“Electricity is wanted all the time but the demand for electricity varies from hour to hour, day to day, and month to month. The electricity grid has to match the supply of electricity to the demand for it at all times. This is difficult because power stations cannot be switched on and off as demand varies [because they take so long – several hours to a couple of days – to warm up].
“The problem of matching electricity supply to varying demand is overcome by operating power stations in three modes called “base load,” “generation,” and “spinning standby.”
“Some power stations operate all the time providing electricity to the grid, and they are said to provide “base load.”
“Other power stations also operate all the time but do not provide electricity all the time. They burn (or fission) their fuel to boil water and superheat the resulting steam which is fed to the steam turbines that are thus kept hot and spinning all the time. Of course, they emit all the emissions from use of their fuel all the time. But some of this time they dump heat from their cooling towers instead of generating electricity, and they are then said to be operating “spinning standby.”
“One or more power stations can be instantly switched from spinning standby to provide electricity to match an increase to demand for electricity. It is said to be operating “˜generation’ when it is providing electricity. Power stations are switched between spinning standby and generation as demand for electricity changes. …
“Windfarms only provide electricity when the wind is strong enough and not too strong. As they suddenly provide electricity when the wind changes, the grid operator must match this changed supply of electricity to the existing demand for electricity. This is achieved by switching a power station to spinning standby mode. That power station continues to operate in this mode so it can provide electricity when the windfarm stops supplying electricity because the wind has changed again.
“Windfarms only force power stations to operate more spinning standby. They provide no useful electricity and make no reduction to emissions from power generation. Indeed, the windfarm is the cause of emissions from a power station operating spinning standby in support of the windfarm.”
This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.
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