London, 2 June: A new paper published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation warns that intermittent wind and solar energy pose a serious energy security risk and threaten to undermine the reliability of UK electricity generation.
Many people – including ministers, officials and journalists – believe that renewable energy enhances Britain’s energy security by reducing the dependency on fossil fuel imports. The ongoing crisis over the Ukraine and Crimea between Russia and the West has given much attention to this argument.
Written by Philipp Mueller, the paper (UK Energy Security: Myth and Reality) concludes that domestic and global fossil fuel reserves are growing in abundance while open energy markets, despite the conflict in the Ukraine, are enhancing Britain’s energy security significantly.
In contrast, the ability of the grid to absorb intermittent renewable energy becomes increasingly more hazardous with scale.
Germany provides a warning example of its growing green energy insecurity. Last December, both wind and solar power came to an almost complete halt for more than a week. More than 23,000 wind turbines stood still while one million photovoltaic systems failed to generate energy due to a lack of sunshine. For a whole week, conventional power plants had to provide almost all of Germany’s electricity supply.
Germans woke up to the fact that it was the complete failure of renewable energy to deliver that undermined the stability and security of Germany’s electricity system.
“Open energy markets are a much better way to ensure energy security than intermittent generation systems like wind and solar. It would be a huge risk in itself for Britain to go down the same route as Germany and destabilise what is still a reliable UK electricity grid,” said Philipp Mueller.
Full paper (PDF)