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UK: Electricity demand hits highest this winter – as wind power slumps to its lowest

Power demand hit its highest level this winter on Monday, but wind farms met just one per cent of the UK’s needs (Welcome to Ontariowe’s future — DQ)

Emily Gosden — Energy Editor — The Telegraph — January 20, 2015

UK electricity demand hit its highest level this winter on Monday – while wind turbines generated their lowest output, official figures show.   Cold weather saw UK demand hit 52.54 gigawatts (GW) between 5pm and 5.30pm, according to National Grid.

At the same time, low wind speeds meant the UK’s wind turbines were producing just 573 megawatts of power, enough to meet only one per cent of demand – the lowest of any peak period this winter, Telegraph analysis of official data shows.

Earlier on Monday wind output had dropped even lower, generating just 354 megawatts at 2pm, or 0.75 per cent of Britain’s needs – the lowest seen during any period this winter.

The analysis will fuel concerns that despite receiving billions of pounds in subsidies, Britain’s wind farms cannot be relied upon to keep the lights on when they are needed the most.   Britain now has about 12 GW of wind capacity installed on and offshore – meaning during Monday’s peak demand period, wind farms were generating less than five per cent of their theoretical maximum output.

Gas, coal and nuclear power plants instead provided the vast majority of the UK’s electricity needs.  A spokesman for National Grid said that Britain’s spare margins – the safety buffer between supply and demand – had remained “adequate”.

On average, UK wind farms produce about 28 per cent of their theoretical maximum power output.  But critics warn that cold snaps when demand soars can often coincide with periods when the wind doesn’t blow.   Continue reading here….

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