108 turbine windfarm

#1
BBC

A scheme to build a multi-million pound windfarm featuring up to 108 turbines off the north Norfolk coast has gone on public display.

The Sheringham Shoal Offshore Windfarm could provide power for 178,000 homes.

If the proposals are given the backing of the government, work could start on the windfarm by 2009.

Local people are being asked for their views and can see a series of displays in libraries across Norfolk, organised by the firm behind the scheme, Scira.

Kerry-Leigh Bradfield, Scira's communications manager, said the firm was keen to hear the views of local people.

'Renewable energy target'

She said a company study into the impact of the project said that it would "not have any long term adverse effects on the environment".

She added: "Furthermore, this project will make a significant contribution to the UK's renewable energy targets".

Ms Bradfield said information on the project was also available on the firm's website and there will also be public exhibitions at: The Burlington Hotel, Sheringham on 28 June; The Cliftonville Hotel, Cromer, on 29 June; The Matlins, Wells-next-the-Sea on 30 June.

The Department of Trade and Industry is likely to make a decision on the plans during the next 12 months.
I'm actually a fan of wind power (when appropriately used), especially off shore. I don't see how there can be objections to the scheme other than from potential loss of fishing areas - yet I am sure these turbines will be placed on sandbanks. They're going to be located about 9 miles from the coast (the nearest ones) and up to 12 miles away (international water line).

These turbines will be about 100-120m high and 108 makes them one of the largest wind farms in the country and also in Europe (Llandinam has 103 turbines of about 1/10th-1/15th the output each). However even given their size and number of them you do have to wonder if the scheme will be economically viable. Should we be prepared to pay more for our electricity or subsidise their running through government? They will reduce the quantity of carbon dioxide produced compared to if gas or coal were used and also lower levels of other pollutants (sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxides). However we'd need 250-350 turbines of this size to equal the output of one nuclear reactor (based on Sizewell B) and whereas Sizewell B has a load factor of about 80% (it runs flat out for about 18 months then needs a month off) these turbines have a load factor of about 30%, with wind speeds not being constant, sometimes too strong, sometimes not blowing and obviously when down for maintenance.

Further details including visualisatons

So... what do people think?

Editted to adjust turbine quantity required, the turbines planned are larger than anything currently running in the UK (3.5MW-7MW), and so could be as high as 150m-200m depending on the design they go for. The largest in the UK is about 2.5MW - 3MW at Lowestoft and one in the Orkneys. Something that size the actual crane needed to assemble the machines would be incredibly difficult to find
 
#2
Dear Crabby,

Erecting such large (high) offshore windfarm masts is not a problem. Google EWC Cuxhaven GmbH and have a butcher's at their offshore windfarms. They range from from 2.5 to 7MW.
Some time last year, I did a German/English translation for them with all the tech specs for a further 5MW tower to be built by Vestas. If you're really interested, I can e-mail it to you.

MsG
 
#3
Bugsy7 said:
Dear Crabby,

Erecting such large (high) offshore windfarm masts is not a problem. Google EWC Cuxhaven GmbH and have a butcher's at their offshore windfarms. They range from from 2.5 to 7MW.
Some time last year, I did a German/English translation for them with all the tech specs for a further 5MW tower to be built by Vestas. If you're really interested, I can e-mail it to you.

MsG
Cheers, I'd not seen that before. Part of what I was forgetting is that for landbased cranes you generally need to look within the UK, but for offshore I suppose it's fine just using any ship going. 7MW is huge, the technology and materials going into the gearbox must be something else
 
#4
The local Michelin Depot just put up 2 HUGE windturbines less than 1/2 a mile away from me.

I must admit when i saw them at first i was shocked and thought they were a monstrosity (i was severly hungover and walking the dogs in the park). After 3weeks of viewing them from all the different angles around my city, i have come to like them. They are almost alien in their apperance, but quite hypnotising to watch. They are alledgedly the tallest in the UK at the present (400+feet methinks) and can be seen from Barry Buddon which is about 10 miles away.

