Achieving energy security with intermittent renewables, notably wind, will require some form of rapid response backup energy source, typically hydroelectricity or natural gas fired turbines. For energy analysts and activists to espouse renewables without explaining how the backup will be achieved does little to further the cause of renewable energy (Is it all over for nuclear power?, New Scientist, vol. 190, no. 2548, pg. 33-37, 22 April 2006).
This is especially true in countries, such as the UK, where natural gas production is unable to meet demand. In the UK, North Sea natural gas peaked in 2000 and demand is once again exceeding production. With the decline in North Sea supply, the UK will be forced to import more natural gas, either by undersea pipeline or via LNG, from such countries as Russia.
Russia's retaliatory actions against Ukraine last January show how difficult it is for a country to achieve energy security using imported energy. If renewables are to make a difference, it will be necessary to develop energy technologies and policies that minimize reliance on non-indigenous energy sources.
Submitted to New Scientist, 9 May 2006