Wind energy sector may indeed be the fastest growing renewable energy sector in the world but this does not mean that everything is going smoothly in wind energy industry. Like any other energy source wind energy also has its good and bad sides, and if we are to believe the results of the latest detailed study of Britain’s onshore wind farms then bad side of wind farms in Britain is efficiency problem that continues to make wind energy less competitive to fossil fuels.
According to results of this study more than 20 wind farms in United Kingdom produce less than a fifth of their potential maximum power output, with two wind farms operating at less than 10% of its maximum capacity. Even the largest wind farm in the country, The High Volts 2, Co Durham, when last measured achieved only 18.7% of its maximum efficiency, and the acceptable norm of efficiency for wind farms is 25-30%.
Such results are likely to give more ammo to people who believe that many wind turbines generate too little power to justify their environmental and visual impact. On the other hand some energy experts also warn that we must treat these results with caution as they can vary significantly because of different factors such as breakdowns.
Wind power is still relatively expensive option when compared to fossil fuels but that hasn’t stopped the development of wind energy industry in United Kingdom mostly because of the renewable obligation subsidy system, under which consumers pay approximately double the normal price for wind energy.
Currently there are around 250 wind farms in Britain, and current efficiency numbers reveal that many of these wind farms are under-performing. This is mostly because developers often exaggerate wind energy potential on some sites in order to get the money from the generous subsidies.
While there is no doubt that Britain needs more renewable energy you still have to question whether building more wind energy projects with highly under-performing efficiency is the right method to achieve more renewable energy.
Britain definitely needs strong wind energy sector to meet its renewable energy goals but building wind farms just because of generous subsidies isn’t exactly the right path towards to strong wind energy sector. Not without studying the efficiency prior to building new wind farms.