Lucky UK has a massive 40% of Big Wind!

A Guest post by Martin Brumby

“Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!”
(King Lear Act III)

I’m sure readers here will be aware that Big Wind’s advocates and defenders are weapons grade Porkie-Pie Men. Not even “Climate Scientists” can quite match them for sheer mendacity. A few days ago AM was kind enough to offer me a Guest Posting on Buff Huhne’s claim that we now produce 7% of our electricity from renewables.

Despite having to correct part of this (see comments), there’s nothing wrong with the conclusion that nothing like 7% of our electricity is renewable. More like 2 – 3%, and most of that is on warm, windy nights when we really don’t need it.

Today I thought I’d like to look at another common claim – the suggestion that the UK has 40% of Europe’s wind. I’m not sure that I can finger Buff Huhne or his egregious predecessor little Eddie Milipede with using this, although they may well have done. I’ve certainly heard it from one of the BBC’s Three Stooges. And a bit of searching on the internet throws up multiple instances of the claim:

40% of all the wind energy in Europe blows over the UK, making it an ideal country for small domestic turbines.”

“Did you know 40% of all the wind energy in Europe blows over the UK.?”

“Due to a combination of its latitude (at the boundary of the Ferrel and Polar Cells) and the lack of landmass in the prevailing south-westerly wind direction, the UK is fortunate to have much higher wind speeds than those in continental Europe. Indeed the BWEA has estimated that the UK has some 40% of the Europe’s total wind resource.” [Wot about Ireland? Isn’t that a landmass? M.B.]

“Wind energy has historically been converted into mechanical energy to pump water or grind grain but the principle application today is electricity generation. The UK receives 40% of Europe’s total wind energy but we currently generate only 0.5% of our electricity using wind.”

There’s load of these, all parroted but never with any citation or justification. But what’s this?

Downloading their dismal “Report” [Introduction:- Sir John Houghton, “Former Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” et al, partners and funders including the UEA and Mystic MET – your tax pounds at work] we read:-

“Wind is a vast energy source with an enormous job creation potential. The UK holds 40% of the EU’s total wind resource, but only 4.2% of its total installed capacity (Lambert, 2008).”

Hmmm. “Lambert, 2008” Surely that must be a proper, ‘peer-reviewed’ paper?  Well, not really. It turns out to be a bit of black propaganda by Jean Lambert, Green Party MEP for London.  She says:

“Clearly the UK has huge potential for investment in wind energy, and is the windiest country in Europe, with 40% of the EU’s entire wind resources. The British Wind Energy Association estimates that the UK could be meeting 35% of its electricity needs from wind by 2020.34 With the UK accounting for only 4.2% of the EU’s total installed wind power capacity, it’s hard not to see this as a hugely wasted opportunity and as a damning failure of Government.”

So where does Ms. Lambert get this gem from, the BWEA? Hmmm. That’s like taking advice on patient care from Dr. Harold Shipman. The BWEA is now the Renewable Energy World. And Lambert’s quoted “paper” seems to be this which contains:-

“The UK has 40 percent of Europe’s entire wind resource and with these abundant resources we should be a world leader in renewable energy generation,” said the statement from BWEA. “Although the UK currently trails behind our European partners’ levels of renewable generation, the UK has doubled its wind energy capacity over the past 20 months. The equivalent of 6 percent of the UK’s electricity supply remains held up in the planning system from onshore wind energy projects alone, which means the UK can meet its 2010 targets and set the stage to meet for more ambitious targets to 2020.”

No reference, no citation, no explanation, nothing. Obviously it is just a bold assertion. I give up. Who knows where this “40%” claim comes from? The leprechaun at the bottom of the garden?  And what does it actually mean?   I then turned to this.  This being Technical report No 6/2009 from the European Environment Agency. Your tax-pounds sent to Brussels at work.

Personally, I wouldn’t trust this outfit if they told me that Christmas day will fall on 25th December. And their “technical report” is replete with quotes from Greenpiss, clear evidence of data tortured until it confessed, computer models, the whole works.

First of all, what is meant by “Europe”? (click to enlarge)

That’s interesting. Turkey is in Europe. Iceland isn’t. Neither is Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine & Vatican City. How about Aland, Faroes, Gibraltar, Abkhazia, Transnistria and the rest? Who knows? Are the Azores & Canary Islands in with Portugal and Spain? Can’t be sure but probably not. Anyway, I haven’t found the raw data (or even the tortured data), but there are some charts… (click to enlarge)

Whilst there are some notes about some of the assumptions and ‘adjustments’ made, it all seems pretty unclear.  It isn’t ideal but it isn’t too difficult to scale off the charts, put the measurements into a spreadsheet, convert to TWh and see how much “Unrestricted technical potential” the EEA reckons there is.

