Wind turbines produce more power on the coldest days than the average winter day.
That’s according to new research, which compared wind power availability with electricity demand in winter, suggesting while winter days are usually less windy, turbines work harder on the coldest days.
The team, which involved scientists from the Met Office Hadley Centre, Imperial College London and the University of Reading, found during high demand, i.e. cold days, capacity from turbines fell by an average of a third.
However, during the highest 5% of electricity demand days, when it is extremely cold, wind supply starts to recover.
The research found one third produce more wind power than the winter average.
Hazel Thornton from the Met Office Hadley Centre, one of the paper’s authors said: “The very coldest days are associated with a mix of different weather patterns, some of which produce high winds in parts of Great Britain.
“For example, very high pressure over Scandinavia and lower pressure over Southern Europe blows cold continental air from the east over Great Britain, giving high demand but also high wind power. In contrast, winds blowing from the north, such as happened during December 2010, typically give very high demand but lower wind power supply.”
The researchers suggest a spread of turbines across Britain would make the most of the varied wind patterns associated with the coldest days – maximising power supply during high demand conditions.
They add during high demand periods, offshore wind provides a more secure supply than onshore as offshore wind is sustained at higher levels.
Yesterday, National Grid revealed it expects the spare power capacity margin for this winter to increase to between 7.2% and 9.9% – compared to 6.6% last year.