Monday, January 02, 2012

Wind power myths and spin.

Wind power is the cheapest form of renewable energy. If we dont want to take the nuclear option and associated risks then our current best chance at reducing carbon emissions and dependence on volatile fossil fuel prices is to use wind power.

On the down side, wind turbines are not a reliable form of energy. In a diverse energy grid this isn't a major issue but it is an issue that critics of wind power have siezed on and blown out of all proportion.

Their are numerous critics of wind power, some of whom are genuine, some of whom have been misled by vested interests and some of whom are the spokespeople of those interests. At the moment their focus is on not the unreliability of wind power but rather the unrealiability of the grid (which they blame on wind power).

As already mentioned wind power is not a constant form of power. This can be dealt with, however, by having other forms of generation that can step into the breach. Luckily we already have certain forms of energy such as combined cycle gas turbines, pumped storage and regular hydro electric which can do this job. What we dont have is an electricity system which can accept large quantities of wind power. Partly this is a matter of transmission but in the future the poor flexibility of some of our generation types such as nuclear power will be of increasing concern.

Because licensed generating units are entitled to sell their energy on the UK market, compensation payments are made if the grid isn't up to the job and wotd give them access. If you rephrase 'being denied market access' and turn it into 'getting paid for doing nothing' you will be in line with current rhetoric flowing out of the Telegraph, Times et al.,

Whatever the current debate over wind power. The encouraging truth of the matter is that 9% of the UK's energy was produced from wind power during the last quater and this number is expected to rise rapidly in the coming years.

One group that has been getting more than it's fair share of attention is the Renewable Energy Foundation. A group that, ironically, spends most of its time attacking wind power. A look into their background will explain it's position but not why the sunday times and other ostensibly reputable news papers are taking their 'research' as gospel without revealing the groups funding sources or it's directors backgrounds to the public.

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