Research carried out by engineer forecasts that UK energy generating capacity will fall by half to 40GW by 2023

The widespread adoption of wind power in the next few years to meet EU targets could undermine efforts to generate energy in the UK, research by Parsons Brinckerhoff has revealed.

The report forecasts that overall the country’s energy generating capacity will fall to half its current value from 80GW to 40GW by 2023 and that about 68GW of electricity will be needed by 2050.

Parsons Brinckerhoff claims wind power is too unreliable to provide more than 10GW of electricity to the grid, as it is an intermittent source and requires a fast response back up system.

“Without additional fast-response balancing facilities, significant numbers of UK electricity consumers could regularly experience interruptions or a drop in voltage,” said the report.

Parsons Brinckerhoff warns that large investment in wind power undermines the economic case for more-efficient plant types with lower carbon emissions, such as nuclear, carbon capture coal and combined cycle gas.

It adds that the targets are being undermined by the UK’s EU commitment to supply 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, and that the UK would have to build the wrong type of fast response power stations to compensate for the intermittency of wind.

The report also notes that the UK needs to build new power generation facilities at an unprecedented rate to provide enough power from 2020 onwards - and this needs to be a balanced mix of which wind has an increasingly important part to play.

A spokesman pointed out that the report was not saying that wind power was in and of itself a bad thing, but that its main use would be charging electric cars which can benefit from intermittent power.

"The key point of the report relating to wind is that large scale wind can be managed well in the longer term when its intermittency can be balanced with the controllable demands of charging a growing fleet of electric vehicles using 'smart grid' technology. Its just the early introduction of large scale wind that causes the problem!"