Prime Time on the cost of wind

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The video is now online.

Eamon Ryan and Kieran O’Brien both cite an ESRI paper, but O’Brien does so accurately. UPDATE: The abstract of the paper is here.

Minister Ryan argues that the price of electricity falls as more wind power is added. This is true. The price reflects the marginal cost of power generation, which is zero for wind. However, what matters is the total cost of power generation, which may well increase as more wind is added to the system. From the household perspective, the price of electricity goes down with more wind, but the standing charge goes up.

Minister Ryan again extols the virtues of import substitution, despite much evidence to the contrary.

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52 Responses to “Prime Time on the cost of wind”

  1. Padraic Reidy Says:

    Sure build the inter-connector to China and we’re good to go right. . . . .

  2. Ossian Smyth Says:

    From the household perspective, the price of electricity goes down with more wind, but the standing charge goes up.

    Is this true where the market price of fossil fuel electricity stays above the feed-in tariff?

  3. denis Says:

    There are serious doubts that the energy produced by wind turbines, will ever exceed by a meaningful amount, the energy which has to be used to build, transport, install, and maintain these machines.
    The EROEI [energy return on energy invested] ratio quoted by wind turbine companies can be shown to be erroneous at 10 to 1 or more, and to be far more likely to be less than 3 to 1—-a totally uneconomic figure.
    Apart from that, the high quality of energy used to build the machines, can never be matched by the low quality of energy output—-an unreliable and erratic electricity supply, that needs an almost constant backup provided by burning fossil fuel, to give any continuity of supply.
    What madness prevails, to think that this form of electricity supply can work, when we finally start to run out of fossil fuel ?

  4. Tecumseh Says:

    @Richard

    Yes it is interesting how the pro-wind lobby always refer to the wholesale price or marginal price of electricity – they seem to “forget” the subsidies etc that the user has to pay for (or maybe they are free like the wind too ?) which ends up making it so expensive.

  5. Tim Morrissey Says:

    @Richard

    Some observations,

    That’s an interesting paper but the conclusions regarding import substitution vs outward exports are not clear-cut and there seem to be long cycles involved where learning by doing and knowledge accumulation play significant roles.

    The current PSO wind subsidies amount to about €40m annually which is less than that for peat generation. If you consider this as a form of energy insurance policy then it seems quite cheap in comparison to other sectors – motor etc. This will obviously grow as more renewables come on the system but I think anything up to about €200m in total should be allowed (with periodic reviews) for a certain length of time.

    Ciaran O’Brien made some valid points about the scale of the 2020 targets and I think there is merit in being more flexible with regard to this. I think his confidence in gas prices in the
    medium term makes a lot of assumptions though of which there is ongoing debate e.g.

    http://www.energybulletin.net/node/49342

    The lumping together of all the costs associated with future development to get a figure of c. €10bn was misleading as the impression was given that this was akin to your average Anglo bailout. This is clearly not the case and arguments with regard to the ratio of private/public investment involved and timescales aside – you at least have wealth producing assets as an outcome.

    A significant portion of these costs are for the network and as stated in the programme it is difficult to disentangle how much extra is due to wind. What is important though is that Eirgrid get good value for money in this process.

  6. EWI Says:

    There are serious doubts that the energy produced by wind turbines, will ever exceed by a meaningful amount, the energy which has to be used to build, transport, install, and maintain these machines.

    This is really the key question, isn’t it? (that fossil fuels are a serious long-term solution isn’t something that even RTol would claim).

    So, what’s coming down the road in terms of expected economy of scale and technological gains in efficiency for wind power, say within the next ten years?

  7. EWI Says:

    @ Tecumseh

    Yes it is interesting how the pro-wind lobby always refer to the wholesale price or marginal price of electricity – they seem to “forget” the subsidies etc that the user has to pay for

    If we factor out subsidies then nuclear power is unviable forever, then (and there’s a lot of subsidy for the oil industry that seems to get taken for granted).

  8. denis Says:

    @EWI—-very little, especially if the weather patterns continue to favour this quiet winter mode we seem to find ourselves in at present.
    Nuclear power, on the other hand, shows huge promise for large increases in efficiency, and decreasing capital costs, as standardised power stations are built.

