Wednesday, 3 October 2012

How much electricity is generated by wind turbines?

Back in February, I asked this same question and showed on the blog where you can find the answers in almost real time. It wasn’t a lot. The graphs I displayed showed the generation for wind for every half hour interval for six months.

It was a very peaky affair, but it did show that very little electricity was produced for all the destruction to our wild places and the vast expense of the renewable obligation certificates that funds it all.

I have subsequently found a far better information source that in effect integrates all that information and produces a set of figures and graphs that show how much electricity is produced by all the sources of generation in what ever timescale suits your fancy. You can find it HERE.

The graph below shows the results from 2009 to the present day. (Note, 2012 is not finished yet – which is why it is smaller!)

REF Annual Electricity Generation


And here’s the monthly graph:

REF Monthly electricity graphs


Can you see the little pale yellow sliver near the top of each column? That’s what wind power actually produces.

Forget all the complete bollocks about how wind will replace fossil fuels and nuclear power. The fact is we are wedded to them and even if we multiplied wind by a factor of thirty, there still would not be enough turbines to power Britain’s energy needs. Even if the wind blew all the time!

Anyone who tries to persuade you that “green energy” is the way forward – show them these graphs and tell them to get real.


  1. I hope Salmond doesn't read this.
    He will have to increase Turbines by factor of 100+
    The sad thing bring the daft bugger would try and implement it. :-(

    1. I've often thought about taking a pro-wind politician out for a back-packing weekend in the Scottish hills, to try to get them to see what it is they are destroying with their city-centric view on life.
      I like to fool myself that I could persuade them that what they are doing is criminal and get them to change their minds.
      However, it would be far more effective if we each took a pro-wind politician out for a back-packing weekend and drown the bastards in a deep burn, or nudge them over the edge of a precipice.

    2. You can attach 4 to just onr Turbine.

  2. I am not aware of any statements that wind will replace fossil fuels and nuclear, our previous Gov't set target of 20% of renewables and an 80% reduction ( called an 'eyewatering' target by the Economist)in CO2 output.
    The independent review on wind power published by the JMT showed many periods when there was zero wind output for short periods. However full capacity by other means has to be maintained of course. Which is why industrial users and some domestic pay for their total installed power using capacity on top of cost per unit used. This principle was established way back in the 1890;s by Chicago Elect Co and has been followed ever since world wide more or less.

    1. Then you obviously don't read Greenpeace, WWF and FoE, Mike; They all hate "dirty coal & gas" and abhor nuclear.

      By the way, that 80% CO2 emissions reduction target includes all forms of energy: Not just electricity. So this means that the target for electrical generation CO2 emission reductions will be massive in order to get close to the target.

      At the moment, politicians in Europe are drafting new regulations that will tighten Europe's reliance on "green energy".

  3. It would be user friendly if they put a few plugs at the base of the masts so that we could charge our phones or gps units FOC when we are in the hills. I’ll get me coat.

    1. Hi Al
      Each of the turbine towers has a door at the base to gain access to the nacelles. Those towers have a whopping diameter - they would make excellent refuges in bad weather. Just leave them unlocked please.

  4. You know that makes sense, so it will never happen. The numpties of the world would just turn the space into toilet facilites. But i like the thinking outside the box. (Well tube). They could become the new bothy!

    Now, how many beds can you get in a 200ft tube? Electric storage heating, kettle, Wifi ........

    1. We would have to cut some holes in the steel tube to make windows. It was square windows that were the problem with the old Comet 4A, wasn't it?

  5. Thanks for this - a great data-set! And there's more! You can dig down to the raw data by going to

    And if you click on the menu item "GWh per month" you can toggle back and forth between the actual numbers by fuel type and the same number expressed as a percentage of the net supply.

    And even more! Further digging reveals data-sets by date. And for the hard-core amongst us, you can take a look with a day by half-hourly intervals!

    (Toggles off to ponder all this . . . )

    1. There is indeed, Humph. I was only using the data necessary to show that wind was an expensive irrelevance.
      I have had hours of fun looking back at periods when I was out & about, knowing the prevailing conditions and comparing it to the wind output.
      And, sure enough - great swathes of time when they produced absolutely bugger-all.

  6. I've been playing with the REF graphs and found it interesting that 'Pumped' energy was in the negative for the last few months. I assume that this is because more energy was used to pump the water back 'up the hill' than was produced by using this Pumped stored energy?
    That being the case, it would be interesting to represent the cost of not using the wind energy (i.e. payments to wind energy providers to turn off the wind farms when the energy is not needed from them)as an equivalent negative in terms of GWh.

    1. Hi Mick
      Pumped storage is a net user of electricity, but it has the advantage of supplying balancing power at the flick of a switch - pretty vital for very peaky events like everyone turning their kettle on at half time on cup final days.
      I know a lot of fuss is made of the money paid to wind farms at periods of high supply/low demand (constraint payments) but even though they run into hundreds of millions of pounds a year, the payments still pale into insignificance when compared to the ROC subsidies lavishly splashed out to the power companies.
      I agree: The comparison of lost GWh to generated GWh would be interesting though.


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