Wind Turbines and Silver Spoons

I have some  questions for you my despised and disgruntled Little Englanders.

Say you had a nice little rowing boat. A fine little craft which you loved and loved you back. It loved you in a way that only boat owners (and their boats) can know.

Let us give our fine little craft an inspiring name.

Let us call her "Tellus Mater" - after the Roman goddess.  After all, this is not a Greek tragedy - even for Dioclese.

Lets say that on one terrible day, our fine little craft "Tellus Mater" sprung a leak. She started to sink. Remember, you love your little "Tellus Mater" and your little "Tellus Mater" loves you back. You would, no doubt be alarmed, panic stricken even.

But maybe you are also strapped for cash (like Billothewisp). There are mouths to feed, fires to stoke, bills to pay. Oh, so many demands! On such a little a budget!

Maybe you only have a tenner in your pocket. You need to buy a bailer for the boat but you need to feed the kids as well.

What do you do? (this is multiple choice so you don't have to take your socks off to answer it)

Do you:

1. Buy an effective bailer that you can rely on.

2. Spend your money on some really fashionable silver spoons.

OK that may seem somewhat bizarre. So lets us work up some model answers to both possibilities.

Answer 1:

With your effective bailer you save the boat. Then with the change left over buy some food for the kids. Job done. (Drama Queens need not apply).


Answer 2:

With your silver spoons in your hands you sneer your disdain about anyone who would buy anything as ugly as a proper bailer.

Unfortunately baling the boat out with your spoons proves difficult. They only bail tiny amounts of water and often they fail to bail out anything at all.

You pride and joy - the fine little boat "Tellus Mater" gets ever lower in the water.

You desperately buy more spoons and clutch more spoons in each hand. You paddle desperately at the water.

The man selling the spoons is very happy and tells you what a fine example you make and suggests ugly bailers should be banned.

You sneer at those around you who suggest that you really need a good bailer and the spoons are simply a waste of money and time. Eventually though, out of irritation, and seeing your spoons do not really work all that well, you heed their advice.

You take out a loan and buy a bailer as well.

Of course from then on most of the bailing gets done by the bailer, but every now and then when the conditions are <just> right you revert to using the spoons.

At last little "Tellus Mater" is saved.

The spoons are still wonderfully fashionable and you can grandstand to all those around you. You can tell them about how wonderful your spoons are and how they are the true saviour of "Tellus Mater" Meanwhile the despised bailer is chucked over the side.

The Grotty Yotties down from the city, sitting at anchor on their floating Eco Gin Palaces, hear your fine words and listen transfixed. They need silver spoons as well! A competition ensues.

Who has the most silver spoons?
Who is the most fashionable?

Ugly bailers are abandoned en-masse, just in case they ruin the new image.

The man selling the spoons is very, very happy. Your kids though are crying because they have gone unfed. (moan.. moan.. moan.. some people are always complaining)

Meanwhile, unseen by you and the Grotty Yotties the skies have darkened. A few spots of rain announce the coming storm.

All of the bailers have drifted away........

So my grubby little international band of compatriots what is the moral of this tale?

Well funnily enough the average sized bailer holds about 2 litres of the old briny, whereas a fashionable silver dessert spoon holds about 20 milli-litres of the same salt sea ocean.

The ratio then is about 100:1

Just by utter coincidence a modern nuclear power station is rated around 920MW whereas a shiny new fashionable  wind farm consisting of four of the very largest turbines is rated at just under 9.2MW (although really it only ever manages about 2MW).

Again we have a ratio of 100:1

So, in a tight spot, what do we choose? 

Ugly bailers or silver spoons?

Nuclear power or wind turbines?

Practicality or Fashion-ability?

Oh, Decisions. Decisions.

Ed Balls Returns

Billothewisp is feeling slightly ill.

 It has nothing to do with the 5 pints of Old Rosie (The cider of Champions) he recently embibed.

But is has everything to do with the Machiavellian return of the odious Ed Balls.

After knifing his brother in the back Ed Milliband at least tried to do the decent thing and clear out the rotten core of Browns economic disaster. But now  the economically illiterate shadow chancellor Alan Johnson has chucked his hand in and our Ed is under pressure. Foolishly he has decided to re-rehabilitate  Ed Balls. The wreckers apprentice has returned.