  9. Carolus Galviensis Says:

    @ denis:

    I agree – nuclear power is about the only option left after fossil fuel EROEI drops to 1:1.

    A link you might like:

    http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/small-nukes-go-big-with-terrapower-toshiba-deal-whos-next/

  10. EWI Says:

    @ denis

    Nuclear power, on the other hand, shows huge promise for large increases in efficiency, and decreasing capital costs, as standardised power stations are built.

    My understanding is that the costs in nuclear are largely around the measures needed to run it safely and cleanly, which mean that it’d never be commercially viable – if we were to hold it to the same standards as RTol espouses.

  11. Carolus Galviensis Says:

    @ EWI

    According to some scientists, politically driven ‘regulatory ratching’ is the main cause of the rising costs of nuclear energy:

    Clearly, the regulatory ratcheting was driven not by new scientific or technological information, but by public concern and the political pressure it generated. Changing regulations as new information becomes available is a normal process, but it would normally work both ways. The ratcheting effect, only making changes in one direction, was an abnormal aspect of regulatory practice unjustified from a scientific point of view. It was a strictly political phenomenon that quadrupled the cost of nuclear power plants, and thereby caused no new plants to be ordered and dozens of partially constructed plants to be abandoned.

    http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html

    First, the Greens argued that nuclear energy might indeed be cheap but was too unsafe. Then the pols made it safer — but far more expensive. Now the Greens argue that nuclear power is still unsafe but also too costly in commercial terms. Skewed reasoning, but that’s the way ideologists function.

  12. fergaloh Says:

    Nuclear power has the benefit of having received humoungous amounts spent on R&D to render it commercially viable.
    Still no resolution regarding the waste though.

    Regarding EROEI, the general idea on renewables is that the energy cost is capital to set it up, after that operating costs should be low. It makes sense to invest now while energy costs are cheap as the future energy cost is only going to rise.

  13. Carolus Galviensis Says:

    @ fergaloh

    re: (nuclear) waste — for heresy’s sake, let’s say that all depends on the dose.

    A little bit of ionizing radiation can be good for you:

    Evidence of health benefits and longer average
    life-span following low-dose irradiation should
    replace fear, “all radiation is harmful,” and “the
    perception of harm” as the basis for action in the
    21st century. Hormesis is the excitation, or
    stimulation, by small doses of any agent in any
    system. Large doses inhibit. “Low dose” is
    defined as any dose between ambient levels of
    radiation and the threshold that marks the
    boundary between biopositive and bionegative
    effects….

    http://www.radpro.com/641luckey.pdf

  14. Mark Dowling Says:

    The waste issue is solvable (breeders) but that creates a proliferation issue. Basically someone needs to get back working on Integral Fast Reactors…

    I simply don’t think nuclear works in an Irish context unless it’s contributing to nuclear projects in the UK and importing the power or nuclear batteries which are shipped back to Japan at the end of the contract. The cost of the power stations needs to be supplemented by the regulatory apparatus and fuelling infrastructure and transport which is already in place in the UK, France etc.

  15. Tecumseh Says:

    Don’t you just love it when the Greenies always divert and distract with nuclear power and never address any of the issues with wind power.

    Why can’t they defend this policy ? Maybe it’s for the same reason that the CER and Eirgrid couldn’t defend it last night ? They know just as the report revealed last night – there is no robust cost-benefit analysis to support it – it’s simply a hunch from a Green Minister – a very expensive hunch.

  16. Debt Slave Says:

    I heard an advert on the radio this morning that Gormley T.D. is creating a big refuge for hedgehogs or something in the Wicklow mountains.

    Can we not just flood the place instead for a big hydro project that the otherwise inutile windmills can refill? Call it a duck refuge.

    On the plus side, the EPA are no longer running that ad telling people not to go shopping when they’re hungry to cut down on food waste. That was incitement to civil unrest considering the widespread poverty these days. Another one of their inspired tips was to make a shopping list. Genius use of public money. They should just go the whole hog and pay to replace Eastenders with images of Gormley and Ryan caressing badgers with L’Internationale playing in the background.

  17. Tim Morrissey Says:

    @Tecumseh

    What or who is a Greenie? it sounds like a catch-all term of derision and I think it’s juvenile to use it.

