Opponents of wind farms have welcomed a new report which reveals that wind power would be too unreliable to meet Britain’s electricity needs.
According to the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), wind patterns around the country mean turbines will fail to produce enough power at times of high demand.
The REF’s report also claims back-up electricity plants would be needed to meet demand during calm conditions.
Wind farm opponents in Cornwall and Devon said the report proved wind farms should not be built in the region.
Tim Hale, Devon branch chairman of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said wind farms were “a disaster and should never be built”.
He said: “Wind turbines will never produce 100 per cent energy. Any generator needs fuel. If you don’t get any fuel you don’t generate any power. If you don’t know when you’re fuel is coming, it’s not reliable.”
While a new-generation Evolutionary Power Reactor nuclear plant costs 3.7p per kilowatt hour (kWh) to build, maintain and run, onshore wind farms cost 5.4p per kWh while offshore turbines cost 8p per kWh.
The REF report comes after the Government unveiled a £100 million programme to build at least 4,000 onshore and 3,000 offshore wind turbines. The plan could drive household bills up by £260 a year.
Using wind data from the Exeter-based Met Office, researchers found that in January, when energy demand is highest, wind farms often fail to produce enough electricity.
Back-up fossil fuel plants would need to be switched on and off to make up the shortfall in supplies – a highly inefficient process which would reduce any carbon savings from turbines.
The report said: “Wind output in Britain can be very low at the moment of maximum annual UK demand.
“Simultaneously, the wind output in neighbouring countries can also be very low, and this suggests that intercontinental transmission grids will be hard to justify.”
Coun Mike Harrison, North Devon District Council’s chairman and an opponent of the planned wind farm on Fullabrook Down, where 22 wind turbines may be built, said: “Will the grid cope if the wind farms stop because there’s not enough wind? Why not put them offshore where it will not interfere with people’s lives?”
The report used data on wind speeds and electricity demand from the past six years to work out what impact 25 gigawatts – about 16 per cent of Britain’s needs – would have had on the national grid if it had been supplied by wind farms.
The results show wind is highly volatile. In January 2005, for example, wind speeds varied so much that demand on conventional plants would have varied from 5.5 to 56 gigawatts. A 1,000 megawatt fossil fuel plant would have had to come on and off line 23 times to make up the shortfall.
A spokesman for the British Wind Energy Association said: “When you look at the UK system as a whole, there is no moment in time when the output of the pool falls to zero.”
2 July 2008
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding