Wind Farms Can ‘Never’ Deliver UK Energy Security
A 10GW fleet of wind farms across the UK can guarantee to provide less than two per cent of its maximum output
Wind farms can never be relied upon to keep the lights on in Britain because there are long periods each winter in which they produce barely any power, according to a new report by the Adam Smith Institute.
The huge variation in wind farms’ power output means they cannot be counted on to produce energy when needed, and an equivalent amount of generation from traditional fossil fuel plants will be needed as back-up, the study finds.
Wind farm proponents often claim that the intermittent technology can be relied upon because the wind is always blowing somewhere in the UK.
But the report finds that a 10GW fleet of wind farms across the UK could “guarantee” to provide less than two per cent of its maximum output, because “long gaps in significant wind production occur in all seasons”.
Modelling the likely output from the 10GW fleet found that for 20 weeks in a typical year the wind farms would generate less than a fifth (2GW) of their maximum power, and for nine weeks it would be less than a tenth (1GW).
Output would exceed 9GW, or 90 per cent of the potential, for just 17 hours.
Britain currently has more than 4,500 onshore wind turbines with a maximum power-generating capacity of 7.5GW, and is expected to easily surpass 10 GW by 2020 as part of Government efforts to tackle climate change.
It is widely recognised that variable wind speeds result in actual power output significantly below the maximum level – on average between 25 and 30 per cent, according to Government data.
However, the report from the Adam Smith Institute found that such average figures were “extremely misleading about the amount of power wind farms can be relied up to provide”, because their output was actually “extremely volatile”.