Weatherwatch: wind turbines in the sun, slow but steady

How did Britain’s wind power stand up to the record-breaking hot summer of 2018? Researchers look back over 38 years

Hot summers are often accompanied by calmer skies and a dip in wind power generation. Back in 2008, wind power only made up 1.5% of the UK’s electricity mix, but today wind power provides around 17%. So how did Britain’s wind turbines fare with the record breaking hot dry summer of 2018?

To answer this question scientists at the University of Reading have teamed up with the National Grid and analysed wind data going back to 1980 to assess variations in wind capacity (potential wind energy production as a proportion of the maximum). They show that on average wind capacity dips to about 21% of the maximum possible during summer months.

During 2018 wind capacity dropped to 19%, and there were a few short periods where it dipped as low as 10%. However, when considered in the context of the last 38 years the team’s data shows that this summer’s dip in wind power was not exceptional.

Previous summers have dipped lower, with 1983 sliding down to 16.6% capacity. Meanwhile, short blips like the 74 hours of sub-10% that occurred in July this year should be expected on average twice per year. Hot summers might make wind turbines sluggish, but the lights should stay on.


Kate Ravilious

The GuardianTramp

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