It has been confirmed by energy firms that there are times when wind turbines require electricity from grids. This however is not unique to wind farms since all power stations do not only generate power but also use them.
In the case of offshore wind farms, they need electricity from the National Grid for their continuous spinning and also to prevent them from icing when the temperature is at below zero.
To prevent ice from forming, the turbines have to idle at a slow pace when the temperature drops in calm condition. The blades also need to idle to drive the hydraulic systems responsible for turning the blades into the wind.
Detractors of wind farms said that this is another reason why wind farms are expensive and difficult to maintain. The cost of wind farms is three times more than that of conventional power stations per unit of produced energy. However, industry experts point out that all power stations utilize power as well as generate it.
This reality was mentioned in the letters page by Brian Christley of Conwy of the Telegraph. He wrote “over the weekend just gone, the coldest of the year so far, all 100-plus offshore wind turbines along the North Wales coast were idling very slowly, using grid power for de-icing”.
Rob Norris, a spokesman for RenewableUK, an industry body, made the confirmation to the fact that wind farms utilized electricity to ensure that its system is running, but also said that this is only a minuscule share of the amount of power generated.
According to Norris, the most excellent comparison is to consider how much electricity is required to boil water in a kettle compared to the volume of electricity needed to power everything in an entire village. He added that all generators from nuclear plants to gas plants use as well as generate electricity.
From the Renewable Energy Foundation charity, John Constable on the other hand said: “We know that in Denmark there are days when their wind farms are net consumers of electricity, so in some ways this is not surprising. It’s another example of how wind power is difficult and expensive to manage.”
However, RWE, an energy firm and owner of 30 turbines off the coast of North Wales said that during the days in discussion they were net subscribers or contributors to the National Grid.
A spokesman for RWE said that all generators of energy utilize a small amount of electric power to maintain the smooth operation of their system and in the case of wind farms; they draw power if not from the grid then from an adjacent operating turbine.
Wind power constitutes about 10% of UK’s electricity, while gas and coal make up about 30% and nuclear stations another 20%.