Wind Resource

UK context

The UK has an excellent wind resource, both on and offshore. It is theoretically possible to obtain more than 1000TWh of electricity each year from the wind.

Where does the wind come from?

The primary source of the wind comes from Polar maritime air masses that travel over the Atlantic. The air has its source in the Canadian Arctic or the Greenland area. It reaches the British Isles from the west or northwest after having swung around the western side of a depression. There are other air mass regimes* that interact with the UK but the Polar Maritime air mass is the most significant in terms of UK wind. These various air masses each have different characteristics such as atmospheric pressure, temperature and humidity of the air, all of which determine in part the energy content of the wind.

*Air masses: Tropical maritime, Tropical continental, Polar maritime, Polar continental, returning polar maritime. ( )

What are the dynamic attributes of wind/land interactions?

The windiest places (that are practical for exploitation) are those that are situated near to the coast (west is best baby) and up a mountain. Coastal winds have less exposure to the drag and turbulence effects encountered over land. Higher land (Mountains) can cause the wind to blow faster as the air mass is forced to travel over or around the mountain. The wind speed also increases with height above the ground or sea; this feature is the result of reduced frictional effects. The wind is inherently variable, offering seasonal variation, to momentary gusts and lulls. The summer months and daytime usually present lower wind speeds compared to the winter and night time.

Wind Variation

The variation in wind speed and especially the presence of low wind (bellow cut-in speed) or absence of wind altogether, is a critical factor to the existence of wind power technology.

click here for UK wind speed map

European Context

Within a context of European wind speed league tables, Scotland can lay claim to having the highest average wind speeds. With this premise one would expect Scotland to have grasped and harnessed this huge potential resource. This however is sadly not the case; its European neighbours, who have a significantly lesser resource, have in fact put Scotland to shame in terms of their wind exploitation.

click here for EU wind speed map