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News - 9 July 2021

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>Wind lulls don't seem to be going away. In fact, they've been getting worse.

9 July 2021

Wind Lulls in the first half of 2021 compared with 2020

Another of our news articles details wind lulls in 2020 and their relevance to the National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios, FES2020.

Whilst FES 2020 does not give a figure for installed wind capacity in 2021, it does predict about a three-fold increase by 2030, so we can assume that some progress has been made towards this.

Therefore, taking a wind lull as when wind is supplying less than 5% of demand, one would expect a decrease in wind lulls as installed capacity increases. The table below compares the first half of 2021 with the same period in 2020.

The government’s strategy to meet its zero carbon targets proposes a three-fold increase in installed wind power by 2030 and a doubling of biomass, whilst halving nuclear capacity and greatly reducing gas capacity and generation for a similar level of demand.

Comparison of wind lulls during first half of year - 2020 to 2021
Month Total Hours <5% No of Lulls No of Lulls >5 hours No of Lulls >10 hours Maximum Lull (hours)
January 15 5 1 0 5
February 34 1 1 1 34
March 110 9 7 4 43.5
April 156 13 7 4 53.5
May 177 17 8 4 67
June 89 9 6 3 30.5
TOTAL 581 54 30 16  
January 32.5 5 3 1 12.5
February 12 1 1 1 12
March 39 5 3 1 21
April 70 6 5 4 22
May 124 12 7 4 32.5
June 137.5 5 3 3 88.5
TOTAL 412 34 22 14  

It can be seen that in every aspect of the analysis, with the exception of maximum duration, wind lulls have increased in 2021 compared with 2020.

Of most concern is the over 40% increase in the total time when wind contributed less than 5% of demand.

The table confirms that low wind speeds are not unusual, in fact they are frequent and often extended. Assuming weather patterns remain the same in future years, it can also be assumed that wind lulls will not significantly decrease as the capacity of operational wind turbines is increased.

It is clear that the FES 2020 strategy of increasing wind capacity whilst reducing nuclear capacity and eliminating gas is not a sound strategy and it will not "keep the lights on".

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