Brits find they need alternatives to wind power in the winter
Britain’s wind farms almost ground to a halt during the coldest spells in December, it has emerged.It is not just the drop in the speed of the wind. The turbines become less efficient as it gets cold and their mechanisms stop working when they get too cold. Scotland had to call on France for some of their nuclear power during the recent storm. The Brits better build more nukes if they are going to shut down their coal generators.
As temperatures plunged below zero and demand for electricity soared, figures reveal that most of the country’s 3,000 wind turbines were virtually still, energy experts say.
During some of the chilliest weather, they were working at less than one-hundredth of capacity, producing electricity for fewer than 30,000 homes.
The National Grid was forced to compensate for the still, cold conditions by cranking up conventional coal and gas-fired power stations.
December was the coldest month in more than a century – and yesterday, as some in northern England, the Midlands and Wales were hit with more snow, residents will have been switching on the heating again. But critics have warned that the UK is becoming too dependent on wind for power.
There are 3,153 working turbines in 283 wind farms across the UK, capable of generating more than 5.2 gigawatts of electricity – enough to power almost three million homes, the wind industry says.
Over the next decade, another 10,000 turbines will go up to meet Europe’s climate change targets. By 2020, the Government says 30 per cent of all Britain’s electricity will be generated by wind.
But at best, turbines work at just 30 to 40 per cent of their capacity. And in cold winter snaps, often caused by vast, slow-moving high-pressure systems over Northern Europe, winds drop to almost nothing.