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Wind power may help meet peak demand in winter

A new study has pointed out that wind power can make an important contribution the UK’s energy supply in cold periods when electricity demand is highest.

Wind power is often criticised for its inconsistent generation, although new hybrid battery systems help to smooth out short-term peaks and troughs. What the researchers found, however, based on historical data for wind speeds and electricity demands, is that wind speeds in the UK generally increase with demand. This means wind power can play an important role in the UK’s energy mix.

The study points to a “clear seasonal cycle in demand”, with demand increasing in autumn and winter as lights and electric heating are used more as the days grow shorter and colder, but the changing weather also brings windier conditions that boost wind power generation. In essence, the country gets more electricity when it needs it more.

Operating efficiently in the coldest weather obviously presents a challenge for lubrication, which is why ExxonMobil, the maker of Mobil SHC Gear 220, developed Mobil SHC Gear 320 WT to push the envelope in terms of operating temperature.

There is a catch, however, because wind power actually drops when demand goes into the 80th percentile, because the UK’s weather tends to be mild yet windy or cold but calm. This means other sources will need to fill the supply gap, although the paper suggests that offshore wind may be less vulnerable to variable winds in cold periods thanks to the substantial heat capacity of the sea.

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