Why Britain can never rely on wind power


Andrew Montford has a new article in the Spectator, on wind power and the possibility of small-scale nuclear reactors:

Why Britain can never rely on wind power

For the last ten days or more the UK has been becalmed. In theory, our windmill fleet should be able to generate 20 megawatts of power, more than 50 percent of peak demand at this time of year, but with barely a puff of wind this month, it has been generating next to nothing. If the weather forecasters are right, the lull will not end for a few more days yet. We should be thanking our lucky stars that we still have fossil fuels and nuclear to keep the lights on.

It’s hard to think of a better demonstration of the absurdity of windmills as a way of powering a modern economy. Despite this, Lord Deben, the former John Selwyn Gummer and current chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, has taken to the pages of the Guardian today to argue for more wind power, and in particular, onshore wind power…



  1. In our current climate of extremist activity I’m not sure the alternative espoused by Andrew is feasible. The thought of having to defend 24/7 many micro nuclear reactors scattered across the country or the infrastructure needed to support them fills me with fear. Also multiply NIMBY opposition manyfold.


  2. What really matters for Energy Security is meeting peak demand every working day of the year at 6pm This is the breakdown of which fuels contributed to peak demand for the last year. Even coal still out performs wind during the winter. Gas alone cannot balance the grid against wind.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In theory, our windmill fleet should be able to generate 20 megawatts of power

    If only if were 20 megawatts. Our electricity bills would be somewhat lower, particularly if we have fossil fuels instead. The capacity is 20 gigawatts.


  4. Manic, well spotted. That’s been corrected in the Speccy.

    The 20GW capacity was producing 1.5GW when I took the screenshot yesterday, and this morning it’s 1.3GW. So it’s running at about 7% of capacity. Worth bearing in mind next time Emily writes about how cheap wind power is compared with nuclear.


  5. Whilst Britain might not be able to rely on wind power, Scotland can rely on it, so long as it is part of the British National Grid. In Independance Referendum of 2014 it was quite clear that an Independant Scotland would rely on exporting intermittant wind power to England and Wales and import reliable fossil fuel generated electricity. As renewables have high subsidies, it would mean an “Independant” Scotland still getting subsidies from south of the border.


  6. It is not just “we in the South”, it is those, who identify as British rather than English. Whether like me (mostly Scottish ancestry, but lived most of my life in England) or the large minority whose ancestry is not British.
    But modern Scotland is dominated by the liberal “elites”, who do not recognize others perspectives. An “Independent” Scotland would be less diverse in ideas than Britain. A worry for the more traditional Scots.


  7. Rock – a – bye – baby
    On the tree – top,
    When the wind blows,
    Goldilocks – just – right,
    …4.20% of the time,
    the cradle will rock.

    Civitas Report, Ruth Lea, 2012. ..’In spells of very cold weather associated
    with high pressure areas, when there is enhanced demand for electricity,
    there tends to be very little wind. This analysis was confirmed by BBC
    weatherman Paul Hudson, who wrote in January 2011:

    “…during the recent intense cold weather, it’s been our traditional coal and
    gas fired power stations that have been working flat out to keep our homes
    and businesses warm. And for the third winter running, the intense cold has
    gone hand in hand with periods of little or no wind. This should come as no
    surprise since prolonged cold is invariably associated with areas of high


  8. Cutting energy slices out of thin air is a modern miracle, as is getting governments from around the world to slice subsidies out of gullible populations who fear the mighty oxide of carbon. A molecule that keeps each of us breathing. A far more ancient biological miracle.


  9. It should be remembered that ‘relying’ on renewable energy was never really the ambition of the greens. They wanted us in fact to massively reduce economic activity — ‘contraction [of the economy] and convergence [with the third world]’ was their desire. More establishment environmentalists considered carbon rationing, ‘behaviour change’, and time-of-day pricing to reorganise daily life around supply, leaving the possibility that people would not have had showers or breakfast before their working day — if indeed they would be able to travel or have any work to go to. The rhetoric changed as these became self-evidently politically-implausible policies. As greens’ influence grew nonetheless, armies of civil servants and green energy consultants produced a mountain of spreadsheets showing how millions of jobs would be created, and the economy would benefit — all of it bullshit centred around Mandelson’s and then Huhne’s fantasy of a ‘green industrial revolution’. The two most notable were DECC’s catastrophic energy price projections, and BIS’s ‘Low Carbon and Environmental Goods and Services’ report, which claimed respectively that climate policies would lower bills and that by 2013, the ‘green economy’ was worth around £120 billion. The latter figure of which was mostly formed from the sales of… erm… fossil fuels. Since Stern (or perhaps even since the RCEP report on climate change), the formulation of energy policy has been drowned in ideological bullshit, which is not going to disappear while its authors are allowed anywhere near Westminster.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Resistance is futile, wind power, like open door migration, is here to stay in the UK, politicians and the media will lie and cheat to keep those policies untarnished. Just imagine a repeat of the London riots during a widespread power outage. Sorry to be so pessimistic, it must be this infernal climate change, the telescreen on the wall says so.


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