    How can you undertake a robust cost-benefit-analysis when no-one knows what assumptions are going to be valid in the future? Energy policy from all sides is guided by hunches but the important point is to have periodic reviews and I would not see the 2020 renewable targets as cast in stone in that regard.

  18. Brian Woods Says:

    Good to see some commentators have some technical understanding of energy issues (denis and Carolus – keep at it!). Case you missed it: ‘Applying Time to Energy Analysis’ – Nate Hagens [www.theOilDrum, Dec 13th].

    Energy is not just another economioc commodity that slots neatly into the normative norms of neo-classical economics – and electric energy is a secondary source of power. Which just multiplies the complexity of the issue.

    What’s our baseload? What’s our estimated peakload? What energy sources do we use to achieve these targets? Is our energy use (electric sort) set to ‘grow’ or ‘decline’? And what proportion of each source are we using? So we aim to be nett energy exporters??? Whose been at the Hopium then?

    1. Start with a programme of conservation: see how far we can decrease base and peak.

    2. Get building standards into line with max efficiency for energy use – includes appliances (number of and nature of). New Year’s resolution. Each household discards, and does not replace, an electrical appliance. We could institute a National Holiday on the strength of it!

    That did not cost much now, did it? Hello Min. Ryan! – you still with the programme?

    @ denis: Nasty issue with energy buildout costs of those windmills! Few will appreciate that predicament!

    Again: Could we have some real energy experts write a few pieces for this site. Sort of educate the Great Unwashed.

    BpW

  19. Tecumseh Says:

    @Tim

    “How can you undertake a robust cost-benefit-analysis when no-one knows what assumptions are going to be valid in the future?”

    It’s quite simply really
    1. You perform a comprehensive study to understand the technical aspects associated with wind power. It will determine which grid re-inforcements/upgrades are required. This study will determine the theoretical maximum wind generation allowable on the system.

    2. You publish full and detailed costs for the physical infrastructure required.

    3. Based on the theoretical maximum output you establish the operating requirements of thermal plants and the optimum portfolio to support wind (e.g. OCGT). This will determine how much carbon we actually save on an annual basis.

    4. You provide full and detailed costs to cover the additional costs of operating thermal plants in an inefficient manner to support wind.

    5. You establish a number of carbon and fuel price scenarios (realistic ones please) – and input these into the system model.

    6. You establish if wind will reduce or increase the FINAL bill to the customer including all subsidies.

    7. You publish all of this work – have an informed debate – consider ALTERNATIVES – evaluate the options and then proceed.

    “Greenies” are people who do not believe the public need to be informed about the economics and technical aspects of wind power.

  20. Paul Hunt Says:

    I think Tecumseh may have raised it already, but the principal argument being trotted out now in favour of wind is that it’s a gas price hedge. What has happened to the binding nature of the EU’s “20/20/20″ directive? Is it that, now that so much sovereignty has been lost, highlighting an earlier and agreed pooling of sovereignty is no longer politic? What has happened to the urgent requirement to save the planet?

    The two frightening things about this gamble are (1) that so little analysis has been done on estimating the full costs (subsidies, back-up generation, extension and reinforcement of networks, voltage and frequency control, etc) that will be incurred when compared to the costs that would be incurred under alternative generation mixes and (2) that it is being taken in a sector where huge deadweight costs are already being imposed on consumers.

    One would think that people would have learned something from the outcome of policy and regulation during the bank/property bubble. It beggars belief that, with the current extent of policy and regulatory dysfunction, there is such an unconsidered and under-researched commitment to charge ahead with this gamble. I suppose the next thing we’ll be hearing about is the ‘soft landing’.

  21. Tecumseh Says:

    Just in from the International Energy Agency
    Table 18 – Ireland – Renewable output (i.e. wind) down 14.5% YTD

    Following, you will find links to two versions:

    http://www.iea.org/stats/surveys/mes.pdf (PDF)

    http://www.iea.org/stats/surveys/mes.xls (Excel)

    For more information on electricity:

    http://www.iea.org/subjectqueries/keyresult.asp?KEYWORD_ID=4102 (for general IEA work on electricity)

    http://www.iea.org/stats/prodresult.asp?PRODUCT=Electricity/Heat (for statistics)

  22. The Alchemist Says:

    @Richard Tol

    Well I am surprised, in my best Basil Fawlty tone. Advancing evidence to the contrary and expecting a considered response from the Greens at their favourite subsidies trough?

    Any chance you could post a link to a pdf of that paper – jstor is limited to the first pages sans subscription

  23. bg Says:

    Congratulations to Donagh Diamond and RTE for this excellent report.

    The regulator and eirgird appeared sheepish and mildly evasive. We cannot blame them though. It has got to be tough having to justify expenditure of 10Bn on something we don’t need when the country is bust.

    Ciaran O’Brien was superb when allowed to speak.

    Special praise for Minister Ryan too. He deserves an oscar for his portrayal of a demented soon-to-be-unemployed used car salesman.

  24. Tecumseh Says:

    @bg
    “The regulator and eirgird appeared sheepish and mildly evasive. We cannot blame them though. ”

    Why not ? Have we not learned the lessons of poor regulation from the Financial Services Sector ? Who is footing the bill for these mistakes ?

    These guys are getting well paid – we should expect them to answer the most basic questions raised last night. We should not be making excuses.

    http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/electricity-demand-falls-to-2005-levels-on-economy-slump-eirgrid-2149488.html

    “Mr Byrne’s basic salary was €228,000 in the financial year to the end of September, but he took a voluntary 10pc paycut effective from January 2009, which reduced that amount by €17,000 to €211,000.

    However, he also received a long-term incentive payment of €57,000 relating to a three-year period ended in December 2008, and an annual bonus of €40,000 — net of the 10pc voluntary reduction, taxable benefits worth €18,000 and €68,000 in pension contributions, and director’s fees of €13,000 to bring his total package to €407,000. That compared with a total of €268,000 in the previous nine-month reporting period.”

  25. pongo Says:

    @Tol I have disagreed with you in the past on this site. But accept my apology please :)

    Thank you for spelling out to us mere mortals how we are being shafted yet again by yet another lobby group.

    Will we ever learn

  26. Richard Tol Says:

    @Pongo
    No need to apologize for disagreeing.

  27. EWI Says:

    @ Carolus

    According to some scientists, politically driven ‘regulatory ratching’ is the main cause of the rising costs of nuclear energy:

    The risks involved in this method of power generation are enormous (Three Mile, Chernobyl), as is well-known. And there are many, many near-misses:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_and_radiation_accidents

    First, the Greens argued that nuclear energy might indeed be cheap but was too unsafe. Then the pols made it safer — but far more expensive. Now the Greens argue that nuclear power is still unsafe but also too costly in commercial terms. Skewed reasoning, but that’s the way ideologists function.

    In fairnesss, it is you who is nuts. We cannot have cheap, safe nuclear power (period). There has been a multitude of subsidies required to keep it going to this point (not least the decontamination costs. as noted by fergaloh) and much indication that the reason is largely to do with being a ‘nuclear’ power (both for weapons and for status).

    @ tecumseh

    Don’t you just love it when the Greenies always divert and distract with nuclear power and never address any of the issues with wind power.

    Firstly, not a ‘Greenie’. Secondly, it defies common sense to apply one set of rules to wind and let nuclear get a free pass on having the very same criteria applied. You’ll note the dearth of RTol commentary regarding the costs of nuclear generation, which suggests that he knows it, too.

  28. Richard Tol Says:

    @EWI
    Nuclear is irrelevant for Ireland. We cannot build a plant before Moneypoint will have to close. The next opportunity to discuss a nuclear power plant will be in 2050.

  29. pongo Says:

    @TOL I disagree :D

    Money point wont be closing before 2020 and most likely be retired until 2025, its after undergoing a third of a billion refit, so ESB plant to keep it running for long time

    that gives us 15 years, a modern new generation plant (very safe) are being build rather quickly over in China > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AP1000
    average is about 7-10 years but most of that is due to beuracracy

    even with the Greens and NIMBYs dragging feet that’s still plenty of time

  30. Richard Tol Says:

    @Pongo
    At present, nuclear power is illegal in Ireland. So, we’d first need to change the law and then get planning permission. By that time, we’re closer to 2020 than to 2010. After that, you can build a plant in 7-10 years, but there is a queue of 15 years for the vessel.

