Hydro vs wind power

Share this article

I was incensed to read in the Daily Telegraph, issue June 14, that wind turbine farmers are being paid constraint payments to keep their turbines idle when too much wind generation could cause a surge on the transmission network. Furthermore I take issue with the statement that electricity cannot be stored. Admittedly the conversion rate for a hydrogen electrical power storage system or power battery charging system would be poor compared with the 75 percent conversion rate for a hydrogen pumped storage station like Dinorwic in Snowdonia.

Surely if a generation surge could be damped by diverting some wind power generation to power storage the amount of fossil fuel generation could be reduced?

I understand that in former years nuclear power contributed 20 percent of UK generation and that nuclear stations operate best when the load they deliver is kept steady. In a hydro storage station when consumer demand was low the water drawn from the upper reservoir through the turbine generator to the catchment lake was pumped back up again. Other turbine generators powered by fossil fuels took up the remaining demand when nuclear stations were kept at optimum load delivery.

I further understand that this steady state generation helped stabilise the transmission network. I don’t see the benefit of installing more sustainable energy generation than the network can tolerate.

Furthermore although first cost would be higher the output from hydro systems whether tidal or from a reservoir would be more predictable even though the load factor might be no better. Surges similar to those from wind turbines should not occur from hydro stations.

The taxpayer pays the cost of total installed generation capacity one way or other. I understand that currently this is c.80 GVA in order to generate the Maximum Demand of c 58 GVA to avoid power cuts, ie 37 percent

extra. The more that intermittent generation is installed the more this percentage will rise.

Alan Grindley, Ringmer