Wind Power is Not Intermittent cartoon

Back to post / website. View/add comments for this article.Wind energy is the most cost-effective way Australia can reduce its fossil fuel dependence...yet the barriers to its implementation are purely political. Lobby groups from vested interests such as the coal industry have successfully spread misinformation about wind power. The most potent myth is that wind power is so variable that we would always need coal power plants as "backup". As I will show, this is a false claim. Rather than working alone, all power plants are connected to the electricity grid where stations are turned on and off to match supply with demand. Even though wind speeds may be low in one area, there will always be wind at another part of the grid. Importantly, the correlation between wind speeds at two locations decreases as the distance between them rises. A UK study showed that the power output correlation between two wind farms 200km apart is 0.6. However, the correlation coefficient with 600km of separation was just 0.25. The more wind farms that are connected to the grid, the less variability across the system. (A perfect correlation between two locations would have a coefficient of 1.0). In the UK, large-scale drops in wind speed affecting more than 90% of the country occurs around one hour per year. Low cost backup generators are operated during these times to balance temporary drops in supply. International experience shows that large-scale, geographically spread wind power can replace coal as baseload generators. The same rollout can easily be done in the windy southern states of Australia. Myths about wind power being intermittent and unreliable are spread innocently (by people who know no better), or maliciously (by the self-serving, taxpayer subsidised coal industry). It is time to stop believing them and start investigating how wind can help break our fossil fuel habit.