    Besides, we’re broke and jobless. Capital-intensive projects are not our first priority. Labour-intensive projects are.

  31. BigEnd Says:

    @ denis
    “There are serious doubts that the energy produced by wind turbines, will ever exceed by a meaningful amount, the energy which has to be used to build, transport, install, and maintain these machines.”

    I have never understood this arguement. Wind turbines capture “new” energy from the wind and supplies 100% of the energy captured in the form of electricity to the grid. At least they contribute something back to their construction and may over time capture more energy than it took to build them.

    Conventional generation plant on the other hand transform one form of energy (coal, oil, gas etc) into another (electricity) and actually lose a whole pile of the input energy along the way – 50% to 70% of the input energy is lost up the stack to the atmosphere. So they will never contribution anything back to the energy required to construct them.

  32. Keith Cunneen Says:

    Did anybody try to have a rational discussion with a Born Again Christian -they see the light ahead and nothing else – They are in a permanent state of rapture.
    Every time I see Minister Ryan I get the same impression.

    Not to worry lads, debt and taxes are inevitable – we must embrace faith and project stupidity and then maybe we will be rewarded in the afterlife.

  33. Keith Cunneen Says:

    Did anybody try to have a rational discussion with a Born Again Christian -they see the light ahead and nothing else – They are in a permanent state of rapture.
    Every time I see Minister Ryan I get the same impression.

    Not to worry lads, debt and taxes are inevitable – we must embrace faith and project stupidity and then maybe we will be rewarded in the afterlife.

  34. Tony owens Says:

    @tecumseh @denis

    Whole life energy production in wind turbines is large enough to render embodied energy insignificant. Otherwise it is deeply unlikely that the economics of wind-based power gen would add up, even given the mild incentives available.

    What almost all commentators here seem to overlook which can’t be excused on the basis of a non-technological background is the strategic argument for renewable low carbon generation assets based in Ireland in the context of escalating imported energy prices, and issues around security of gas supply. Energy provisioning is not just a cost optimisation problem in a predictable world amenable to linear models. Please remember that we live in a non-linear world of life cycles and ingrained Darwinism. The latter does not merely apply to biological systems but to all systems, including technologies such as wnd and mini-nuclear but also to forms of social organisation, regulation and enterprise. In other words we are talking about survival here not just prevailing cents per kW/HR.
    It is not inconceivable that one possible future will be a world where fossil resources are so costly they cannot be expended for power gen. It has taken two decades to tee-up our society to accept limited amenity loss to power harvesting via wind and a tiny amount of solar thermal. The responsible thing at this stage is to exploit the prevailing ability to shift away from fossil fuel power gen dominance as quickly as possible and drive towards a low carbon society quickly. Wind and mini-nuclear are mature and well-understood technologies with predictable costs and benefits. All the fossil options are increasingly constrained by the politics of global climate change and by questionable security of supply.

  35. Mickey Hickey Says:

    The cost of crude will determine the viability of nuclear, geo, wind, wave, solar systems. Somewhere north of $150 a barrel and certainly by $200 a barrel all of the above will be clearcut winners. The elephant in the boiler is coal and in particular closed vessel extraction (chemical process) of gas from coal. Coal gas extraction plants were everywhere up until around 1954, it is a time tested and proven method of getting clean fuel from coal. Governments that are on the edge of bankruptcy would be well advised to sit on the sidelines until the market stabilises and the ROI of the alternatives becomes predictable.

  36. Tecumseh Says:

    @Tony Owens

    “Whole life energy production in wind turbines is large enough to render embodied energy insignificant.”

    Source please …

  37. fergaloh Says:

    Finally got to see the programme, the crux the discussion hinges on how cheap gas will be and how secure.

    O’Brien thinks that it is cheap and unending
    Ryan thinks Ireland should spread the risk and is doubtful about long term prices

  38. bg Says:

    fergaloh

    “O’Brien thinks that it is cheap and unending
    Ryan thinks Ireland should spread the risk and is doubtful about long term prices”

    Greenies used to claim that wind power is “free”, now they claim that wind power is “risk-free”.

    Of course this is nonsense. Needlessly doubling installed generation capacity risks locking in permanently higher electricity prices.

