I used to share Tim Hopper’s belief (‘Shetland wind or French nuclear’; SN 8/4/08) that when it came to nuclear and renewable energy like wind power it was an “either/or” situation.
I am no fan of nuclear power, but I have come to believe that wind farms that generate electricity are doing nothing to combat global warming, nor do they bring about the closure of fossil fuel or nuclear power stations.
Germany and Denmark have not closed a single one of these, in spite of having invested heavily in wind farms for longer than most other European countries. CO2 emissions have in the meantime barely diminished – or even increased.
The pro-wind farm spin is that if, say, a 100MW farm comes on-stream, then automatically 100MW of CO2 emitting electricity generation is closed down. This just does not happen. Due to the variability of wind, non-renewable back-up power has to be kept going to provide instant cover. Paradoxically, the more wind farms that are added to the grid, the more of this back-up is required.
Perhaps this is why, sadly, in spite of the huge array of wind turbines off the Kentish coast, electricity generated by French nuclear power continues – and will continue – to be imported.
11 April 2008