Friday, June 15, 2007

More wind

Mainpower is proposing a small regional windfarm at Mt Cass in North Canterbury. It's currently in the preliminary stages, and they're unsure yet whether they will be going for 15 or 25 MW (it depends, among oher things, on turbine prices and whether they can expand on to a neighbouring property). But either way it will be a nice addition to their portfolio, and a good example of the way regional windfarms can be used to take some strain of the national grid.

Hot Topic, who will be able to see it from his veranda, isn't sure yet about how he feels. Personally I think turbines spinning lazily in the sun in the background are quite pretty - but some people's milage obviously varies.


I must admit looking at wind turbines holds no problem for me what so ever. If I could hear a noise though, that would be annoying.

Posted by Muerk : 6/15/2007 11:06:00 PM

I agree. Here in Victoria, they have them overlooking the Grampians - One of the most scenic places in the state and they look just wonderfully dotting the hill all slowly rotating in unison, but out of phase.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/16/2007 04:19:00 AM

I like modern windfarms too. Kind of hypnotic.

However, I don’t think you should be very careful saying it will reduce grid pressure. It may do the exact opposite because of its unpredictability. In the absence of other local generation, to maintain power to consumers, the grid will have to cope with it tripping off and coming back on. This could mean lower power reliability, as most power systems prefer stability.

OK, this farm is pretty small, so its impact is not likely to be great but with the growth of wind overall, this may be an increasing issue and will probably require greater levels of instantaneous reserve generation, which will likely be coal or gas, and also a whole lot of spending on the grid to cope with the fluctuations.


Posted by Anonymous : 6/18/2007 10:07:00 AM

Sorry that should be "However, I think you should be very careful...."

Posted by Anonymous : 6/18/2007 10:08:00 AM

I was on a trip to Denmark recently and the windmills are dotted all over the landscape instead of grouped in windfarms - not having mountain ranges allows this of course. It looked quite beautiful and does allow for locally produced power to go in the local grid.

Posted by Hans Versluys : 6/18/2007 10:45:00 AM

And Denmark has the most expensive residential electricity prices in the developed world…..


Posted by Anonymous : 6/18/2007 01:14:00 PM

Insider: However, I don’t think you should be very careful saying it will reduce grid pressure. It may do the exact opposite because of its unpredictability.

There's some interesting discussion of this over at Hot Topic, including a link to an Australian fact sheet on the base-load fallacy [PDF]. The upshot is that with small amounts of wind generation, variations in output are pretty much indistinguishable from variations in demand, while with greater and more gegraphicly dispersed use, the variations tend to cancel one another out (something we're moving towards here, now that we're building windfarms outside the Manawatu). The general estimate is that a grid can handle up to 20% wind before needing serious backup generation to cover it, and we're a long way from that yet.

And if you're after real-world data, they also point at the Spanish electricity system, which has a heavy reliance on wind without any real problems.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/20/2007 01:08:00 PM