Friday, May 18, 2018

Energy equivalence

I thought it might be useful to have some figures on energy equivalence to hand.

According to, a typical barrel of oil contains energy content of 1.7 MWh.

In perspective, the Beatrice offshore wind farm, currently in the latter stages of installation, has an installed capacity of 588MW, and might be expected to generate at a typical capacity factor of 45-50%.  This would be equivalent to 588 *24 *50% = 7,350 MWh/day.  This would be the energetic equivalent of an oil well producing 4,300 barrels of oil per day.

In March 2018, the Oil & Gas Authority said that UKCS production amounted to 1.63 million boe/day (  In energy terms, that's 1.63 million * 1.7MWh = 2.8 million MWh/day.

With a typical 8 MW wind turbine generating 8 * 24 * 50% = 96 MWh each day, that suggests that to entirely replace UK oil and gas (from an energy perspective), we'd need 28,000 turbines.


Tuesday, January 02, 2018

The energy quadrilemma?

There's been plenty written and said about the energy trilemma - balancing security of energy supply, carbon impact and energy cost.

But there's another aspect of the energy problem which has been emerging recently - the impact on local economies of spending choices.  I'm not sure it really rates high enough to be another horn of the energy problem (making an energy quadrilemma), but it does seem to be becoming part of the way policy makers think.

To give a couple of examples, BVG recently published a think piece in which they said that when assessing energy technologies, using the LCOE metric, consideration should be given on where the spend relating to the energy alternatives would happen, and that the effect of local spend (and associated multiplier effects) should be a factor in this decision making.

In a practical application, Wave Energy Scotland argues that part of the case for continuing to support wave energy technologies is that they have the potential to create jobs in areas of Scotland where employment is otherwise hard to find, poorly paid or both.  They argue that paying a little more for wave energy, to enjoy the social benefits arising from local spending, is a factor in favour of wave energy.

In my view, it may be hard to justify a "social premium" in electricity costs for consumers, but if Governments feel that this is a more cost effective way to support local populations (when compared, say, with direct investment in enterprise and training, or in benefits), then it can't be too difficult to construct a mechanism under which Government pays these social costs.