Wind power is too variable and too unpredictable to provide a serious alternative to fossil fuels, a new study by the Scientific Alliance and the Adam Smith Institute has confirmed. The researchers concluded that, although it is true that the wind is always blowing somewhere, the base line is only around 2 percent of capacity, assuming a network capacity of 10GW.
The majority of the time, wind will only deliver 8 percent of total capacity in the system, whilst the chances of the wind network running at full capacity is “vanishingly small”. As a consequence, fossil fuel plants capable of delivering the same amount of energy will always be required as backup.
The report was undertaken by the Scientific Alliance and the Adam Smith Institute. Using data on wind speed and direction gathered hourly from 22 sites around the UK over the last nine years, the researchers were able to build a comprehensive picture of how much the wind blows in the UK, where it blows, and how variable it is.
They found that, contrary to popular opinion, variability was a significant factor as “swings of around 10 percent are normal” across the whole system within 30 – 90 minute timeframes. “This observation contradicts the claim that a widespread wind fleet installation will smooth variability,” the authors write.
The study, entitled Wind Power Reassessed: A review of the UK wind resource for electricity generation, recommends pushing ahead with nuclear power and gas-fired power stations. (Click here for PDF file of full report)