Today, Wednesday 22nd October, 2014 the renewables lobby was proudly stating that generation from the thousands of onshore and offshore wind turbines producing more electricity than all our nuclear stations. That might have something to do with the aftermath of hurricane Gonzales and the high winds everywhere across the UK.
The wind turbine generation ramped up on Friday evening (17th October) to an average of around 5GW +/-1GW through to today. Such sustained levels are very rare and haven’t occurred like this since the spring. Often, such as between 16th & 20th September, and also for whole days such as 29th September and 11th October the wind turbine generation has been 1GW or lower.
The proponents of wind farms use this rare occurrence to try to persuade us that they are a useful contribution to the energy mix and that we don’t need so much conventional capacity.
Unfortunately all that happens when we have sporadic high wind farm generation is that the gas and coal fired power stations have to be backed off to try and maintain the grid voltage within narrow limits.
The coal and gas fired stations are then running inefficiently but it usually doesn’t last long and they have to be ramped up again when within a day the wind generation has dropped again to an abysmal level.
To put all this excitement into perspective it must first be pointed out that the nuclear constant generation is presently running at 5GW, which is half its peak capability. So it is not comparing like with like. Whereas as this is an exceptional peak for wind generation it is only just exceeding the nuclear generation when set at half capability.
Furthermore the actual peak demand occurred at 8pm this evening at around 45GW so even with the highest sustained contribution from wind turbines they only provided just over 10% of our need.
So where do we go from here? Nuclear power stations take a long time to build and the initial cost is high. EU emission regulations together with the ludicrous carbon capture and storage clauses of the Climate Change Act 2008 prevent us building any new coal fired stations in the immediate future.
So we will need a program to build lots of gas fired stations. These of course will need large quantities of gas, which is steadily running out from the sources in the North Sea. Fortunately we have found huge gas stocks absorbed in the rocks 2000 feet or more below the land and that can be obtained through fracking. Furthermore once a fracking site is established it takes up a very small parcel of land and has little visual impact.
The energy policies of the Lib/Lab/Con will always favour the unreliable wind and solar and will not be quick to try to solve the problem to keep the country from suffering blackouts, and will allow electricity bills to continue to increase to double the present cost within 6 years.
UKIP is serious about addressing our energy shortage and if a partner in government it will demand that the Climate Change Act 2008 and Energy Act 2014 are repealed. It will approve fracking and the building of more gas fired stations. It will then set about building a new generation of low pollution coal fired generating stations.
As a final note, nitrous and sulphurous oxides are pollutants. CO2 is not a pollutant, it is not warming the Earth, it is what we breathe out, and what plants breathe in.