More wind farms, or more reliable sources of renewables.

With the talk of easing planning for on-shore wind farms, and with “Greens” pushing for less reliance on fossil fuels or nuclear, even more emphasis is being placed on wind as a major source of energy.  A look at Gridwatch shows that there has been only minor contribution of wind to the UK Grid Demand since August 23rd.  Fortunately, at the moment demand is fairly low and solar has made a contribution during the day but that is not always the case.  Is it not time that much more investment is made into more reliable sources of renewables, we seem to be working ourselves into a corner?

  • Well offshore wind is now too expensive.

    Offshore wind auction fails to attract any bids - BBC News

    Maybe it was always more expensive and the low strike prices were politically driven. 

  • Wind is not reliable for our base load of 20GW.

    We still have nuclear power stations which can be rehabbed. 

    The original level of radiation was over specified and needs to be addressed quickly which will reduce the costs of using nuclear as a feasible alternative. 

  • The only thing that the pro nuclear and anti nuclear factions agree on is that the current LNT based regulations are wrong.

  • The price the government was offering was £44 per MWh.  Unless my maths is wrong, that's 4.4p per KWh.  Given that us consumers are currently paying about 33p per KWh, I hardly see how that's "too expensive".

    The government offered the generators a price that was too low for it to be economical at today's inflationary prices.  So nobody was interested.

  • I think this goes back to this post:

    The True Cost of Wind Power - Engineering Discussions - IET EngX - IET EngX (

    On a purely economic basis wind costs more than nuclear although the numbers have been being fudged for political reasons for a while.

    I will quote Andy Millar here:

    'The problem is that there are two different discussions going on here.

    If you're a climate change denier then it's purely a matter of cost.

    If you're not then it's an ALARP discussion - given the hazardous option of using fossil fuels the less hazardous alternatives should (in fact in UK law must) be used unless it is grossly disproportionate to do so. There's then the ongoing legal debate of what "grossly disproportionate" means, with figures of 10x cost to 100x cost being discussed (so if the higher end is taken, then if wind power cost 100x more but significantly reduced the CO2 emissions then it should be considered for implementation). Of course it's actually FAR more complicated than that, because if energy becomes more expensive there are other hazards introduced by that itself (energy poverty). But whether renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels is not the issue given an unnacceptable alternative. (But of course how to make them cheaper than they are is a useful discussion.)'

    ALARP is a fun and complicated discussion Upside down Angry Scream

  •  "ALARP" is short for "as low as reasonably practicable". which is of course undefinable.

    What we can do is to try to limit CO2 emissions by reducing fossil fuel use to a minimum not suddenly nothing.  Insulate housing and greening electric generation in most economical way to achieve this which means returning to nuclear at present. But to make it economical we need to revise the over regulation of nuclear furnaces.   After all,  there are still original residents living in Chernobyl in their over 80's. 

  • On a purely economic basis wind costs more than nuclear although the numbers have been being fudged for political reasons for a while.

    Hinkley Point C were offered £92.50 per MWh.  That's rather more than the £44 that the wind farm operators turned down.

    Renewables are now cheap.  The only reason we can't go 100% renewable is that we would need far more energy storage than we currently have.  And energy storage isn't cheap at the moment.

  • ‘Renewables are now cheap’

    They are not and probably never will be.


    I have previously looked at the viability of the Dogger Bank Wind Farm. This is all taken from the official Dogger Bank website:

    The project is designed in three similar phases but just looking at one phase:


    Installed capacity 1.2 GW

    Expected annual output 6 TWh

    Cost £3 Billion

    Strike price £40 per MWh.

    Expected Service life not mentioned.


    Nameplate output 1.2 x 8760 GWh per year =  10 512 GWh per year = 10.5 TWh per year.

    An expected annual output of 6 TWh gives a capacity factor of 57%. Is this realistic?


    What will they earn at the strike  price?

    6 TWh at £40 per MWh  = £240 Million per year.

    Straight payback of £3 Billion in 12.5 years.

    So with no costs for maintenance, no interest or dividends paid and a very optimistic capacity factor there is a 12.5 year payback on an asset with a 20-25 year lifespan (no one really knows). That is simply not a valid business model. A more realistic strike price is £80-100 per MWh which takes you into the NPP range.


    I believe wind started out with a strike price around £150 per MWh. They may have got it down to around £100 per MWh but I can’t find any figures that support a strike price of £ 44 per MWh.

    If nuclear can operate at a strike price of £92.50 per MWh and doesn’t need expensive storage I know what I would choose.

  • If offshore windfarm is too expensive what about inshore like the ones around Zaragosa in Spain?

  • it s not really too expensive or at least it depends how you count it- most folk are paying 20-30 p per KW hour at the moment for gas generated power ~That is £200-300 per megawatt hour, so suggesting less than 20% of that is generation cost and  80% is distribution costs, is probably not reasonable.


  • Do the wind turbines have battery storage?  If so it it large enough.  If not, why?

Reply Children
  • Do the wind turbines have battery storage?

    Some do.  Most don't.

    If so it it large enough.  If not, why?

    Mostly not.  Batteries are too expensive at the moment.  Cheaper ones are being developed.

  • Surely putting in a battery systems in wind turbines that are already established must be a lot cheaper than installing a new turbine and also it allows the energy to be stored thus giving a smoother power distribution to the grid.  It would also allow for starage of the power when there is less wind or no wind.  This means that less energy from wind generation is wasted.  This is akin to have Solar PV on a building with no battery knowing full well that the highest demand is in the evening from a EV. 

  • I think you underestimate the size weight and cost of a battery that can store the output of a decent sized wind farm for any reasonable no of hours, say a day...

    You need perhaps a few gigawatt hours of capacity to be useful, and this relatively little installation (50Mwatt hours) near Oxford needed about 60 shipping container sized  boxes full of battery and associated control electronics.

    Project cost about £40 million, not sure how that scales as there were other things like transmission network upgrades in that cost as well. However to assume giga pounds per giga watt hour is probably not utterly unreasonable.

    'pylon legs for scale'. Not sure how easy it would be to put many of these out to sea with the turbines, or on the land where the cables come ashore.

    (formal report with more data here  from page 94 onward. Includes models  of battery voltages (P104) life against various use cases.-P100, )


  • There's no particular reason why the battery needs to be in the turbine.  Or even very near to it.  The whole lot is connected to the grid, after all.  So building a big battery bank near the substation where the wind turbines connect to the grid would work fine.

    It would need a lot of batteries to do any good.  Maybe 10's of MWh per wind turbine.  That's 4 orders of magnitude bigger than the battery sitting in my loft.  It may turn out that one way to dump excess electricity is to make hydrogen, or some other fuel, that you can burn later.

    The economics of wind power are such that you have to massively over-build.  Because it's not windy everywhere all the time.  But wind turbines are now cheap, so that's the way you do it.

  • So building a big battery bank near the substation where the wind turbines connect to the grid would work fine.

    With battery stations connected to the grid the viability of wind power is greatlty enhanced.  I assume this would also apply to solar PV.

    Hopefully we will start to see these appearing across the UK very soon.  With some careful planning this could also help with bottlenecked 400kv HV lines like from Scotland to England

  • Already happening, eg:-

  • Thank you Roger for the links