Summary and Conclusions
2021 was a poor year for Wind power generation, the calm Weather extended widely across Europe. As Wind power is entirely dependent on the vagaries of the Weather. It can be expected that the poor Wind power performance of 2021 will be repeated in future years.
For some 80 days in the year Wind power production across the whole DE UK FR area fell below a quarter of its nominal nameplate output.
The idea that “the wind is always blowing somewhere” is false.
The low Wind power output extended for most of the days in a whole month, for example in July and September 2021. On other more distributed occasions low Wind power output frequently persisted for several days or for as long as a week.
Viewed overall the whole year of 2021 Wind power productivity / capacity percentage was reduced from a combined Onshore / Offshore norm of ~27% down to ~20%.
But this reduction in overall annual performance in no way accounts for the obligations of Grid management for the provision of a consistent service, which has to accommodate these precipitous changes in Weather-Dependent power output. With periods high winds, Wind power also has to be curtailed either for reasons of safety or because its wasteful over-production can damage the Grid.
The persistent periods of low Wind power generation might be ameliorated by the use of Grid scale batteries but only for short periods, (a few hours rather than days), and then only at absolutely prohibitive cost.
It has even been estimated that the stored energy required to power just the UK for a week would be equivalent to the energy output of 1200 Hiroshimas.
So, any further growth to Wind power installations can never overcome their poor performance arising from the unpredictable vagaries of the Weather. Any increase of Wind power installations can only exacerbate the difficulties that the inherent unreliable variability of Wind power imposes on the provision a consistent service for any power Grid.
And, as far as their Energy Return on Energy Invested Wind and Solar power technologies are parasitic on the other technologies for power generation.
A quarter of UK electricity bills for both domestic and commercial users are already devoted to subsidies for the Wind and Solar power industries. Power costs in Germany and Denmark are now the highest in the World. As these subsidised”Renewable” industries provide an unreliable and costly service that imposition on utility bills should be terminated. All Weather-Dependent generators should:
- compete on an un-subsidised level playing field with other consistently productive power generation technologies
- be responsible for all the ancillary costs they impose on the management of the Grid.
- be responsible for the support of back-up dispatchable power essential when Weather-Dependent generation falls short.
This post examines the Wind power performance based on hourly generation data in three major European nations over the year 2021:
- Germany installed Weather-Dependent generation ~122GW
- the United Kingdom installed Weather-Dependent generation ~38GW
- France installed Weather-Dependent generation ~33 GW.
In the context of the EU(27)+UK, together in 2021 these three nations represented:
- Weather-Dependent Generation ~50%
- Installed Onshore Wind Power ~50%
- Installed Offshore Wind Power ~50%
- Installed Solar PV Power ~70%
- Land area ~26%
- Population ~42%.
- Land extent covering ~2000 kilometres: North – South : 1500 kilometres: East – West or ~3 million square kilometres land and sea.
Accordingly, together these 3 Nations are reasonably representative of the Europe-wide commitment to Weather-Dependent generation. 2021 was a poor year for Wind power and those effects can be presumed to roughly equivalent across the rest of the whole European (27)+UK Region. This analysis is based on the assembly of hourly generation data by
Germany United Kingdom France combined generation
This analysis uses Weather-Dependent installations as in 2021, and their recorded hourly outputs in 2021.
This analysis has used hourly generation data for the whole year of 2021 as its foundation. The combined hourly profile for the year is shown below.
Over 40% of DE UK FR power is provided by Nuclear power primarily from France with more than 10% of French power output being sold to support power grids in other European Nations, notably in the UK and Germany. About a third of generation still produces CO2 emissions, but particularly in the UK these have been significantly reduced by the use of Natural gas as opposed to Coal, (as in the USA). Germany is still very dependent on Coal and Lignite for power generation with high CO2 emissions. Hydro electricity produced ~6% of power supplied, these installations are largely located in France.
