It is somewhat surprising to read the comment in The Times from Shaun McCarthy, Chair of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, that the Olympic Park wind turbine is to be scrapped because there is not enough wind on the site.
The Olympic wind turbine was announced in March 2008 in a blaze of glory. Since then has no-one bothered to check the Government’s Wind Energy Database now maintained by the Department of Energy and Climate Change? This clearly indicates that the location for the Olympic turbine is marginal for economic wind generation.
Generating electricity from the wind is critically dependent on the wind speed which is affected by location. Wind speed is dramatically reduced over cities due to friction with buildings dissipating much of the energy as turbulence. It would be unreasonable to expect the Stratford turbine to generate much more than about half that of an identical machine in open country.
Large wind turbines are a significant investment and if the generation potential of a site is poor then wind energy developers will look elsewhere. This may explain why the ODA has failed to find a new developer prepared to step into the breach after the preferred bidder for the turbine withdrew.
There are few other renewable technologies that can match wind power economically. One must hope therefore that the ODA rigorously enforces energy efficiency standards for the new buildings in order to reduce demand. This would be far preferable to wasting public money on expensive renewable technologies to offset 20% of unnecessarily high demand.