Windy isn’t it?

2009-09-09

Damn hippies think we can just sprinkle a few wind mills around, and because Europe has “huge wind resources” we’ll be okay.

This silly web article claims that europe’s wind energy potential is “huge”, and “equivalent to almost 20 times energy demand in 2020″.

O RLY?

YA RLY, according to the European Environment Agency’s report, Europe’s onshore and offshore wind energy potential.

O RLY?

YA RLY: It’s hard to miss this sentence from the executive summary: “Europe’s raw wind energy potential is huge. … it may be equivalent to almost 20 times energy demand in 2020″.

“energy demand”, that’s the problem. Their assumed energy demand is between 3537 TWh and 4078 TWh. (By the way, notice that the EEA cover their backs with a “may” when they use the lower demand figure to get the “20 times” headline-grabbing numbers, but the web article referencing somehow manages to drop the “may”). So, Europe has 271e6 people (according to Google); that’s 15.3 kWh per person per day. Oops. They must have meant…

Electricity demand.

Twats.

The electricity demand, in Europe, in nothing like our energy demand. In the UK we travel around by burning oil, and we heat our houses and food by burning gas. That hugely swamps our electricity usage.

Energy and Electricity are not the same thing.

Double twats for the people who ignorantly repeated them. Of course the European Environment Agency know the difference. There are two occurrences of the phrase “energy demand” in the document; 7 occurrences of “electricity demand”. Both the “energy demand” phrases related to the “20 times” sentence. One is in it, the other is in the footnote of the table of data on the same page as the “20 times” sentence. Before I did the textual analysis (by which I mean I used the PDF search feature; it’s abysmal, but it’s what I have available) I put the use of “energy demand” down to sloppy practice. Now I think it’s mischievously deliberate. I think they used “energy demand” in that “20 times” sentence in the executive summary because they knew people would make a headline of it.

I have to say that apart from this headline grabbing glitch, the report is well worth reading. Map 6.1 is particularly interesting (apologies for the pixelly rendering, partly their fault, partly mine, but mostly the fault of STOOPID PDFs):
Cost of wind in europe

Basically the British Isles is the only place in Europe (not quite, but nearly so) with cheap on-shore wind. And we’re full of NIMBYs.

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6 Responses to “Windy isn’t it?”

  1. Nick Barnes Says:

    Hey, 5 and 6 Euro-cents per kWh is still pretty cheap.

  2. Clive Says:

    I thought the problem in the UK was the extreme variability of the wind power available? Unless the National Grid gets some big, big batteries (I like the thing they do in Snowdonia: use surplus electricity to pump water up the hill then let it fall back through a hydro-electric generator on demand) we need to retain alternative generating capacity for times when we’re becalmed.

    I got the impression that off-shore windfarms (as well as not being in anyone’s back yard) got more constant wind?

    A couple of weeks ago, I spent the week in Switzerland, and curiously minded their wind farms a lot less than French, Dutch and British ones. I’m not quite sure why: I think it’s something about the placement of the turbines that makes them feel a little more organic and less at odds with their surroundings. I still didn’t like them, but I would probably cope. Unlike with the butt-ugly British windfarms.

  3. Gareth Rees Says:

    Yes, the more wind power we use, the more storage we need to smooth the variations in supply. David MacKay’s chapter 26 analyzes the problem and proposes some solutions.

    • drj11 Says:

      “ten Dinorwigs” if I remember rightly. There’s loads of places in Scotland.

      • Gareth Rees Says:

        Scotland is not without its own NIMBYs. The two big Welsh pump-storage schemes, Dinorwig and Tanygrisiau, occupy landscapes long since damaged by industry, but in the Scottish Highlands new schemes will be rather more intrusive.

  4. Ian J Says:

    Not so much NIMBY’s, more like BANANA’s

    Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody.


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