Obviously there was a real stink kicked up by the local busy-bodies at first but people have grown to appreciate them. I am in favour of them, as long as they don't interfere with the splendid views we get up North.
 
#5
What about the conventional power that will have to be built to take up the slack from these new wind turbines when the wind is either not blowing or is blowing too hard, and will be sitting idle but turning and burning the rest of the time? The only reason these things exist at all is due to huge subsidies and to be seen to be being "green".

A mate of mine works for Shell who operate lots of turbines in Germany, and he confided in me that sometimes when there is not enough wind they run the turbines off the grid to make them look like they're generating power, when in fact they are using it.
 
#6
crabby said:
7MW is huge, the technology and materials going into the gearbox must be something else
Apparently, it's not the gearbox or reduction machinery that causes the problems at that size, but the vane adjustment mechanisms. The vanes are so long that the torsional forces increase exponentionally (particularly considering the wind-gust factor). However, they can actually replace the lot from within the hub itself, which is about eight metres (some 25 feet) in diameter. Very interesting technology.

MsG
 
#7
stoatman said:
What about the conventional power that will have to be built to take up the slack from these new wind turbines when the wind is either not blowing or is blowing too hard, and will be sitting idle but turning and burning the rest of the time? The only reason these things exist at all is due to huge subsidies and to be seen to be being "green".

A mate of mine works for Shell who operate lots of turbines in Germany, and he confided in me that sometimes when there is not enough wind they run the turbines off the grid to make them look like they're generating power, when in fact they are using it.
I can assure you that although a fossil fuel powerstation may be idling to cover for when the wind does indeed drop a powerstation at idle produces far less carbon dioxide than a powerstation running at full tilt. This can quite easily fit into the grid systems as our powerstations have times of low activity (in low demand when the demand is met mainly from nuclear and the newest coal etc) and at times of high demand they'll be running almost flat out (most of them). Therefore they are an environmentally sound idea, they DO reduce carbon emissions. They also reduce our dependance on fossil fuels, mainly gas, which we will be have to import 90% of our needs by 2020.

Running turbines of the grid may be a good way of controlling the grid - To maintain a steady current and voltage - with coal (which changes it's load slowly) and renewables in abundance the ability to literally "dump" surplus electricity (when it can not be sold to france etc) could be a useful assest. As far as I know that is not done in this country.

Wind power is becoming more and more economic, remember we saw the prices of wholesale gas rise by 75% over the winter and the overall trend suggested for energy prices is upwards, while the cost of wind reduces through economies of scale and maturing technology.

The final thing to remember re. wind is that the wind does not suddenly stop all over the country, it does not suddenly go to gale force all over the country. Offshore wind also has higher load factors as it less influenced by local topography and so has higher wind speeds generally which are also more consistent
 
#8
stoatman said:
A mate of mine works for Shell who operate lots of turbines in Germany, and he confided in me that sometimes when there is not enough wind they run the turbines off the grid to make them look like they're generating power, when in fact they are using it.
Well, that sounds really believable. Excuse me while I busy myself with a pinch of salt. :D :D :D

There are loads of technologies available to take up the slack. All of them environmentally friendly. Quite apart from the fact that offshore windfarms (and windfarms in general) are where they are BECAUSE the wind blows more or less constantly.

MsG
 
#9
Bugsy7 said:
crabby said:
7MW is huge, the technology and materials going into the gearbox must be something else
Apparently, it's not the gearbox or reduction machinery that causes the problems at that size, but the vane adjustment mechanisms. The vanes are so long that the torsional forces increase exponentionally (particularly considering the wind-gust factor). However, they can actually replace the lot from within the hub itself, which is about eight metres (some 25 feet) in diameter. Very interesting technology.

