Reducing the cost of wind energy for a renewable future

A 100 percent renewable energy scenario is possible in Europe, but to achieve it, we need to make offshore wind more competitive and start redesigning our energy systems, says world expert Brian Vad Mathiesen

In 2015, Denmark produced 42 percent of its electricity from , breaking the world record of 39 percent that it set the previous year. But this is only the beginning. Researchers are looking at ways to push this figure higher and ultimately transition to 100 percent .

Brian Vad Mathiesen is a world-leading engineer at Aalborg University in Denmark, and an ISI Highly Cited researcher.

He spoke with youris.com about reducing the cost of offshore wind energy and the challenges of moving toward systems that generate the majority of their energy from renewables.

What can be done to make wind power more competitive with non-renewable energy?

First of all, you have to realise how competitive it actually is. If we look at the cost of onshore wind, including different measurements of balances and costs, it is competitive with the . But that doesn't go for all onshore sites, and it certainly isn't true for offshore, which has a cost about 20 to 50 percent higher at the moment than fossil fuel alternatives.

To make offshore turbines less costly, we need to create a market where the producers can erect a big park and get experience with the construction of offshore turbines, and also get experience shipping the turbines to the site and building the foundations for offshore turbines. If we look into the future, I would expect that by 2025, the costs from offshore can be competitive.

With regard to competitiveness, you also have to realise that if you count externality costs, both offshore wind and PV [photovoltaics] have lower societal costs than fossil fuels, due to the health cost of emissions and CO2 emissions having other adverse effects. But these things are very hard to put an actual figure on.

Researchers in Europe are developing solutions to face the higher costs of maintenance of turbines offshore and solve problems such as the erosion of blades caused by the marine environment. What other technological issues could be addressed to reduce the cost of wind energy further?

I think offshore turbines will be bigger than they are today, which will lower the production costs. But I really think it is about the foundation and installation costs. We need more experience with that.

Many people think noise is an issue with onshore wind turbines. What can be done to tackle this perceived problem? And how is it likely to affect the development of onshore wind and influence the development of offshore wind?

The key to tackling perceived visual or noise effects is local ownership and good processes leading to the erection of wind turbines. Wind turbines were developed in Denmark and the key for such large acceptance rates and very few problems despite having several thousand turbines in our countryside is that local communities are part of the decision-making process and ownership.

Ownership is also key in some cases for offshore. I would suggest that a large part of the ownership is offered to coastal inhabitants, who may be affected visually. There are no sound issues offshore. No proven long-term effects on wildlife, either.

As you've mentioned, offshore wind is more expensive than onshore wind, but the energy yield per turbine can be higher. Where do you think the future lies—onshore or offshore?

It will be a combination. When we look into the future, what kind of renewables do we need? I see it like this: If the ambition is to go toward 100 percent renewable—so very large-scale renewable systems—then there is the easy option of burning biomass instead of coal, natural gas and oil. But the problem with that is there is not enough biomass.

So we need other resources, and then we start to look at onshore and offshore wind, PV, and maybe wave energy. When we look at the potential from those resources we quickly see that onshore wind will be a major part of the system but it will not be enough. We simply need a lot more resources than onshore wind can provide.

We need offshore wind as well, but we also need PV. The mix really depends where you are.

Last year, Denmark broke the world record for wind power, producing 42 percent of its annual energy from turbines. How much further do you think that could be pushed?

There are a number of challenges when you have a very large quantity of renewables. Up to a certain point, the current system design is perfectly capable of handling this.

When you have fluctuating renewables between 20 to 30 percent, the power plants in the system are able to stop when the wind is there and the peak of the wind or the PV is not higher than the demand. Once you start going toward 40, 50 or 60 percent fluctuating renewables you really need to redesign your system if you want to utilise it. This is the next step in Denmark.

We need to redesign our system—not fundamentally, but bit by bit. We need to start considering replacing boilers with heat pumps in individual houses, but also in our district heating systems. And we need to electrify our transport, not because we have excess wind, but because we want to build more wind to replace the oil that we use in the heating and transport sector.

