Library filed under Energy Policy from UK
As the wind industry meets for a major conference in Wales today, a new report was published this week claiming that wind power faces "hidden costs" and "reliability issues". ...The Renewable Energy Foundation said the new study "confirms doubts as to the wisdom of a large wind fleet", and "supports REF's long-standing recommendation that the contribution of wind should be limited for technical and economic reasons, to about 10 GW, mostly offshore where winds are stronger and more reliable". Mr Oswald said: "Wind energy is fine on a small scale, but it works less well on a large scale because British weather and wind is too variable.
Casting about for the least unpopular "solution" to the problem, politicians find a seductive answer: wind power. The wind power debate is full of cant which the bemused public cannot evaluate. Misrepresentation is inevitable where vested interests have so much to lose. Take away the enormous subsidies, and all the wind generation applications would disappear in a flash. If our politicians claim vision and courage, they should concentrate on strategies to generate real economic and environmental benefits and deliver long-term social advantages.
But what of wind's performance as an energy provider? Wind generation does not provide a reliable supply of power. It must be ‘shadowed' by baseload power stations such as nuclear and coal as it is intermittent. Over-reliance on it could lead to supply interruptions if the wind does not blow, blows too hard or does not blow where the wind farms are located. Importantly, such high-demand periods of cold and hot weather correspond to periods of low wind so overdependence on intermittent wind can actually increase carbon emissions as conventional power stations are required as back-up. Importantly wind farms perform well if their average output reaches as much as 35% of their generating capacity, but this rarely happens. Evidence shows that, throughout Europe, wind turbines have produced on average less than 20% of their capacity in recent years.
Your reporting of the Government's energy policy focuses on the supply problems that make the building of 7,000 wind turbines onshore and offshore by 2020 infeasible (News & Christopher Booker, June 29). But there is worse hidden in the 267-page consultation document. ...It is not until page 228 that the document says: "We will also need to consider the potential environmental impacts such as those on biodiversity, landscapes, air quality, soils and land as well as the marine environment." So much for our landscapes and historical assets.
Wind power would be too unreliable to meet Britain's electricity needs, according to a new report. It says wind patterns around the country mean turbines will fail to produce enough power at times of high demand. Written by an independent consultancy and funded by the Renewable Energy Foundation, the report says backup electricity plants will be needed to meet demand during calm conditions. It comes after the Government last week unveiled a £100million plan to build at least 4,000 wind turbines, with a further 3,000 offshore. The programme is expected to drive household bills up by £260 a year.
Since Gordon Brown on Thursday launched what he called "the greatest revolution in our energy policy since the advent of nuclear power", centred on building thousands of new wind turbines, let us start with a simple fact. Nothing conveys the futility of wind power more vividly than this: that all the electricity generated by the 2,000 wind turbines already built in Britain is still less than that produced by a single medium-sized conventional power station. ...herein lies the central misconception which bedevils the entire debate. Because of the wind's intermittency, turbines generate on average at less than a third of their capacity. Thus to contribute 10GW would need 30GW of capacity, which would require up to twice as many turbines as ministers are talking about - needing to be erected at a rate of more than four every working day between now and 2020.
When politicians call for a "national debate", it is a sure sign that the most dubious policy is about to be railroaded through, whether we debate it or not. That is what lies at the heart of the Prime Minister Gordon Brown's portentous declaration yesterday of a "green revolution". Thousands of new wind turbines are set to be built across the UK over the coming decade as part of a GBP 100 billion plan for renewable energy. What a dissembling cheek the Prime Minister has in suggesting we hold a "national debate" on the wind-farm "revolution". The die is cast and the EU-imposed target of 15 per cent of renewable energy has long been set. Where was the "national debate" about that?
More families will be driven into fuel poverty as a push to generate more electricity from "green" sources like wind, wave and solar power sharply increases household fuel bills, the Government has said. Electricity bills could rise by 13 per cent and gas prices could go up by as much as 37 per cent as consumers are made to pay more to subsidise green energy production, ministers said in a new Renewable Energy Strategy. ...The Renewable Energy Strategy says: "It is likely that the measures we need to use to increase renewable energy will add to the challenges we face in combating fuel poverty."
Political and energy analyst, Tony Lodge, presents a critical analysis of the United Kingdom's renewable energy policy which is heavily reliant on industrial-scale wind power.
