Analysis of Scottish Power Outage

The power outage

outage

In response to the news on bishop hill that MSP Alex Johnstone (Conservative, North East Scotland) was tabling the following question:

‘whether it has undertaken any further investigation into whether an over reliance on wind turbines as a source of electricity played a role in the grid failure on 16 April 2014′. (S4O-03258)

I decided to reveal what I had found in my comments on that blog. However, without the above graph the comments will not make much sense, so I’ve rushed out this post (apologies for the poor quality graph, click for a larger version). But before the graph, let me quickly look at the big picture:

What is the safe level of wind on a grid?

 

Back around 2000 it was well known that more than about 16-19% wind on a grid would be problematic. After the recent scandal of John Swinney misleading the public, I went to see what the current figure is. Eventually I found a paper, that quoted another paper, that quoted another paper, that eventually led back to a paper written about 1990.

In other words, there has been next to no (published) research on the effect of wind on an electricity network and no one really has any idea how serious the effect will be and at what level we will start to see these effects. This in itself is very worrying.

The analogy I would use is of a car driving down the road. As you drive the car faster and faster, the likelihood of a catastrophic accident increases because the effect of any curve (change in the wind) is all the more greater, and the time to respond is therefore all the smaller. Moreover, wind is displacing conventional backup as it is being made uneconomic – so not only is the destabilising effect of wind increasing, but the ability to stabilise the grid from conventional power is decreasing.

Just as one can make the car safer at higher speeds by getting better equipment – brakes, tyres, etc., but fundamentally, speed = more wind, can be partly offset by more and more money spent on protecting the network, but eventually no matter how much is spent too much instability will close down the grid as surely as too much speed will cause any car to go off the road. We just don’t know what that figure is!

But, in researching the background to this power outage, I became aware that the North of Scotland is now regularly having power outages. This is just what we would expect from a system under pressure. TO use the car analogy – we are already seeing the screeching of wheels and the excessive use of brakes.

The graph

This graph is a plot of the rate of change of power on the grid from various sources as well as the differently scaled change in phase (red dot). The most dominant feature is the massive change in phase which changed dramatically from 8:35-8:40 and then recovered from 8:40 to 8:45. This is like the heartbeat of the electricity network – it’s the single most important measure telling us if the system is under stress. It was clearly under a huge stress at 8:40, there is no obvious “stress” at 8:30 – 8:35.

The other important evidence on this graph is the way the wind curve (light blue) closes matches the rate of change in phase. The two match each other in their peaks and troughs showing that the main cause of changes in phase of the network was due to wind. In other words, wind power was the dominant feature that evening. To go back to the car analogy, it would be like plotting car speed against road curve. If the car is near its speed limit, each bend will cause the speed to decrease. If however the car is well within its speed for the road, it will hardly change the speed around the bends. The electricity network was clearly near its limit and having problems coping with the amount of wind.

What is perhaps most important is that the outage occurred at a time total demand was decreasing, with the result that Hydro (mid blue) was being turned down. So from 8pm till the massive power phase change at 8:35, hydro was being ramped down until (as seen on a graph of total power not change) very little was being produced.  This is important because hydro is very quick to react and so a good proportion of hydro stabilises the grid. Turn off the hydro – and the grid becomes less stable – or as strongly appears to have happened on this night – we get a catastrophic instability!

These show that the right conditions existed for a catastrophic failure. However it does not give the actual cause. But in examining the supposed “relay fault” which we are told occurred at 8:30, it is very interesting that the main evidence of a power cut (a sudden and dramatic change in phase) occurred 8:35-8:40, at least five minutes after the supposed relay fault at 8:30. This is also backed up by a number of anecdotal accounts of lights going out well after 8:30 at around 8:40.

This strongly suggests that if there was a fault at 8:30pm that the actual event causing the power outage did not occur until at least 8:35 but instead showed at 8:40pm as a massive and sharp change in grid frequency. That suggests another event occurred around 5-10minutes after the supposed “relay fault” and so there is 5-10 minutes which has not so far been explained between the “fault” and the power outage.

This time discrepancy needs to be explained because I cannot see how a fault at 8:30 could lead to a sudden massive change in mains frequency at 8:40 unless there were an additional factor of which the large and dominant affect of wind, and the collapse in hydro output (presumably due to a bad forecast and general otherwise oversupply) that night on the whole system is very likely to be the cause.

In other words, even if there was a “relay fault” (which itself seems doubtful as given in the original letter) this was just coincidental was probably found as a result of having to cope with the massive power surge from wind – and is all in all just a very handy excuse.

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Lewandowsky: those believing in global warming are gullible.

Summary

Based on the ethics application, Lewandowsky’s known views on skeptics and comments he made about “the pause” it appears this project was set up with the expectation that it would show that skeptics changed their views depending what they thought the graph showed. It was probably expected that skeptics would demonstrate a bias by changing their estimation of future trend when informed the graph showed global temperature and it might have been expected that many would say it was cooling.

To test this idea, the groups were randomly split into those told the graph was the share price and another told it was global temperature. They were also asked their views on climate and Lewandowsky then compared those within each group to see how their beliefs on climate was related to their average prediction of the future trends.

It turns out the survey showed the complete opposite effect to that we believe was expected. Skeptics in the group told it was temperature and those told it was share prices had almost the same prediction of the future trend. So irrespective of whether it was shares or global temperature skeptics estimate of future trends were very similar. In contrast the expected trend given by global warming believers differed dramatically between those who were led to believe the graph showed share prices and those led to believe it was global temperature.
Continue reading

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Rise and Fall of wikipedia

Number of new wikipedia articles

Number of new wikipedia articles

Wikipedia were one of the earlier websites on the internet launching in 2001. Like other big sites, they saw rapid growth in user participation from 2001 till 2006 and then very suddenly, as the graph to the right shows, the number of new articles hit a peak and it has been declining steadily since.

That decline coincided with a change in the culture stemming from the increasing costs of running the website and the appointment of Florence Devouard as board chairman who introduced a more commercial outlook for the site, which although low-key clearly had profound impacts.

Anyone familiar with graphs will recognise that we have two phases of exponential change. The first, exponential growth, the second exponential decline. And clearly something “flipped” at Wikipedia around 2007 as it changed very dramatically and sharply from one to the other.

I was one of the people who edited Wikipedia around 2007 so here are some possible reasons:

  1. They had an article on everything – the most obvious answer is that there are only so many articles that fit in an encyclopaedia and once they are all written, the fun of “being the first” to create an article disappears.
  2. The focus on “quality” – it is (was) very easy to start an article on Wikipedia and great fun, however it was just tedious doing all the small minor edits and updates once they were written.
  3. Wikipedia couldn’t afford more articles so started restricting them – perhaps the top of Wikipedia suddenly realised they were running out of money and that if the size of the website kept growing, they would have to close. Perhaps there was a conscious decision to “put off” new work.
  4. The constant political edit wars – for any of us that edited the global warming articles, we know how ridiculous these politically motivated edit wars were. And I’ve no doubt that certain views were being pushed by the top of Wikipedia, so in effect any decent editor was simply giving cover through their quality work to hide the overt political nature of Wikipedia.
  5. Asking for money put off editors – that as soon as editors were told “it’s not free to edit Wikipedia”, they stopped giving their time and efforts for free.

 

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Post will be light for a while

I will be busy for the next few weeks so blogging levels will be light.

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Change of site address to scottishsceptic.co.uk

I’ve finally decided to provide this Scottish Sceptic blog its own url:

scottishsceptic.co.uk

If there are any teething problems please add your comment here.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Why climate engineers beat the climate academics

The academic way: if one theory won't reach, just use two.

The academic way: if one theory won’t reach, just use two.

There is no doubt that skeptics have a proven track record on predicting the inability of climate academics to predict the climate. After nearly 18years without warming which none of the academics predicted (even after it started), they are looking increasingly sheepish and trying to talk about anything but their proven inability to predict the climate.

However, whilst us “climate engineers” have been vindicated, there is still the question: “why?” Why is it that people from a general engineering/science background like us skeptics could have known that the academics would get it wrong?

Of course, the obvious answer is: “because they are academics”. But … how do I put this … I’d rather like a more academic answer.

In my previous post I highlighted yet another shot in the foot comment from The EndOfPhysics:

People who are insisting on validation of models, or precise confirmation of certain quantities (like the ECS for example). It’s as if they think science should be more like engineering and don’t realise that science is about trying to understand the world around us, not control or use it. You can’t just deliver a scientific result on demand, you can only do as well as is possible given the tools/knowledge available at that time.

Strangely he does add to the sum of human knowledge – but not quite in the way he hopes. Because he confirms some key points. Continue reading

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The Toad goes rowing – TheEndofPhysics laments those “insisting on validation of models”

I nearly thought about posting on this, where the Toad (aka Connolley) has finally decided that 8minutes of watching him rowing is more important than anything else.

However, then I noticed people were commenting and I couldn’t help wondering what the eco-fascist line was on rowing. Then I spotted this gem from the EndOfPhysics:

Apart from the “can can’t” this is something I seem to be encountering more and more. People who are insisting on validation of models, or precise confirmation of certain quantities (like the ECS for example). It’s as if they think science should be more like engineering and don’t realise that science is about trying to understand the world around us, not control or use it. You can’t just deliver a scientific result on demand, you can only do as well as is possible given the tools/knowledge available at that time.

