The changing Atlantic jetstream is slowing down the United Kingdom’s wind, raising questions about the efficacy of ambitious offshore wind farm programs. Wind speeds have reduced by 20% since 2008, according to a Telegraph report, and 2010 was the stillest year in the decade. Scientists predict that the jetstream over the UK will continue to slacken over the next four decades as a result of changing solar activity. Meanwhile, the coalition has plans to build thousands of wind turbines in order to meet the European Union goal of supplying 15% of the UK’s energy using alternatives to fossil fuels by 2020.
Over the next nine years, off-shore wind farms are expected to receive an additional 3,600 wind turbines. But scientists worry that the turbines will become less efficient as wind speeds continue to dip.
Although Britain usually has warm, wet, and windy winters, altered solar activity is blocking the Atlantic jetstream from carrying warm south westerly winds such that winters are colder, and more still. Dr David Brayshaw from Reading’s Department of Meteorology told the paper, “if wind speed lowers, we can expect to generate less electricity from turbines – that’s a no-brainer.”