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Wind energy: a sustainable long term debate develops

Many of the questions about wind generation raised in recent letters to NCE are answered by the ICE Energy, Issue 1 article 'Renewables and the Grid: Understanding Intermittency', available free on the ICE website.

The government's proposed 35GW of wind, at a capacity factor of roughly one quarter, equates to 9GW, around 20% of electricity supply.

There is already significant reserve capacity to cope with plant failures etc, and the article indicates that the additional reserve required is under 10% of the wind generation, i.e. not even 1GW.

Costs for system balancing and maintaining system reliability for this wind market share would be 0.5p/kWh to 0.8p/kWh, suggesting that the cost caused to the rest of the system by the building of 35GW wind, keeping today's reliability levels, would be under 1p/kwh.

Given the pollution, price, availability issues and over 0.5p/kWh carbon price for fossil fuels, this looks like good value. I'm curious to know the costs caused by the inability of nuclear to vary output to suit demand – do steam drums in coal power stations suffer fatigue because of nuclear inflexibility.

All this is before considering demand management. In France, when electricity demand is expected to exceed supply, a quadrupling of tariffs is announced at two to twelve hours notice. Smart meters would be even better.

If there exists a system analysis indicating that 35GW wind does compromise affordable reliability, please could someone provide a reference. Meanwhile, informed by my Institution's publication, I shall continue to support more wind turbines.


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