Economics of windmills for large electricity grids

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    Authors & editors

    Rockingham, A P [Author]

    Publisher EThOS
    Year of publication 1982 ID: 688781

    Medium Internet source
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    Generation of Electricity > Windpower

    Scope & contentA thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of the University of London and for the Diploma of Membership of the Imperial College

    Author's abstract:
    Windmills are high capital, low fuel cost plant, whose output is intermittent, difficult to predict from one moment to the next, and
    yet statistically correlated to the output from other devices which are separated geographically. In that conventional plants used for
    electricity generation are often characterised as sources of firm power which is controllable, windmills are often viewed very differently from conventional plant.

    The economic evaluation of windmills has, in the past, reflected this perceived difference.In this thesis the methods that have commonly been used to evaluate the economics of wind power have been examined critically, as have the methods and planning models used for the economic evaluation of conventional power plant. A mathematical model is introduced which can be used in evaluating the economics of both intermittent energy sources and conventional plant,and this model is used throughout the thesis for detailed calculations of the production costs of electricity generation systems which employ wind powered plant.

    Less detailed but more versatile mathematical models are also introduced and these are used to examine the sensitivity of the
    economics of windmills to changes in fossil fuel prices, wind turbine performance, maintenance and capital costs. Results from these studies are used in examining the economics of windmills in the UK,and in predicting the optimal design of wind turbines for use with a given utility system.
    From such analysis it is concluded that the economic evaluation of renewable energy sources can be undertaken using concepts developed for application to conventional plant but that much of the simplistic analysis carried out in the past grossly underestimates the economic worth of windmills. It is shown that windmills can have a capacity credit although such credits may not have major impacts on their economics. The affect of the intermittency of the output of wind turbines on the operation of conventional plant in the system is quantified and shown to be of minor importance in large interconnected systems. Although major uncertainties exist both with regard to the cost, acceptability, and durability of modern large wind turbines, analysis in the thesis suggests that a market worth several billions of pounds exists for these machines operating in moderate windspeed sites in the UK.
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