If we start to redesign the system I think we can easily go toward 60 to 70 percent fluctuating renewables, and before 2020 we will have 50 percent in Danish electricity.


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Apr 23, 2016
We are at least making progress. Last year was the first year that coal was not the primary source for electricity.

http://www.busine...16-4?utm

Apr 23, 2016
We are at least making progress.
what progress, coal as the main energy source to compensate intermittency of eco-friendly bird-choppers/landscape-destroyers. LOL
https://www.desta...ion.html
http://www.energy...rk-side/

Apr 23, 2016
http://phys.org/n...ars.html

How many nuclear disasters have we had, with a technology which was "impossible" to create such problems?

How many of you still trust them?

Why?

Apr 23, 2016
with a technology which was "impossible" to create such problems?
@Couyon-liar-kam
no one with any scientific training, not even an inept power company engineer like yourselfwho poisoned the atmosphere with CO2, would ever state that problems were "impossible" from nuclear energy or plants...

that is called fearmongering, blatant false claims and emotional hatred due to fear and stupidity (especially given your claims of knowledge)

before you post more lies, learn some actual facts
http://physics.ke...re15.pdf

https://www.youtu...yv9arXqU

https://www.youtu...xY-wOrI8

https://www.youtu...rcdMiIGs

https://www.youtu...Zm8XO7Zc

https://www.youtu...I3ifi_UI

Apr 23, 2016
"Defense in Depth!"

What happened to our "defense" against nuclear power kooks?

"inept power company engineer like yourselfwho poisoned the atmosphere with CO2, "

Once again, you advertise your complete ignorance of the duties of a Senior Energy Services Engineer in Technical Services. My job was to go into universities and colleges, get Executive Commitments from the top guy, then put together Energy Management Teams, made up of the most senior manager, the plant engineers, teachers, and the students. We told them what we had planned, then educated them and took them along with us when we did the audits. analyses of the boiler systems. Chillers, air handlers, and every energy using device on campus. It was the inclusion of the Human element which made it work so well.

My group saved about 20% energy savings on average for our clients, usually with very little or no upfront costs to them. It also led to many students finding what they wanted to do for a living.

Apr 23, 2016
Oops, that above job description was for Energy Services Engineer, and the Technical Services one was as a teacher and consultant to the company and our customers, which led to Power Quality.

But the point is the same. Comments from those not in the business are worse than worthless, they are in error, and lead others to wrong conclusions. It is the Bane of Wiki heaped on us.

Apr 23, 2016
you advertise your complete ignorance of the duties of a Senior Energy Services Engineer in Technical Services
@couyon-liar-kam
no, you are the one misrepresenting it, as noted by the *evidence* with your "conversations" with DaSchneib linked above
or here: http://phys.org/n...age.html

you can't even get your supposed historical job title or descriptions correct, but you want to pontificate about it's historical importance?

worse still, your "guilt by association" actions and failure to promote science since then only undermine your pro-climate change arguments because:
1- you produce no facts, links or references for your claims
2- you argue points easily debunked and disproved by a cursory search
3- your arguments are from fear and emotion, not evidence
4- your arguments are predominantly ad hominem although you want to hypocritically stop the ad hominem

facts over argument from authority
epic fail for you

Apr 23, 2016
Hey, Grumpy, you have no idea of the details we were discussing, so you have no valid opinion.

If we were talking about Big Red Trucks, you may have a valid opinion, but we are way above that level.

Aren't you the goober who thought all engineers made the same amount of money and had the exact same jobs? I distinctly remember my job being an Electronic Engineer making Integrated Circuits was vastly different from my being Plant Engineer of a large iron foundry.

The job of being one of the few in Technical Services was much different from the rest, as well.

What is your experience?