The ugly ambition of Ed balls is already shining through, his little piggy eyes glint and shine. But then he is after all, the next leader in waiting.

If I were Ed Milliband I would watch my back. Sooner or later, it could end up just like his brothers.

Superstition and Disease.

Back in the 19th century relatives of mine from the  age of eight were sent down coal mines. For months on end they saw no sunlight. Today we know that sunlight provides vitamin D. We also know that in very rare cases of excessive exposure, sunlight can also cause skin cancer.

I suspect none of my 19th century relatives were ever lucky enough to go sunbathing. But Rickets was endemic amongst the poor. I expect they would have gladly traded their bent legs for a little sunshine and a miniscule risk of skin cancer.

Lack of sunlight (and so vitamin D) makes your bones soft. They bend. The victim can end up crippled or deformed.  While there is a sensible case for skin protection in bright sunlight, the emphasis is on the word "sensible".

Rickets was eradicated many years ago. But now it has returned. Why? Because of an hysterical obsession with sunlight, its relationship to "radiation" and cancer. People have been coating their children with factor 50 sun-cream. That is, if they have even allowed them outside in the first place.

Confidently these paranoid parents see that no sunshine means no radiation, no cancer. The hysterical propaganda pushed out against nuclear power arrives at its final bizarre conclusion. In order for nuclear to be "unsafe" all radiation must be "unsafe". So Rickets returns.

How sad. But how typical.

I would put money on it that most of the parents of these poor children are avid supporters of trivialities like wind power, homoeopathy, crystal healing and palmistry. They are probably deeply suspicious of modern medicine and I would imagine they regard nuclear power with utter horror.

But really, this succinctly sums up the choice we have today. On one hand we can follow a fashionable paranoid doctrine, dwell on irrational fears and probably cripple our children in the process. Or on the other we can continue to embrace modern technology and medicine which have served us so well over the last two centuries.

People today have a quality of life immeasurably better than that of our Victorian ancestors. This has been solely achieved by 150 years of relentless scientific, medical and engineering progress. Regrettably there are plenty of pressure groups who are all too keen to reverse this progress. They are keen to portray the smallest risk as a conspiracy or cover-up, simply to promote their own twisted doctrines. Unfortunately there are even more fools who hang on their every word.

If we continue to  over-react to these hyped-up scare stories, it is our children who will ultimately suffer.

Rickets regrettably, is only the thin end of the wedge.

A Wind Turbine Malaise

Do you know that 6000 people die in the UK every year from Asbestos related illnesses?

Back in the sixties and seventies, did you ever clean out your brakes using an air hose? Ever smashed up an old asbestos roof and seen all those little fibres floating in the wind? Maybe you even tossed around some of the murderous Blue Asbestos. Yet Asbestos looks so benign, harmless even. A wonder material with so many uses. Today our older schools, hospitals and public buildings are still full of the stuff.

Makes your blood run cold doesn't it?

If someone had told you back then, that emerging research had shown that there might be a problem, maybe you would have taken a few more precautions. Certainly those responsible for the safety of the community would have been expected to put people first. Maybe that yearly death toll would not now be 6000 (that is in this country alone).

But we were not told. Vested interest saw to that. There was too much money involved. It took independent and often disparaged researchers to prove the ill effects of Asbestos. By then for many, it was too late.

Today wind turbines are increasingly being implicated in causing illness in people forced to live in their proximity. There are an increasing number of reports and studies raising concern about the hidden consequences of living next to wind turbines.

The response from the wind industry is one of denial. Funded research from the wind industry reaches the unsurprising conclusion one would expect from such reports: There is no problem. Their current masterpiece “Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects” which did a non systematic review of existing literature did not even have an epidemiologist on the panel. Commenting on this review, the highly respected NHS website ( HERE ) disparages the lack of an epidemiologist and makes some very scathing observations on both the methodology of the review and its conclusions.

I am reminded of another industry and how it manipulated the truth through paid research. Remember Big Tobacco? Remember how nobody has ever proved a link between smoking and lung cancer? Remember how they routinely disparaged honest researchers and even ruined careers to hide their dirty little secret? How many millions of lives has that cost?

