Latest evidence, windpower won’t work – Rafe

Long-term trend of wind production

Paul McArdle is a long-term wind-watcher and net-zero supporter. He puts on the best spin that he can manage but the data are devastating.


Look at the blue bars at the bottom of the chart. That is the wind supply during wind droughts across the whole of SE Australia when high pressure systems hang around. THAT IS WHY WIND AND SOLAR ARE UNSUSTAINABLE POWER SOURCES.

Not surprisingly, as we build more windmills, the peak of generation rises, as does the average. But what about the output when there is a severe and widespread wind drought? You can see the blue blocks at the bottom of the page that are stuck at the “next to nothing” level.

What is going to change if we double the number of windmills (if you can imagine that) or go further and build 5x or 10x. Still five or ten times next to nothing.

BTW my comment on that post, pointing out the bleeding obvious, was deleted.

The thing is that wind and solar can DISPLACE coal but they can’t REPLACE it.

Of course RE enthusiasts point to the increasing (average) penetration of wind and solar power and the peak of production on sunny and windy Sundays that you can see with the widget. But be sure to check at sunrise and sunset when the sun is off duty, producing little or nothing from late in the afternoon to mid morning, depending on the season.

The rate of exit from coal is not accelerated by increasing penetration on good days, it is limited by the lowest level of output on nights with little or no wind, as a convoy travels at the speed of the slowest vessel, the water penetrates the levee at the lowest point, a chain is only as strong as the weakest link and stock get out of the yard through gaps even if the rest of the fence is built to the sky.

As long as periods with effectively zero solar and wind power persist, 100% backup from conventional power will still be required, assuming that we want security of supply. This means that we will have to keep burning coal until nuclear power is on deck.

This is the latest on The Spectator, on planning for failure of the power supply and in case it is paywall protected.


12 responses to “Latest evidence, windpower won’t work – Rafe”

  1. NFA Avatar

    Wind proponents are blowing their wind up the arces of politicians.

  2. Tom Avatar

    Latest evidence, windpower won’t work

    Wind power is a tried and tested 17th century technology that can provide intermittent energy to farmers for useful tasks like pumping water for livestock.

    It is useless for tasks like supplying reliable energy to a 24-hour-a-day electricity grid.

    There are no longer electrical engineers involved in the planning of Australia’s electricity grid.

    That’s because it has been designed by hippies to destroy industrial civilisation’s reliable electricity supply so that we can return to the primitive hand-to-mouth subsistence we had before the Industrial Revolution.

  3. Damon Avatar

    Don’t worry. the aborigines will be there to provide cultural support during the transition.

  4. Rafe Champion Avatar

    Thanks Tom, wind works as you say when the continuity of supply is not an issue and in the case of pumping water there is enough storage to handle spells with little or no wind.

  5. Damon Avatar

    There will be a huge market for home generators, because the kids won’t live without their mobiles. And Greta showed what unhappy kids can do.

  6. TonyfromOz Avatar

    For (just one week short of) five years now I have been taking and recording the daily data for wind generation.
    The total Nameplate for wind generation has increased across those five years from 5301MW (as at 1Oct2018) to the current total of 10,277MW, an increase of 4976MW, so, in fact wind generation has almost doubled in that time.
    I only started doing it because it was mentioned to me that the Capacity Factor (CF) figure I used back then of 30% was (one person even mentioned ‘wildly’) wrong.
    At the end of the first year, The CF came in at ….. umm, 30%.
    Now, here we are, after five full years of collecting that data on a daily basis.
    There are two CF percentages, one of them the total long term percentage (the full five years) and the second percentage for the most recent twelve Month year.
    Okay, so after that full five years now, the longer term percentage is ….. 30.37%, and the most recent one year percentage is ….. 29.92%.
    The variation across those five years shows wind generation CF got to a high almost to 32%, and a low of just a tick higher than 28%, but it has been almost right on that 30% figure for most of those five years.
    That gap between the five year figure and most recent one year figure is significant, because those who favour wind power keep telling us that as newer plants come on line, then that CF percentage will rise, and nearly all of them say rise ….. significantly. (all but mathematically impossible, but no one believes Maths any more)
    That, in fact is just NOT happening, as you can see that the recent figure is all but half a percent LOWER.
    I seriously think that now, after five full years, I just might have proved my point.

  7. mem Avatar

    Can anyone explain the pro’s and cons of this latest proposal for a big battery in Tasmania.

  8. mem Avatar

    Sep 17, 2023 10:22 AM
    Tony could you explain why the capacity factor remains at 30% despite the doubling of MGW over the five year period? I want to be able to describe this “phenomenon” in simple language at my next family dinner party with aplomb, and wait for the exploding heads. Perhaps your finding is worthy of the assignation of “Tony’s Law”. Not joking. It has the potential to save millions of dollars of investment in unnecessary wind power investment and infrastructure.

  9. Rafe Champion Avatar

    Mem, think of the CF like the speed your car is travelling.
    Say it has a fixed top speed of 100km/h
    When it is stationary (like no wind is blowing) the CF is 0%.
    When it is travelling at full speed (the turbines are delivering as much as they can, that is their rated or plated or installed capacity) the CF is 100.
    In between the CF depends on how fast you are driving at the time. For windmills it depend on the velocity of the wind at the time.
    We are fortunate that AEMO has a record of the power that each wind facility is delivering at 5 minute intervals, that is, practically a continuous record.
    That gives you the CF at the time.
    For the average you have to do some arithmetic based on the total MWh generated over the period of interest, as Tony has done, for the year or from the beginning of the life of the facility, whatever

    You can look at the whole NEM, the states and even individual facilities.

    The car analogy may not speak directly to your question, why does the average CF stay the same, I suppose you can say that the cruising speed of your car under normal conditions stays much the same even though you dont travel at that speed all the time.

    I hope Anton can do better than that:)

    Another try: the CF depends on the wind velocity and the efficiency of the windmills which may change very slightly if they improve the design but in any case it is not affected by the number of windmills .

    If that is not clear, ask again, it is important to be able to explain these matters with aplomb as you say:)

    The really important thing to explain is the wind droughts when the CF is down as alow as 1 or 2% for short periods and under 10% for periods up to four days occasionally.

  10. Rohan Avatar

    mem, the capacity factor hasn’t changed with the near doubling of capacity, because the wind is the governing factor. Wind droughts or high wind means the turbines aren’t turning, hence zero power.

  11. Kingsley Avatar

    I think the other thing keeping the renewables mirage alive is that the general populace at this point, doesn’t realise how utterly pathetic the performance of big batteries are relative to their cost. The cost of batteries to get us through a 5 day wind drought would bankrupt the country a couple of times over.

  12. Kingsley Avatar

    And the other problem is there is a view within the general populace of science= magic and scientists = wizards. Meaning they will say something to the effect of “they’ll work it out, how to fix that” the “they” being scientists and engineers. There is a near complete failure to understand that even scientists have to operate within the laws of physics.

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