Environmental groups yesterday called on the government to deliver a “genuine shift” in energy policy after a new report said Britain’s energy system was capable of taking a huge amount of wind power.
A study by energy expert David Milborrow found there was no technical reason why a significant amount of energy generated by wind could not be used to supply the National Grid.
The grid was already designed to manage fluctuations in demand and supply while variations in wind power were considerably less than other demands caused by the weather or even television programmes, the report said.
Mr Milborrow, who has worked in the energy industry for 30 years, said: “Utilities worldwide generally agree there is no fundamental technical reason why high proportions of wind cannot be assimilated without the lights going out.”
Chris Bennett, National Grid’s Future transmission networks manager, said: “We welcome this report and the way that it highlights the implications of integrating wind into our electricity network. “The report complements the consultation document that National Grid issued in June which highlighted the different solutions available to ensure a safe, secure and economic supply of electricity is maintained.”
Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, RSPB and WWF, who commissioned the report, called on the government to put in place funding and incentives to encourage investment in much more wind power.
Louise Hutchins, energy solutions campaigner at Greenpeace, said: “This report scuppers the final arguments against wind power.
“The Government must now get cracking and make the most of the energy that wind will provide to the country, and wind won’t just generate energy for Britain.
“It will also generate thousands of jobs for Britain.”
Robin Webster, senior climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “The claim that renewable power cannot deliver a big portion of our energy needs is dead and buried. The Government needs to deliver a genuine shift in energy policy in its upcoming renewable energy strategy.
“We’re still right at the bottom of the renewable energy league table in Europe and the energy system in Britain is skewed against renewable power.”
The report also found there were no significant costs associated with managing variability.
If the UK meets its renewable energy targets and within this provides 32 per cent of its electricity from wind by 2020, it will add only £2 to every £100 spent by consumers.
New technology would reduce this slight increase in price even more, and would reduce the need for fossil fuel station back up, the report said.
The report also found that wind power would provide significant job opportunities in the UK – there are already 400,000 people working in the wind-energy sector worldwide and this could reach one million by the end of the decade.