30 April 2012


It's not asking much, is it? We want the light switch to turn the lights on any time night or day; this includes 3:00 am, when we've got to get up and find the Alka-Seltzer. In other words, living in an industrialised, developed-world country should entitle us to power on tap 24/7. We want the rest of the world to get up to this standard; we don't want to drop down to a standard lower than this.

So getting away from the figures so beloved by the wind industry and supporters, which are always averages, percentages and totals, what amount of electricity actually gets into the grid from this proposed steel rain forest (less the bio-diversity) of turbines and interconnecting grids, pumped storage and OCGT back-up?

From 'A Report by Stuart Young':   ANALYSIS OF UK WIND POWER GENERATION, March 2011

The final two paragraphs of:  EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

The nature of wind output has been obscured by reliance on "average output" figures. Analysis of hard data from National Grid shows that wind behaves in a quite different manner from that suggested by study of average output derived from the Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) record, or from wind speed records which in themselves are averaged.

It is clear from this analysis that wind cannot be relied upon to providen any significant level of generation at any defined time in the future. There is an urgent need to re-evaluate the implications of reliance on wind for any significant proportion of our energy requirements.

And leading up to these paragraphs:

in respect of analysis of electricity generation from all the U.K. 
wind farms which are metered by National Grid, 
November 2008 to December 2010 

The following five statements are common assertions made by both the wind industry and Government representatives and agencies. This Report examines those assertions.

1.   “Wind turbines will generate on average 30% of their rated capacity over a year.” 

2.   “The wind is always blowing somewhere.” 

3.   “Periods of widespread low wind are infrequent.” 

4.   “The probability of very low wind output coinciding with peak electricity demand is slight.” 

5.   “Pumped storage hydro can fill the generation gap during prolonged low wind periods.”

This analysis uses publicly available data for a 26 month period between November 2008 and December 2010 and the facts in respect of the above assertions are:

1.   Average output from wind was 27.18% of metered capacity in 2009, 21.14% in 2010, and  24.08% between November 2008 and December 2010 inclusive. 

2.    There were 124 separate occasions from November 2008 till December 2010 when total generation from the wind farms metered by National Grid was less than 20MW. (Average capacity over the period was in excess of 1600MW). 

3.    The average frequency and duration of a low wind event of 20MW or less between November 2008 and December 2010 was once every 6.38 days for a period of 4.93 hours.  

4.    At each of the four highest peak demands of 2010 wind output was low being respectively 4.72%, 5.51%, 2.59% and 2.51% of capacity at peak demand. 

5.    The entire pumped storage hydro capacity in the UK can provide up to 2788MW for only 5 hours then it drops to 1060MW, and finally runs out of water after 22 hours.


Well informed speculators, shrewd wind farm operators and industrial opportunists along with the 'wanna-believers' hope that wind turbine deployment will continue to grow and grow. Well they'd better ponder the nature of essential, back-up technologies which will need to be in place in 2 or 3 generations time, when scarce and unaffordable hydrocarbons disappear.

GE Hitachi - PRISM Power Block
It will be breeder reactors.

So be honest - what's the point in subsidising this inconsequential technology? Why spend massive amounts of already taxed income (much of  it from those who can least afford it) on a mass of interconnected wind farms, when breeder reactors can do it all anyway?


  1. Colin.

    To be accurate it is not 'taxpayers' who are funding the wind rush, but consumers.

    This is even worse - taxes are mildy progressive. Consumer tariffs hit the poorest hardest, increasing fuel poverty.

  2. Very true Bill. I'll change the wording to reflect this even harsher consequence of such a misguided policy.

  3. Good points all, Colin! Added your blog to the blog roll at Atomic Power Review.

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