U.K. study takes sails out of wind farms

Further to my post below, it is interesting that the U.K. Times Online has 2 articles in today’s issue. The first, by Jonathan Leake:

Feeble wind farms fail to hit full power

THE first detailed study of Britain’s onshore wind farms suggests some treasured landscapes may have been blighted for only small gains in green energy.

The analysis reveals that more than 20 wind farms produce less than a fifth of their potential maximum power output.
Britain has 245 onshore wind farms. Although wind power is expensive, the industry has boomed because of the “renewable obligation” subsidy system, under which consumers pay roughly double the normal price for energy from wind.

Michael Jefferson, professor of international business and sustainability at London Metropolitan Business School, who is also a former lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has cited the efficiency figures in peer-reviewed papers. He says the subsidy encourages the construction of wind farms.

“Too many developments are underperforming,” he said. “It’s because developers grossly exaggerate the potential. The subsidies make it viable for developers to put turbines on sites they would not touch if the money was not available.”

The second is an editorial:

Too much wind and not enough puff

Wind farms appear to offer a perfect solution to the twin problems of global warming and the depletion of hydrocarbon reserves. The wind will still be blowing long after the last petrol-engined car has been crunched into a lump of metal. Britain may be running out of North Sea oil, but you need only stand on our coastline to realise it will never lack wind.

As we report today, however, a detailed study of some of Britain’s onshore wind farms suggests they do not come remotely near providing an efficient and reliable source of supply. Worse, they are a blight on some of our most beautiful landscapes.

No wind farm can produce 100% of its maximum power output; the realistic operating maximum is about 50%. Many wind farms fall well below that. The norm for onshore farms is 25% to 30%, based on data from Ofgem, the energy regulator. More than 20 farms produce less than a fifth of their maximum output and some produce less than 10%.
Far better to push on with technologies we know can deliver, such as nuclear and clean coal. The answer, sadly, is not blowing in the wind. [Hey, they stole my punchline! -hro]

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