Apr 23, 2016
you have no idea of the details we were discussing
@couyon-liar-kam
you've produced no details, only opinion
your two links are to articles, which are also opinion

so unless you can link specific empirical evidence refuting the above science linked in my posts, then i've listed empirical evidence and science and you've listed opinion
therefore your arguments are invalid
If we were talking about Big Red Trucks, you may have a valid opinion
of course, not all fire trucks are red... but far be it from you to actually research a fact before you claim it as relevant
epic fail
Aren't you the goober who thought all engineers made the same amount of money and had the exact same jobs?
nope. never did because i know better
and you can't prove i did make that claim
so this is argument from ad hominem, misrepresentation of fact, out-of-context and irrelevant argument from self-perceived authority
reported

Apr 23, 2016
Trumpy repeats nuclear power propaganda, but overlooks the reality of SL-1, Fukushima, Chernobyl, and other nuclear disasters. It is all emotional, because I got him angry. If I praised it, he would bring up disasters.

It is probably because I proved the experience he so crudely "doubted". Those who denigrate experience do so out of ignorance.

You keep on believing those GE folks, Grumpy. Fukushima is impossible.

Apr 23, 2016
gkam, your propensity for putting words into others peoples' mouths makes you look like a geriatric child.

Trumpy believes this, Grumpy believes that. If anyone sounds "Trumpy", it would be you.

Of course, if he had so very thoroughly embarrassed me the way he embarrassed you, I would hold a grudge too.

Noone cares what you have done. What you post is what you are here. Why do you have so much trouble with that simple fact? Is it your age, Gracie?

Apr 23, 2016
Silly troll. Grudges? He is not a real person, he is someone hiding behind a pseudonym, like you, cowering, afraid to take responsibility for his own comments. It is a silly name in a silly game for Ira and otto and some others.

"Hey, you-skippy,couyon, cypress stumpy-goober, you is dumb!"

How is that representative example a valid entry in a science forum? Are you folk here for this to be your private bulletin board, to yuk it up, until others leave? Are you proud of your abusive and often filthy language?

Please take your talk-club back to Twitter or wherever.

Apr 23, 2016
Silly Gracie, everyone who posts here is a person. And most people use a pseudonym, even you.

Why would anyone be foolish enough to give personal info to you?

It is the nature of the place. We are not in a forum, we are in a comments section.
Physorg has forums, but you just aren't savvy enough to find them.

This actually serves as a public bulletin board, which is why people ask others to behave in certain ways. (Back up claims, don't spam post, etc.)

If you haven't noticed, many people "yuk it up" with their posts and conversations, but don't include you because you are too egotistical and don't back up your slogans with real facts.

If you don't like the neighborhood, perhaps you should leave.

It was here before you were, it isn't going to change for you, and you aren't going to change it.

Perhaps you would have a better time of it if you read more and posted less.

Would you like suggestions of smarter, more erudite posters to follow?

Apr 23, 2016
It is a silly name in a silly game for Ira
And glam-Skippy is not the silly name? I know a whole more peoples named Ira than I do named glam.

Please take your talk-club back to Twitter or wherever.


You mean like all this technical and science debating,,,, https://disqus.com/by/gkam/

Apr 23, 2016
So subsonic noise is not a problem eh? Tell that to the dead bats and birds.

Yea, coal is dead, killed off by the government not economics. We had all better hope that fracking for natural gas lives up to expectations or there will be massive blackouts.

Apr 24, 2016
The article fails to mention the avoided cost of NOT using wind power in their claim that it is competitive with fossil fuels.

As a crude example, imagine that you have a powerplant that runs 24/7 and produces electricity at a price of 10 cents. You replace half of that electricity by wind power at a cost of 8 cents, but in doing so the running cost of the other powerplant increases to 14 cents, and you end up with overall average cost of 11 cents.

In this scenario, the wind power caused the price of electricity to rise by 1 cents, even though it's seemingly 6 cents cheaper. The "other powerplant" describes what's happening in the electric grid overall, because it's many times more expensive to provide for load following rather than baseload, and as the fluctuating renewables start to dig into the baseload they increase - not decrease - the overall cost of production.

Anyone buying wind power will in reality also have the other power, and that makes it uncompetitive.

Apr 24, 2016
Of course you can sign up for all sorts of schemes which distort the picture - like pretending that you're getting -only- wind power from the grid, or paying the wind power producers subsidies from taxes to force the overall price down despite increasing cost. Or making all sorts of clever bookkeeping tricks like paying wind turbine owners to shutter their turbines and then not counting that money as part of the cost of electricity.

