Wind energy enjoys gale force boost to power output

The UK’s wind turbine fleet received a major boost last year, according to a new Met Office report that found winds were 16 per cent stronger than in 2010.

The Met Office last week published figures comparing the wind performance of 2011 with 2010, as part of a series of reports designed to help European wind farm developers predict and manage wind energy supplies.Despite the fact that the UK and Europe have experienced relatively low levels of wind during the last three years, the report found that many parts of Northern Europe saw far stronger winds in 2011, helping to boost renewable energy output.

Iceland saw the biggest increase, with winds that were 18 per cent stronger than in 2010. Similarly, Britain was 16 per cent windier last year, primarily as a result of two periods of windy weather during May and December.

Overall, Britain was three per cent windier last year in comparison to its long-term average. Denmark also saw winds increase by 10 per cent compared to 2010 and by five per cent compared to its long-term average.

In contrast, southern Europe saw wind levels decrease in 2011 compared to 2010 because of high pressure throughout much of the year. Iberian winds dropped the most, experiencing a seven per cent fall, while winds in Turkey dropped six per cent.

The report was welcomed by trade body RenewableUK, which recently found UK wind farms met an average of 5.3 per cent of the UK’s electricity demand between 1 December and 5 January, hitting a record share of 12.2 per cent on 28 December.

“The Met Office’s Wind Index demonstrates exactly why we’re right to be pressing for the greater deployment of wind energy in the UK,” said Robert Norris, head of communications at RenewableUK.

“We’re situated in the windiest area of Europe, so we should be making the most of our superb opportunity to harness this abundant low-carbon resource to generate electricity.

“The wind industry has just reached a significant milestone with the deployment of 6 gigawatts of installed capacity, and with DECC’s Renewable Energy Roadmap calling for 31GW by 2020, we’re on course for a fivefold increase this decade.”

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