Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Climate Change in Ireland - The Inconvenient Facts

I've started a new You Tube channel today titled "Coming Up For Air", and the first video is a neat summary of the various points made about climate change on this blog over the years :






Monday, 5 June 2017

North South Interconnector - Worth the Money ?

Aside from the renewables aspect, the main justification for the North South interconnector is a deficit of reliable electricity generation in Northern Ireland.


Today, following the closure of old plant in the North, it is the South which is exporting its surplus electricity northwards - John Fitzgerald, economist.


Despite the signing of a local reserve services contract in 2015, the construction of the second North South Interconnector is the optimum solution available to alleviate this security of supply risk and allow the surplus of generation capacity which exists in Ireland to be counted towards security of supply in Northern Ireland - Eirgrid 2015.

Eirgrid now acknowledge that the commissioning of a new plant in Northern Ireland would help solve this problem :

In Northern Ireland, emissions legislation is causing a significant amount of plant to be restricted in its running hours, or to be decommissioned. This will lead to a deficit of supply. This situation would be alleviated by the second North-South Interconnector in 2021, or by the commissioning of new plant.

The assumption that South Ireland will have surplus generation to export to the North is now questionable due to new capacity market rules:

While we have reported a large surplus of plant in previous GCS reports, we now envisage that this surplus will be reduced if it is not required by the new Capacity Market. This is because the Capacity Market will only pay for enough generating units to meet the capacity requirement - Eirgrid 2017.

Interconnectors are fraught with all sorts of engineering and system problems. The interconnector from Northern Ireland to Scotland has suffered numerous faults and England no longer has enough surplus electricity to export to South Ireland through the undersea cable between the two countries (EWIC).  

The East-West interconnector (EWIC) connects the transmission systems of Ireland and Wales with a capacity of 500 MW in either direction. However, it is difficult to predict whether or not imports for the full 500 MW will be available at all times. Informed by the proposed I-SEM Capacity Market decision, we assume a 50% derating factor, i.e. 250 MW.

For the purposes of adequacy studies, we treat the Moyle interconnector similarly to EWIC, i.e. with a suitable capacity reliance (50% of 450 MW which gives 225 MW) to account for the uncertain availability of generation in Great Britain.

So assuming that the interconnector actually works for most of the time (granted this is less of a problem with overground land cables than it is with those placed under the sea), what happens if the exporting market does not have sufficient generation to export electricity through it ? Given the new capacity market rules and the planned data centres which will drive demand for electricity upwards in South Ireland, a new power station in Belfast would probably be the least costly and most secure solution to Northern Ireland's problems. 

Furthermore, if the new All Island capacity market will pay for surplus generation in the South to export to the North, then why not just allow the capacity market to pay for that generating plant in the North and save money on a completely new grid ?

Friday, 19 May 2017

Does Wind Energy Provide A Good Return on Investment for the Consumer ?

by Owen Martin

When we spend money to have our electricity generated by wind, how much are we saving on not having to import fossil fuels ? One might expect that € 1.00 spent on wind is € 1.00 less that has to be spent on fossil fuels. 

In 2015, wind energy received € 426 million in energy payments. Energy payments are what generators receive daily in the electricity market and are normally set by the price of gas. On top of this, wind receives a subsidy from the PSO Levy. For 2015, this amounted to about     € 85 million. Wind also receives 7% of its revenue in capacity payments so about € 35 million and 5% of wind energy has to be shut down for security reasons for which they receive about € 20 million in curtailment payments.  

 That's a total of € 566 million in direct payments to wind generators. 

According to the SEAI, wind energy displaced € 233 million in fossil fuels for 2015. That means that we have to spend € 1.00 on wind energy to replace 40 cents worth of fossil fuels. If we include the increased grid and system costs to accommodate all this wind, then of course the savings are even less than that. 

It's not the best value for money for the consumer but for greens value for money is not a priority and for the wind companies of course it provides a great return to shareholders.



REFERENCES

1) SEMO total energy payments for 2015 equals € 1.8bn

http://www.sem-o.com/pages/MDB_ValueOfMarket.aspx

Wind provided 23% of electricity according to SEAI, this means wind received € 426 in energy payments.

http://www.seai.ie/Publications/Statistics_Publications/Energy_in_Ireland/Energy-in-Ireland-1990-2015.pdf

2)  PSO Levy for 2015 :

https://www.cer.ie/docs/000967/CER14361%20PSO%20Levy%20Decision%20Paper%20%202014-15%20(New).pdf

Assumed that wind made up 90% of PSO payments to renewables.