Those don't change the reality that the cost of production is higher - they simply hide it. It's political self-deception.

The point is that all the LCOE estimates of wind power are provided with the assumption that the turbines are able to produce all the energy available to them for their entire lifespan, and it costs nothing to integrate that power into the grid - i.e. the estimates consider wind turbines in isolation, and not their knock-on effect on the rest of the system.

Apr 24, 2016
Or as the old Chinese proverb says:

"It's not economical to go to bed early to save a candle if the result is twins."

You have to look at the system as a whole.

Apr 24, 2016
"You replace half of that electricity by wind power at a cost of 8 cents, but in doing so the running cost of the other powerplant increases to 14 cents, and you end up with overall average cost of 11 cents."
-------------------------------------

That would only happen in Europe where you folk can't handle cheap power. You are so small and Balkanized it takes international agreements to get anything done. We just throttle down the secondary systems in favor of the renewables. The polluters are still there, for a while.

" the estimates consider wind turbines in isolation, and not their knock-on effect on the rest of the system."

Nobody does that, the investments are too high. Where do you get your ideas, your paranoia? Please stay out of the US. We need California.

Apr 24, 2016
Gkam, have you even heard of the European Union? And please don't represent the US.
Your ideas and parochial worldview are embarrassing.

Apr 24, 2016
"We just throttle down the secondary systems in favor of the renewables."

Gkam that is exactly the point that Eikka was making. Wind and solar has not shut down one fossil plant. Renewables just make them operate in an inefficient and more costly manner. BTW don't even bother to cite the closing of coal plants as a proof of the viability of wind and solar.

Apr 24, 2016
Gkam, have you even heard of the European Union?.
Apparently he has not. At least you would not think it after wrote something like,,,,,

That would only happen in Europe where you folk can't handle cheap power. You are so small and Balkanized it takes international agreements to get anything done.


That couyon has to be the worse insulter I never did see. That's why all his, "goobers" and "SCARED" and "mad" and "uninformed" and "never did anything" mostly make everybody laugh and scratch there heads.

But then he also thinks everybody in the South are all "poor folks" and "uneducated" and "never seen the real world". And he wonders why I think he is so much fun (while he is winning and beating me and showing me up and being "real"). I hope I never have to be that "real", then I would be "really" embarrassed.

Apr 24, 2016
"Wind and solar has not shut down one fossil plant."

Let's start with this one:
http://www.dailyk...ansition

"Last week, it was all smiles at Beyond Coal when the retirement was announced of the giant, much-protested Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts.
That's the 150th U.S. coal-powered generating plant to go that route since the beginning of 2010. It's the largest remaining coal-burner supplying electricity in New England. It's also one of the filthiest of the nation's power plants, ranked as 14th nationwide out of 378 by the NAACP for its negative impacts on minorities and people of modest means. "

Not one?

And yes, the European Union (if it lasts), is to try to cobble together those Balkanized little duchies and principalities into a cohesive whole. It ain't easy. Ask Cameron.

Apr 24, 2016
This one is especially interesting.

https://www.rt.co...-plants/

Wind power is also shutting down nuclear plants. Want some references?

You guys get so excited you think what you want to believe is actually true. If one of you makes a crazy accusation, the others parrot it as if it were true, . . because it is all you have.

No experience.

Apr 25, 2016
That would only happen in Europe where you folk can't handle cheap power. You are so small and Balkanized it takes international agreements to get anything done.


The European synchronized grid is far more integrated and interoperable than the US grid, and you're simply talking out of your ass.

The UCTE synchronous zone serving 24 countries in continental Europe is four times the size of the WECC at 667 GW versus 160 GW of generation capacity and serves more customers than the entire US population. The WECC or the western interconnect is the largest synchronized area in the US, with the east coast balkanized into smaller grids.

Denmark is at a special privilege because it is straddling the border between the UCTE and the NORDEL grid which has 93 GW of generating capacity, most of which is hydroelectric power. They're a tiny country of 5 million in the middle of a 500 million people grid.

https://en.wikipe...ous_grid

Apr 25, 2016
Wind and solar has not shut down one fossil plant.