MsG
We should meet down the pub sometime for a chat. Although I've studied pretty much everything to do with wind turbines (socially) and also looked into the physics of windspeed etc I've hardly touched on the actual physical properties of vane adjustment etc. I understand the theory of feathering blades etc
 
#10
Crabby and Bugsy7,


Are you 2 wind-up merchants or what???
 
#11
merkator said:
Crabby and Bugsy7,


Are you 2 wind-up merchants or what???
why? Because we have experience of what we're talking about? As opposed to the rubbish that spouts forth from anti-wind groups about "keeping powerstations running" etc. There are many problems with wind power to admit to, just as there are about any fuel source. But ignorant and inaccurate cr*ap doesn't do anyone any good.
 
#12
crabby said:
merkator said:
Crabby and Bugsy7,


Are you 2 wind-up merchants or what???
why? Because we have experience of what we're talking about? As opposed to the rubbish that spouts forth from anti-wind groups about "keeping powerstations running" etc. There are many problems with wind power to admit to, just as there are about any fuel source. But ignorant and inaccurate cr*ap doesn't do anyone any good.
Ah, Crabby. I think you bit there. Sounds to me like it should read WIND up merchants. :D :D :D

Of course, I could be wrong. In which case I've managed to make a bit of a tit of meself. Oh well!

MsG
 
#13
Bugsy7 said:
crabby said:
merkator said:
Crabby and Bugsy7,


Are you 2 wind-up merchants or what???
why? Because we have experience of what we're talking about? As opposed to the rubbish that spouts forth from anti-wind groups about "keeping powerstations running" etc. There are many problems with wind power to admit to, just as there are about any fuel source. But ignorant and inaccurate cr*ap doesn't do anyone any good.
Ah, Crabby. I think you bit there. Sounds to me like it should read WIND up merchants. :D :D :D

Of course, I could be wrong. In which case I've managed to make a bit of a tit of meself. Oh well!

MsG
*sigh* I'm stupid, you're blatantly right... damnit
 
#14
Top of the class Bugsy.
Bottom of the class Crabby.
 
#15
stoatman said:
What about the conventional power that will have to be built to take up the slack from these new wind turbines when the wind is either not blowing or is blowing too hard, and will be sitting idle but turning and burning the rest of the time? The only reason these things exist at all is due to huge subsidies and to be seen to be being "green".
All electricity grids of any scale have to maintain a "rotating reserve". This allows for failure of any other generating stations whether fossil-fuelled, nuclear or renewable. This is necessary because the time to start generators from cold cannot be afforded in most cases. Even if the rotating reserve is ready to go there is a certain lag in response time.

In the case of turbines, I was visiting a hilltop windfarm when it "lost the grid" and all the turbines automatically carried out emergency stops. As we watched they restarted automatically one by one. Within a few minutes they were all turning again.

As for load factor, nuclear stations by their nature are more of a song and dance to start and stop so they tend to be used for base load running constantly at optimum output. This also tends to be the case with older fossil fuel stations.

The problems system operators face integrating wind turbines are not novel. The whole thing is a constant balancing act between supply and varying demand. Everyone standing up and making a cup of tea during the adverts has to be allowed for and so does the variation of supply if there are substantial numbers of turbines involved in the system.

IMHO what is missing from the UK systems ( and I realise they are no longer standalone) is more pumped storage (or some of the newer alternatives), more solar and more Combined Heat and Power.
 
#16
CutLunchCommando said:
stoatman said:
What about the conventional power that will have to be built to take up the slack from these new wind turbines when the wind is either not blowing or is blowing too hard, and will be sitting idle but turning and burning the rest of the time? The only reason these things exist at all is due to huge subsidies and to be seen to be being "green".
All electricity grids of any scale have to maintain a "rotating reserve". This allows for failure of any other generating stations whether fossil-fuelled, nuclear or renewable. This is necessary because the time to start generators from cold cannot be afforded in most cases. Even if the rotating reserve is ready to go there is a certain lag in response time.