    Wind power exposes us to financing risk because expensive turbines need to be replaced after about 20 years. It also cements our dependence on gas prices, because wind is backed up by (relatively inefficient) open cycle gas turbine plant.

    Wind does not give us energy insecurity because it is intrinsically variable, even on annual or decadal timescales. More risk.

    Richard Tol dismissed the the wind power export business model in the Primetime report. Not risky, just guaranteed to lose money.

  39. pongo Says:

    Besides, we’re broke and jobless. Capital-intensive projects are not our first priority. Labour-intensive projects are.

    LOL, perhaps we can get the unemployed to blow into these windmills

  40. Tony Owens Says:

    @tecumseh

    Lots of work on embodied energy (time to achieve a net saving in the carbon emissions required to design, make, install, operate and decommission an energy-producing system) has been done.

    One authoritative resource with interactive calculator is here:
    http://pcwww.liv.ac.uk/~jonwoolf/Renew-1/worksheet/index.html

    The UK’s Sustainable Development Commission published ‘Wind in the UK’ in 2005 available here:
    http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/publications.php?id=234
    This holds that then-available turbine technology in a UK context recoups embodied energy in 3 – 10 months depending primarily on wind speed. Cost of UK utility-scale wind power is around 4% higher than the wholesale power price and this will increase slightly due to grid reinforcement investment requirements in future. Ireland’s situation will not be very different provided that state grid investments and planning transaction costs can be policed and may in fact be significantly better given the quality of our wind resources.

    A contrarian study on embodied energy on wind machines is here:
    http://library.witpress.com/pages/PaperInfo.asp?PaperID=17822

    Even this holds that such plant typically recovers over 20 times the embodied energy.

    @bg
    Power prices are rising, have done so with increasing rapidity and will accelerate. Ireland is heavily dependent on imported fossil power and the sooner we substitute capable renewable resources the less pain there will be.
    Intermittency is not a problem when combined with appropriate proportions of power purchase from the EU plus base production capacity whether this be pure fossil (e.g. CCGT) or also include pumped storage. Power dispatch risk estimation and mitigation is a technical field best left to the relevant industry professionals don’t you think?

  41. Brian Woods Says:

    @ Bigend: “have never understood this arguement. Wind turbines capture “new” energy from the wind and supplies 100% of the energy captured in the form of electricity to the grid. At least they contribute something back to their construction and may over time capture more energy than it took to build them.”

    Its the rate of production, and what is net of all inputs and consumer use. Too slow, too little! You must also have a good model of future use of electricity: Up, same or down. Only down is ‘sustainable’.

    @ Mickey Hickey: “The cost of crude will determine the viability ….”

    Please try to de-confuse money unit (economic) cost and energy unit (technology) cost when discussing the ‘viability’ of different sources of energy production. Money units are virtual constructs, but energy units are real. And, the embedded energy quality in a primary energy source is a highly salient matter. We have used up the ‘good’ stuff. You have a mandatory need for a primary energy source to get access to a secondary source.

    When will that farthing drop? We MUST reduce our electricity use ASAP. Yes, we do need new and replacement capacity, but try conserving first.

    BpW

  42. denis Says:

    Not all of us are engineers, however to have an understanding of energy and its importance in our existence here on earth, one has to have some technical competence in this field. This is what makes a public discussion on energy so difficult, especially when those making the decisions have little or no engineering training themselves, and are so confident in their ignorance, that they will not even listen to sound engineering advice. [ see Dunning -Kruger syndrome on Wiki.]
    It is somewhat heartening to see that so many people here are trying to come to grips with the energy conundrum that we face.
    I would urge every one to read the following on the problems with alternative energy and EROEI.
    Jeff Vail is also an engineer as well as being a lawyer.
    http://www.jeffvail.net/2009/07/renewables-hump-8-concluding-thoughts.html

  43. pongo Says:

    @Denis on that PrimeTime you had that smiling liar on one hand lying thru’ his teeth on the other hand you had an engineer laying out clearly the facts.

    Unfortunately the people of the country seem to fall for the cheesy salesmen types not the engineers who are scratching their heads in confusion.

