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Offshore wind farms boosted by England's rising wind speeds

Summer wind speeds in southern England are steadily increasing, according to new research, boosting the case for offshore windfarms in the area.

Renewable energy and environmental consultancy Atmos Consulting claims that its new software Windscan, which using data from NASA satellites tracks wind speed and direction, has shown wind speeds in northern England and Scotland are holding steady while wind in the south gets faster.

The data on the trends is currently unavailable to any Government developer or environmental agency, but shows that wind farm owners will have much more power to sell to the grid than they expected.

In additions, claims Atmos, if wind speeds in summer are higher this means that turbines will have a slightly flatter seasonal cycle, meaning more power will be produced and there will be less reliance on other forms of energy to make up any shortfalls.

What this means is wind power may actually produce more energy than previously anticipated in future in Southern England. This is good news for developers at such sites as the London Array, Greater Gabbard, Kentish Flats, Thanet and Gunfleet Sands, as they can expect increasing return on their investments as they will ultimately have more energy to sell to the grid than previously anticipated.

Windscan uses three different sensors on six satellites to provide site specific measurements of offshore wind speed and direction, with measurements every 6 hours for the last 20 years for any offshore site around the globe.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Even increased wind speeds make wind only of any use up to 10% to 15% of total electrical requirements. (See Sharman, Proceedings of Nov 2005). Wind turbines are incredibly susceptible to wind speed, going from 100% at 30 MPH to 50% at 20MPH in a matter of minutes. But the main drawback is the fact that undercertain weather systems all the windfarms in the country might go "off line" at the same time. This necessitates the major suppliers e,g, E.On or ERCOT to say that they need over 90% back-up in the form conventional power stations. The final straw for wind as a sensible source of power is cost. A 3 MW turbine is reputed to cost around £9 million but produces, on average, a mere 1MW. One MW from a conventional power station (which you have to have anyway as "back-up") costs between one and two million per MW.
    Forget wind and build nuclear or coal stations.

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  • Please ignore Anonymous 27/04/09 12:46pm. It's always easier to be incredibly negative and one-sided about this stuff. Maybe while we're off fighting wars to control nuclear proliferation/waste and adapting to climate change because of our over-optimistic reliance on CCS, we won't think those technologies were so cheap. One sided and over-simplified? Yup. So now we're even ;-)

    The bigger question for NCE readers might be whether higher wind speeds should be affecting our designs. I think the assumption up to now has been more windy days, but not significantly higher peaks.

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  • The point is that we will be able to burn less coal when the wind is blowing and get greater penetration of wind into the supply of our electricity. Bear in mind that the cost of electricity from coal does not include the environmental cost and the cost of nuclear electricity does not include the cost of decommissioning and waste disposal.

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