In the case of turbines, I was visiting a hilltop windfarm when it "lost the grid" and all the turbines automatically carried out emergency stops. As we watched they restarted automatically one by one. Within a few minutes they were all turning again.

As for load factor, nuclear stations by their nature are more of a song and dance to start and stop so they tend to be used for base load running constantly at optimum output. This also tends to be the case with older fossil fuel stations.

The problems system operators face integrating wind turbines are not novel. The whole thing is a constant balancing act between supply and varying demand. Everyone standing up and making a cup of tea during the adverts has to be allowed for and so does the variation of supply if there are substantial numbers of turbines involved in the system.

IMHO what is missing from the UK systems ( and I realise they are no longer standalone) is more pumped storage (or some of the newer alternatives), more solar and more Combined Heat and Power.
We've got four pump storage systems; denorwig, festiniog in wales (2130MW total max output) and two others in Scotland I can't remember the name of. There isn't much of an option for us to have more pump storage, we're quite limited. An interested idea would be to use the proposed severn barrage as pumped storage (have two levels). CHP is a good idea on a small scale, but retrofitting would be stupid. Red Ken wants the whole of London on CHP, can you imagine having to dig up EVERY road in London and change all the systems in the houses? Also a CHP station still needs to produce electricity in the summer - when heat demand is low. Therefore they often have to dump heat, making them less effecient.

When you refer to solar do you mean solar thermal or solar photovoltaic? I'm not a fan of PV as it's expensive and the chemicals released in manufacture are really harmful. Thermal solar - used domestically for heating hot water, would be a useful way or reduce our overall demand.

What you were mentioning about the grid system; the grid employs a powerstation or two to acts as a "balancing mechanism". These are often Hydro, open cycle gas, or pumped storage as they came come online and to max power within about 4 minutes, whereas a coal station can only increase by 8MW (ish) per minute from idle. Firing a coal powerstation from cold takes days.

Nuclear is used for baseload and it's useful to have it like that. The use of a higher nuclear baseload, where excess supply could be used in pump storage would appear to help to answer our problems.

Obviously the desirable long term goals are small scale CHP, microgeneration (little house mounted turbines, PV, heatpumps for heat demand, fuel switching in industry) and possibly even fusion if we ever get there. In the meantime there's no easy answers
 
#17
Here's my two pen'orth!

I guess that 95% of the population doesn't give a stuff about the source of its electricity but will be very upset if the lights go out at Christmas!!!!

In my opinion, we have really got all of this windfarm business wrong!

Where we agree:

A windfarm is better off-shore than on the wild hillsides of this country. It is criminal to despoil our countryside in this manner.
A wind turbine or two in the middle of an industrial estate is perfectly acceptable IMHO.
A windfarm has to be backed up by a conventional power station.
Coal fired, oil fired and gas power stations produce a lot of CO2. However, the technology is available to considerably reduce the CO2 outputs.
Nuclear produces radioactive waste and we don't have a clue what to with it.

Where we disagree:

Windfarms are subsidy farmers; nothing more, nothing less. Throughout the world, governments raise taxes by taxing electricity and paying those taxes to anyone who builds a windfarm. It makes politicians feel that they have achieved something. It has made, and is making, an awful lot of already rich landowners even richer!!! And poor people are paying for it. Hell's teeth! What a strange world!
I am not convinced that anyone has made an adequate case for the total environmental budget of wind farms. All the metalwork and the concrete foundations and the roads driven into absolutely pristine moorland locations..... and BTW I accept that the same is true of nuclear!
There is no way that windfarms can provide anything more than a fraction of our electricity requirements.

The Future:

This will get worse... We are not too many years away from the large scale production and use of electric cars. How are we going to charge their batteries? More and more equipment is driven by electricity! And our nuclear stations are not lifed much beyond 2015.

