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January’s wind cancels out the hot air

It was windy in January, and after the debacle of the day of highest demand when wind was found wanting and it was revealed that the UKs wind farms have an efficiency rate of just 28%, much needed positive news was welcomed enthusiastically by the wind lobby.

Whilst the heavily subsidised developers and operators might not have felt the cold wind blowing, the wind lobby certainly did and it didn’t take the anti winders long to ramp up the rhetoric and present wind turbines as a lot of hot air.

In January however salvation came.

According to Renewable UK, wind turbines generated record setting levels of electricity in January achieving in total 14% of the UK generation mix.

Whilst this didn’t represent any change to the relative inefficiency of wind power as a generation source, it did, according to National Grid data, get windy enough for the industry to set records for average output in the half hour, weekly and monthly measures.

Indeed the all time record was smashed on Friday 2nd January when a windy weather system drove wind generation capacity to a heady 31% although typically for an uncontrollable form of generation (we can’t make the wind blow) this spike came at a point of low demand as the holiday season was still in full swing.

As ever, unless it’s a still day that is, wind energy makes up a useful element of our national generation mix. The subsidy regime has helped grow the level of plant available, and whilst it delivers poor levels of production efficiency, when it works, it works.

We need massive advances in electricity storage before wind can become a truly dependable component in our energy armoury. As a result that we cannot possibly rely on wind energy as a core source of electricity is abundantly clear, however that we can welcome it as a useful contributor to a balanced fuel mix is equally incontrovertible.