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The winds of change

The UK is the windiest country in Europe. It’s been a leader in offshore wind power since 2008, with more installed capacity than any other nation

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Wind energy isn't perfect but it's early days. Improvements in technology will make the difference
Wind energy isn't perfect but it's early days. Improvements in technology will make the difference

Know those moments, when it strikes you that you are watching history play out before your very eyes? I got that sensation this morning whilst walking with the Pug and gazing out across the English Channel, taking in the full might of E.ON UK’s Rampion Offshore Wind Farm.

 

Situated just 13km off the Sussex coast, these 116 strong, silent (as yet) and somewhat hypnotic guardians of the English Channel will be in full operation this year providing power to half the homes in Sussex.

 

Apparently, the UK is the windiest country in Europe, (I’m not surprised, given that I have a corner plot, live on a hill, with no real obstacles between me and France excepting the aforementioned 116 turbines). It’s been a leader in offshore wind power since 2008, with more installed capacity than any other country.

 

In the 2017 Report Offshore Wind Industry Investment in the UK c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.renewableuk.com/resource/resmgr/publications/Offshore_Wind_Investment_V4.pdf, offshore powers the equivalent of 4.5 million homes and will generate 10 per cent of all our energy by 2020. It has created thousands of jobs and is helping to regenerate UK coastal towns.

 

The report states that offshore wind is now in the top ten for infrastructure spending in the UK, and has committed £11.5bn into the economy over the next four years, surpassing the amount being invested in broadband infrastructure. It is also comparable to the amount being spent on housing and regeneration schemes.

 

The rise of Rampion on the Sussex horizon has caused serious controversy in some quarters. I however, regard this development as a beacon of hope, a positive contribution in our energy mix to tackle our climate crisis; a foundation for a brand new CleanTech revolution – examples of which appear in our highlighted news this week.

 

NIMBY-ism (not in my back yard) is way up there on the list. Then there’s the bird grater theory, but it seems that compared to other high rise structures for energy generation, the bird mortality rate from turbines is lower. Offshore, the problem dilutes completely as migratory birds fly much higher than the wind turbines.

 

There are issues to do with the production of the turbines themselves, not to mention the noise of the rotor blades, the fact that the wind is not a reliable source so consistent 24/7 operation is not an option, and it spoils the view.

 

Whatever way we look at it, change is necessary and in terms of environmental concern, urgent. We’re on a growing trajectory that is taking us away from fossil fuels towards more sustainable outcomes. But these are early days and improvements will come to help address concerns. Already, smart grid deployment and battery storage solutions are just two examples of how we are beginning to smooth things out.

 

To move to a greater sustainable way of living, we all have to make change and accept some compromises.

 

Some of our answers are indeed blowing in the wind.

 

Melony Rocque

Executive editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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