Cold Spell? Not A Problem For Wind Turbines, U.K. Study Says

Posted by Betsy Lillian on June 16, 2017 No Comments
Categories : New & Noteworthy

A new study by climate scientists is advancing the understanding of the potential for wind power to provide energy during the coldest spells of winter weather, according to the Met Office, the U.K.’s national weather service.

The team, which involved scientists from the Met Office Hadley Centre, Imperial College London and the University of Reading, compared wind power availability with electricity demand in winter, and they found an interesting result, says the Met Office.

“During winter in the U.K., warmer periods are often windier, while colder periods are more calm, due to the prevailing weather patterns. Consequently, we find that in winter, as temperatures fall and electricity demand increases, average wind energy supply reduces,” says Hazel Thornton of the Met Office Hadley Centre, who is one of the paper’s authors.

“However, contrary to what is often believed, when it comes to the very coldest days, with highest electricity demand, wind energy supply starts to recover,” she says.

“The very coldest days are associated with a mix of different weather patterns, some of which produce high winds in parts of the U.K. For example, very high pressure over Scandinavia and lower pressure over southern Europe blows cold continental air from the east over the U.K. – giving high demand but also high wind power. In contrast, winds blowing from the north, such as happened during December 2010, typically give very high demand but lower wind power supply.”

The research suggests that a spread of turbines across Great Britain would make the most of the varied wind patterns associated with the coldest days – maximizing power supply during high demand conditions. Results also suggest that during high demand periods, offshore wind power provides a more secure supply compared to onshore, as offshore wind is sustained at higher levels.

Co-author Professor Sir Brian Hoskins of the University of Reading and chair of Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, adds, “A wind power system distributed around the U.K. is not as sensitive to still cold winter days as often imagined. The average drop in generation is only a third, and it even picks up for the days with the very highest electricity demand.”

photo by: James P. Mann

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