The requirement for an accurate analysis to resolve the degree of carbon dioxide emissions for 'with' and 'without' wind-turbines in the mix of generation for the UK National Grid is unquestionable.
It is an urgent requirement that such a study be carried out, and very soon.
What is apparent is:
The National Grid's statement that an ever increasing wind-turbine proportion of power generation in the energy production mix results in lower CO2 emissions is niave, misleading and untrue.
Professor Gordon Hughes' view of operating reserves, as both spinning reserves and standby reserves for the UK and its impact on carbon emissions is also too simplistic.
I headed the Technical and Economics Section for specification and budgetary setting for frequency response and reserve services for Ancillary Services, National Grid, from 1989 to 1999 and then as a Technical Consultant from 1999 to 2001. This work involved the accurate analysis of the costs of energy mixes and reserve costs.
What is true is that Professor Hughes' conclusion is more accurate than the recent simplistic statement from a lady in National Grid. She is either biased towards wind-turbine developments and their application, or is too inexperienced to know the full facts of the following:
1. Carbon footprint (the double capacity factors of power plant build and additional transmission connections, energy losses for the very remote connections to wind farms).
2. The reserve implications of part-loading, the increased start-ups, increased operational losses, higher inefficiencies for generation plants due to enforced higher frequency of part-loading.
The only way of analysing these accurately is to compare studies for operating 'with' and 'without' wind-turbines on the National UK Power System for an entire year and then show the effect of increasing levels of wind turbines in the energy production mix.
Such a rigorous study would require many hours of scenario analyses.
An accurate study would demonstrate that as the levels of wind-turbines increase in the energy mix, a point will be reached when adding more wind-turbines will not provide any carbon emission savings. I believe this point would be reached before the 20% target of renewables is reached in the UK overall energy requirements. Such a result would be very damaging to the strategies which the DECC politicians both past (Ed Milliband and Geoff Huhne) and present (Ed Davey) have followed.
It means that the UK is on a strategy path giving an escalating cost for each kg of savings of carbon dioxide emissions. The cost will continue to escalate unless or until the strategy is altered. This means a point will be reached when any further additions of wind-turbines in the energy mix will result in no carbon dioxide emissions savings, and eventually, furthur wind turbines will cause an overall carbon dioxide increase.
Such an accurate study should be performed as soon as possible. It would be very damaging to the UK's economy to continue building more wind-turbines in the knowledge that NO carbon dioxide emission savings can result.
George Wood, ex - Grid Operator and Manager responsible for all the start-up analyses for generating plant interactions on the UK Power System for frequency response and reserve activities.