3)  "Capacity payments accounted for between 7% (for wind) and 30% (for peaking plants) of generators’ revenue in 2013".

http://ireland2050.ie/questions/what-are-capacity-payments/

426m + 85m = 511 / 93% = 549m  * 7% = 38m

4)  "In Ireland, the dispatch-down energy from wind resources was 348 GWh: this is equivalent to 5.1% of the total available wind energy". 

http://www.eirgridgroup.com/site-files/library/EirGrid/Annual-Renewable-Constraint-and-Curtailment-Report-2015-v1.0.pdf

Based on what wind received in energy payments ( €426m / 6823GW = € 62.40 MW/hr) they received roughly € 21m in curtailment payments ( 348GW * €62.40)



Thursday, 18 May 2017

Trump's Intel Leak to Russians - Fake News ?

If President Trump leaked classified information to the Russians then that Intel must be something that was not already in the public domain. Otherwise, if it was, then it's a fake news story.

The intelligence related to an ISIS terror plot to hide bombs on laptops on board airplanes. This plot was reported by the media back in March :




According to another news outlet at the time, the source of the Intel was the US raid in Yemen :
CNN, citing an unnamed US official, said the ban on electronics on certain airlines is related to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and that some information came from a recent US special forces raid in Yemen. Reuters could not immediately confirm the CNN report, but Reuters has reported the group has planned several foiled bombing attempts on Western-bound airlines.

The raid in Yemen happened in February and was much publicized in the media at the time :
The US special forces members targeted the compound of a suspected senior AQAP leader in the mountainous Yakla region of Bayda province - the focal point of recent US drone strikes in Yemen.
So both the ISIS plot and the exact location in Yemen where the Intel originated was in the public domain by the end of March. Trump gave the Russians information that they could have found with a quick google search.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Trump - Russian Narrative Fails Basic Logic Test

“It is very easy: If you can put Russia in the equation you win your argument,” - George Epurescu, Romanian Anti Fracking Group

In 2014, many media outlets such as the New York Times, The Guardian, and Financial Times were reporting that Russia may have been financing anti fracking protest groups around Europe. Their source was the then head of NATO, Anders Rasmussen. According to Wikileaks, even Hillary Clinton was privately worried about Russian influence in anti fracking movements in the US. Bloomberg recently reported that since US overtook Russia in gas production, the Russian TV Network, RT has :


"regularly published articles and aired segments that appear to oppose fracking, the fossil-fuel extraction technique that has made the U.S. an energy superpower again. One "exclusive" interview about the extraction technique features the opening question: "There are a lot of studies that say fracking is dangerous, so why do you think some countries and companies think it’s worth the risk?" 

This tends to support the initial claims made in 2014 by the head of NATO. There is of course a clear motive for Russia to get involved in anti fracking movements and to provide a platform for anti fracking propaganda on RT - to keep gas prices high and reduce competition. 

The logical next step then is for Russia to have backed an anti fracking party in America like the Greens or indeed a candidate like Bernie Sanders but certainly not someone like Donald Trump who is a strong advocate for US gas, coal and oil. Russia exports about $8 billion in petroleum products to the US each year. Even if the claims in 2014 about Russian influence in anti fracking movements are false, there is still no clear motive as to why Russia would back Trump. 

As George Epurescu says, "Russia" is now an argument and a counter argument to almost everything. You can dispense with the inconvenient need for basic logic and reason to support your arguments and just claim "Russia" which elicits the necessary emotional response required to make it look like you actually have an argument. 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Irish Nationalist Political Party declare sovereignty as "backward-looking idea"

One of the most remarkable political speeches in my lifetime was made this week in Ireland's Parliament. Yet the Irish media were entirely silent on it's significance. 

The two major political parties in Ireland, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, split in 1922 because Fianna Fail considered the Treaty that Ireland made with Britain didn't go far enough in terms of granting sovereignty back to Ireland. In 1921, the President of Ireland and future leader of Fianna Fail until 1959, Eamonn De Valera, made the following speech :


PRESIDENT DE VALERA: We definitely understood when we used the word plenipotentiaries. One of the Deputies of South Dublin asked me about the word and I said we understood it means they have full power to negotiate and to take responsibility for negotiating and signing. The word really meant the power of negotiating. They had their own responsibility for negotiating and signing. There is no treaty in recent times that is not brought to the main assembly for ratification or rejection. The plenipotentiaries have full power to negotiate and sign, they have not full powers to sign for the nation. I hold ratification is absolutely impossible for this Assembly. This Assembly cannot ratify a Treaty which takes away from the Irish people the sovereignty of the Irish people.

