Output from Scottish Wind Farms Fell during Cold Spell

As reported in the 27 Dec 2010 issue of the Scotsman newspaper (http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/news/39Green39-Scotland-relying-on-French.6672024.jp)

Output from major wind farms fell to as low as 2.5 per cent of their potential generation capacity during the cold snap as power demand rose to close to the highest level yet recorded, new figures have revealed.

Meteorologists say extremely cold temperatures can occur only when there is little or no wind and icy pockets of air are trapped close to the ground, prompting accusations from anti- wind-farm campaigners that wind power cannot be relied on to meet Scotland’s electricity needs in the depths of winter.

and (my emphasis added)

Over the past ten days, when temperatures have plunged across Scotland, the average power generation from Britain’s wind developments – the majority of which are in Scotland – was 261 megawatts (MW), just 10.75 per cent of the total possible of 2,430MW.


4 Responses to Output from Scottish Wind Farms Fell during Cold Spell

  1. fujirobin says:

    I wonder what a sensible limit is for wind in the UK generation mix. I have only seen Hugh Sharman’s bid of 10GW from a few years ago. Are there any others?

    Does Mr Huhne even realise the potential problem in concentrating so much on wind?

  2. rms says:

    I have the same question and my hypothesis is that we can move toward estimating that number by doing some analysis basis on Monte Carlo modelling. That’s why I started down that track a few weeks ago. I suspect this not an original idea but it’s not common to think this way.

  3. fujirobin says:

    Well I guess its going to be tricky to do that… The driver for the latest lack of wind was a long-lasting high-pressure system hanging over the UK. (for 10 days?) This is a very infrequent and unpredictable occurrence – more of a “Black Swan” event, and not very susceptible to Monte Carlo techniques.

  4. rms says:

    Not sure I agree here; but happy to learn. I suspect, but don’t yet have the data, that we get long-lasting high-pressure systems hanging over the UK at intervals. It’s not unusual. It’s not rare. It happens. Hopefully someone has the exact data how often it happens from the historical record. It’s not a “black swan”. It’s real and it happens at measurable intervals.

    To think otherwise, I think, is like saying a big flood (which might be the 100 year flood) is a Black Swan. While you may not be able to predict WHEN it will happen, you know from the historical record it does happen and know at what intervals. That’s why flood control systems are built for 100, or 500 year floods. We don’t need to have 500 years of data to define the 500-year flood.

    I contend that such weather events like “long lasting high pressure systems” are built into the actual probability distribution of power produced, given a sufficiently long historical record. When there is such low winds, they don’t produce power, and that’s reflected in the distribution. See https://rmschneider.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/wind-power-uk-probability-distribution-by-hour-nov-2008-to-sep-2010/ and https://rmschneider.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/wind-power-generated-by-quarter-in-uk/ where any such periods of high pressure (or other events) which caused reduced power happened, they are reflected. 2 years probably too short, but take a look at the Danish records at https://rmschneider.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/danish-wind-generation-load-factors-1990-2009/ which shows 20 years of data. Certainly there were a number of hanging high pressure systems over Denmark during that period.

    My hypothesis is that the distribution achieved in the past is indicative of what will happen in future. They *might* get better to produce more power which shifts the distribution to the right; but a starting assumption is that it will be the same. Use that same distribution and make it the basis of say 80% (current Scottish target). Then–how much power capacity required to deliver the same output (mean and distribution) which is indicative of security of supply and meeting demand? My hypothesis we’ll need “an awful lot of wind”, and certainly more than planned machines to make up for their distributions skewed left towards zero, to get the 80% target.

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