They have - mothballed at least. The subsidies being paid to renewable power pulls the market prices down below the actual cost of production, which means many powerplants simply can't run because they can't make a profit, so they're being shut down.

Problem is, you still need those powerplants because of the load following problem. In some cases the governments have resorted to paying subsidies to them too, to keep the powerplants online. Remember that the next time you complain about fossil fuel subsidies!

In others they've restorted to importing more electricity from the international grid which has the effect of making the whole grid more fragile and less efficient due to the long transmission distances. That too translates to higher cost of production.

Though in one sense it's right to say that renewables have not shut down any fossil fuel plants - it's the government subsidies that have.

Apr 25, 2016
The problem with the subsidy-effected shuttering of fossil fuel generation is that it strikes the more capital-intensive modes of generation first. Baseload generation from coal can take the hit better because their main cost is the fuel, and not being able to sell electricity simply means they save fuel.

Instead, it's the load following capacity that gets the worst - the gas turbines and diesel engines that can come online in minutes - because their cost structure is heavy on the capital investment and light on the fuel. If they're not able to run a certain number of hours a year at a certain minimum price, it's simply not feasibe to operate one.

So as the number of hours the renewables are online increases, the number of hours from the load-following plants decreases, and the price per hour from them goes up - until it becomes cheaper to import the power and the plant gets shut down.

That is, until the other countries build renewables as well, and run into the same issue.

Apr 25, 2016
All the above means that countries like Germany, Denmark, are able to maintain a high percentage of wind and solar power in their grids precisely because all the other European countries don't.

They're sinking their problems and outsourcing the solutions into the very large 500 million customer synchronous grid area where there's always a few gigawatts of slack somewhere - a principle called the "virtual battery".

Too bad it won't work for everyone at the same time. Someone always has to be the battery.

Apr 25, 2016
This one is especially interesting.

https://www.rt.co...-plants/


Why do you lie?

The article states clearly: "The Chinese authorities plan to shut the last coal-fired power plant in Beijing and replace it with gas-fired plants in 2016 in order to reduce the critical levels of pollution in the city. "

That has nothing to do with wind and solar power. Neither does the Brayton Point Power Station plant which is being shut down due to local protest - not because wind and solar power are replacing it. At the same time, the states are building more and more gas turbines and diesel engines to replace the coal plants and cope with the renewables.

Wind power is also shutting down nuclear plants. Want some references?


Yes please.

Apr 25, 2016
As for wind power in China replacing fossil fuels:

http://www.theepo...er-plan/

According to Michael Davidson's latest estimates, as much as 20 percent of total wind capacity wasn't connected to the power grid in 2012, although there have been improvements since.

"The electricity cannot be consumed locally and transmission is needed to send the wind electricity to the load centers in the east," states the report. Some of the farms probably never will.

Until the wind energy can actually be transported to where it's needed, the windmills will not only stand idle, but also be blasted by sand 24/7 because the northeastern regions not only have a lot of wind, but also a lot of sand, which wears on the turbines


China is building wind turbines like it's building ghost cities - contractors are milking the central government for money by make-work. They're facing the same management-metric issues as the Soviet Union.

Apr 25, 2016
The Soviets ran into economic ruin and collapsed because the people realized that the central bureau cannot possibly measure and manage everything, yet it kept on demanding the impossible from the workers.

So they started to cheat. They knew the government was measuring the performance of the industry by kilometer-tonnes, so they added weights to products and transported them by long detours between warehouses to increase the numbers, and soon the numbers were exactly as planned and demanded.

The common adage: "They pretend to pay us, so we pretend to work."

Same thing in communist China: central government demands increase in renewable energy and the industry complies. They build a bunch of wind turbines and leave them unconnected because the government offical metrics - by which they state their achievements to the public and the international audience - measures the boiler plate capacity and not actual utilization.

Apr 25, 2016
Eikka wanted references. Start here:

http://news.natio...-issues/

Then go on ahead with the others.

http://insideclim...and-text

http://www.wsj.co...44743133

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