Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
climate-changed

Britain Has Gone Nine Days Without Wind Power

  • Forecasters see wind output staying low for at least two weeks
  • Wind generating 4.3% of U.K. electricity on Wednesday

Britain’s gone nine days with almost no wind generation, and forecasts show the calm conditions persisting for another two weeks.

The wind drought has pushed up day-ahead power prices to the highest level for the time of year for at least a decade. Apart from a surge expected around June 14, wind levels are forecast to stay low for the next fortnight, according to The Weather Company.

U.K. turbines can produce about as much power as 12 nuclear reactors when conditions are right. During the “Beast from the East” storm that hit Britain in March, they generated record levels of power and at times provided the biggest share of the nation’s electricity.

Wind Drop

Generation predicted to stay low for next two weeks

Source: Weather Co. data

Low wind power isn’t a threat to supplies in June when demand is low. On a dull, dark day in winter when heating demand peaks, a calm day might leave the U.K. grid vulnerable.

“People would’ve started worrying about brownouts,” Elchin Mammadov, analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence said. “This shows that relying on wind, solar and batteries to supply the majority of our power is reckless for energy security.”

Read more about wind’s role during cold weather this winter

On Wednesday, wind generated about 4.3 percent of the U.K.’s electricity. Coal output has dropped near zero. Gas and nuclear have picked up the slack with 54 percent and 25 percent respectively, according to data from National Grid Plc.

The weather can be fickle and the government has to make sure that there is enough back up generation for times when the wind isn’t blowing. Greg Clark, secretary of state for business energy and industrial strategy announced Monday that the U.K. will take the next step toward agreeing to help Hitachi Ltd. finance a new nuclear reactor.

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