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Will British weather provide reliable electricity?


  • Oswald, James
  • Raine, Mike
  • Ashraf-Ball, Hezlin


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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  • Oswald, James & Raine, Mike & Ashraf-Ball, Hezlin, 2008. "Will British weather provide reliable electricity?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 3202-3215, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:36:y:2008:i:8:p:3202-3215

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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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