Empirical measurement of fossil fuel displacement by wind power

Dr John Etherington made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Energy and Climate Change

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Department of Energy and Climate Change did not have the information requested.

Dr John Etherington

Dear Department of Energy and Climate Change,

Wind power now contributes between zero and c. 5 GW of
generating output to UK electricity supply, according the the vagary of the wind and a substantial proportion of UK wind-feed is now metered real-time by the National Grid. The variation of wind-feed must be balanced by ramping-up or ramping-down fossil-fuelled load-following generators.

The justification for deploying expensive wind power is saving of fossil fuel and mitigation of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission.

Enquiry. Has any attempt been made to relate the short term
variation of ACTUAL fuel-use by load-following plant to
metered wind power feed-in? If so, can the figures be
provided, expressed as tonnes of CO2 actually saved per
MWh of wind generated electricity?

If no such attempt has been made why not, as carbon-fuel
displacement is the only justification for deploying expensive, and covertly subsidised wind power?

Yours faithfully,

Dr John R. Etherington
Pembrokeshire

FOI Requests,

DECC Ref: 11/0607

Dear Dr Etherington,

Thank you for your request for information which was received on 3 May
2011. Your request has been passed on to the appropriate official at the
Department of Energy and Climate Change to deal with.

Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and will be responded at the latest by 1 June 2011.

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-----Original Message-----
From: FOI-EIR queries - DECC
Sent: 01 May 2011 14:48
To: FOI Requests
Subject: FW: Freedom of Information request - Empirical measurement of
fossil fuel displacement by wind power

-------------------------------------------
From: Dr John Etherington[SMTP:[email address]]
Sent: Sunday, May 01, 2011 2:47:23 PM
To: FOI-EIR queries - DECC
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Empirical measurement of fossil
fuel displacement by wind power Auto forwarded by a Rule

Dear Department of Energy and Climate Change,

Wind power now contributes between zero and c. 5 GW of
generating output to UK electricity supply, according the the
vagary of the wind and a substantial proportion of UK wind-feed is
now metered real-time by the National Grid. The variation of
wind-feed must be balanced by ramping-up or ramping-down
fossil-fuelled load-following generators.

The justification for deploying expensive wind power is saving of
fossil fuel and mitigation of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission.

Enquiry. Has any attempt been made to relate the short term
variation of ACTUAL fuel-use by load-following plant to
metered wind power feed-in? If so, can the figures be
provided, expressed as tonnes of CO2 actually saved per
MWh of wind generated electricity?

If no such attempt has been made why not, as carbon-fuel
displacement is the only justification for deploying expensive, and
covertly subsidised wind power?

Yours faithfully,

Dr John R. Etherington
Pembrokeshire

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FOI Requests,

Dear Dr. Etherington,

RE: Empirical measurement of fossil fuel displacement by wind power

Thank you for your Freedom of Information requests received on 1 May
2011.

Your requests, received 1 May from Dr John R. Etherington

"Has any attempt been made to relate the short term variation of ACTUAL
fuel-use by load-following plant to metered wind power feed-in? If so,
can the figures be

provided, expressed as tonnes of CO2 actually saved per MWh of wind
generated electricity?

If no such attempt has been made why not, as carbon-fuel displacement is
the only justification for deploying expensive, and covertly subsidised
wind power?"

We have considered your request in accordance with the Environmental
Regulations 2004 (EIRs) as the information you sought disclosure of,
does in our view, fall within the definition of `environmental
information' as stated in the EIRs. We have now completed searching for
the information you requested.

In order to determine the relation of the short term variation of actual
fuel-use by load-following plant to metered wind power feed-in, we would
need to know what fuel use would have occurred in the absence of wind
power (i.e. the counterfactual).

This counterfactual (the fuel use in the absence of wind power) depends
on the proportions of nuclear, CCGT or coal investment that are being
displaced by wind power and the effects on their subsequent operation.
Such a counterfactual can only be calculated by modelling a world
without wind power and by subsequently comparing it to the current data
on emissions from the grid. No such analysis has been carried out by
DECC.

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Freedom of Information Team

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W Short left an annotation ()

It seems clear to me that DECC have misinterpreted the request.

There is avoidance of the issue with energy loss thus CO2 emission directly related to the ramping-up and ramping-down which considerably adds to the balance.

There is also evasion of the issue with the type of generation that must be used as back-up. It is very clear that such backup must be able to quickly ramp up and down as the wind changes. There is no way that nuclear or combined cycle gas can be used in this way, thus the specific backup to wind requires generation that results in higher CO2 emission.

It is concern that those replying to the information request either do not understand and appreciate these issues or simply obfuscate and avoid proper reply.

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