Tag Archives: Cherry Picking

Wind keeping the system “nicely balanced”: wind, meet nuclear

Never could imagine that the words “wind energy” and “nicely balanced” would be used in the same sentence. This was achieved in this tweet (for the international readers, “BE” is the country code for Belgium):

BE update: Wind offshore dropped as of 10am, onshore as of 11am. And it is keeping the system nicely balanced. But of course, if only we could have dynamic demand response to this, society wouldn’t have to loose this cheap energy.

This are the graphs that accompanies the tweet:

Tweet dieterjong 20200421

There was indeed a sudden loss of wind capacity somewhat before noon, correlating with a negative price and leading to positive prices again. Initially, I assumed that the twitterer was being sarcastic, mocking a sudden wind lull, but scanning through his Twitter time line suggested that this might not be the case…

Continue reading

Hornsdale Power Reserve: calculating oneself rich

In Flanders, we have the expression “calculating yourself rich”. It means presenting one’s case in a too optimistic way that doesn’t accord with reality. This can for example be done by only counting the positives or by making overly optimistic assumptions. Both can result in an end result that is far too optimistic. Therefor “calculate” yourself rich instead of “being” rich. It is not real wealth, it is fully dependent on the tricks used in the calculation.

This expression popped up in my mind when I read an article about the blessings of grid sized battery storage (see previous post). To recap: two advocates for solar and wind claimed that batteries could replace natural gas power plants for peaking and gap-filling. Reading the linked article, it became clear that it had nothing to do with the claims made by the two advocates. The subject of the linked article described how the Hornsdale Power Reserve earned money by providing FCAS services to the South Australia grid.

This is how the article starts:

Continue reading

All gone by the year 2020: Wikipedia rewrites history (2)

This is part 5 in the series on the prediction that glaciers in Glacier National Park will be gone by 2020. You might want to see to part 1, part2, part 3 and part 4 if you haven’t already

This post is a follow-up on a previous post in this series, more specifically the post of Wikipedia rewriting history by suggesting that the 2030 prediction was a “later estimate”, following the 2020 prediction. Contrary to the reality that the 2020 estimate was an update of the 2030 estimate and the 2030 estimate was in fact rehashed after the 2020 claim was abandoned (probably because it became clear that the 2020 estimate would fail).

My take was that the Wikipedia contributor found that the 2030 estimate was made in an later snapshot of a National Park Service webpage and didn’t look at the estimates in the snapshots before 2010, therefor went from the assumption that the 2030 prediction was a later estimate. I think that this still holds, but that there is more to it than that.

Continue reading

Renewables are so cheap (define “cheap”)

Is renewable energy cheap? I often heard this claim in the past, mostly from politicians who want to justify their policies, but also from scientists. I then assumed that not all costs were counted, but had no clue what their specific arguments were.

The claim was also made in the current events lecture “A Sustainable Energy Supply for Belgium” (see previous post), specifically in the second lecture. The claim was that renewables are so cheap that they push fossil-fuel fired power plants out of the market. Odd, because subsidies for for example wind energy still exist in Belgium. If wind energy is really cheaper than fossil-fuel energy, then those subsidies don’t make much sense. Luckily, the speaker (Johan Driesen) took some time to explain his arguments in support of his claim and that made it very clear what he exactly meant by being “cheap”.

This is the part where he explains his reasoning (Dunglish not mine):

Continue reading

Meaningless metrics, episode umpteen

We got some pretty confusing information in the last few weeks. On the one hand, we got to hear that there is no long term vision for energy policy by our politicians and that this leads to the increased risk of having blackouts in winter. We were in this situation before. In the last several years we got to hear in autumn that we risk having blackouts in the next winter.

On the other hand, there was the communication that Belgium is doing just fine and is even at the top when it comes to energy policy! An example of this is a tweet from Bart Tommelein (Flemish Minister of Energy), reacting to the claim that our politicians have no long term vision on energy (translated from Dutch):

The best interconnected country in Europe, 2nd country per km2 for solar energy, 3th country in Europe per km2 for wind energy and pioneer in offshore wind. It is really not that bad. But these nuclear power plants surely need to be replaced.

Which is of course a completely meaningless answer. Even if we assume that this energy-per-km2 metric is somehow meaningful, solar and wind will not help us much in winter. Solar is not available at peak demand and wind is not reliable enough to keep us from blackouts.

It was however the claim that we are in second and third position that caught my attention. Initially, I assumed it was the same (meaningless) metric he used in the beginning of this year. Back then in January, he claimed that Belgium was in third position when it comes to solar energy per km2 and the fourth position when it comes to wind energy. Back then, it became clear that he meant that we were among the best in consumption of solar/wind energy per area (in MWh/km2).

In that post, I already mentioned that this is a meaningless metric since it depends on the area and population density of a certain country. Belgium, being a small and densely populated country, will always being in the advantage when it comes to energy consumption per area. Not just solar or wind, but any energy source.

Compare this with the recent tweet that states that we now are in second position when it comes to “solar energy” and third when it comes to “wind energy” in Europe (EU?). Hey, did we advance one position for solar as well as wind in the last eight to nine months?

Continue reading

Record hunting continues: a contribution of … 85%!

Hopefully it is not getting boring by now, this is another post on the meaningless metric of contribution of solar and wind. For those who have had enough of it, some reassurance, it will probably be the last on this subject and I will keep it as short as possible.

In this post, I am going to mine for an inconvenient example again. There are other energy sources in Belgium than solar and wind. The most interesting is nuclear. Half of our electricity comes is produced by nuclear power plants. If we do the same as solar and wind (look for record contribution), then this might get us some interesting numbers. Since total load varies throughout the day/the week/the seasons, we are bound to to find some high numbers, maybe even really high numbers.

And yes, when I calculated the contribution of nuclear in the period September 2017 – July 2018, the record value was …

… wait for it …

85%!

Eighty five percent? Where were the Minister and Elia on September 11, 2017? I also didn’t hear anything on the news either. If we have to cheer for the 45% contribution of solar PLUS wind, why was there not a peep about a 85% contribution of nuclear, all on its own?

Continue reading

A new record: 0.016% contribution of solar and wind to total load!

Can’t get enough of the (meaningless) metric of record contribution of solar and wind to total load. This time, I will go hunting for another such record myself, using the exact same data that leads to that cheered record.

Remember from previous posts that the claim was made that Belgian solar and wind contributed 45% of total load on July 28 and that it was brought as something significant. Also remember that July 28, 2018 is a Saturday and that there was coincidentally a lot of solar PV and wind energy production, leading to a big contribution of solar and wind to total load. When it comes to intermittent power sources, that record is basically meaningless.

There was also this graph from Elia (our network manager) that showed other similar records of the last 11 months (see also this post):

As I explained in my first post on the subject, it suggests a steady increase. Until you realize that these are spot counts of coincidental high values, it is no less than cherry picking.

But if our Minister (and the network manager) are allowed to cherry pick, so am I! Solar and wind are intermittent energy sources and the record values are directly related to the failure to follow demand by those sources. Therefor, if there are records of maximum contribution (low demand at times of high production), then there are also records of MINIMUM contribution (huge demand at times of low production).

Continue reading