Beautiful Windmills: Onshore wind turbines need more support
According to a recent study, each person in China produced 7.2 tons of carbon dioxide on average compared with 6.8 tons in Europe, 16.4 tons in the U.S. and 1.9 tons in India in 2013. In the face of compelling statistics like this it’s easy to look at our own efforts to reduce emissions – particularly on a small island called Great Britain, and feel disparaged. Opposition to subsidised, and supposedly ineffective forms of green energy mean wind farms and other technologies get a lot of bad press and the media have been quick to jump on calls from MPs for a scrap on environmental legislation. Yet in the same week we’ve also seen an EU report that concludes onshore wind is a cheaper energy source than coal, gas or nuclear energy, whne taking into account various climactic factors.
Work is now also being planned for the EDF Energy Hinkley Point nuclear power plant in Somerset, slated to be completed by 2023 – this is the first atomic power station to be built in the UK in 20 years and marks a significant development in the energy world. To outline its scale, the plant will be around 3200 Megawatts. It will receive three times more government subsidy than, for example, dry onshore wind farms ever would have done. The largest turbine currently being manufactured is 7 Megawatts, meaning, to replace the generating capacity of Hinkley the UK would need to erect roughly 500 wind turbines. The offshore wind farm located in the Thames Estuary which opened this year already has 175 there are at least 3 offshore wind farms already in planning in the UK which exceed 500. To me this underlines the viability of wind farming. In the 1990s, the largest wind turbine was 0.25MW (to replace Hinkley Point you would have needed aprox 13000!) If you extrapolate the progress that has been made since then to the 2023 Hinkley Point deadline it raises some interesting questions about nuclear.
At YOO we of course want to do what we can to support a future based on renewable energy. For some time I have felt the importance of offsetting the work that we do elsewhere on the planet and YOO Energy has been embracing wind farm technology since 2012. However there is a lot of largely incorrect and negative propaganda around wind turbines, which slows up their deployment. In truth only an acre of land is needed for the foundations of a turbine and that acre can still be actively farmed right up to the base of the structure. The noise levels and impact on wildlife is also greatly overstated, and the energy required to build a turbine can be earned back in just six months.
Germany and Holland seem to have embraced onshore wind farms much more readily than in the UK, for example, where we are much more reluctant. People have different views about the aesthetic impact of turbines across the countryside. Personally I find them truly beautiful. They have a certain grace of their own, compounded by their purpose – you might call it a stunning alignment of form and function; natural and elegant way to provide power. What’s more, the costs of harnessing offshore wind energy are coming down, thanks to the very subsidies that are so often criticised. In the same way, dramatic falls in the cost of solar energy could not have occurred without the government subsidy.
Since 2012 I’m pleased to say YOO Energy has raised a number of turbines in Scotland and Cornwall, with work currently underway on several more. We’re immensely proud of this work. Each turbine produces enough energy for 500 average sized houses.
Undoubtedly the future success of the planet lies in spreading funding around – finding a mixture of solutions and yes, we need other countries to act as well, but our efforts cannot be understated and must be redoubled. There is no golden bullet, but every little helps.
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