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National Grid report challenges wind energy critics

Squirreled away beneath a recent Telegraph report on the subtleties of badger-culling in the UK was this intriguing morsel of wind energy news, which would seem to challenge the idea that intermittent energy sources such as wind play havoc with grid management. For the 23,700 gigawatt-hours of electrical energy generated by wind in the UK between April 2011 and September 2012, only 22 GWh of electrical energy from fossil fuels "was needed to fill the gaps when the wind didn't blow," it reports. Gizmag contacted the UK National Grid to find out the details.


In other words, for every 1,000 GWh of wind energy generated in that 18-month period, less than 1 GWh was required to meet shortfalls due to the wind not blowing as expected. "As expected" may be the crucial words missing from the Telegraph's summary. What about the energy required when the wind isn't blowing, when you know it isn't going to blow, you may well ask? But, similar to the classic falling tree scenario, is a GWh of energy truly "lost" if you weren't expecting to generate it in the first place? At the very least, the National Grid's figures would seem to challenge the notion that wind energy throws the grid into significant disarray.


Over the 18-month period, the 23,707 GWh of wind energy generated resulted in an estimated reduction in CO2 emissions of 10.9 million tonnes. Meanwhile the "intermittency impact" of the wind not blowing as expected was an additional 8,800 tonnes of CO2. "The report concludes that this effect causes only a small effect on the carbon intensity of thermal plant generation which is less than 1 percent of the benefit of carbon reductions from wind farms," it says, somewhat conservatively. The National Grid's own figures suggest that the effect on carbon emissions of wind intermittency is actually less than a tenth of a percent of the overall benefit of wind power.

Go check the tables at the link.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 26th, 2013 at 05:23:21 PM EST

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