What we should be doing:

Forcing people and industry to reduce consumption.
Reducing VAT to zero on energy efficient products. Perhaps, even subsidising items such as energy efficient bulbs!
Banning the street lights that illuminate large sections of our motorways
Making it illegal to point lights upwards
Subsidising the large scale planting of trees, especially on the sides of all roads and motorways
Having a sensible and informed debate about our future power requirements!

By the way, the base load (the constant load) in this country is provided by nuclear (Dungeness, Heysham etc, and the French nuclear plants via the inter-connector) and the large coal stations such as Drax. These stations provide huge amounts of power (and like to operate at about 80-90% of peak power) but take a long time to start up and come on-line (days). Next in line are the oil burners. These can be spun up within hours but tend to be expensive and are used only when one of the larger stations have to be taken off-line. Gas powered stations can be on-line quickly - in about 5-10 minutes. Immediate demands are met by the pumped reservoirs in Wales and Scotland which run up to speed in seconds; as the final whistle blows in a couple of week's time, National Grid will dump millions of tons of water through those large pipes. The water drives the turbines up to speed in seconds in order to meet the immediate demand of all those kettles! At the same time, the gas stations will be told to come on-line, and their output will become available just as the upper lake is drained. The gas stations are used to pump the water back to the top lake. Where does windpower fit into that? It's there but it's tiny.

Litotes

Listening to the radio and using a computer under an energy efficient lamp!
 
#18
Litotes said:
Here's my two pen'orth!

I guess that 95% of the population doesn't give a stuff about the source of its electricity but will be very upset if the lights go out at Christmas!!!!

In my opinion, we have really got all of this windfarm business wrong!

Where we agree:

A windfarm is better off-shore than on the wild hillsides of this country. It is criminal to despoil our countryside in this manner.
A wind turbine or two in the middle of an industrial estate is perfectly acceptable IMHO.
A windfarm has to be backed up by a conventional power station.
Coal fired, oil fired and gas power stations produce a lot of CO2. However, the technology is available to considerably reduce the CO2 outputs.
Nuclear produces radioactive waste and we don't have a clue what to with it.

Where we disagree:

Windfarms are subsidy farmers; nothing more, nothing less. Throughout the world, governments raise taxes by taxing electricity and paying those taxes to anyone who builds a windfarm. It makes politicians feel that they have achieved something. It has made, and is making, an awful lot of already rich landowners even richer!!! And poor people are paying for it. Hell's teeth! What a strange world!
I am not convinced that anyone has made an adequate case for the total environmental budget of wind farms. All the metalwork and the concrete foundations and the roads driven into absolutely pristine moorland locations..... and BTW I accept that the same is true of nuclear!
There is no way that windfarms can provide anything more than a fraction of our electricity requirements.

The Future:

This will get worse... We are not too many years away from the large scale production and use of electric cars. How are we going to charge their batteries? More and more equipment is driven by electricity! And our nuclear stations are not lifed much beyond 2015.

What we should be doing:

Forcing people and industry to reduce consumption.
Reducing VAT to zero on energy efficient products. Perhaps, even subsidising items such as energy efficient bulbs!
Banning the street lights that illuminate large sections of our motorways
Making it illegal to point lights upwards
Subsidising the large scale planting of trees, especially on the sides of all roads and motorways
Having a sensible and informed debate about our future power requirements!

By the way, the base load (the constant load) in this country is provided by nuclear (Dungeness, Heysham etc, and the French nuclear plants via the inter-connector) and the large coal stations such as Drax. These stations provide huge amounts of power (and like to operate at about 80-90% of peak power) but take a long time to start up and come on-line (days). Next in line are the oil burners. These can be spun up within hours but tend to be expensive and are used only when one of the larger stations have to be taken off-line. Gas powered stations can be on-line quickly - in about 5-10 minutes. Immediate demands are met by the pumped reservoirs in Wales and Scotland which run up to speed in seconds; as the final whistle blows in a couple of week's time, National Grid will dump millions of tons of water through those large pipes. The water drives the turbines up to speed in seconds in order to meet the immediate demand of all those kettles! At the same time, the gas stations will be told to come on-line, and their output will become available just as the upper lake is drained. The gas stations are used to pump the water back to the top lake. Where does windpower fit into that? It's there but it's tiny.