There should be no more land based turbines. Especially anywhere near where people live (as is the case now in Denmark). This is after all, only a cautionary approach. It should be adopted at least until these urgent medical issues have been resolved. People must come before wind turbines. Especially when the only plus side is pitiful amounts of highly expensive and intermittent electricity.

Finding out there really is a problem in 5 years time will be too late. There will be no excuses. Especially for those making the decisions today.

A Business Banking Rebellion

Once upon a time us grubby little Englanders regarded our banks as respectable, honest institutions. Pillars of society. Bank managers were respected and viewed with awe. Meeting one was usually regarded with a level of trepidation. A bit like  being called to see the headmaster or waiting to see the dentist.

Your money was safe in banks. They paid interest on your savings and charged appropriate rates for loans. They made a respectable profit on the difference.  They were seen as the basis for fair dealing and financial honesty thoughout the country.

Small businesses could go to them assured that their situation would be given fair consideration, even if "the interview" was a bit like an interrogation by Special Branch. But if you had a good  history you could get the money to expand your business. You could trust the banks.

How things change.

At the moment the small businesses requiring short term loans are being crucified. Even if they are offered loans they are often at extortionate rates of interest.

This reluctance to lend becomes a self fulfilling propecy. No loans mean businesses cannot expand or modernise. No expansion or modernisation means they lose market share. They become less viable.  As they are less viable they are even less likely to attract a loan. Eventually they go under or are taken over. Hey Presto. The bankers were right all along.

But there is hope.

Lenders and borrowers are rebelling against the tyranny of the banks.

The new revolutionary concept of Peer to Peer banking is storming ahead. This is where the "banker" acts like a facilitator or intermediary and does not actually hold the purse strings itself. Real, actual people are the lenders and they decide the rates.

Most of the development so far has been with enabling peer to peer lending to individuals. The main player in this market has been the highly successful firm ZOPA. Now the model has been extended into the business sector by a new company called Funding Circle.

Funding Circle is soley concerned with facilitating loans to small and medium sized businesses. They are in their infancy at then moment but the concept looks good. It works by letting individuals directly loan money directly to small businesses. Funding Circle is simply the intermediary

Small businesses needing cash can register to borrow money.

A single lender will make many very small loans (£20) to many businesses. A single credit checked borrower will have their loan constructed from many small lenders.

The interest rate is decided in exactly the same way as done at ZOPA. The lender decides what rate he wants to achieve and then the loan offer is contructed from the lowest offers. So if you offer to loan money at a ridiculously high rate you will have no takers, while the borrower is classified according to a credit rating so he will only be offered a loan from borrowers who will have adjusted their rate to take into account the credit risk. On any one borrower, a lender is only risking a small amount of money.

The end result is that businesses can achieve loans at significantly lower rates than offered by the banks while lenders (i.e. savers) get a return (that takes into account potential bad debt) which is at least twice that offered by the banks. You can, by the way lend as little as £500. This is not a scheme simply for the rich.

Before you ask, I have no financial or work interest with Funding Circle. That is other than that I have bunged in £500.00 to see what happens. So far I am very impressed.

If your small company needs a fair loan, have a look at Funding Circle. If you have some savings and you want to get a good return (and actually use your money to do something useful) then I recommend you look to become a lender. As well as that, in a small way you also get to screw the greedy banks.

Next (or soon)  I will be looking at the third very interesting leg of Peer to Peer banking with KIVA and the charity sector.

The Bankers Achilles Heel

Billothewisp has been watching the unfolding farce surrounding bankers bonuses with probably as
much disbelief and disgust as the rest of you grubby little Englanders.

I suppose it really was too much to expect the arrogant ignorant and greedy to put anyone else before themselves. Even when we are all up to our bottom lips in their debt.

The bankers feel invincible. They can ignore the shrill cries about fair play and  responsibility. They can sneer at the common hard working folk while gloating over their own growing mountain of gold.

This travesty will continue year in, year out. Until, out of nowhere, "something" will happen that turns them from an arrogant elite into a flock of foolish redundant dinosaurs.

And maybe that "something" had already happened.

