Wind Power Reliable Enough, IPPR Says

on Aug 31, 2012

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has released a report on the viability of wind power as part of the UK’s energy mix. As reported by The Telegraph newspaper, the report addresses some of the main points of criticism towards this particular form of renewable energy, notably the inability to accurately predict the energy output from wind generators at any given time.

Critics have for some time been vocal about the issues of wind power, insisting that it cannot be relied upon when electricity demand is high, that it’s impossible for the produced energy to be stored and that wind doesn’t cut enough carbon to justify large-scale investments.
These voices have met with strong support amongst the political elite of the country. Earlier this year, more than 100 members of parliament urged Prime Minister David Cameron to cut the subsidies for onshore wind installations. The savings from the cuts should be allocated to other more reliable forms of renewable energy, the MPs insisted.

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In July, the UK cut subsidies for onshore wind by 10 percent from 2013.
The question remains, is this negative attitude towards wind energy based on solid ground? Are the cuts justified? According to IPPR, this may not be the case.
!m[](/uploads/story/311/thumbs/pic1_inline.png)One of the main points in the report is that the reliability and the security of wind power doesn’t actually depend on the variability of the wind. Much more important, according to IPRR, is that the changes in wind power output are properly predicted and managed. IPRR asserts that accurate output predictions can be made 24 hours ahead of time.

The report states that statistical analysis estimates the most drastic changes in the amount of generated wind power to be around 20 percent per half hour. The worst situation occurs when energy generation drops while electricity demand is rising. Additional problems can be caused by long periods of low speed wind and cold temperatures, occasioning a spike in demand for power for heating.

But according to IPPR, there are solutions to these problems. Rapid weather changes can be easily predicted and operators enabled to take timely response measures. Also, there are enough fossil fuel reserves to meet the demand during extensive cold periods.
IPPR’s report also points out the positive impact that wind power has had on the country, cutting UK’s carbon emissions significantly. Estimations reveal 5.5 million tonnes of carbon savings from 15.5 terrawatt hours of wind energy in Britain in 2011. That’s about 2.5 percent of what the UK promised to cut during the 2008-12 Kyoto period.

The National Grid has stated that it has the capacity to accommodate 30 Gigawatts of wind power by 2020. The Government plans for 28 GW to be online by that time, a tall order given that the UK’s current installed wind power capacity is at just five GW.
Right now there are a number of things that need to be addressed in order for the grid to adapt to wind power generation. Efficient energy use in homes and small firms and better energy storage mechanisms should be amongst the priorities.
Interconnections between electricity systems should also be improved, Reuters reported. That will allow for wind energy to be transferable between different regions in the country, and even exported to other countries in Europe.


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