Offshore workers’ union GMB has hit out at what it claims is the “hype” around renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, which it calls “intermittent”.
In a statement, the union say they want to see a greater mix of “reliable” energy sources such as gas and nuclear.
Detailing the days when wind and solar output was low in 2017, GMB claim that other energy sources should be considered to “get us through” times when renewable generation does not meet the UK’s energy requirement.
Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary, said: “Renewable sources of energy are really intermittent. There were 138 days in the past 12 months when there was at least one period – of a half hour- during the day when wind output was less than 10% of the installed capacity.
“There were also 341 days over same period when solar was supplying less than 10% of installed capacity to the national electricity grid for more than 12 hours a day. When this happens cannot be predicted, so back up energy sources have to be available when demand for electricity is high.
“These are the facts for the 12 months to 8 March 2018 and facts are stubborn things. It is the facts, not the hype, which should determine the UK’s energy policy decisions.”
While GMB concede that renewable sources such as wind and solar are a welcome addition to the energy mix, they claim that advocates of the sector are pushing “hype” not “facts” when it comes to the reality of wind and solar’s potential to lead supply.
Mr Bowden added: “The wind and solar fleets combined are a very valuable addition as UK based energy sources in that they are carbon free and are a positive help with the UK’s balance of payments.
“That they are intermittent should not be a point of contention but a reason why base load lower carbon gas and zero carbon nuclear energy sources are essential for a balanced and secure low emissions future. Anyone who disputes this is axe grinding.
“If we are to address the reality of climate change – whilst keeping our country’s lights turned on, our homes heated and our economy working – then we have to face up to the fact that we need a mix of energy which combines renewable sources, like wind and solar, with the reliable base load electricity capacity that comes from gas and zero carbon nuclear, to see us through all those times when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.
“Those advocating a renewables only energy policy cannot just shrug their shoulders on cloudy, windless days, or when it is dark, and pretend that more windmills and solar panels on their own can keep the lights on. They have to accept that unless and until there is a scientific breakthrough on carbon capture or solar storage, then a balanced energy supply mix -which includes nuclear and gas as the only reliable shows in town – is a reality.”