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.