Maybe an event has already taken place that spells doom for out extremely well fed friends. Perhaps they have been so busy swindling the rest of us that they did not notice the high tide of banking excess has reached a turning point.

Revolutions, even against the most despicable tyrants, never happen unless there is someone, or something of a revolutionary nature that sparks the gunpowder.

Billothewisp reckons (or at least hopes)the today that spark has arrived and has the name of Peer to Peer banking.

Currently the most popular manifestation is a company called ZOPA but there other infant companies like Funding Circle. The concept has even expanded into the charity field with an organisation called KIVA.

Currently all of these companies simply deal with arranging and financing loans. But all revolutions have to start somewhere.

Peer to Peer banking works in a completely different way to normal banking.

With a bank you borrow off the bank. They decide the rate. You get what you are given. The money they take in from savers gathers derisory interest. The bankers pocket almost all the profit.

Companies like ZOPA work in a completely different way. They are an arranger. They do not own the loans, but they take a commission for sorting things out.

A loan for £500 will have 50 lenders, each lending £10. Each lender, lending in total £500 will lend £10 to 50 different borrowers. All borrowers are credit checked as for a normal loan, and the risk of bad debt is reduced by the spread of the lenders money over many borrowers.

The best part is that the interest rate is determined by what the lenders is prepared to lend it for - and what the borrower is prepared to pay. Hence the name ZOPA (Zone Of Possible Agreement). Borrowers pay less and lenders gain more. This would have been impossible before modern computers.

It is revolutionary. The cobwebbed ossified banks have no answer.

I hope it works.

I hope ZOPA, its clones and competitors continue to grow exponentially. I really hope the greedy banking elite come to rue the day the scorned and swindled the British public. Maybe with a real revolutionary alternative to the big banks we will avoid ever getting in this mess again.

I'm having a go with ZOPA (you want to try lending through them, you can start with £50.00), also Funding Circle and soon KIVA. It's worth a punt.

I'll tell you how it goes.

Wind Power: The Damning Results

Here is the results from some analysis of the 3 month NETA Wind Turbine metered output. This NETA data is independant and used to pay power generators. There is no wishful thinking or political slant on this data. This data is freely available and continuously updated  HERE.

The snapshot I used is available HERE

The first graph below is a frequency plot of power output against half hour billing slots. It shows how often, within the 3 month period wind power contributed a particular power level (power level - X axis number of half hour periods - Y axis. (Sorry forgot to label the graph properly)

The most shocking outcome from this graph is that the most common output from the whole of the national metered wind power system is 300MW. That equates to  12% of their maximum rating of 2430MW. They were running at this level, or less for more than 30% of the 3 month period.

The graph indicates that while in the 3 month period the output fell to close to zero (less than 100MW ) for no less than (in-total) 147 hours, at no no time it ever reach anywhere near the often hyped maximum rating. In fact the total output never even reached 85% of this rating. The absolute maximum achieved was 2065MW (84.8%). This was achieved for (in-total) one hour in the three month period.

This graph below shows the half hourly power ratings linearly from  low to high. Wind energy is governed by a cube law. Double the wind speed and get 8 times as much power (unfortunately the reverse is also true - halve the speed get 1/8th the power). Here you can see the cube law in action and how it skews the output so most of the time wind power generation is  BELOW the Capacity Factor

The raw average (or capacity factor), which is arrived at by simply adding all readings up and then dividing by the number of readings gives an capacity factor  of 25%. (608MW) On their website the BWEA suggest it is 30%. Often the figure gets inflated further. The press blindly accept what they are told.

This otherwise laudable  Daily Mail Article   falls into exactly this trap.

Remember these NETA figures include offshore as well as onshore sites so the Capacity Factor is certain to be even poorer for on shore turbines alone.

The BWEA suggest that the capacity factor taken in isolation is meaningless. I (sort-of) agree with this. As electricity generation cannot be stored, the duration of the power generation operation is as important (or arguably more so) than the averaged value.

In this three month period the wind output only managed to reach or exceed this capacity factor (25% - 608MW) for less than 40% of the time. If you use the much hyped BWEA figure of a 30% capacity factor, then this value was only reached or exceeded for 23% of the 3 month period.

