We can’t rely on intermittent wind- and solar-powered energy alone, warns GMB

When the wind don't blow and the Sun don't shine...
When the wind don’t blow and the Sun don’t shine…

The GMB – the trade union for many workers in the energy industries – has published new data highlighting the problems caused by intermittent electricity supply from wind- and solar-powered turbines as part of its campaign for a mixed – and secure – electricity generation supply industry.

GMB today reports that there have been more than two months of low wind days (65 days) since the start of March 2017 when wind was supplying less than 10% of the installed and connected wind capacity for more than half of the day to the grid.

From 7 March 2017 every one in 5.6 days has been a low wind day (65 days in total) when the output of the installed and connected wind turbines in the UK have produced less than 10% of their installed and connected capacity for more than half of the day. 

There were 138 days when there was at least one period – of half an hour – during the day when wind output was less than 10% of the installed capacity. 

For 341 days in the year, solar output was below 10% of installed capacity for more than half of the day.

Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary, said: “Renewable sources of energy are really intermittent. There were 138 days in the past 12 months when there was at least one period – of a half hour- during the day when wind output was less than 10% of the installed capacity.

“There were also 341 days over same period when solar was supplying less than 10% of installed capacity to the national electricity grid for more than 12 hours a day.  When this happens cannot be predicted, so back up energy sources have to be available when demand for electricity is high. 

“These are the facts for the 12 months to 8 March 2018 and facts are stubborn things.  It is the facts, not the hype, which should determine the UK’s energy policy decisions.

“The wind and solar fleets combined are a very valuable addition as UK based energy sources in that they are carbon free and are a positive help with the UK’s balance of payments. 

“That they are intermittent should not be a point of contention but a reason why base load lower carbon gas and zero carbon nuclear energy sources are essential for a balanced and secure low emissions future.  Anyone who disputes this is axe grinding.

“If we are to address the reality of climate change – whilst keeping our country’s lights turned on, our homes heated and our economy working – then we have to face up to the fact that we need a mix of energy which combines renewable sources, like wind and solar, with the reliable base load electricity capacity that comes from gas and zero carbon nuclear, to see us through all those times when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.”

19 Mar 2018


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