They seem to think that this will amount to over 73,000 TWh in 2030, based on their idiosyncratic definitions of “Europe” and “technical potential”. And that the UK’s share of this “bonanza” will amount to around under 13% of this. Deleting Turkey, Switzerland and Norway (to make “Europe” equal to the “EU” reduces the total to 66,000 TWh and boosts our “share” to a stonking 14%. Even if we look only at “offshore” and restrict “Europe” to “the EU”, our share is only 21%.

So, forty percent? Absolutely no chance based on these charts.

Naturally, depending on your definition of “Europe”, the “UK”, and “Wind Energy” I guess you can prove anything you want to, especially if practical considerations (let alone commercial considerations) don’t matter. The fact that I haven’t found a sensible source for the 40% claim doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist somewhere. But this widely quoted Greenie claim looks like the usual dishonest hyperbole. And, in any case 40% of something that is eyewateringly expensive and almost completely useless is still not worth a fart.

10 Responses to “Lucky UK has a massive 40% of Big Wind!”


  1. 1 A Lovell 13/03/2011 at 1:42 pm

    Yes, these sort of claims are very suspect. It’s the old trouble of the lie going around the world while the truth is getting its boots on.

    In view of the AGWers claims of global warming causing isostatic rebound and therefore causing the Japanese earthquake; is there ANY evidence that these are connected in any way?

    The ‘twitter’ messages I have seen to this effect would be hilarious if they weren’t so depressing.

    I have done a cursory ‘google’ and found nothing to connect the two.

    Mind you, I did find someone who claims to have refuted isostatic rebound altogether! (Mostly through the Bible I should add……)

  2. 2 microdave 13/03/2011 at 2:10 pm

    Nice post! And even IF you could verify the 40% claim, it still won’t help when the entire UK is covered by a blocking high pressure zone…

  3. 3 stupidboy 13/03/2011 at 2:21 pm

    G L Garrad Hassan is one of the culprits. They like to make wind maps amongst other things. The following describes how they wind-mapped the UK.

    “The Mesoscale model was run at 5km resolution with a fixed number of climate states, defined by a global database of geostrophic weather statistics based on reanalysis hindcast data. The results have been used to initiate a linear micro-scale (local) wind flow model.”
    http://www.gl-garradhassan.com/en/news_22423.php

    The results of this are probably self-evident:
    http://www.gl-group.com/en/group/news_22551.php

  4. 4 Cassandra King 13/03/2011 at 2:59 pm

    Peel off the skin and underneath is not very much of anything, dig down just a little bit and the facts and figures are nothing more than Chinese whispers.

    Brilliant post BTW and something the MSM should be doing on a regular basis, its so very easy to trip these people up and piss on their picnic that even a lazy assed copy addicted hack could have a fair go at it.

    As my old Yank chum used to say, “they’re all hat and no oil’.

  5. 5 Tufty 13/03/2011 at 3:51 pm

    I don’t know, it seems to me there is still a fair bit of wind in the UK, especially at high altitudes – junior minister and above.

  6. 6 The Gray Monk 13/03/2011 at 5:28 pm

    Most of it is generated in Whitehall ….

  7. 7 Brian H 13/03/2011 at 7:55 pm

    Yess, it all sounds very Manndacious to me. Probably cooked up by the Hokey Wind Team.

  8. 8 Quentin Macdonald 13/03/2011 at 11:15 pm

    Whaever actually said “In war, the first causalty is truth” was certainly correct when it comes to any of the numbers associated with Big Wind, except perhaps the height of the damn things. Thank you Martin for a very useful pice of research.

  9. 9 jameshigham 14/03/2011 at 9:35 am

    While this is a great post on the issue, there are wider implications too on people’s researching and the tendency to take one unattributed or poorly attributed quote and it goes viral. It’s the bane of the researcher.

  10. 10 Terri Jackson 14/03/2011 at 9:48 pm

    Last year 2010 was the least windy year in the UK since records began(Ofgem figures reported by A Gilligan STelegraph 16 January 2011). The NAO, North Atlantic Oscillation which controls wind speeds in Northern Europe was at its lowest level since 1824! Gilligan also reports that Moody`s the international credit rating agency has warned that low levels of wind volumes are a key driver of credit risk to investors. E.ON in their evidence to the House of Lords economic affairs committee in 2008 noted that for every 1000MW of installed wind capacity then 900MW of back up plant(either fossil fuel or nuclear) will be needed for times when the wind does not blow. Kent Hawkins one of Canada`s leading electrical engineers has found in a study of power systems in the Netherlands, Colorado and Texas that when the wind capacity reaches five percent of the overall system capacity then carbon emissions increase! (Are you listening Mr Huhne?) On the basis of wind speed back up plantand carbon emissions wind power fails every time!


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