In the low productivity year of 2021 the DE UK FR combined achieved productivity / capacity measures were as follows:
In 2021, Onshore Wind power generation resulted in a combined productivity / capacity percentage of only ~20% and Offshore wind power had a productivity of ~31% as opposed to the previous 2020 year when Onshore Wind power achieved . Onshore Wind can normally achieve in excess of 25% and Offshore wind may on occasions reach 40%. Solar power productivity in the three Nations DE UK FR only ever marginally exceeds 10%.
In 2021 the installed 193GW of Weather-Dependent generators, (Wind and Solar) produced the equivalent of ~20 GW conventional generation at an overall productivity / capacity percentage of ~17.5%, ie less than 1/6 effectiveness.
The 90% – 9/10 value for Conventional generation assumes these technologies are used at their full potential, only accounting for maintenance. Thus 90% productivity is a reasonable assessment when their contribution is unencumbered by the political decisions to give preferential access to Weather-Dependent generation, whenever that might be available.
The three nations considered here have very different power generation profiles that are set out below.
Germany Wind Power performance
The graphic below shows the German Wind power performance in 2021. It clearly shows the significant and quite sudden intermittent power variability that results from depending on the wind as a reliable means of power generation as well as the radically poor performance of Wind power throughout the summer of 2021.
The more detailed graphics below based on hourly generation data clearly shows the problems of accommodating such an unreliable and variable power source into the working of power grid where consistent supply is essential for the service it supplies to the Nation.
June, July, and September showed month long poor Wind power performance. In addition January, March, April, May, October and December all showed periods of low Wind power extending for up to a week or more at a time.
Germany power Generation
The hourly results for all generation in Germany are shown below:
In spite of several plant closures due to its “Green” policy, Germany still retains a 12% contribution from its Nuclear power: it appears that their continued planned total closure in 2022, (as an irrational policy reaction to the 2011 Fukushima Nuclear disaster), may have been averted as a result of current geopolitical events. Germany as a result of earlier “Green” policies relies on imports for ~13% of its power, mainly in the form of Nuclear power from France and the Czech republic.
About 44% of German power generation still produces significant CO2 emissions, including substantial use of locally sourced Coal 9%, Lignite 18%, and significant imports of high CO2 emitting Biomass 7%. In spite of its long-term Energiewende policy, at 7.4 tonnes/head in 2021, post Covid, Germany still has the highest CO2 emissions/ head in Europe. About 10% of German generation is from Natural gas, previously this was intended to be imported from Russia. This Gas import policy now presents a massive geopolitical problem as Russia has the ability to terminate Gas supply to Germany as well as the rest of Europe at will.
In addition Germany has relatively a minor contribution, (2.4%) from Hydro power.
The massive efforts of the German die Energiewende policy since 2010, in 2021 have resulted in ~29% of its power being derived from Wind and Solar power, (as opposed to the 22.6% contribution in the UK).
German Weather-Dependent generation, Wind and Solar power, produced the equivalent of ~29GW from an installed base of 110GW, with a ~20% of the contribution being from Offshore installations. The CO2 emissions from German use of fossil fuels and particularly biomass effectively negates all/any German CO2 emissions savings that may have been achieved by its other Energiewende Wind and Solar installations.
UNITED KINGDOM 2021
UK Wind Power performance
The graphic below shows the UK Wind power performance in 2021. It may underemphasise the contribution for Offshore as opposed to Onshore wind. It clearly shows the significant and quite sudden intermittent power variability that results from depending on the wind as a reliable means of power generation.
However the more detailed graphics below based on hourly generation data clearly shows the problems of accommodating such an unreliable and variable power source into the working of power grid, where consistent supply is essential to provide this essential service for a developed economy. April, May, July and September showed particularly poor Wind power performance. In addition February, March, June and December all showed periods of low Wind power extending for up to a week or more at a time.
