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Monday, 13 January 2014

Bird Mincers.

wind turbine (1)

I wrote an article a while back on the effective life of onshore wind turbines which the renewables companies try to keep quiet. They state that wind turbines are factored to have a through life of 25 years.

I’m not the only one to question the data. Having been an engineer for 43 years I’ve never come across any piece of machinery that will last that length of time without very severe costs involved. Of course the majority of the MSM never actually dig into find out what the true life of turbines may be.

A study was carried out at Edinburgh University which shed some doubt on the industry claims. The report dates back to 2012.

A study commissioned by the Renewable Energy Foundation has found that the economic life of onshore wind turbines could be far less than that predicted by the industry.

The “groundbreaking” research was carried out by academics at Edinburgh University and saw them look at years of windfarm performance data from the UK and Denmark.

The results appear to show that the output from windfarms — allowing for variations in wind speed and site characteristics — declines substantially as they get older.

"British turbines have got bigger and wind farms have got bigger and they are creating turbulence which puts more stress on them.

"It is this stress that causes the breakdowns and maintenance requirements that is underlying the problem in performance that I have been seeing.”

Prof Hughes examined the output of 282 wind farms —about 3,000 turbines in total — in the UK and a further 823 onshore wind farms and 30 offshore wind farms in Denmark.

Professor Hughes, last week was questioned over his presumptions by the energy blogger Chris Goodall.

I wrote a few weeks ago about the surprising assertion from the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) that the performance of wind farms declines rapidly with age. A study carried out by Professor Gordon Hughes for the REF in 2012 suggested that ‘The normalised load factor for UK onshore wind farms declines from a peak of about 24% at age 1 to 15% at age 10 and 11% at age 15’. To put this in everyday English, Professor Hughes is saying that a 15 year old onshore wind farm will typically produce less than half its initial output of electricity. Few people in the industry would demur from a conclusion that wind farms very gradually lose output but none accepted Hughes’s finding that electricity generation falls at anything like the rate he stated.

Who do you believe? After all, you as a taxpayer are funding the building of these Bird Mincers. You have to ask yourself the question. Am I getting value for money for this form of energy?


  1. I have never believed the hype about wind farms. I'm Master of a coastal tanker, have watched these wind farms sprouting up around the coast and seen what proportion of them aren't working on even a moderately windy (what you might call a good power generating) day. It's boom time for the contractors for, and owners of, these monstrosities, but disaster for the consumers and taxpayers.

  2. The normalised load factor... "declines from a peak of 24%"
    Does this mean a totem with a nominal design of, say, 1MW, will at best produce 240kW? If so, these obscenities are not just useless, but a massive con.

    1. @ Ed P - not exactly. What it means is that a nominal 1MW turbine will produce a yearly average of 240MW. Or look at it another way - in a stiff breeze it might actually chuck out the full rated amount, in a light breeze it could be a few tens of KW's, or when it's calm nothing at all!

      There is another crafty wheeze being employed - since the subsidies paid out are greater per unit for sub 500KW turbines, the investors are now installing standard 2MW units, but limiting the maximum output to 500KW, knowing they will be running nearer to this figure for more of the time, and thereby maximising the amount of subsidies they receive...

    2. Dismal as 24% sounds it is actually significantly higher then the typical daily (or most common) rating. Because the energy in the wind obeys a cube law (2 x speed = 8 x energy and also sadly 1/2 speed = 1/8 energy) The annual average ends up looking like a number of unpredictable short term spikes smeared over a grindlingly low base value. As memory serves me - the capacity factor (i.e. the 24%) is only ever reached or exceeded in UK for less than 40% of the year. The headline rating is very rarely reached (if ever - a maximumum of a few hours a year)

    3. I would expect that in fact the only time they achieve their nameplate capacity is when they are run on test for the first time in order to gain a certificate to state that they are safe. Then probably again every four or five years in order to retain their certificate.

      I'll look up the regs when I've time.

  3. My accountant is courting the 'contractors' who work in the Walney offshore farm as they are loaded, pretty dim, scared shitless of HMRC whicg apparently makes them an ideal customer as they are all self employed.

    Best of all though is those in the 'maintenance game who spend most days fishing or bobbing about in boats due to the weather and the shed load of elfin safety that prevents them from working if a butterfly flaps its wings.

    Off topic but highly relevant (is that possible?)
    Do have a read of this most excellent PDF. It’s well worth the time it takes.

    1. Thanks for that. I've read some of it and will read the rest tomorrow.

  4. From everything I've read in the last few years, wind turbines normally go tits-up after only 5-7 years because of gearbox trouble.

    In the USA this problem is so bad that a Government-sponsored agency ("Gearbox Reliability Collective" (GRC), part of the NREL, National Renewable Energy Laboratory) has been looking into it since 2007 and they still don't know for sure what causes it, let alone have any clue as to how to fix it.

    For more info, see:

    This website also has interesting articles for anybody interested in the damage being caused to the seabed by offshore turbines.


    1. "the damage being caused to the seabed..."

  5. I like this page for putting it all into perspective, I have rarely seen anything worthwhile out of the wind gauge in the time I have been using it.

  6. Any structure, let alone one with massive moving parts that spends it's life immersed in salt water in the face of the North Sea storms can only be described as doomed, The cost of maintenance on these monstrosities is yet to kick in, when it does many people are in for a very nasty shock.


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