    As someone who worked in generation in Ireland for a period, have a masters engineering degree and member of Engineers Ireland I find the current fascination with with wind strange to say the least, it is not an optimal solution and I don’t believe enough research and analysis has been done. We are just following blindly down an ideologically driven path by people (Green Party) partially responsible for the economic mess this country is in.

    Despite my background I have a keen interest in economics and while not being qualified as most here on this site, I understand the dangers of projects being driven by ideology and not demand/requirements. I was shocked to hear that there was no cost/benefit analysis done and the people earning 6 figure salaries unable to tell us how much meeting the targets would cost us.
    Scary especially in the light of similar incompetence in the banking sector.

  44. Brian Woods Says:

    @ denis: Well said!

    “. . .so confident in their ignorance . . .” Lovely:11 out of 10!!

    Thanks for JV reference. Will download and read. He posts regularly on theOilDrum.

    BpW

  45. The Alchemist Says:

    Quick question: what happened to the biomass initiatives? Wasn’t there talk on and off since the mid-90s of anyone with the resources sticking a half acre of willows behind their house?

    I firmly believe that Ireland should have developed a heating policy based around the cultivation of woodland.

  46. Donogh Diamond Says:

    Thanks for all the comments, and apologies if a TV programme on an item like this seems a bit simplistic sometimes – it’s the nature of the beast.
    The central argument of those who are pressing for the major expansion of wind power, but declining to state the upfront costs, seems to be that they cannot give the upfront costs in isolation from future assumptions about fuel costs etc. I don’t understand this. If a car salesman was trying to sell me a hybrid car, he would tell me that it would save me a fortune in the future, but he wouldn’t be able to tell me exactly how much. I would accept this. But if he then said that he couldn’t tell me the price of the car, but that he would have a variable direct debit from my account for the next decade of so, I think I would leave the showroom.
    While I was acutely aware of the danger of viewers confusing the 10 billion euro investment with a 10 billion euro bill to the taxpayer – the argument “but this is private investment” has also been used to justify other infrastructural investments that some people have questioned eg. Metro North and Terminal 2. But in highly regulated markets, where investors have been effectively insured against losses by the State, the only possible sources available to cover any losses is the customer, or the taxpayer.
    The arguments over possible future fuel prices are really interesting, but i think the most interesting philosophical point is the dangers inherent in politicians (or civil servants) “picking winners”, planning for that winner passing the post, and then investing a fortune in preparing that winner for the race. It’s not just that a much better horse might arrive, it’s that it might be a totally different race, run somewhere else, and among entirely unforeseen participants. (yeah, I know I’ve really overstretched that metaphor).
    Thanks again for all the comments.

  47. denis Says:

    Compared to the potential of nuclear energy, willows out the back, cow dung, biomass, windmills and all the rest is either Victorian engineering, or third worldy nonsense, that is not going to give us the energy that we are going to need to provide us with a civilized life style.

  48. The Alchemist Says:

    I disagree Denis. Of course wood won’t replace electricity but it could supplement other energy sources. At the moment, imported Polish ash (the tree not the cinders) is for sale in Ireland at approx €150-€175 per cubic metre (kiln dried at that). Most Irish houses could take a wood-stove. Better our own timber than imported I would have thought. It requires (required) long term planning and foresight.

  49. denis Says:

    @ Alchemist—-run my own house on wood burning stoves, but it is only of limited use for most people.
    I am lucky to have— few neighbours who could object to smoke, access to wood, sheds to store wood, and a place to dump ashes.
    Not practical for apt. living in cities or small towns, and it does put dust into the house, and is not recommended for use in a modern house, where heat recovery systems are now becoming a necessary part of high insulation and air tightness standards.

  50. denis Says:

    You have been fobbed off in a most outrageous way.

    We are going to be paying for this government`s total ineptitude in economics and energy policy for many many years.

    I for one, thank you for your efforts in trying to get some accountability from this hopeless bunch of incompetents, and can only hope that you get some satisfaction from their replacements.

  51. Tecumseh Says:

    @Pat Swords

    Excellent work ! Shame on those you have exposed on the OCEI website – the Prime Time report is just the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully this is the start of a serious discussion on so called “green” technologies.

  52. Wind Generator Pl NE – Save The Planet save money and the right place! | MuchCoupons.com Says:

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