enables access to modern algorithms that can optimise turbine performance, reduce loads and enable advanced control and monitoring systems to be added.
    2. Wind Farm Control, Wake Steering – yawing the turbine deflects the wind flow and provides overall energy gain.
    3. Lidar Assisted Turbine Control (LAC) – Turbine-mounted Lidar can preview wind speeds and turbulence ahead of the turbine, providing optimised feedback that can ultimately reduce turbine loads. 


    RES, ZX Lidars and KK Wind Solutions develop product to upgrade performance of existing wind farms (

    Upgrades - Nordex SE (

  • Thank you for that information. It is interesting the improvements they can get by control and instrumentation changes.

    Unfortunately these is nothing regarding the financial aspects, but I would guess that life extension is a better option that full replacement. The existing grid connection infrastructure can also be retained.

  • Indeed, and to be honest it works well with the maintenance schedule, I recall the DC Link capacitors have a useful life of 15-20 years so having the ability to upgrade the system allows the existing tech to be taken out, refurbished with new capacitors, switchgear etc, and shuffled on. 

    Consider it this way, if you can take a 750kw turbine and make it a 1Mw, take the kit that's in the 750 and use it to upgrade a 500Kw etc,. 

    It opens up a massive circular reusability option.

  • Most people believe that wind power generation is free but they forget that maintenance costs can be extremely expensive particularly at sea.  As Roger has said we need to do a cost analysis before  upgrading.

  • Clearly it's being done by other parties, so they're performing this already. 

    But in a high level, the cost of installing a new turbine from scratch is much more than removing the existing power electronics and fitting new inverters, motors etc.