Wind Energy in the UK
The wind speeds in the UK are higher than that in many other countries; in fact we have the best wind resource in the whole of Europe - more than enough to meet current renewable energy targets. Yet in spite of this the UK are falling far behind other European countries in terms of the electricity harvested from this renewable source of energy.
Current targets as set by the UK government in its Renewable Energy Strategy (July 2009) are to generate 15% of the UK's electricity through renewable sources by 2020. Currently wind power provides over 6% of the country's electricity supply - highlighting the fact that a significant increase in onshore wind farm developments is essential if we are to meet the targets and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Wind energy will increasingly become part of our energy supply in the future. As the most efficient form of renewable energy, it has both sufficient potential and increasingly strong economic viability compared with other energy sources.
Advantages of wind power:-
- Dramatically reduces greenhouse gas emissions
- Enhances energy security
- Cheap form of electricity
- Abundant and clean natural resource
- Electricity is generated 80% of the year
- Carbon footprint of wind farm is paid back within 9 months
Further room for growth could potentially be provided by offshore projects (wind farms located in the sea). However studies point towards a significantly less economic viability compared with wind farms constructed on land as the electricity needs to be transported over extremely long distances. Construction, maintenance and repairs are more complicated and thus more expensive to carry out, which would only be compensated to a very low degree by higher energy revenues.
Onshore wind is one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy and increasing supply to 15 per cent by 2020 would present only a very modest increase in cost for consumers that compares well with other energy sources. Indeed, as fossil fuel prices increase and wind turbines become cheaper to build, wind power may even become one of the cheapest forms of electricity generation over the next 15 years.
Climate Change/Energy Scarcity
The environment and climate protection is one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. Rising global temperatures will bring changes in weather patterns, rising sea levels and an increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions. The effects will be felt in the UK and worldwide therefore we need to act NOW to minimise further devastation caused by Climate Change. Energy generation from renewable sources such as wind, sun and water make an important contribution towards this.
As a nation we are highly dependant on imports from other countries for our energy supply and it is imperative we become more self-sufficient via the increased generation of our own secure supply.
The UK has passed legislation which introduces the world's first long term legally binding framework to tackle the dangers of climate change. For more information and to download the Climate Change Act 2008 go to www.defra.gov.uk. You may also be interested in reading more about the Renewable Energy Strategy which forms part of the Low Carbon Transition Plan by clicking here.
 Source: Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute & www.windatlas.dk
 Source: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/publications/lc_trans_plan/lc_trans_plan.aspx
 Source: BWEA
 Source: Milborrow - Dispelling Myths of Energy Payback Time (published in Windstats Vol 11 Spring 1998)
 Source: http://www.volkswind.com/Future-of-Wind-Energy.19.0.html?&L=1
 Source: Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) report (19.05.05)