Press decries “dirty summer” despite higher-than-ever installed wind capacity.
The U.K.’s wind industry is cautiously responding to data showing poor project performance during a balmy summer.
Luke Clark, head of external affairs at the wind industry body RenewableUK, said his organization is awaiting official second-quarter energy figures, due out Sept. 27, before declaring an official position on news articles published last month.
The Guardian, for example, reported that calm, sunny weather had seen wind’s share of summer electricity generation dropping to 10.4 percent from 12.9 percent a year ago, forcing gas turbines to step into the breach. “This year has seen a comparatively dirty summer for power generation, due to the weather’s impact on renewables,” said the paper. “The wind drought meant that at times turbine blades sat idle for days.”
But despite an increase in carbon emissions compared to 2017, this summer was still the second greenest on record for the U.K. electricity system, according to the paper. In August an energy consultancy called EnAppSys claimed fossil-fuel generation had fallen to its lowest single-month level ever since World War II. Because of this, Clark said: “It’s important to look at wind performance over a meaningful period of time, rather than focusing on shorter spells.” In the first quarter of the year, he said, wind power had generated 19.1 percent of the country’s electricity. Annually, it is expected to contribute half of the 30 percent of electricity supply that comes from renewables, he noted. Wind, above all, was the driving force that helped the U.K. repeatedly smash coal-free generation records earlier this year. It even had a hand in helping the U.K. get through a headline-grabbing series of cold snaps dubbed the "Beast from the East" in March.