Energy

This Chart Shows Just How Unreliable Wind Power Is

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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A chart published Thursday of the amount of electricity produced by Great Britain’s wind industry demonstrates the unreliability and intermittency of wind power.

The chart was compiled by Robert Wilson, an ecosystem and climate change researcher at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, based on power generation data from March. Wilson has a long research history studying the potential impacts of global warming and highlighting the adverse impacts of wind and solar power.

Wind power is unpredictable and unreliable as it often produces either too much or too little power. This damages a power grid that can’t function unless demand for electricity exactly matches supply. With conventional power plants, like nuclear or natural gas, having demand match supply isn’t difficult because they can easily adjust output far in advance of predicted demand for electricity. Solar and wind power, however, cannot easily adjust output because especially cloudy or windless day can’t be predicted in advanced.

Wind and solar have damaged Germany and California‘s power grids. Germany paid wind farms $548 million last year to switch off in order to prevent damage to the country’s electric grid. The country has also literally paid consumers to take excess power to minimize the damage from over-utilizing wind and solar.

Grid operators have to keep excess conventional power reserves running just in case wind and solar fluctuate.

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is currently investigating how green energy undermines the reliability of the electrical grid. FERC believe there is a “significant risk” of electricity in the United States becoming unreliable because “wind and solar don’t offer the services the shuttered coal plants provided.” Environmental regulations could make operating conventional coal or natural gas power plants unprofitable, which could compromise the reliability of the American power grid.

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