The supposed “folly” of wind energy
Picture via Flickr.
A recent report by Civitas has attacked Wind energy, saying that renewable targets increase energy prices, don’t improve CO2 emissions, and threaten UK business competitiveness. The report says that in the short term gas is the most cost-effective energy course and in the long term this position is given to nuclear. The report suggests that additional costs need to be taken into account for Wind energy, which makes it “inordinately expensive”.
These extra costs arise mainly from the fact that wind turbines produce energy intermittently and both low and high winds can cause them to produce no energy at all. By using wind energy backed up by gas stations when no energy is produced you can produce more CO2 emissions than gas alone, as it costs a lot in emissions to fire up a gas station.
Responses and the future for wind energy
The report has been disputed by RenewableUK, a professional body for the UK renewables industry. They explain that the research that the report is based upon makes the assumption that new gas stations will be needed to back up each individual wind plant, which is not the case at the moment, and that wind power allows us to use the weather when we can.
Grid Parity for Onshore Wind?
Research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance has also suggested that grid parity for onshore wind could occur within the decade as the costs fall. Indeed high gas prices throughout 2011 have been a key cause for higher energy bills, rather than higher prices from renewable energy. The Renewable Energy Review published by the UK government also notes that even with high levels of renewable energy, the cost of additional generation is still low. The WWF have also noted that the Civitas report doesn’t count the full effects of interconnectivity, imports and exports of energy may greatly help with the problem of intermittent wind energy production. Research from the UK Energy Research Centre also implies that costs of intermittency are considerably lower than those quoted in the Citivas report.
Wind Energy targets and contribution
The report adds to the Wind energy debate, which has both strong advocates and critics. The UK government has supported renewable energy, which includes Wind energy, and has a target for 15% of all energy consumption to come from renewables by 2020. Recent data from RenewableUK has shown a high of 12.2% of UK energy being produced by wind arms, which occurred on December 28th, the fact that National Grid was able to deal effectively with these high levels of wind power shows progress and prospects for the future.
Impact on Green Investment
The fast and solid responses from critics of the report suggest that prospects for wind energy are strong. With continued government support on green issues, producers of wind power may benefit from the reduced costs that are predicted. This story also highlights that gas will play a key role in future energy supply, so companies in this sector may also do well from these changes.