Storm Ophelia: Wind turbines generated less electricity than on calmer days

Wind power accounted for less than half of NI's electricity as the day wore on
Wind power accounted for less than half of NI's electricity as the day wore on

Although today was among the windiest in recent memory, the energy being generated by wind turbines was lower than it might have been in calmer conditions.

At about midday, wind power accounted for close to half of all energy production in the Province according to live updates issued by System Operator Northern Ireland (SONI) – the body which controls the Province’s energy grid.

However, it is not unheard of to have such a figure, and as the afternoon wore on this dipped down.

At one point last month, at a time when there had been no major amber-warning storm on the scale of Ophelia, wind had accounted for an even higher proportion of the energy being generated in the Province.

The reason is because SONI opted to harness less wind power.

It is understood that this was achieved by sending out a signal to tilt the blades of the turbines, and was done because whilst there was plenty of wind, the stormy conditions were such that operators did not want to risk sudden power outages if any part of the system failed.

In a statement, SONI said: “Our priority over the next eight to 10 hours is to ensure that Northern Ireland has a secure supply of electricity.

“The system needs to be balanced at all times and even though wind levels are high, we cannot risk instability by relying on wind as our prime source of generation, this means we are predominately taking in power from conventional sources.

“While it is becoming increasingly stormy we know the wind will cut out at some point and so to ensure the system is balanced, we have had to hold back some of that wind.”

It could have been more, but he said “we are in emergency conditions and are prioritising the stability of the grid at the moment”.