Ecotricity Proving Efficiency Of Wind Energy For All To See

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The world’s first self-proclaimed green electricity company, Ecotricity, have taken green energy to the next (electronic) level, thanks to a new initiative on their website which displays near-up to the minute data about the energy being generated by their 55 wind turbines.


Updated every 30 seconds (on average), the website not only displays the total output of all of Ecotricity’s windmills, but also the number of units of green electricity made so far in the month, and the total tonnage of carbon dioxide saved as a result.

The page is refreshed every time Ecotricity receives new data from one of their wind sites, and Ecotricity claim that the 55 existing windmills have the capacity to generate over 60,000 kWh — though, as they note, that “is the upper limit for how much it could generate if the wind was blowing constantly and the windmill turning at full pelt.”

Onshore windmills across the UK typically generate around 27 per cent of the full amount they could produce if the wind was blowing constantly over the course of a year – this is called ‘the load factor’. Off-shore wind has a load factor of around 35 per cent. In 2012, conventional power stations had load factors of 30 per cent for gas, 70 percent for nuclear and 57 per cent for coal.

So far (as of the time of writing), Ecotricity have generated 6,258,000 units (a unit being one Kilowatt hour (kWh)) — though by the time you read this I suspect that number will have increased rapidly towards and over 7 million units. It’s a refreshing and oddly satisfying tool to be able to view, even if I’m not living in the UK.

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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

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17 thoughts on “Ecotricity Proving Efficiency Of Wind Energy For All To See

  • Unfortunately, you are ignoring the important information that you listed…the capacity factor being below 30%. Because they typically only produce <30% of what they initially claim, their cost per unit of electricity rises exponentially. It is creating areas in Germany/Europe, where people are asking the question, "to eat or heat?" Expensive energy produces poverty. Wind will not save our world, and at this point, we will never find the next great energy breakthrough b/c we are spending all of our money subsidizing wind.

    • And you’re misrepresenting the role of renewable subsidies in setting German residential electricity rates.

      Germans pay 36c/kWh. Roughly 6c of that 36c is for renewable subsidies. 30c/kWh with subsidies removed.

      German industries pay 8.7c/kWh. They do not pay any renewable subsidies.
      There is an unfair profit taking that creates a 21c spread between residential and industrial rates.

      Furthermore, renewables have been lowering the cost of electricity in Germany. Industrial rates have been dropping since 2009 and are lower than the EU27 average. Solar saved the German grid 6 billion euros in 2012 and renewables overall saved 8 billion euros via avoided fossil fuel purchases.
      Germany industry is enjoying the savings created by renewables while residential users are having to bear all the costs and are getting screwed by excessive profits, a problem which has existed long before renewables came on line.

    • You know, Europeans have never been great fans of using electricity for heating. France is the only nation that really goes in for electrical resistance heating in a big way. Have you ever been to Europe? Or perhaps you live there? If that’s the case, then it must feel odd to have this pointed out by an Australian.

    • Nameplate capacity is not “what they initially claim”. It’s a measurement of the highest amount of electricity produced when the turbine is running at full speed.

      No generation technology runs at full speed, 100% of nameplate capacity. In 2011 (2012 numbers have not yet been released) here are capacity factors/output capacity for

      Coal 58%
      Natural gas 24%
      Hydro 47%
      Nuclear 84%
      Non-hydro renewables 35%

      • Hey Bob can you give me that source? It would give me an excellent “shut-up shill” resource.

        In fact you should put the links for all those you have up on the web, they’re very informative.

        • I got the nameplate capacity and MWh totals for 2011 from the EIA 2011 annual energy report and put then into a spreadsheet.

          Links on the spreadsheet.

          Let me know if you see any problems. I wasn’t sure how to deal with petroleum. I added petroleum gas and coke together. Capacity is tiny (6%) which I assume means we have a lot of stand by generators which spend most of their time standing by.

          (Got the idea from a post by Michael Groggin at AWEA)

          • Thanks Bob.

            You should put links to everything like this you have on a page here.

            Maybe call it “Bob’s anti-troll stash”?

