Wind farms fail in cold weather

Caroline Cassidy

Britain's green energy push looks like costing the taxpayer more and more money as leading industry figures warn that back-up power plants will be essential.

Offshore wind turbines
Offshore wind turbines

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The latest figures revealed that wind farms were largely ineffective during the recent cold snap, producing less than two per cent of the nation's electricity.

Prior to the snow and ice of last month, wind turbines had been producing an average of 8.6 per cent of our electricity, but once the bad weather arrived, the figure feel to as low as 1.8 per cent.

And it's the coal and oil-fired power stations that are taking up the slack.

Jeremy Nicholson, director of the Energy Intensive Users Group, told the Daily Mail: "What is so worrying is that these sort of figures are not a one off.

"It was exactly the same last January and February when high pressure brought freezing cold temperatures, snow and no wind."

Mr Nicholson believes the Government will encourage energy companies to build standby power stations to cover the wind turbines during the winter months.

And that will almost certainly mean that the taxpayer will have to pay for the new builds through their household bills.

More worryingly, with the Government promising to ensure that 30 per cent of electricity is from renewable resources by 2020, traditional "dirty" power plants will have to close down.

Mr Nicholson added: "We can cope at the moment because there is still not that much power generated from wind. But all this will change.

"What happens when we are dependent on wind turbines for 30 per cent of our power and there is suddenly a period when the wind does not blow and there is high demand."

Both the Government and the National Grid are reportedly aware of the problem and are said to be looking into solving, or at least managing, the problem.

Let's hope they do, or we could be facing some seriously cold, dark winters in the future.

What do you think? Is it realistic to rely on renewable energy for 30 per cent of our power, and are wind farms the best solution? Leave your comments below...