Why Increasing Offshore Wind Sevenfold Can’t Work

DECEMBER 26, 2018tags: wind power

By Paul Homewood

‘There is no option but to radically transform our economy,’ said Rebecca Long-Bailey.

It is worth taking a closer look at one of Labour’s options to decarbonise – increase the UK’s installed offshore wind capacity sevenfold.

Currently offshore wind capacity in the UK is 8 GW, so we would be looking at 56 GW by 2030. Add to that the 13 GW of onshore capacity, and we would have 69 GW.

Given that average demand during the year is about 38 GW, it is apparent that we would frequently have large amounts of surplus power. To make matters worse, we can expect to have at least 5 GW of nuclear capacity in 2030, which simply cannot be switched on and off, and would be utterly economically unviable if it was.

What will happen to all of this spare power? Will wind farm operators be paid to switch off as they are now? If so, the cost would be billions every year, not tens of millions as at present.

There is talk of selling surplus electricity to Norway, but the interconnector currently being built is only 1.4 GW, tiny in comparison to the size of the problem we are facing. In any event, Norway already buys in cheap electricity from the continent when it is windy, so there would likely be little demand. Certainly the price would be rock bottom, raising the question of who foots the bill for the loss.

The Committee on Climate Change did some modelling for its Fifth Carbon Budget in 2015 of what surpluses could look like. The chart below is, I believe, based on 25 GW of offshore capacity. (The graph is sorted in order of demand).


Committee on Climate Change – Fifth Carbon Budget

Even based on 25 GW, it is evident that we would end up with surpluses for maybe a third of the time. The situation would of course be exacerbated in summer, when demand is low and solar output high.

Increase that offshore capacity from 25 GW to 56 GW, and the grid would end up in chaos.

We are told that these suggestions have come from a “team of experts including leading industry figures, engineers, scientists, consultants and academics”. I suspect they are the usual bunch of climate loons, Marxists and rent seekers.

If this is typical of the rest of the advice they give, we can kiss goodbye to cheap, reliable energy.

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