Wind Report Fundamentally Flawed
The Sustainable Development Commission’s (SDC) ‘WIND POWER’ report, was dismissed as fundamentally flawed by The Renewable Energy Foundation (REF).
REF especially criticised the selective representation of the technical literature, particularly that relating to European windpower. A new peer-reviewed article in the Proceedings of the Institute of Civil Engineers reports that the Danish experience, the relevance of whose example is ignored by SDC, shows that it would be imprudent for the UK to expect any degree of “firm” capacity from wind. Furthermore, the article highlights significant issues with current wind forecasting, problems which are unrecognised by the SDC.
Additionally criticised is the reports cost calculations, which are based on an assumed load factor of 35%. The most recent hard data available shows that in 2003 the UK’s wind turbines achieved a load factor of 24.1%. The SDC authors dismiss this result, despite the fact that 2003 is the first year for which accurate measured data exists, and despite the most recent OFGEM data suggesting that this unimpressive result is part of a continuing trend.
REF Head of Policy and Research Dr John Constable continues, “The SDC’s report, long anticipated, proves to be a stale compendium of wind industry special pleading.
The document attempts to force acceptance of wind energy despite its negative impacts by leading the reader to infer that wind turbines will avert climate change. This is not the case. The facts show that while wind has a role, it can only make a minor contribution.
Where the SDC should put the likely emissions saving from wind into national or global context they are strangely silent. In fact, by the DTI's own estimate, attainment of the 2010 renewables target would achieve a reduction of only 2.5 million tonnes of carbon, roughly 9.2 m tonnes of CO2. That is just 1.7% of UK emissions (550 million tonnes), and 0.0004 of world emissions (24,000 million tonnes). These are trivial quantities, and will only be achieved at disproportionate financial cost to the economy and the consumer.
The truth is that the UK's real role in moving the world towards reduced emissions will be to set a compelling economic example to the developing world.
However, this report attempts to drive the UK towards an unproductive over-dependence on wind energy, an imbalance which would suppress the development of more promising renewable technologies, such as tidal and biomass, and distract attention from the vital development of emissions free conventional generation, such as coal and gas with CO2 capture.
Far from impressing India and China, the policy recommended by the SDC report is more likely to be taken as an object lesson in how not to proceed, and is at best irrelevant in tackling climate change”