UK wind research blows away myths

November 15, 2005

London, 14 November 2005

UK has the best wind resource in Europe

The most extensive study yet of the UK's wind resource, published today, underlines its ability to make a significant contribution to our energy needs and backs up the Government's efforts to harness its potential.

The research, conducted by Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute for the DTI, analysed hourly wind speed records collected by the Met Office at 66 locations across the UK since 1970.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said: "The only sensible debate about energy is one based on the facts. This new research is a nail in the coffin of some of the exaggerated myths peddled by opponents of wind power.

"We have a vast and dependable wind resource in the UK, the best in Europe. Over the past year there's been the biggest increase in wind power yet, as we move towards our target of 10% of electricity coming from renewable sources by 2010.

"This new research shows that UK wind power delivers more energy at times of peak demand, and that claims that calm conditions regularly occur throughout the UK in winter are without foundation.

"It also shows that it's misleading for opponents of wind in the UK to cite problems from elsewhere in Europe as valid here. Our wind resource is far better even than Germany and Denmark where wind power is currently most widespread.

"While the 'wrong' leaves may fall on our railway tracks and we hear people in the water industry talk about the 'wrong' kind of rain, we have the best wind - and that's official!"

The key findings are:

* The UK has the best wind resource in Europe. The recorded capacity factor for onshore wind energy in the UK is %, greater even than in Germany (15%) and Denmark (20%) where wind farms are currently most widespread.

* Availability of wind power in the UK is greater at precisely the times that we need it - during peak daytime periods and during the winter.

* The UK wind resource is dependable. The likelihood of low wind speeds affecting 90% of the country would only occur for one hour every five years.

* The chance of wind turbines shutting down due to very high wind speeds is exceedingly rare - high winds affecting 40% or more of the UK would occur in around one hour every 10 years and never affect the whole country.

Graham Sinden, author of the report from the Environmental Change Institute research team said: "The UK wind resource offers a reliable source of electricity that is not only low carbon, but reduces the UK's reliance on imported fuels.

"By examining such extensive wind records from throughout the UK, we can be very confident that the study identified both long term trends and the most extreme wind conditions the UK will experience.

"The key to understanding the benefits of wind power for the UK rests with understanding the resource itself."

Notes to Editors

1. A full copy of the 'Wind Power and the UK Wind Resource' can be obtained from the Environmental Change Institute: http:///www.eci.ox.ac.uk/renewables/ukwin d

Department of Trade and Industry
News release P/2005/359
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