As 2014 begins to fade into the memory the media will be full of lists of the “highs and lows” from the year. However, what is notable each year is that our media only seem capable of reporting on wind output highs – no doubt the data is churned out of the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) PR department. This story on Christmas eve 2014 by the Journal.ie is just one such example. In order to provide a little balance set out below is a table of the lowest wind output recorded, on the island of Ireland, in each of the last twelve months. The lowest recorded being a period in October when wind output was at a sustained level of zero or below* (all figures were sourced from EirGrid wind generation webpage).
For some context for readers in relation to the output figures, according to IWEA the island of Ireland has 222 wind farms (188 in ROI) with an installed capacity of 2,889MW (1826 in ROI). Demand on the island of Ireland fluctuates between 2,600MW – 6,100MW but reached a high of 6,878MW in December 2010.
While the figures speak for themselves, it is clear that the wind output lows are a very small percentage return on the installed capacity, ranging from 0 – 3%, and the figures also show that at times wind contributes little to meet even the average daily electricity demand on the island of Ireland.
|October||ZERO||11/10/2014 – 12/10/2014*|
*The ZERO October output is the lowest in the last few years with sustained periods on 11th and 12th October 2014 generating no wind output and some even returning negative figures. Visit EirGrid wind generation page to see for yourself.
So, the next time you read an IWEA inspired “record Irish wind output” story check back to this page and visit EirGrid wind generation page to confirm that despite the spin, the energy produced by wind turbines is unpredictable, intermittent and totally dependent on the backup of conventional fossil fuelled power plants such as those fuelled by gas, oil, coal or peat.