UK power Generation
The hourly results for all generation in the UK are shown below:
The United Kingdom still retains about a 17% contribution from indigenous Nuclear power, although several of these plants are due to retire shortly. However, quite soon UK Nuclear power should be substantially increased when Hinkley point comes on line, due in 2026. Belatedly the idea on small modular reactors SMRs is now being pursued.
Nonetheless the UK relies on imports of power for ~9% of its power, mainly as exports from France and the Netherlands: this will become problematic were disputes with France to escalate or France was not able to fulfil its domestic demand.
Virtually half of UK generators still produce CO2 emissions, including a substantial conversion of Coal firing to imported Biomass for 6% of UK generation. On the other hand, the bulk, 85% of that UK CO2 emitting power generation is from Natural Gas arsing from the UK “Dash for Gas” policy instigated in the 1990s. The replacement of Coal generation with Gas-firing has substantially reduced UK CO2 emissions since 1990 and the UK CO2 at 4.5 tonnes/head UK CO2 emissions are close to the Global average, post Covid. Much of UK’s gas is now imported, in some the part from Russia: unfortunately none of the UK gas is derived from locally fracked gas, although that position may be changing. The UK also has very substantial reserves of Coal available.
Weather-Dependent generation, Wind and Solar power, produced the equivalent of ~5.6GW from an installed base of 38GW with a significant, (almost 50%), contribution from UK Offshore installations. However the “Green” policy decision was made to use high CO2 emission imported biomass, (CO2 emissions ~3.7 times greater than from Gas-firing), providing, ~6% of UK power at the Drax power site, in preference to using the Coal immediately available within the Drax area. The “Green” decision to use Biomass has in effect negated all/any UK CO2 emissions savings that may have been achieved by the other UK “Renewables” installations.
France Wind Power performance
The graphic below shows the French Wind power performance over the whole of 2021. It clearly shows the significant and quite sudden intermittent power variability that results from depending on the wind as a reliable means of power generation as well as the radically poor performance throughout the summer of 2021.However the more detailed graphics below based on hourly generation data clearly shows the problems of accommodating such an unreliable and variable power source into the working of power grid where consistent supply is essential for the service it supplies to the Nation.
June, August and September showed month long poor Wind power performance. In addition January, February, March, April, May, July, October and December all showed periods of low Wind power extending for up to a week or more at a time.
France power Generation
The hourly results for all generation in France are shown below.
Since a decision during the “Oil Shock” of the 1950s, France has based its main power generation on Nuclear energy. In 2021 although these plants are ageing and some are temporarily out of service, in 2021 Nuclear power still accounted for 74% of French generation. About 10% of the French Nuclear output was sold overseas to neighbouring countries, particularly to support the grids in the UK and Germany. Rather than reducing its Nuclear installations, French energy policy has changed and now supports the continued development of its Nuclear fleet.
At 3.58 tonnes / head, (15% below the global average of 4.14 tonnes/head), France has the lowest CO2 emissions / head of any developed Nation and the lowest power prices in Europe.
In spite of its low CO2 emissions achievement, France has installed a significant amount of Weather-Dependent generation as Onshore Wind power and Solar Energy. Only ~8% of French generators produce CO2 emissions, largely from the use of Natural Gas.
Much of France’s gas is imported and very little derived locally. France does have frackable gas reserves but these are unexploited by policy so far: that position may change. In addition to its large Nuclear output France also has significant Hydro power generation at ~10% of its total output.
France has installed ~33GW of Weather-Dependent generation, Onshore Wind 18.5GW and 14.7GW Solar power producing ~6GW at capacity factors of ~22% and ~11% respectively. of 24% and 12% respectively. France has no significant installations of Offshore Wind.
Combined UNITED KINGDOM FRANCE GERMANY
It should have been expected when combining Wind output over a very wide area that the saying that “the wind is always blowing somewhere” would apply. The combined data assembled here for 2021 shows that this axiom does not apply.
July and September showed month long poor Wind power performance. In addition, January, March, April, May, August, October, November and even December all showed wind failures across the whole area of up to a week or several days.
