Britain's energy system is already capable of taking a large amount of wind power, according to a new report released today by a leading energy expert.
The report shows that there is no technical reason why a significant amount of energy generated by wind cannot be used to supply the National Grid.
And, as the report is launched, Britain's leading environmental organisations are calling on the Government to listen to the experts and provide a boost to the country's wind industry.
Key findings include:
- Wind power does not need large amounts of extra conventional - fossil, nuclear or gas - energy backup to stop the lights going out - while the instant loss of a large conventional power station is a real risk, it is extremely unlikely that the same amount of wind will disappear instantaneously.
- The National Grid is more than able to manage the variable input created by wind power, as it is already designed to manage fluctuations in demand and supply - variations in wind power are considerably less than variations in consumer demand, which can vary on an hourly basis according to the weather, rush hour and even TV scheduling.
- There are no significant costs associated with managing variability - If the UK meets its renewable energy targets and within this provides 32% of our electricity from wind by 2020, it will only add £2 to every £100 spent by consumers.
- New technology would reduce this slight increase in price even more, and would reduce the need for fossil fuel station back up - technologies already exist which can hep manage the variability of wind energy and reduce associated costs, and these can be expanded upon . More accurate wind forecasting could help reduce these costs by as much as 30%.
- Wind power will provide significant job opportunities in the UK - there are already 400,000 people working in the wind-energy sector worldwide and this could reach 1 million by the end of the decade.
Report Author David Milborrow, an energy expert with 30 years experience in the field, said:
"Utilities worldwide generally agree there is no fundamental technical reason why high proportions of wind cannot be assimilated without the lights going out."
Chris Bennett, National Grid's Future Transmission Networks Manager, said:
"We welcome this report and the way that it highlights the implications of integrating wind into our electricity network.
"The report complements the consultation document that National Grid issued in June which highlighted the different solutions available to ensure a safe secure and economic supply of electricity is maintained."
Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, RSPB and WWF, who commissioned the report, are calling on the UK Government to put in place funding and incentives to encourage investment in much more wind power and to grant priority access to the energy market and the electricity grid.
The summary and the full report are available online.
For more information, contact:
Greenpeace press office: 020 7865 8255
WWF press office: 01483 412 375
John Clare, RSPB Media Officer: 01767 693582
Friends of the Earth press office: 020 7566 1664
Stewart Larque, National Grid media relations manager: 01926 655274
Keith Allott, Head of Climate Change at WWF-UK said:
"Britain is not short of the renewable resources, or the engineers and technological know-how to create a sustainable, zero carbon power sector. We have a fantastic opportunity now to transform the UK electricity network with many old coal and nuclear plants retiring over the next 10 years or so. What we lack is the market framework to make the clean energy revolution a reality."
Louise Hutchins, energy solutions campaigner at Greenpeace, said:
"This report scuppers the final arguments against wind power. The government must now get cracking and make the most of the energy that wind will provide to the country.
"And wind won't just generate energy for Britain, it will also generate thousands of jobs for Britain."
Ruth Davis, Head of Climate Change Policy at the RSPB, said:
"Left unchecked, climate change threatens many species with extinction, and risks destroying ecosystems such as tropical forests, upon which we all depend for our survival. This report shows that sensitively located wind power, which avoids impacts on the natural environment, can provide a secure, low-carbon and sustainable source of power for the future."
Robin Webster, Senior Climate Campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:
"The claim that renewable power cannot deliver a big portion of our energy needs is dead and buried. The Government needs to deliver a genuine shift in energy policy in its upcoming Renewable Energy Strategy.
"We're still right at the bottom of the renewable energy league table in Europe and the energy system in Britain is skewed against renewable power.
"The Government needs to put renewables and energy efficiency at the centre of its energy policy - not the margins - and deliver a real industrial strategy to enable us to move towards a low-carbon economy."