Table 4 of this report shows that even with generous assumptions of wind power performance, as its share of generating capacity increases, its ability to displace conventional sources decreases – the conclusion also reached by EirGrid and E.ON Netz. To meet the U.K.’s peak of 50,000 MW for 90 of 100 winters, 59,000 MW of conventional capacity is currently maintained along with 500 MW of wind plant. If the amount of wind is increased to the 2010 target of 7,500 MW, 57,000 MW of conventional capacity must still be kept. With the 2020 target of 25,000 MW of wind, conventional capacity is still at 55,000 MW. That is, wind power is essentially adding surplus capacity rather than replacing conventional plants.
“From wind data records covering the whole of mainland UK, there is a sizeable probability of little or no wind blowing across the entire country, regardless of the capacity installed. Figure 1 illustrates the situation where a hypothetical wind power capacity of 7,300 MW installed throughout the country is correlated with actual Met Office wind data. The most likely power output nationally is seen to be less than 200 MW.”
Figure 1 of the report also shows that one third of the time, widespread wind power facilities in the U.K. (which boasts the best wind resource in Europe) would be producing at less than 14% of capacity. They would be producing at less than 8% capacity a fourth of the time and at 4% or less almost a tenth of the time.
Download original document: “Response to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee Inquiry Into the Practicalities of Developing Renewable Energy” (October 2003)
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