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Research brings clarity to UK renewables sector  

“Two significant pieces of research published today by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), a charity sponsoring research into the adoption of renewable technologies, for the first time clearly shows the successes and failures of the UK renewables sector.

In the first part of the work REF has published a “˜user-friendly’ analysis of the Ofgem Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC) database, which has been previously criticised as difficult to use.
Using the new research it is now possible to assess how renewable generators up and down the country are performing. This data, published in five online files; Biomass, Hydro, Landfill Gas, Sewage Gas and Windpower, shows that firm generators are producing high load factors with carefully designed resource use and load following.

However in the wind sector, far and away the most active of all the technologies at present, results vary enormously due to location. The capacities offshore are encouraging, whilst those onshore are generally only superior in locations very distant from the populations requiring the electrical energy.
Although most sites were built on expected capacity factors of around 30%, results include;
19% (approx) capacity factor for the wind turbines at Dagenham, Essex.
9% (approx) capacity factor at the Barnard Castle plant, County Durham.
The best performing wind sites are in the north of Scotland, and on Shetland the wind turbines are producing capacity factors of over 50%.

Using this analysis of the Ofgem data, researchers have also calibrated a model predicting how a large installed capacity of wind power built across the UK would actually perform. The project used Meteorological Office data to model output for every hour of every January from 1994-2006.
The startling results show that, even when distributed UK wide, the output is still highly volatile.
The average January power variation over the last 12 years is 94% of installed capacity. It is an uncontrolled variation decided by the weather.
The average minimum output is only 3.7% or 0.9GW in a 25GW system.
Power swings of 70% in 30 hours are the norm in January.

The governments’ expectation is that three quarters of the 2010 renewables target, and the lion’s share of the “˜20% by 2020′ target will be made up of windpower.[2] However, the new research offers predictions which are in keeping with Danish and German empirical experience and demonstrate the need for a broader spread of investment in the renewable sector.

The report was commissioned from Oswald Consultancy Limited and funded by donation from the green entrepreneur Vincent Tchenguiz

Campbell Dunford, CEO of REF, said: “This important modelling exercise shows that even with best efforts a large wind carpet in the UK would have a low capacity credit, and be a real handful to manage. This isn’t the best way to encourage China and India to move towards the low-carbon economy. As a matter of urgency, for the planet’s sake, we need to bring forward a much broader range of low carbon generating technologies, including the full sweep of renewables. Wind has a place, but it must not be allowed to squeeze out other technologies that have more to offer.”

Notes to Editors
1) The Renewable Energy Foundation is a registered charity that funds independent research into renewable and alternative energy technologies and policy. REF is funded by private donations and has no political affiliation or corporate membership.

2) See the then Energy Minister speaking the House of Commons on the 25.10.04, Hansard
“To achieve that target, we need to make use of all renewable sources. We expect 7 or 8 per cent. of the 10 per cent. generation to come from wind energy. Other technologies will be hard pushed to produce the rest.” http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/

3) Oswald Consultancy provide expert engineering and business design and advice to businesses operating in the energy sector. J. Oswald, M Raine and staff have combined experience of over 60 years working on engineering design and analysis of gas turbines, steam turbines, nuclear plant and fuel cells.

For further information on the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), please contact Margareta Stanley at DBA on 020 7930 8033 or visit www.ref.org.uk or e-mail info@nchl.demon.co.uk


This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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