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Two Different Methods for Modelling the Likely Upper Economic Limit of the Future United Kingdom Wind Fleet

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Methods for predicting the likely upper economic limit for the wind fleet in the United Kingdom should be simple to use whilst being able to cope with evolving technologies, costs and grid management strategies. This paper present two such models, both of which use data on historical wind patterns but apply different approaches to estimating the extent of wind shedding as a function of the size of the wind fleet. It is clear from the models that as the wind fleet increases in size, wind shedding will progressively increase, and as a result the overall economic efficiency of the wind fleet will be reduced. The models provide almost identical predictions of the efficiency loss and suggest that the future upper economic limit of the wind fleet will be mainly determined by the wind fleet Headroom, a concept described in some detail in the paper. The results, which should have general applicability, are presented in graphical form, and should obviate the need for further modelling using the primary data. The paper also discusses the effectiveness of the wind fleet in decarbonising the grid, and the growing competition between wind and solar fleets as sources of electrical energy for the United Kingdom.
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The decision by the United Kingdom (UK) government in 2007 that the country should build a 33GW wind fleet, capable of generating 25 percent of the UK electricity requirement, was controversial. Proponents argued that it was the most attractive means of lowering the UK greenhouse gas emissions, whereas opponents noted that it would result in an unnecessary and burdensome additional expense to industry and households. Subsequently there have been calls for the wind fleet target to be further increased to perhaps 50 percent of demand. Although the National Grid has had little difficulty in accommodating the current output of about 10 percent of the total demand on the grid, this will not be the case for a substantially larger wind fleet. When the wind blows strongly, turbines shed wind which is surplus to demand, leading to significant reductions in generating efficiency. The purpose of the research described in this paper has been to develop a method for investigating the likely performance of future large wind fleets. The method relies on the use of mathematical models based on National Grid records for 2013 to 2015, each year being separately analysed. It was found that the incremental load factor of the wind fleet will be reduced to 63 percent of its current level should the wind fleet increase from its current size of 14GW to 35GW, assuming a base load of 15GW
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We present a theoretical framework to calculate how storage affects the energy return on energy investment (EROI) ratios of wind and solar resources. Our methods identify conditions under which it is more energetically favorable to store energy than it is to simply curtail electricity production. Electrochemically based storage technologies result in much smaller EROI ratios than large-scale geologically based storage technologies like compressed air energy storage (CAES) and pumped hydroelectric storage (PHS). All storage technologies paired with solar photovoltaic (PV) generation yield EROI ratios that are greater than curtailment. Due to their low energy stored on electrical energy invested (ESOIe) ratios, conventional battery technologies reduce the EROI ratios of wind generation below curtailment EROI ratios. To yield a greater net energy return than curtailment, battery storage technologies paired with wind generation need an ESOIe > 80. We identify improvements in cycle life as the most feasible way to increase battery ESOIe. Depending upon the battery's embodied energy requirement, an increase of cycle life to 10000-18000 (2-20 times present values) is required for pairing with wind (assuming liberal round-trip efficiency [90%] and liberal depth-of-discharge [80%] values). Reducing embodied energy costs, increasing efficiency and increasing depth of discharge will also further improve the energetic performance of batteries. While this paper focuses on only one benefit of energy storage, the value of not curtailing electricity generation during periods of excess production, similar analyses could be used to draw conclusions about other benefits as well.
Energy policy in Europe has been driven by the three goals of security of supply, economic competitiveness and environmental sustainability, referred to as the energy trilemma. Although there are clear conflicts within the trilemma, member countries have acted to facilitate a fully integrated European electricity market. Interconnection and cross-border electricity trade has been a fundamental part of such market liberalisation. However, it has been suggested that consumers are exposed to a higher price volatility as a consequence of interconnection. Furthermore, during times of energy shortages and high demand, issues of national sovereignty take precedence over cooperation. In this article, the unique and somewhat peculiar conditions of early 2017 within France, Germany and the United Kingdom have been studied to understand how the existing integration arrangements address the energy trilemma. It is concluded that the dominant interests are economic and national security; issues of environmental sustainability are neglected or overridden. Although the optimisation of European electricity generation to achieve a lower overall carbon emission is possible, such a goal is far from being realised. Furthermore, it is apparent that the United Kingdom, and other countries, cannot rely upon imports from other countries during periods of high demand and/or limited supply.
We have an addiction to fossil fuels, and it’s not sustainable. The developed world gets 80% of its energy from fossil fuels; Britain, 90%. And this is unsustainable for three reasons. First, easily-accessible fossil fuels will at some point run out, so we’ll eventually have to get our energy from someplace else. Second, burning fossil fuels is having a measurable and very-probably dangerous effect on the climate. Avoiding dangerous climate change motivates an immediate change from our current use of fossil fuels. Third, even if we don’t care about climate change, a drastic reduction in Britain’s fossil fuel consumption would seem a wise move if we care about security of supply: continued rapid use of the North Sea Photo by Terry Cavner. oil and gas reserves will otherwise soon force fossil-addicted Britain to depend on imports from untrustworthy foreigners. (I hope you can hear my tongue in my cheek.) How can we get off our fossil fuel addiction? There’s no shortage of advice on how to “make a difference,” but the public is confused, uncertain whether these schemes are fixes or figleaves. People are rightly suspicious when companies tell us that buying their “green” product means we’ve “done our bit.” They are equally uneasy about national energy strategy. Are “decentralization” and “combined heat and power,” green enough, for example? The government would have us think so. But would these technologies really discharge Britain’s duties regarding climate change? Are windfarms “merely a gesture to prove our leaders’ environmental credentials”? Is nuclear power essential? We need a plan that adds up. The good news is that such plans can be made. The bad news is that implementing them will not be easy.
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