When the North Wind doesn’t blow

It’s a cold morning here in the UK.  The need for energy increases and of course, for those who can afford to, the heating gets turned up.

All too often on frigid days like these the wind tends to drop away.  Driving past a wind farm this morning proved the point as all could see the turbines were barely turning – most likely they were consuming power to turn the blades so as to prevent the mechanisms from freezing up.  So it seems an appropriate time to see just how the energy needs of the UK are being met and what energy generation sources are deliving the required power.

Those who are transfixed with the emission of carbon dioxide helpfully assist us in tracking the power that is being generated, with a smartphone application.  This is a screenshot of it (updated shortly after 09:30).

And it clearly shows the unreliability and intermittent nature of wind power, which a short while ago was contributing less than 1% of the UK’s power needs.  Despite the billions of pounds of ‘investment’ and the determination to bring about a renewables revolution to reduce our reliance of fossil fuels, when power is most needed, the turbines are failing to deliver.  This is not a one-off example of such a failing.  In the US last year, during hot weather when power is sought for cooling systems and fans, wind wasn’t there when it was needed.

This issue comes to the fore against the backdrop of a report apparently from the pressure groups Unlock Democracy (UD) and the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) – which includes the likes of E.On and Scottish Power – that declares the decision to accept new nuclear power stations is corrupt because it was made without all the evidence being presented to Parliament. The report argue that far from the lights going out in the future, enough energy saving measures can be realised to negate the need for new nuclear and that the costs of nuclear power will be far higher than other generation methods.

While the groups claim they are neither for nor against the decision to have new nuclear capacity the report is clearly biased against nuclear, as its authors Ron Bailey and Lotte Blair are both prominent campaigners for the group No Need for Nuclear (NNfN).  Indeed, a look at the NNfN website shows it is actually their report and it has simply been published on their behalf by UD and ACE. Nothing like a bit of transparency, eh?

Unsurprisingly these people ignore the fact that nuclear can provide the most reliable baseload energy – and will be needed to do so as coal fired power stations are closed down without being replaced, increasing population drives up energy demand, and more technology increases the need for electricity – while on far too many days of the year wind power contributes virtually nothing to the grid.

Energy saving measures cannot do nearly enough to prevent an energy gap emerging, and wind power is shown yet again to be an expensive folly that empties our wallets in return for providing a miniscule fraction of our energy needs.

12 Responses to “When the North Wind doesn’t blow”


  1. 1 Oldrightie 03/02/2012 at 11:02 am

    Here’s a chance for Huhne to demand his prison cell be heated by wind power alone.

  2. 2 Kevin Wright 03/02/2012 at 11:21 am

    Great post…think the blades are turned to stop bearings being crushed! …

  3. 3 Autonomous Mind 03/02/2012 at 11:42 am

    Ah, thanks Kevin. Knew there was a technical reason for powering them to turn but couldn’t be bothered to look it up :)

  4. 4 Edward. 03/02/2012 at 8:11 pm

    Baseload, that is the most important and key word here, without baseload we’re all going to be Browned out’ soon enough.

    These geeks and their personal green agenda and related intellectual inadequacy,’Fast Breeds’ an ‘incapacity’ to understand the basics of power generation.
    As our ageing nuclear plant nears the end of its life and our coal fired power stations are phased out due to the LCPD [though God knows we should ignore that execrable diktat]. It brings home the absolute necessity of building very large and reliable plant. Contrary to what logic dictates [logic – no chance of that manifesting itself anytime soon at the DECC], what did Miliband do [and now] Huhne; apart from talk, talk and talk.
    Appallingly, It actually is worse than that, Miliband [would you trust that jerk with the household budget – let alone a government department?] initiated, or blessed a gimcrack energy policy scheme, over which Huhne now presides, thus HMG; is spending billions on boondoggles which are useless in their optimum conditions but ironically totally redundant when they’re needed the most.

    All of which begs the question; why does their [green lobbyists] collective opinion hold so much sway within that part of government concerned with energy security? Risibly, some of them even get to pen the damn ‘green’ paper – it would be funny if it wasn’t so matter of life and death, because people die in the cold, yes cold does KILL.

    Consensus, conspiracy or blind stupidity?

    Take your pick, when the lights do go out, there will be hell to pay. I find myself hoping for such an occurrence because then and only then, might the X factor generation actually wake up and take some fekkin notice and the dogs breakfast designed and set by those idiot politicians and their ‘little green helpers’ have made of British energy policy.

    Ed Miliband, Chris Huhne your names have been recorded.

  5. 5 Alan Douglas 03/02/2012 at 9:13 pm

    Edward, there is no doubt that the “green’s” underlying certainty is that there are too many humans on the planet, so I’d say deliberate.

    Alan Douglas

  6. 6 Edward. 04/02/2012 at 1:06 am

    Edward, there is no doubt that the “green’s” underlying certainty is that there are too many humans on the planet, so I’d say deliberate.

    Alan Douglas

    Yes Alan, many others reckon the same and I think, that you and they are essentially correct.

  7. 7 don wreford 04/02/2012 at 1:24 am

    Percentage of time the turbines are moving generating power? Every time I see these sweet babies adored by mothers and now new generation fathers, I wonder what is the energy power consumption for each individual processed? over the lifespan.
    In killawatts.

  8. 8 Lawrence 05/02/2012 at 9:32 pm

    Remember how Enron cut power to large areas in the US, with regular blackouts lasting up to 12 hours, blaming massive demand. It was all a scam to make people appreciate power and be happy to pay more for it? So if the UK has no power at some stage then these power companies will be the ones who are holding us hostage and charging what they like. Off with their heads!!

  9. 9 Lawrence 05/02/2012 at 9:37 pm

    Please tell us what the app is called? – Thanks!

  10. 10 Jockdownsouth 07/02/2012 at 3:26 pm

    Dunno about the smartphone app but you can see the figures on an old fashioned PC or laptop here – http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/
    Doesn’t seem to work well on Chrome but is fine on Firefox. Scroll down quite a way to the table headed “Generation by Fuel Type”. I think it automatically updates. At 15:25 on Tuesday wind is 1.7% but was only 0.6% over the last 24 hours. Good old coal is 46.5%.

  11. 11 Big Bert 09/02/2012 at 6:34 pm

    You may like to help us circulate this petition to reduce the subsidy for wind farms? Please just click on the link or simply Google Reduce electricty bills 22704 and vote. Any help getting it to go viral would be much appreciated!

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22704
    Thanks.

  12. 12 Brian H 07/04/2012 at 9:50 pm

    Imagine counting on wind for 80% of the grid’s power, and having this weather.
    The bind moggles.


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