Alternative Energy

UK wind power plans unfeasible without tech investment

7th October 2020
Alex Lynn

Industrial software expert, COPA-DATA has warned that Boris’ ambitious wind power plans must not overlook critical investments in software. During the conference speech, the prime minister pledged £160m for a new scheme that he believes will ‘power every home in the country’ with wind power within a decade.

The announcement is undeniably positive; it promises job creation, reduced carbon emissions and new investments into Northern England, Scotland and Wales. However, energy sector experts warn that the prime minister must not overlook the complexities of integrating renewable energy into existing grid — it is not as simple as investing in hardware and infrastructure.

“The UK’s energy grid was not designed to handle volatile renewable energy sources,” explained Garry Forfar, energy industry expert at COPA-DATA UK. “Investing £160 million into wind power could yield incredible results, but only if the software controlling the equipment is robust. As the country erects new turbines and builds physical infrastructure, the Government must pay equally close attention to the technology required to control and monitor the grid.

“Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy sources do not generate energy at a predictable level, so they can create challenges for balancing supply and demand. For instance, periods of low renewable generation can result in exploitative price increases, while unexpected power surges can result in blackouts if excess energy is not stored appropriately.

“To establish the UK as a world leader in renewable power, deploying the correct software is essential. And if the recent track and trace mishaps are anything to go by, in which Microsoft Excel was used to monitor critical data, adequate software isn’t always given the consideration it should.”

During the conference, Johnson also commented that: “As Saudi Arabia is to oil, the UK is to wind — a place of almost limitless resource.” His comments suggest the potential economic advantages of investing in wind power, but he did not outline any plans to invest in the energy storage required to make this possible.

“Transforming Britain’s energy network into a fully functioning smart grid is a colossal task dependent on investment in technology. The Government’s £160 million investment in this scheme could provide the push Britain needs to become a leader in renewable power — providing software isn’t overlooked.”

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