Latest posts by Sam Schulman (see all)
Thanks to Tim Worstall, the summer begins with a good laugh. It seems that the wind, which bloweth where it listeth, has let down its advocates in the UK badly. Tim Ross’s story in the Telegraph is headlined:
Wind farms: Britain is ‘running out of wind’
Despite the freak gales that battered parts of the country last week, climate experts are warning that many of Britain’s wind farms may soon run out of puff.
The article says
statistics suggest that the winds that sweep across the British Isles may be weakening. Last year, wind speeds over the UK averaged 7.8 knots (8.9mph), a fall of 20 per cent on 2008, and well below the mean for this century, which stands at 9.1 knots (10.5mph).”
The decline of 14% off the century’s average was a blow to those who expected increased wind activity this year, and Reading University meteorologists say it is due to shifts in the jetstream, which in turn is due to reduced solar activity.
Professor Mike Lockwood, from Reading University, said: “Changes in the jet stream will change the pattern of winds that we get in the UK. That, of course, is a problem for wind power.
If the jet stream is “blocked” as a result of changes in solar activity, the wind blows from different directions and in different places – a problem for the monstrous solar installation already in place. During the “little ice age” in Britain (1645-1715), Britain had “spells of hot, dry summer weather” at the same time as icy winters.
One such period of prolonged blocking of the jet stream is thought to have occurred between 1645 and 1715, when Britain experienced a mini ice age, yet also spells of hot, dry summer weather. Professor Mike Lockwood of Reading University said that, as in the 17th century, “current levels of sun-spot activity were continuing to decline. “We reached a high point of solar activity in 1985,” he said. “Since then, it has been declining. We are now halfway back to the levels seen during the Maunder Minimum. The probability is that that decline will continue for the next 40 years.”
Of course wind power has always been a fantasty solution. It has not yet produced any net reduction of carbon emissions I know of (extensive studies of Texas, Colorado and Denmark have shown that the keeping the “balancing” energy sources on line to make up for wind power’s unpredictability eat up all potential carbon savings). Still, it is gratifying to see, yet again, the flutterings of the experts against the raw facts of nature – in which they have little interest.