Subsidies Beget Subsidies

So after spending billions to subsidize the construction and operation of wind farms, Britain has discovered that their output variability is a problem and that they produce too much of their power at night (issues many of us predicted long before they were built).  So now England is facing the policy choice of either a) paying wind farm owners to NOT product power or b) paying factory owners to switch their operations to night time.  Seriously.  For most areas, wind is among the worst possible electricity source.

  • FelineCannonball

    The pacific northwest gets this problem from wind and hydro every spring. Small producers have to pay to put their electricity on the grid or pay the larger costs associated with putting turbines in and out of service. The main problem there was the loss of aluminum smelters capable of taking up the slack when BPA got into Enron style energy trading and paid them not to work (they went to Iceland), but new wind didn't help and server farms aren't a solution for peak oscillations unless they send out targeted text messages "stream porn now."

    No electricity is bad, but the market has to match the supply. Smart meters are potentially part of the solution allowing individuals and businesses to take advantage of variable pricing. Utilities can get paid instead of paying out. Britain has particular problems with a small grid and a variable climate with strong seasonal and daily wind shifts. They are getting hammered with wind right now.

  • curmudgeon

    Some pumped storage power systems would help but there is no subsidy for these hence no incentive for the PV or big fan people to install them. That is left to the
    utililties to build and they will not want to pay premo prices to the PV/big fan people to pump water uphill and resell it for usual utility scale prices later.

  • kidmugsy

    I can remember only once turning down a consulting job as a matter of principle - it was on wind turbines, an idea so preposterous that one has to assume that it's not just stupidity; there's been massive corruption involved.

  • markm

    Apparently the very concept of varying the electric rates to encourage customers to shift usage to night time is incomprehensible to formerly-Great Britain's central planner. Not that this will be sufficient to match consumption to production that is not available every night - but neither will paying a factory to change shifts match consumption to variable winds.