Published on August 31st, 2012 | by James Ayre2
Wind Power Study Says Criticism of the Technology Is Unfounded
August 31st, 2012 by James Ayre
A new study that investigated the efficiency and reliability of wind farms has found that common criticisms of wind energy used by politicians aren’t supported by the evidence.
The study comes from the think tank IPPR in cooperation with the leading energy consultancy GL Garrad Hassan. They concluded that “there is no technical reason why turbines should not be supported.”
Reg Platt, an IPPR fellow, said that it was right to scrutinise costs and planning issues, but that the report showed “unequivocally that wind power can significantly reduce carbon emissions, is reliable, poses no threat to energy security and is technically capable of providing a significant proportion of the UK’s electricity with minimal impact on the existing operation of the grid.”
The common criticisms that are used are not supported by the evidence, said Platt, also pointing out that the study was peer-reviewed by Nick Jenkins, the head of the Institute of Energy at Cardiff University.
“The economic model GL Garrad Hassan adopted showed that every megawatt-hour of electricity wind power produced led to carbon savings of a minimum of 350kg.”
“On that basis, it said, the increasing number of wind farms both on and offshore saved 5.5m tonnes in 2011, at a time when the UK is committed to meeting EU carbon reduction targets in a bid to counter climate change.”
Even though wind energy is somewhat variable, because of changes in its speed, it is predictable because of weather forecasting technology and the varied locations of the turbines around the country averaging out.
“Our ability to ‘keep the lights on’ during ‘cold, calm spells’ is secure at the levels of wind power projected for the UK by 2020,” said Oscar Fitch-Roy and Paul Gardner, the authors of the technical aspects of the report, entitled Getting “Beyond the Bluster.”
“The Department of Energy and Climate Change has predicted it could need up to 30 gigawatts (GW) of wind power in place by 2020, compared with the current operational level of less than 7GW.”