Reliance on renewables risks leaving the UK exposed to the elements

Reliance on renewables risks leaving the UK exposed to the elements

As wind and solar increase their share of the UK energy market, the risk of losing energy also grows as the system becomes vulnerable to the British weather.

Following the unusually cold winter of 2009-10, which saw mean temperatures plummet to 1.5C, researchers working on the European Climatic Energy Mixes project have been assessing the threat a repeat of the cold spell would have on the UK.

In 2017, green energies contributed amongst the highest levels of electricity to the UK power grid, which means Britain is increasingly vulnerable to weather conditions on producing enough energy to fulfill demand.

During the harsh conditions of 2009-10, renewables provided just 10% of UK electricity meaning there was significantly less pressure for it to fulfil demand. However, due to its expansion there are increasing calls for the network to have a contingency plan in case green power sources fail to meet demand.

Emma Suckling, a meteorologist at the University of Reading, said: “The low wind conditions in a repeat of winter 2009-10 would lead to a substantial reduction in wind power production over the season, which could lead to increased risks to electricity supply availability when combined with an increased demand due to low temperatures.”

In December, energy prices soared after the UK’s major pipeline system, the Forties Pipeline System (FPS), was shut down to undergo emergency repairs, highlighting the extent to which the UK sector is exposed to a lack of energy security.

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