Lower wind speed affects UK output in 2009

UK: In a year characterised by lower than average wind speeds, Northern Ireland was the windiest UK country in 2009, according to the latest government figures.

The UK's wind energy output has been affected by lower wind speeds in 2009
The 20 wind farms in the province enjoyed average load factors of just over 30%, while the UK average was 26.9%.

UK wind load averages

  • Northern Ireland 30%
  • Scotland 28%
  • Wales 24.8%
  • England 24%

In the English regions, load factors ranged from a mere 18% in the South East, to over 26% in the North West. Offshore wind farms achieved an average of 33.7%.

The windiest year over the past decade was 2008 when mean wind speeds of 5% above the long-term average helped boost average UK load factors to over 29%.

The figures come from the quarterly bulletin, 'Energy Trends', published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

They show that UK wind farms produced 9.3GWh of electricity from 4.43MW of installed capacity. Unsurprisingly, Scotland led last year in terms of both overall wind capacity and wind generation, with a 48% share of UK capacity and 49% of generation. England followed with 33% of total generation, Wales 10% and Northern Ireland 8%.

Leading the English regions were the north-west and east – each with 25% of England's wind capacity.

However, the stronger winds and some offshore wind farms boosted the North-West's share of energy generation to 30%. The east of England dropped to third place with 16%, behind the East Midlands, which achieved 26% of generation, thanks largely to the commissioning of two offshore wind farms.

Statistics for the second quarter of this year reveal an even poorer performance from renewables than from Q2 in 2009 – mostly due to lower levels of generation from hydro and wind.

Against a background of a 4% drop in overall electricity consumption, renewables' share of supply fell by 12%, within which hydro's share dropped by 30%.

Wind dropped by 11.3% due to lower wind speeds compared to those for the same time last year. Moreover, this follows a 2.9% fall in wind's share in the first quarter of this year compared with 2009, again due to lower wind speeds.