From the Telegraph:
Despite the freak gales that battered parts of the country last week, climate experts are warning that many of Britain’s wind farms may soon run out of puff.
According to government figures, 13 of the past 16 months have been calmer than normal - while 2010 was the “stillest” year of the past decade.
Meteorologists believe that changes to the Atlantic jet stream could alter the pattern of winds over the next 40 years and leave much of the nation’s growing army of power-generating turbines becalmed.
The Coalition has drawn up plans to open more wind farms in an effort to meet Britain’s European Union target of providing 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.More than 3,600 turbines are expected to be installed in offshore wind farms over the next nine years.But statistics suggest that the winds that sweep across the British Isles may be weakening. Last year, wind speeds over the UK averaged 7.8 knots (8.9mph), a fall of 20 per cent on 2008, and well below the mean for this century, which stands at 9.1 knots (10.5mph).
Usually Britain has warm, wet and windy winters, thanks to Caribbean air carried here by the Atlantic jet stream, a fast-flowing current of air.
But the last two winters have featured exceptionally low temperatures and were remarkably still when they should have been the windiest seasons of all, as high pressure diverted the jet stream from its normal position.
Meteorologists have found that the position of the jet stream has been influenced by the lower levels of activity on the Sun. This decline in sun-spot activity is expected to continue for the next 40 years, with potentially serious consequences for the viability of wind farms....MOREIf the lower levels of sunspots should lead to the "Little Ice Age"temperatures experienced during the Maunder minimum, 1645-1715, what with the Thames freezing over and all, it would be a rotten time to have the power go out.