“Scottish wind farms paid £1 million to shut down one day” 1
“Record Breaking Day for Wind” 2
The above headlines have both been published recently. They both quote impressive facts and figures – or do they?
Emotions tend to run high when discussing green issues and even more so when discussing renewable energy. It’s an important debate but one that I feel is regularly trivialised by the sort of reporting evidenced by the above headlines. I have some sympathy for the journalists as due to the complexity of the energy market writing about it in an accessible manner isn’t easy, but that’s not an excuse.
In order to have the informed debate that I feel is missing it’s important to establish the facts and it’s at this first obstacle that problems start to appear. People make money from the energy market – lots of money. There are markets where trading takes place and as with stocks, shares or other commodities these markets require real time data. Whenever you mix finance with information you come across barriers, restrictions and payments to the companies that grow to control access to the data.
Without free and unencumbered access to such data it’s impossible to have an honest and open debate of the issues.
Much of the information about the UK energy market is provided by Elexon UK. They have a lot of information available, for free, but when trying to use the information things soon become less friendly. Given what the data relates to and how important it is, the fact that Elexon UK consider they “own” (their words not mine) all information they make available should be of concern.
I previously wrote about my dealings with Elexon UK in April 2013.
*Disclaimer: I maintain a website that attempts to provide an unbiased view of wind energy production in the UK, http://www.variablepitch.co.uk/.