Onshore wind farms, recently under attack from leading conservationists for damaging the countryside, can bring significant economic benefits locally and nationally, as well as contributing to the fight against climate change, a new study claims. Michael McCarthy reports in The Independent
Onshore wind supported 8,600 jobs and was worth £548m to the UK economy in 2011, says the report, by consultancy BiGGAR Economics. Of this figure 1,100 jobs were created at local authority level, with £84m of investment.
Looking at 18 case studies of wind farms of different sizes drawn from across the UK, the study analyses the contribution of wind farm development, construction, operation and maintenance to the economy at a local, regional and national level. It suggests if onshore wind is deployed at a scale suggested in the Government’s Renewable Energy Roadmap, the economy could benefit by £780m by 2020, with around 11,600 jobs being supported.
From its beginnings 20 years ago, Britain’s wind industry now has 3,176 large onshore turbines, with 568 turbines in the sea, according to RenewableUK, the wind industry trade body.
The onshore wind farms together can produce about 4.5 gigawatts of electricity, roughly the equivalent of four large conventional power stations, with another 1.5GW coming from offshore turbines. But the growing presence of turbines in the landscape – there are nearly 3,000 more in the planning process – has led to criticism from conservationists, and last week the Campaign to Protect Rural England broke ranks with other environmental groups who have hitherto been united in support for wind energy for the contribution it can make, with other CO2-free energies like solar and tidal power, to cut carbon emissions that cause climate change.
The CPRE said the countryside was being caught in “a hurricane of new wind turbines” and local communities were “struggling to safeguard valued landscapes” which were being industrialised by the presence of wind farms. Shaun Spiers, its chief executive, said his group accepted onshore wind in the right places as part of the mix required to meet the UK ‘s carbon reduction targets, “but we are seeing more and more giant turbines sited in inappropriate locations”.
The Government and wind industry stress the benefits wind farms can bring. “Rather than feeling wind has been imposed on them, people across the UK recognise the benefits of having wind in their backyard,” said RenewableUK’s chief executive Maria McCaffery. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said: “Wind power provides secure, low carbon power to homes and businesses, and supports jobs and brings significant investment.”
- Report claims wind power benefits (thisislondon.co.uk)
- Wind power industry generates millions for economy, new report claims (scotsman.com)
- UK News: Report claims wind power benefits (walesonline.co.uk)
- National News: Report claims wind power benefits (coventrytelegraph.net)
- Scheme to finance onshore wind farms (premierlinedirect.co.uk)
- Plea to government on wind farms (bbc.co.uk)
- Warning UK Is Being Overrun With Wind Farms (news.sky.com)
- An ill wind blows in Northamptonshire (telegraph.co.uk)
- UK News: Warning over wind turbines spread (walesonline.co.uk)
- National News: Warning over wind turbines spread (coventrytelegraph.net)
The new technology could allow Britain to harness the consistently higher wind speeds available over deeper water
Before this week’s clean-energy meeting of ministers from 23 countries in London, the government announced it will collaborate with the US in developing wind technology to generate power in deep waters that are currently off-limits to conventional turbines.
In order to exploit the UK’s huge wind resource, which accounts for about one-third of Europe’s offshore wind potential, new technology is needed to access waters between 60 and 100 metres deep: too deep for turbines fixed to the seabed, but where wind speeds are consistently higher.
It is hoped that developing the technology will increase the UK’s potential for offshore wind power, particularly after 2020, by which time many shallower sites will have been developed.
The government believes it could also reduce the current high cost of offshore wind, cutting the expense of seabed foundations and allowing repairs on floating wind platforms to be carried out in port rather than out at sea.
The energy secretary, Ed Davey, said: “Britain has more wind turbines installed around its shores than any other country in the world, and our market is rated year after year as the most attractive market among investors. Offshore wind is critical for the UK’s energy future, and there is big interest around the world in what we’re doing.
“The UK and US are both making funding available for this technology, and we’re determined to work together to capitalise on this shared intent.”
The Energy Technologies Institute is commissioning a £25m offshore wind floating system demonstrator, which will require the chosen participants to produce an offshore wind turbine that can generate 5MW to 7MW by 2016. The project could be demonstrated off the Cornish coast at the WaveHub site.
In the US, four offshore projects are being backed by the Department of Energy, potentially including a floating wind demonstration.
Norway already has a full-scale demonstration of a floating wind turbine, while a similar project is underway off Portugal.
This week’s Clean Energy Ministerial will be co-chaired by Davey and his US energy counterpart, Steven Chu. The two countries are signing a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on a series of areas including power generation, energy efficiency and transmission.
- UK and US to develop floating turbines (scotsman.com)
- Could ‘floating wind turbines’ solve UK’s energy crisis? (telegraph.co.uk)
- First floating wind turbine buoyed off Norway (news.cnet.com)
- Helium-filled floating wind turbine, renewable energy with style (engadget.com)
- Wind power surges as custom ships cut costs (bangordailynews.com)
- New York Maps Viable Offshore Wind Power (bfreenews.com)
- Japan Replaces Nuclear With Wind Power (solarfeeds.com)
- European offshore wind setting records in 2010 (news.cnet.com)