Due to the cube law relating wind speed and power output, we find that half the 3 months energy arrived in less than 25% of the time leaving the other half to cover the remaining 75% of the period. This is actually an improvement on the single facility figures of about 15% found in the USA (Lee Ranch Sample Data (1/2 way down this page) .

This improvement from 15% to less than 25% is the contribution from the grossly overstated "if its not blowing here its blowing somewhere else" argument. Clearly, in the UK, the power averaging due to the geographic separation of the turbines falls very far short of the usual bland statement that "things even out".

This is a graph of nuclear power output over this 3 month period. Notice how steady it is as it provides us with essential, solid, predictable Base Load generation. The variation is where the Power generator is matching demand not the result of a lack of "fuel" or wind (interestingly, there does appear to be a drop-out. and that, my friends is exactly what spinning reserve is for!)

The mess below is the wind power output for the same period.

It is a chaotic unpredictable set of short duration spikes smeared over a grindingly low background. How anyone could suggest that this can be used to reliably provide 30% of our power is beyond me. There are those though who even suggest that this could be used for base load power generation.

God help us all if the likes of Chris Huhne is stupid enough to continue pushing us down this road.

Love & Kisses

Denmark: No More Land Based Wind Turbines

Billothewisp is busily hacking his way through the 3 month NETA data on wind turbine power output and has some rather startling, (nay - shocking) preliminary figures. To be presented here soon.

But not tonight.

But I must quickly mention a few things.

Today I came across a truly awesome Canadian site with masses of information on the sheer hopelessness of wind power.

It is not bitchy. It is not nasty and it presents the facts about a whole range of issues surrounding this truly failed technology.

The site is: I highly recommend it.

Just another quick aside on a couple of things I've picked up:

1. Denmark (the doyen of the Wind lobby) has declared that it will no longer build any more wind turbine on land. (That is none, nil, zero) The reason? Because of masses of  complaints about noise!
The Telegraph version of this news item is  HERE

2. The good people of Hinkely Point, famous for its nuclear power station, have  forced a wind turbine company to abandon its plans to descrecrate their countryside with 12 or so turbines.

Hinkely will soon have a new nuclear plant. This new nuclear plant leaves the people of Hinkely un-phased, although I expect the day-dreaming luddites with their windmills are wide-eyed in disbelief!

Good for the people of Hinkely Point.

The article from the Independant is HERE

Love and Kisses

Wind Turbines: National 3 Months Data

See last post... Here is the raw 3 month NETA data and a tidied version in xls and ods formats

Files Are Here

The four files are attachment on the bottom of the home page.

The first two are the two complete zip files from NETA for the last 3 months power generation output. Downloaded by me tonight.

The other two are cleaned up versions of the CSV file saved in ods and xls formats.

No data has been deleted in the cleaned up xls and ods files, but I have added a header showing which column is which. The only caveat here is that both the Irish interconnector and the "other" generation methods were all zeros so I dont know which is which. But as they are all zero it doesn't really matter.

Love & Kisses

Wind Power: Three Months Data

I am following a very interesting thread on the IET (formerly IEE) website regarding  the sheer uselessness of windpower during the cold snap we have just had.  (See Here)  It makes interesting reading.

While I have been following the excellent Neta Website myself for a few weeks, I did not realise that they actually provide  a full 3 month data set  for all the various methods of power generation. This displays actual outputs on a half hourly basis. (Thanks to "Ipayyoursalary" on the IET thread for pointing this out)

I have one minor criticism of this data. While the XML data set looks good, the potentially more immediately useable CSV data lacks headers and you have to go digging through the XML equivalent to figure out what is what.

But even so, this is an absolute gold mine. Or, if you are a greedy wind farm developer, possibly a nest of vipers.

Congratulations must be given to those who run the Neta site, not only for producing this data set, but also for coherently displaying the fluctuations and methodology of the country's power generation.

I downloaded the CSV and XML data sets tonight and have had a first hack at simply tidying up the CSV file so people can use it in Excel or Calc. I'll be having a crack at some analysis myself in the next few days but I know some of the folk who read this blog can do things with a spreadsheet that would make my ears bleed.

I will try and figure out a way of getting this file available for general download and will raise another post when I have sussed it out.

Love & Kisses