This report surveys the intense debate now taking place as to why
the chosen strategy is not achieving its objectives. We believe that a
principal factor is to be found in the increasingly controversial renewable
energy policy, which is widely criticised for its lack of balance and its
over-emphasis on onshore wind at the expense of other technologies.
Editor's Note: The following are selected excerpts from the Renewable Energy Foundation press release describing this research. The full press release is available via the link below.
Using the new research it is now possible to assess how renewable generators up and down the country are performing. This data, published in five online files; Biomass, Hydro, Landfill Gas, Sewage Gas and Windpower, shows that firm generators are producing high load factors with carefully designed resource use and load following.
However in the wind sector, far and away the most active of all the technologies at present, results vary enormously due to location. The capacities offshore are encouraging, whilst those onshore are generally only superior in locations very distant from the populations requiring the electrical energy.
Although most sites were built on expected capacity factors of around 30%, results include;
19% (approx) capacity factor for the wind turbines at Dagenham, Essex.
9% (approx) capacity factor at the Barnard Castle plant, County Durham.
The best performing wind sites are in the north of Scotland, and on Shetland the wind turbines are producing capacity factors of over 50%.
Using this analysis of the Ofgem data, researchers have also calibrated a model predicting how a large installed capacity of wind power built across the UK would actually perform. The project used Meteorological Office data to model output for every hour of every January from 1994-2006.
The startling results show that, even when distributed UK wide, the output is still highly volatile.
The average January power variation over the last 12 years is 94% of installed capacity. It is an uncontrolled variation decided by the weather.
The average minimum output is only 3.7% or 0.9GW in a 25GW system.
Power swings of 70% in 30 hours are the norm in January.
The governments’ expectation is that three quarters of the 2010 renewables target, and the lion’s share of the ‘20% by 2020’ target will be made up of windpower. However, the new research offers predictions which are in keeping with Danish and German empirical experience and demonstrate the need for a broader spread of investment in the renewable sector. <br.
The report was commissioned from Oswald Consultancy Limited and funded by donation from the green entrepreneur Vincent Tchenguiz.
Campbell Dunford, CEO of REF, said: “This important modelling exercise shows that even with best efforts a large wind carpet in the UK would have a low capacity credit, and be a real handful to manage. This isn’t the best way to encourage China and India to move towards the low-carbon economy. As a matter of urgency, for the planet’s sake, we need to bring forward a much broader range of low carbon generating technologies, including the full sweep of renewables. Wind has a place, but it must not be allowed to squeeze out other technologies that have more to offer.”
Comments from the CLOWD website:
The Government has been misled in the past by the wind energy industry into believing that wind turbines offer a viable method of producing energy.
The variability and intermittency of wind energy has been underestimated because the wind statistics used have been unscientifically and misleadingly presented.
The paper ‘UK Wind Energy Resources (Variability, Intermittency, Dispersal)’ shows the more realistic situation for mainland UK and in particular the situation that is likely to occur should wind farms be built inland far from the coast and at relatively low elevation.