Yet another classic example of the ivory tower mentality: “You can’t just deliver a scientific result on demand“. And yes, because engineers deal with this type of problem day in day out where “You can’t just deliver a scientific result on demand“, engineers are the professionals in judging a situation where “You can’t just deliver a scientific result on demand“, and this is why engineers work on these kinds of issues where we do need to make decisions where “You can’t just deliver a scientific result on demand” and this is why we don’t allow academics in their ivory towers to go anywhere near problems where you do want “scientific results on demand“.

This is the delusion of academia. They sit in their ivory towers thinking they are better than engineers, telling us they are “95% confident” and that there is “97% consensus”. But when anyone asks them to justify their claims that any engineer can see are fraudulent they say: “You can’t just deliver a scientific result on demand“.

The difference between science and engineering.

An engineer is a scientist. The difference is that engineers have ADDITIONAL TRAINING, SKILLS & TECHNIQUES which allow them to make the best possible decisions when “You can’t just deliver a scientific result on demand“. So engineers are scientists who are also trained to deal with situations with limited information, with unclear results, with the human factors and with life and death decisions – and make the best decision.

In contrast academics don’t make any decision. They understand how to deal with less-that-perfect real world situation. The reality is that they only work in areas where “You CAN deliver a scientific result on demand“,  and look down at the far higher training, skills & techniques of engineers having to make time-critical, life-critical decisions in the real world outside their ivory towers.

And it is this arrogant stupidity of academics, who clearly do not have any legitimacy as any kind of expert in situations like the climate where “You can’t just deliver a scientific result on demand“. It’s this arrogance they have any expertise, which has led them into the non-science of pretending to be experts in an area where they have no competence:Climate Engineering

Definition: Climate engineering is the scientific & engineering skills, techniques & training to  make the best scientific, engineering, economic & policy decisions on  climate in a situation where “You can’t just deliver a scientific result on demand“.

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Corruption Of Academic Journals For Profit and Climate Change Propaganda

A long time ago, I recognised that the climate signal was far too short a time period to be able to say anything at all about it – and so it was fraudulent to say much at all.
But academics don’t get grants for saying “we don’t know”.So a whole academic industry has been born to fabricate “understanding” about the climate where there is none.
And now it appears that much of what the public call “science” is very much the same: fraud!

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R code to plot CET daily

As a programmer who has learnt & used perhaps 20-30 programming languages (I even created my own “language” at one one for a particular application), when I heard some other skeptics talking about using ‘R’ I made the mistake of thinking it would be a very simple task to get up to speed with ‘R’

I was wrong R … isn’t a language

It’s the expression I find myself saying when trying to do even the simplest thing Rrrrr … If that hasn’t deterred you, then you can download the code here:

http://cran.r-project.org/bin/windows/base/

And there’s an introduction here:

http://cran.r-project.org/doc/manuals/R-intro.html

And quickly here are a few “hello world” examples. Copy and paste these into the window that says “R console”: Continue reading

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Neil Craig, the Lone wolf howls no more

Neil Craig, the Lone wolf

Neil Craig, the Lone wolf

It is with sad regret that I have to announce the sudden death of Neil Craig, friend, SCEF committee member, prolific blogger, and strident “voice in the wilderness” who gained the nick name “the lone wolf”.

Excellent letter from Mr Craig. He is like a lone wolf howling in despair in the intellectual wilderness of our politics.

As founder of the 9% growth party he was ambitious in his politics or as he put it:

The policies advocated then were unquestionably the most progressive (ie promoting progress) of any party in Scotland, indeed by a very wide margin.  Even after these years they still are. Indeed moreso since our ruling political class have deliberately put us through an unnecessary recession when we could have had at least 9% growth, and put over 1 million Scottish households into fuel poverty with the world’s most damaging “Climate Change Act”, allegedly designed to prevent the catastrophic global warming we are suffering from – despite it being admitted there has been no warming, catastrophic or otherwise since 1995.

A strong advocate for nuclear power and free market thinking, he was a constant thorn in the side of a complacent public sector frequently being heard to ask the question:

Name me one scientist who supports the alarmists, anywhere in the world, who is not ultimately paid by the state

Always surprising, Neil recently married a lady I never had the chance to meet, however whilst he appeared to mellow following that union, I also saw a marked improvement in his political writings so that  I felt he had a real chance of being elected for UKIP.

If so, he would no doubt have livened up the otherwise drab and boring politics of Scotland.

Neil Craig

A Place to Stand

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