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Will British weather provide reliable electricity?


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  • Oswald, James
  • Raine, Mike
  • Ashraf-Ball, Hezlin
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    There has been much academic debate on the ability of wind to provide a reliable electricity supply. The model presented here calculates the hourly power delivery of 25Â GW of wind turbines distributed across Britain's grid, and assesses power delivery volatility and the implications for individual generators on the system. Met Office hourly wind speed data are used to determine power output and are calibrated using Ofgem's published wind output records. There are two main results. First, the model suggests that power swings of 70% within 12Â h are to be expected in winter, and will require individual generators to go on or off line frequently, thereby reducing the utilisation and reliability of large centralised plants. These reductions will lead to increases in the cost of electricity and reductions in potential carbon savings. Secondly, it is shown that electricity demand in Britain can reach its annual peak with a simultaneous demise of wind power in Britain and neighbouring countries to very low levels. This significantly undermines the case for connecting the UK transmission grid to neighbouring grids. Recommendations are made for improving 'cost of wind' calculations. The authors are grateful for the sponsorship provided by The Renewable Energy Foundation.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

    Volume (Year): 36 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 8 (August)
    Pages: 3202-3215

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:36:y:2008:i:8:p:3202-3215

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    1. Sinden, Graham, 2007. "Characteristics of the UK wind resource: Long-term patterns and relationship to electricity demand," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 112-127, January.
    2. Dale, Lewis & Milborrow, David & Slark, Richard & Strbac, Goran, 2004. "Total cost estimates for large-scale wind scenarios in UK," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(17), pages 1949-1956, November.
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    Cited by:
    1. Qadrdan, Meysam & Chaudry, Modassar & Wu, Jianzhong & Jenkins, Nick & Ekanayake, Janaka, 2010. "Impact of a large penetration of wind generation on the GB gas network," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 5684-5695, October.
    2. Mason, I.G. & Page, S.C. & Williamson, A.G., 2010. "A 100% renewable electricity generation system for New Zealand utilising hydro, wind, geothermal and biomass resources," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(8), pages 3973-3984, August.
    3. Trainer, Ted, 2010. "Can renewables etc. solve the greenhouse problem? The negative case," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(8), pages 4107-4114, August.
    4. Ely, Caroline R. & Brayshaw, David J. & Methven, John & Cox, James & Pearce, Oliver, 2013. "Implications of the North Atlantic Oscillation for a UK–Norway Renewable power system," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1420-1427.
    5. Jean-Luc Gaffard & Mauro Napoletano, 2012. "Agent-based models and economic policy," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/53r60a8s3ku, Sciences Po.
    6. Narbel, Patrick A., 2014. "Rethinking how to support intermittent renewables," Discussion Papers 2014/17, Department of Business and Management Science, Norwegian School of Economics.
    7. Richard Green & Nicholas Vasilakos, 2008. "Market Behaviour with Large Amounts of Intermittent Generation," Discussion Papers 08-08, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    8. Arvesen, Anders & Hertwich, Edgar G., 2012. "Assessing the life cycle environmental impacts of wind power: A review of present knowledge and research needs," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(8), pages 5994-6006.
    9. Trainer, Ted, 2014. "Some inconvenient theses," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 168-174.
    10. Boccard, Nicolas, 2010. "Economic properties of wind power: A European assessment," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 3232-3244, July.
    11. Trainer, Ted, 2013. "Limits to solar thermal energy set by intermittency and low DNI: Implications from meteorological data," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 910-917.
    12. Trainer, Ted, 2013. "Can Europe run on renewable energy? A negative case," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 845-850.
    13. van Kooten, G. Cornelis & Timilsina, Govinda R., 2009. "Wind power development : economics and policies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4868, The World Bank.
    14. Timilsina, Govinda R. & Cornelis van Kooten, G. & Narbel, Patrick A., 2013. "Global wind power development: Economics and policies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 642-652.


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