When the Wind Blows…(and when it doesn’t…)

by Steph Marshall | on Nov 22, 2013 | No Comments

Right now the UK seems to have more windmills than a Delfte dinner set. Not that one could easily mistake today’s great turbines for the shortbread tin affairs of the past.

In fact chief among the many criticisms these huge ivory towers have been facing of late is their aesthetic appeal, but love or loathe them, and it seems that most folks are in one of those two camps, there is one question which can’t really be avoided:

What does happen when the wind stops blowing?

Traditionally this has always been the trouble in paradise, (and anywhere else that uses wind turbines) and traditionally the answer has been sordidly simple.

Without the wind, those who rely on wind towers have to turn back to the national grid, like the rest of us, but that might all be about to change for a small island community on the west coast of Scotland, as a new scheme begins piloting this month on the island of Ghia.

The plan is to create a massive store of underground batteries which will store the excess energy the turbines provide when conditions are good. This extra energy, which is currently redirected onto the mainland and fed into the national grid via a cable link, would instead be stored in the vast banks of batteries.

As it stands, when there is excess power, much of it is wasted as the cable link has a high power limit that can’t handle a good deal of the energy provided by the turbines.

The battery project, which will cost 2.5 million pounds , is backed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change and should finally solve the problem of what to do with all that wasted energy.

If the project is a success it is likely we will see it rolled out across the country. We will be watching with baited breath.

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