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Tag Archives: load factors

Eco-footprints and technological change

By Dave Elliott

In their paper ‘A system of systems approach to energy sustainability assessment: are all renewables really green?’ Saeed Hadian (UCLA) and Kaveh Madani (ICL), take a comprehensive look at energy system carbon footprints, water footprints, land footprints and costs. They conclude that geothermal energy has the lowest impact, biomass elephant grass the most. As you might expect, coal and oil are also high, wind and solar thermal low, but so is nuclear, while PV solar comes out quite high – more than hydro, or gas: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1470160X14005640 – cor0005

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Renewable performance

By Dave Elliott

Some renewable energy sources are variable, so over a year the actual energy output from wind turbines, etc, will be much less than the theoretical maximum if the energy conversion devices was able to work at 100% efficiency for the full time using its full rated power. The ratio of the actual effective capacity the device offers to its nameplate installed capacity is sometimes called the capacity factor, or more usually load factor.

In the UK onshore wind load factors vary from below 20% to above 40% depending on location. 25% is often taken as an average, but that has been moving up to 30% as the technology improves. Offshore wind is sometimes quoted as 35-40% but DECC uses 45% for new projects. The best for far achieved, at Horns Rev II off Denmark, is 47.7%.

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