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Intermittent output of wind farms

Having heard that Olsen Renewables, or ­’Natural Power’ as they like to be called, were organ­ising a “green washing” trip for the local people to the Paul’s Hill wind farm, I thought I would do a little research.

The 2006 Ofgem data for Paul’s Hill proved to be quite enlightening. Over the 12-month period the output from this wind farm varied between 10.54% and 55.3%, on a month by month basis.

What this really means is that the average output for 2006 was 25.13% of what it should produce if the wind blew at the right speed ­every day and all day. Your readers who still believe in the “Emperor’s Clothes” will be disap­pointed to learn that none of this ­extremely intermittent electricity helped to keep their lights on.

Yes, folks, that nasty gas-fired power station at Peterhead (average output of 85%) was the only ­reason that your 42in ­Plasma TV stayed on ­during the ­Rangers match. The ­climate change story for Paul’s Hill is even more lamentable in that the theo­retical reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions was approximately 0.0002% (figures available for the sceptics).

As usual, I have kept the best part until the end. Combining the Renewable Obligation Certificates earned, and the Climate Change Levy, Paul’s Hill wind farm cost us, the ­public, over £7 million for the year 2006.

Elgin’s very own eye-catching Rothes (Cairn Uish) wind farm also cost us about £5.5 million in subsidies for 2006. So, including the cost of the elec­tricity sold, during 2006 these two wind farms generated approxi­mately £25 million in revenue but didn’t generate any electricity that the grid operators, and hence us, could rely on.

Germany has approximately 20,000 wind turbines, yet they are building 26 new coal-fired power stations. When is Scotland going to learn? – Yours etc,

Bob Graham, Craigsview, Inchberry

The Northern Scot

5 October 2007