Almost one hundred years later, the current leader of Fianna Fail, Michael Martin, made the following speech :


Let there be no doubt about where Ireland stands. We want nothing to do with a backward-looking idea of sovereignty.

He went on to say, presumably aiming for some kind of statesman like ideal :
"We remain absolutely committed to the ideals of the European Union."We see the union for what it is - the most successful international organisation in world history."The union is flawed, but its successes are undeniable."
It is hard to think of any EU successes that relate to Ireland. It was the EU who forced Ireland to pay billions of euros to unsecured bondholders. The EU might be successful for some, for corporatism and Statists and for Germany who benefit from the cheap currency, but for small nations like Ireland we are easily nudged aside. That's why Iceland has remained outside of the EU. Hoping that Ireland will somehow be treated nicely by the EU in the Brexit negotiations is not backed up by past experience.

It was Ireland's sovereign status which allowed De Valera maintain Irish neutrality throughout World War II, a success which helped make Fianna Fail the most popular party for generations afterwards. Now that they want to discard sovereignty (or outsource it to Brussels), Ireland can no longer remain neutral under Fianna Fail.   You can't have neutrality without sovereignty. 

Although I doubt it was the original intention, Fianna Fail have in effect, fought for Irish sovereignty, not for the right of the Irish people to have sovereignty but for the right to throw it away to someone else.  



Saturday, 22 April 2017

Emissions Rise at Ireland's Power Stations Despite €6 Billion Investment in Wind Energy

One of the things consistently pointed out on this blog is that no matter how much wind energy you deploy, you can never shutdown a single power station. Those who advocate for more wind are slowly realizing this as more facts come out. 

Last year (2016), electricity demand in Ireland rose by about 2.3%.  An additional 600MW of wind was added to the system but the capacity factor (a measure of the annual output from wind farms) fell from 33% to 27%. Also during 2016 the limit on the amount of wind allowed into the system at any one time (non synchronous penetration) was raised from 50% to 55% and then at the end of the year to 60%. 

According to reports by the EPA, emissions and fuel consumption increased in eight out of the eleven power stations for which records were available for 2016. 

Six of these power stations were operated by gas, the other three by oil. Poolbeg (gas), Tarbert (oil) and North Wall (gas) power stations had the largest rises in emissions. Aghada (gas) and Tarbert (oil) power stations had the highest emissions since 2011, while Rhode power station (oil) had the highest since 2007.




Power station
Emissions Increase 2016 Vs 2015
Highest Emissions Since
Fuel Type
Aghada
72%
2011
Gas
Huntstown 2
19%
2013
Gas
Poolbeg
366%
2014
Gas
North Wall
249%
2013
Gas
Great Island
61%
Commissioned in 2015
Gas
Tynagh
70%
2014
Gas
Tawnaghmore
14%
2010
Light Fuel Oil
Tarbert
240%
2011
Heavy Fuel Oil / Light Fuel Oil
Rhode
93%
2007
Light Fuel Oil

Note the three oil run power stations at the bottom all had the highest emissions for many years.

Factors that lead to these increases were :

• The interconnector to the UK was out for four months at the end of 2016. This would partly explain the increases in Dublin power stations such as Poolbeg and North Wall.

• Electricity demand increasing by 2.3%. With new data centres on the way, demand will soon increase by much more than that. 

• Capacity Factor of wind dropping from 33% to 27%. It's an unfortunate fact that no matter how many wind farms there are, if there is no wind, you get no energy. Storage wont fix this problem either as the original energy source is still intermittent wind energy that can remain flat for months on end during periods of high pressure.

• The low price of oil and gas. 

• The low capacity credit of wind energy. Ireland now has 3,000MW of wind, but all these wind turbines cannot replace a single power station. All the power stations must remain on standby. An additional 600MW of wind was added in 2016, roughly a 25% increase on 2015. The only solution for this is nuclear. A nuclear power station can fully replace an existing power station and hence achieves much greater and much more consistent fuel and emissions savings in the long run than wind ever can.

How ironic that Ireland is now dependent on oil again for it's electricity needs after spending close to €6 billion on wind technology and another billion or two on grid upgrades to accommodate this wind. If this is not an indictment of the wind program, then I don't know what is.

Sources :

1) EPA Environmental Reports

http://www.epa.ie/terminalfour/ippc/index.jsp

2) Eirgrid Renewable Energy Curtailment Report 2016

http://www.eirgridgroup.com/site-files/library/EirGrid/Annual-Renewable-Constraint-and-Curtailment-Report-2016-v1.0.pdf

3) Cost of wind is estimated to be €2 million per MW installed.