          • I think we’re about to start on a Kill the Myth section on the site. That’s what this post was all about, the start of collecting myths and rebuttals to them.
            My initial thinking is that we’ll build a list of myths and then write a bit on why they are false, linking data. Then when we get yet another “the Sun doesn’t shine at night” post we can send them to “Myth #15”.

            Zach is off somewhere so we haven’t discussed the next step, but if you’re interested we could start without him. Let me know. Reply back and I’ll email you.

          • Let’s do it.

          • This will be epic!

    • “Wind will not save our world, and at this point, we will never find the
      next great energy breakthrough b/c we are spending all of our money
      subsidizing wind.”

      We’re spending a tremendous amount of money dealing with the damage to health and environment caused by coal emissions.

      We’re spending a tremendous amount of money fighting oil wars to keep the supply going.

      We’ve spent many billions of dollars supporting nuclear energy which is only getting more expensive.

      We’ve spent very little on renewable energy and most of that has gone to biofuel, in particular to large corporate farms for corn to produce ethanol.

      We’ve spent quite modest amount supporting wind. Over the last 30 years the price of wind produced electricity has fallen from $0.38/kWh to under $0.06/kWh. That over a 6x drop.

      During 2011 and 2012 the average cost of wind (PPAs) to utilities was $0.04/kW, making wind our least expensive source of new electricity, even cheaper than natural gas.

      Wind and solar are the great energy breakthroughs we needed to solve our energy problems. They’re here. They’re working. We can save our butts with them.

    • I´ll be less polite than other commenters. ¨Because they typically only produce <30% of what they initially claim, their cost per unit of electricity rises exponentially.¨ This is ignorant b/s. Do you know what ¨rises exponentially¨ means? How can the cost of power from a wind turbine with a sunk capital cost, and low and constant O&M costs, rise at all? Where have you seen a wind turbine manufacturer claim that output will be 100% of nameplete capacity? What is your evidence for a trend rise in the cost of wind power, as opposed to everybody else´s declining trends?

      We are used to a better class of troll here.

      • And let me add to that –

        The cost of electricity, from any source, includes capacity. One adds up all the costs, capex, finex, opex, etc. and divides by the amount of electricity produced, which is determined by capacity, to get the get the cost per MWh.

        That makes the ¨Because they typically only produce <30% of what they initially claim, their cost per unit of electricity rises exponentially.¨ pure BS.

        Must be unpaid intern day….

    • you’re fucking hilarious!
      “cost per unit of electricity rises exponentially”
      really? did you even think about what you were typing?

    • These banks and energy companies investing billions into wind capacity, they are all stupid you know. The turbines generate far less than claimed by the manufacturer and what happens? Nothing, they just sit there looking silly and seeing their billions go down the drain. Yeah, right.

      In general, before even planning to build a wind farm, they start the wind measurements at the chosen site. Then they analyse the data and based on that they can make a very good prediction of how much the wind farm will produce, per time of day/season. What are the skew rates? How constant is the wind? All these other important metrics besides just that one, simplistic figure ‘capacity factor’.

      Expensive energy produces poverty? Then please explain why Europe is so rich, with the highest energy prices in the world (not just electricity, also nat gas and petrol). All energy is expensive here.

      Your post is drenched in ignorance. If you are so hell-bent on fighting wind power, then educate yourself. Know thy enemy. Knowledge is power.

  • You know Saveour, nobody ever bought a wind turbine and thought it would be producing maximum power all the time. Same goes for any other power generation of course. What they did think is that the wind turbine over the course of its life would displace a lot of fossil or nuclear powered generation hours, which is a good thing. Wind power also drives down the cost of electricity, even for the end consumer if the utilities play fair. The economics of the installation will have incorporated these facts.

  • Ecotricity is a fun company to watch with good ideas and chutzpah, but it’s still very small. It claims 76,000 customers. The UK has 26m households, so the company has about a 0.3% market share.
    Purist complaint: the website says nothing about efficiency, and doesn’t claim to, except implicitly on carbon saving.

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