The scale of divergences from anticipated productivity norms across the summer months of 2021 can be seen below.
Solar PV Power
2021 was a normal year for Solar power production. The combined 90GW fleet of DE UK FR solar power output ~8GW in 2021 had a productivity / capacity level of ~11%. The graphic below shows the variability that can occur over the year and intermittently on a day to day basis according to the cloudiness of the weather.
January and July hourly data show both the steep diurnal variation and the comparison winter / summer power outputs achieved across Europe(28) in 2021.
Summer output is normally about 7 times greater than in Winter. Solar power falls off in the evenings, the times of peak power demand. So, Solar power fails to match the pattern of demand both on a daily or on a long-term seasonal basis Winter demand for power is much higher than in Summer.
Realistic costing of Weather-Dependent power production
The long-term record of productivity / capacity percentage performance of European Weather – Dependent generation is shown below.
It is only when the measured productivity / capacity percentage of Weather-Dependent generators is combined with their basic comparative capital and long-term costs, (as provided by the US EIA), that a true comparative value of their power contribution to their National power output to the Grid becomes evident on the basis of a level playing field. These trivial comparisons do not account for the additional costs and management difficulties incurred by the Grid to accommodate the chaotic variability and intermittency of Weather-Dependent generation.
When compared with conventional generation technologies, the actual power output on an annual basis provided by Weather-Dependent generators is seen to be very expensive.
So, any assertion that Wind and Solar power now reach true cost parity with conventional power generation is patently false.
As Professor David Mackay FRS, (eminent Cambridge physicist and former chief scientific officer at the UK Department of Energy), said in an interview just before his untimely death in 2016, that the promotion of
“Renewable Energy” was driven by an “appalling delusion”.
The delusion is perpetrated by people who have no understanding of the mathematics, engineering and practicalities of Energy technologies.
Would anyone ever buy a car that only works one day in five, when you never know which day that might be ? And then try to use its technology to power the whole economy.
GREEN THINKING: Geopolitical considerations
Subsequent to the outbreak of war and Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, it has become clear that the whole of “Green / Net Zero Thinking” is the successful outcome of a long-term fifth column operation supported by Russia and probably China over the last several years.
These undermining processes, aimed at damaging Western economies were fully recognised as a threat to the West by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen as long ago as 2014. An excellent way to damage Western economies has been to render their power generation unreliable and expensive. Europe and particularly Germany, is now wholly energy dependent on an antagonistic supplier.
This has led to the incautious dependency of Germany and other European Nations on Russian energy supplies. Those energy sales are now funding Russia’s incursion into the Ukraine and enable the threats to other Nations in Western Europe.
This successful “Green / Net Zero Thinking” fifth column operation promoted the damaging activities of Putin’s “useful idiots”, (Lenin’s term), in “environmental” Non-Government Organisations and Western academia: these nominally “virtuous”, well meaning but damaging beliefs have been spread throughout Governments in the Western world.
The objectives of Green Thinking have been imposed by Western Governments but with no popular mandate. The ambitions of the vastly greater populations of the Developing World will be continue to improve their well-being, using their fossil fuel resources to achieve that. Western actions alone to control their own limited CO2 emissions, without full Global participation, could never have any significant influence over World Climate and could never save the World from “Man-made Climate Change”, even if it needed saving.
But Western Green Thinking and Net Zero Climate policies have already done massive, fruitless self-harm to Western economies and Western populations.
All the assertions of Global existential Climate Catastrophe are questionable:
- there has been no global temperature increase over the past 20 years
- as result of the logarithmic diminution of the warming capability of CO2 any increase in its concentration beyond the current 410ppm can only give very marginal temperature effects in future.
It is therefore rational to ignore the propaganda of Green thinking and Net Zero which is so damaging to the Western world.
This view can only be considered as being the very best of news.
- for the UK 5 minute intervals
- for France 15 minute intervals