National Grid is being forced to search for emergency power sources due to a recent lack of wind – just a week after Boris Johnson said wind farms would power every home in the UK within a decade.
The utility company, which is responsible for ensuring supply and demand are balanced in Britain’s energy systems, said electricity supply margins were likely to be tight in the country over the next few days.
Bosses insisted there would be an adequate supply to meet requirements, but the warning comes just days after the Prime Minister’s pledge to make the nation a world leader in offshore wind technology.
National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) said on Twitter: ‘We’re forecasting tight margins on the #electricity system over the next few days owing to a number of factors including weather, import and export levels and availability of generators over periods of the day with higher demand.
‘Unusually low wind output coinciding with a number of generator outages means the cushion of spare capacity we operate the system with has been reduced.
‘We’re exploring measures & actions to make sure there is enough generation available to increase our buffer of capacity.’
The UK already boasts the world’s biggest offshore wind market, but Mr Johnson has outlined plans to expand that even further, wanting to create 60,000 jobs and build thousands of coastal turbines.
Outlining a ten-year plan at the Conservative Party conference to power every home in the country, he said: ‘You heard me right. Your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle – the whole lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands.’
The plan will require a four-fold increase in offshore capacity, with the number of turbines rising from around 1,800 to more than 7,000.
The UK is already testing the world’s biggest turbine blade, with a 350ft model undergoing trials off the coast of Northumberland.
The Prime Minister has pledged funding to develop floating turbines in deep water locations where the wind is often strongest.
Government sources said ministers would apply ‘stringent requirements on supporting UK manufacturers’ to try to ensure at least 60 per cent of equipment is made in this country.
Mr Johnson acknowledged that for many years the Tory Party had mixed feelings about wind power, with David Cameron placing limits on the number of turbines that could be built on land.
But he insisted the equation has changed with the advent of powerful offshore facilities that have generated substantial power and fewer public protests.
The Government already had a target to increase the amount of electricity produced by offshore wind from the current level of 10 gigawatts to 30GW by 2030.
That goal now rises to 40GW by the same date.
By comparison, the nuclear power station being built at Hinkley Point in Somerset, is expected to generate about 3.3GW.
Rapid advances in technology have seen prices plummet, with electricity produced by the wind now costing less than half the projected price of power from Hinkley Point.
Government sources said the share of the UK’s electricity generated by offshore wind would rise from about 10 per cent today to around 40 per cent – more than enough to power every home.
However, Business Secretary Alok Sharma acknowledged the target would be challenging, with insiders saying many of the easiest and most efficient sites had already been harnessed.
Meanwhile, the RSPB warned Mr Johnson’s plan will drive puffins and other seabirds to extinction.
The conservation charity has urged the Government to keep its objectives ‘in harmony with nature’, recommending to build solar and wind panels in areas with a lower level of biodiversity.
National Grid data this morning showed gas power plants were supplying around 55 per cent of the country’s electricity, with nuclear at 16 per cent and wind at 15 per cent.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding