Some of Britain’s largest wind farms are only producing enough electricity to make a couple of cups of tea, new research has revealed.
Data released by one of the largest green energy companies in the UK revealed that at one point recently, three large wind farms were actually taking electricity out of the National Grid in order to keep the basic power supplies on-site going.
According to the owner of the wind farms, when wind is lacking, electricity “import” occurs until conditions become less still. This is known as “parasitic consumption”.
The research, published by RWE npower renewables, showed just how little electricity is being produced by giant turbines at certain points in time.
In an analysis of these figures by the Telegraph, it was revealed that at one point last week, the wind farm ‘Trysglwyn” was producing just enough energy to boil two kettles at one time.
The wind farm, which is located in Anglesey in Wales, has 14 turbines and a theoretical capacity of 5.6MW. Despite this, at the time it was producing just 6KW of power – or 0.001% of its maximum capacity.
Meanwhile, ‘Little Cheyne Court’ wind farm, which cost £50 million to build and is made up of 26 turbines, was producing just 126KW of energy August 22nd. The controversial wind farm, situated at Romney Marsh in Kent, is the largest wind farm in the southeast of England.
Yet on this day last week, its supply equated to the equivalent of 43 kettles – 0.002% of its maximum capacity of 59.8MW.
In a similar situation, eight turbines at ‘Knabs Ridge’ – close to Harrogate in Yorkshire – used some 86KW of energy from the National Grid, while the five turbines at ‘Lambrigg’ wind farm in Cumbria took 10KW. ‘Llyn Alaw’ wind farm in Anglesey, which boasts 34 turbines, used up 80KW from the National Grid.
However, there have been times over the past month on still days when the National Grid has paid wind farm owners to shut down, so the electricity supply system is not overloaded. These payments hit £7.5 million in the first three weeks of August.
Critics: wind energy is ‘unreliable’
Critics of wind farms claim that wind farms are inconsistent – in other words, they either provide too much or too little energy. This is not a reliable system, and could lead to blackouts if the UK relies too heavily on wind energy, they have argued.
The government has been promoting wind energy however, as it aims to meet a EU target of ensuring 15% of its total energy is generated by renewable energy sources by 2020. In addition, when Labour was in power, it added a consumer subsidy onto electricity bills in order to encourage the construction of wind farms.