Litotes

Listening to the radio and using a computer under an energy efficient lamp!
1. They have actually done a lot of life-cycle analysis. They reckon it takes 6 months for a wind turbine to "pay back" its CO2, given load factor etc. That's including every input they could think of. Remember you've got that input for any infrastructure, so for gas/oil/coal you're going to have concrete, roads, possibly rail etc.

2. Exactly, reduce consumption. However, electricity consumption has been rising pretty steadily at 1.8% for the last few years, are we going to stop it?

3. Energy white paper 2003 (bit of a greenwash) and now the Energy Review which is being written at the moment, blatantly going to suggest nuclear (just one point, we already know we're going to bury it, there are basically two questions; where? and do we want to be able to get to it again or not? In theory the site of sellafield and nearby would be fine, but they may or may not get it put through. We already have the problem of waste, if we now double our nuclear capacity to 40% (coming online starting 10 years from now) we'd only add to total waste volume by 10% - not a lot)

4. The French interconnector is about 2000MW if my memory serves me right, with a 1300MW connector to Scandanavia being built at the moment. Problem is if france have high demand at the same time we do. Drax is also 2000MW. Didcot is another baseload station, failing miserably to supply the south-east (along with dungness and sizewell B) which means there is an energy flow north to south (leeds area to london)

5. Wind power is a small part and it is suggested that you can only go to 10%-15% wind before you start getting problems but hey, it's part of the big picture. By that reasoning we could argue all fuel sources shouldn't be used and end up with the lights going out.

A final point about what you said at the start - The public is quite apathetic but everything is blown out of proportion by the media, action groups and well known individuals. Recent studies have shown widespread support for nuclear power, but the media and a few greenies still produce a lot of misguided cr*p about nuclear power. The same for wind (HRH Prince of Wales for example) and anything else anyone tries to do. A people will demand gas/oil to heat their homes, electricity to light them but don't like the look of turbines, the idea of nuclear, dismiss other renewable sources and yet agree that we need to reduce CO2 production. The worst type admittedly are those that try and claim that the enhanced greenhouse effect isn't man made and that climate change is nothing to do with man. We don't know how things will change, but they will and it's been forced by man's activities. Only people with vested interests publicly disagree with the idea of climate change, coming up with phrases that can be latched onto by a public not totally aware ("climate change has happened before " - yes, but never this quick and not with this concentration of CO2 in the last million years) etc. At the same time Swampy and his chums radicalise the green side, forcing people away thinking that they're going to give up everything or that everything is going to be much more expensive (it was proved that australia cutting their emissions 5% would actually increase the nation's wealth).

Oh well.

Thanks for the well informed posts from Litotes and others who have opinions based on knowledge :)
 
#19
In the last few weeks, I have seen something about Australia planning, or considering, what they will do with the world's largest mine in 20 year's time when it is worked out, and one of their options is to become a nuclear waste repository. Apparently, this mine is in the middle of nowhere and already has its own train set!

However, I note that America's plan to build a huge nuclear waste repository in the middle of nowhere (Nevada) has run into constant problems.

Litotes
 
#20
I'm well impressed with the level of knowledge displayed here! But we can't look at energy production in isolation. A major rethink has to take place at some time, otherwise the lights really will go out and nobody'll have a clue what to do.

Localising production is one thing that should be looked at. There's something obviously wrong with the concept of taking goat's milk from Scotland, transporting it to Greece, where it's turned into feta cheese, and then fetching it back to the UK. Likewise, transporting oranges, apples and various exotic vegetables from faraway countries because the public demands them but they're not is season here, is not addressing the problem in a responsible way.

MsG
 

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