Relying completely on renewables for electricity; two major concerns remain to be addressed


According to the statistics published by those who analyse the statistics of the National Grid, for the first time, the electricity generated by wind power amounted to more than 50% of the total needed in the United Kingdom on Boxing Day last year.

The rapidly-growing renewable energy sector went past the milestone, thanks to Storm Bella that brought in sustained winds with gusts up to 100 miles per hour, while hitting most part of the British Isles.

Although it is encouraging to note the achievement, the fact that it’s the random wind speed, which determined the above goal, raises a concern about our long term dependence on renewables without something to fall back on, - on a ‘rainy day’, of course.

For instance, in September last year, according to a report, electricity system operator was forced to increase the use of gas-powered power plants by 20% in order to compensate for a slump in electricity generation by renewables.

The low wind speed was a major factor for the decision.

The following interactive animation shows how the fluctuation of winds can affect the power output of wind turbines:



It is not rocket science to find out what really happened during this particular period: the winds were slow and there were dark periods, robbing the industry of its capacity to use wind turbines and solar power to their maximum capacity.

This is a major challenge for the UK in the coming decades as it is on a mission to achieve the well-published goal of net zero – completely turning its back on fossil fuels by 2050.

As far as the environmental damage is concerned, it is a noble task, indeed.

The analysts, however, raise the prospects of turbulent times with respect to the anticipated fluctuations in electricity generation, when wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t give enough light – the dark, still days which are at the mercy of nature.

That’s why they want to focus on daily picture, rather than cumulative picture that comes out after relatively long periods of time, in order to gauge the reliability and inevitable risks that could pop up, when plans do not work as expected.

Having been blessed with relatively shallow sea belt around the British Isles and expertise in building off-shore oil platforms in the heyday of North Sea Oil boom, the UK has made tremendous progress in electricity generation by wind farms. In addition, it has expanded the solar power generation too, but to a lesser extent.

Since still and dark days can come randomly and unexpectedly, it’s unrealistic to believe that the use of fossil fuels, when it comes to generating electricity,  is coming to an end soon, as statistics and fact suggest otherwise.





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