Fossil fuel plants not needed to back up UK wind

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A note from the UK grid operator dismisses myths about the level fossil fuel back-up for wind energy and the reduction of emissions.

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An incidental note at the bottom of a wildlife article covering the culling of badgers in the UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph could have explosive results for the energy industry.

According to the addendum, a measly four paragraphs in length, the National Grid — the country’s electric grid operator — has reported that wind energy produced 23,700 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of power, requiring only 22 GWh of power from fossil fueled stations to fill the gaps: that is less than a thousandth of wind’s output, and ironically, less than a tenth of what was needed to back up conventional fossil fueled power stations.

The figures were similarly impressive when looking at emissions. According to the National Grid, wind saved nearly 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the period accounted for (April 2011 through to September 2012) and required only 8,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions to be released as backup, measuring in at only 0.081%.

There is no easy information available on the National Grid website to confirm these figures referenced in the Daily Telegraph article, and furthermore the paper’s final sentence — “Not surprisingly, given these figures, no new fossil‑fuel power station has been built to provide back‑up for wind farms, and none is in prospect” — seems to be in direct contradiction to a BBC News story published this week, reporting that two diesel power stations are planned to compensate for fluctuations in green energy.

According to the article, Green Frog Power received planning permission last year to build its diesel power station in Plymouth, while Fulcrum Power has made an application for a similar power station in Plymouth, as well. Unsurprisingly, given the current climate surrounding the energy industry, both companies said that they support renewable energy.


This article was originally posted on Cleantechnica. Re-produced with permission.

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1 Comment
  1. Ketan Joshi 5 years ago

    Great stuff – it’s a shame that good news about wind energy usually gets combined with the latest on badger populations.

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