Thousands of wind turbines would be built in some of Britain's best loved countryside under Government plans to be unveiled this week. Ministers want a six-fold rise in the amount of electricity generated by onshore wind farms by 2020 to meet European targets on green energy. That would mean an extra 4,000 wind turbines across the UK - the equivalent of a new one every day for 12 years. ...Tory spokesman Peter Ainsworth said: ‘People genuinely want to go green, but Labour's overbearing centralised approach won't work and is riddled with contradictions.'
As many as a quarter of British homes could be fitted with solar heating panels under new government plans for a "green revolution". Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the new proposals are "the most ambitious" such strategy that Britain has seen. The goal is to meet the EU target of 15% of energy from renewables by 2020. But at a time of consumer anger over fuel prices, the plan concedes that green power will cost more. The plan will also call for 3,500 new wind turbines to be erected across the UK, the Guardian newspaper reported.
This important research paper analyzes the power output characteristics of the wind energy generation supply in Britain over an extended period of time. The abstract and conclusion of the paper are shown below. To access the full report which includes many graphs of data, click on the link at the bottom of this page.
Britain is set to miss its own renewable energy target and will also fail to meet European Union requirements unless it steps up action substantially, a parliamentary report said on Thursday. The government has committed to getting 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010. Under an EU deal last year, it will have to quadruple that a decade later. Today, Britain gets less than five percent of its electricity from renewables, mainly wind. And despite many positive words, a combination of planning restrictions and rising material prices makes it unlikely it will be doubled in just two years.
John Constable, director of policy and research at the Renewable Energy Foundation, told a conference in Swaffham that the current mechanism is a very expensive way of reducing carbon emissions. He said lavish subsidies and high electricity prices have turned Britain's onshore windfarms into a moneyspinner, with a single turbine capable of generating £500,000 a year. According to industry figures, a typical 2 megawatt (2MW) turbine can now generate power worth £200,000 on the wholesale markets - plus another £300,000 of subsidy from taxpayers.
The Scottish Government has set a target to produce 31 per cent of electricity demand from renewable sources by 2011, and 50 per cent by 2020. Any proposal to construct, extend or operate an onshore wind farm in Scotland with a generation capacity in excess of 50 Megawatts (MW) requires the consent of Scottish Ministers under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989. The Scottish Government's Energy Consents Unit is currently processing 37 renewable project applications - 28 wind farms, eight hydro projects and one wave project.
One of Britain's leading energy providers warned yesterday that Britain will need substantial fossil fuel generation to back up the renewable energy it needs to meet European Union targets. The UK has to meet a target of 15% of energy from renewables by 2020. E.ON said that it could take 50 gigawatts of renewable electricity generation to meet the EU target. But it would require up to 90% of this amount as backup from coal and gas plants to ensure supply when intermittent renewable supplies were not available.
The British government opened a major new phase on Wednesday in its drive for renewable energy, calling for bids to build up to 25 gigawatts of offshore wind turbines, triple the amount already in the pipeline, by 2020. The announcement by the Crown Estate, which manages all property owned by the monarch including the seabed around Britain, was welcomed by British Wind Energy Association chairman Adam Bruce as "impressively bold." Under rounds one and two of offshore renewable power generation leasing program a total of eight gigawatts of wind turbines are under development.
A wind farm has been given the go-ahead despite a local campaign to keep the turbines out of an area of unspoilt countryside. Plans to build the £25 million development at Langhope Rig, an area of countryside three miles west of Ashkirk in the Borders, were cleared following a five-day public inquiry. There were about 350 letters against siting the wind farm in an area described as a tranquil spot popular with walkers and tourists. ...But a Scottish Government planning reporter reversed the decision following an appeal by Airtricity. Carolyn Riddell-Carre, the environment and planning representative on Scottish Borders Council, said rural areas were expected to take too many wind farms. "It's like fly-tipping," she said. "People think of open space and think they'll heap things on it, whether it's rubbish or a bunch of turbines."
Government promises to speed up planning inquiries to ensure that wind farms play a valuable role in providing clean energy are not being fulfilled, with many schemes waiting up to five years for the go-ahead. Ministers have pledged to remove or reduce barriers faced by companies that want to build sustainable power projects, but this is proving difficult. ...The fragility of the wind power business was highlighted recently when Shell pulled out of the world's biggest offshore wind farm - the London Array, off Kent - because of spiralling costs associated with planning delays. Britain is already struggling to meet the EU target of producing 20% of the country's total energy from renewables by 2020. That target has been reduced to 15% but even that is a major leap given the current level of 2% - a figure that has not risen for several years.