A period of extremely cold, windless weather has brought home to the British the drawbacks of relying on wind power and the need to keep a supply of natural gas in reserve. While the cold spell has strained natural gas supplies, leading in some cases to cutoffs to industrial users, it also has highlighted the unpredictability of wind power. Although Britain’s wind farms are supposed to provide 5 percent of the country’s electricity, they were in fact only providing 0.2 percent during the recent run of frigid, still days.
This pitfall was on display as the government announced last Friday that it had awarded licenses for several offshore wind projects with the potential to generate 32 gigawatts of electricity — enough to power all the homes in Britain. But, as the Telegraph noted, the government should ensure there are plentiful natural gas supplies “for a future windless, icy day.”
In the U.S. two people on the opposite ends of the political spectrum — conservative billionaire T. Boone Pickens and John Podesta, president of the liberal Center for American Progress — called on the country to convert its fleet of heavy trucks and buses from gasoline to natural gas, which they said would reduce oil imports by 8 percent.
Article appearing courtesy of Yale Environment 360