Airtricity states that all its output goes onto the national grid (Letters, July 30) but fails to mention that this power is about as useful to the grid as a spare groom is to a wedding. Unlike water from your tap, electricity cannot be stored and must be generated exactly to meet demand minute by minute.
Unfortunately, the wind does not blow on command. Its volatility, unreliability and unpredictability make it a nightmare in balancing supply and demand on any power grid. In fact, at many times of peak demand, when wind energy could be useful, it is typically not available.
High pressure conditions in winter and summer respectively produce the coldest and warmest weathers resulting in peak electricity demands, but no wind. Similarly, wind speed regularly drops at dawn and dusk just when electricity demand tends to peak.
On the other side, wind power generated in the early hours of the morning and other off-peak times is a total waste.
However, the overwhelming drawback of wind energy is the need to have conventional power plants on permanent stand-by, fully manned and belching out CO2, ready to kick in when the wind stops.
The total carbon footprint is almost certainly much worse than before wind turbines were introduced.
Wind power can indeed be useful for certain types of projects, which can use the power whenever it is generated, like storage heating systems or pumping water to higher reservoirs for later hydro power generation. But wind energy and power grids are fundamentally incompatible.
If the wind industry has any interest in the environment, apart from using it as an excuse to make money, it should immediately stop this wind farm madness and use its huge resources on properly researched schemes.
6 August 2007
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