This article originally appeared in the Daily Telegraph, Thursday, July 16th, page 5
(they have billed David Andrews as Head of The Claverton Group Energy Think Tank – this is not accurate…there is no “Head “as such)
ANALYSIS – By Dave Andrews
Wind farms as is well know only work when the wind blows. This means that a turbine will on average, produce electricity on only one day out of three. However, this is not of itself an overwhelming disadvantage – as is often claimed.
Wind farms can still compete with other forms of electricity generation because although turbines are expensive to build, they have very low running costs.
The other argument against turbines is that they require back up when the wind is not blowing. This, too, is true. However, again it is not really a problem, since the power stations needed to provide backup have already been built, and are cheap to keep on standby. Wind farms just make sure we use less of the fossil fuel than we would otherwise, therefore cutting emissions.
So what of the “Nimby” problem? I think we can safely say that no one wants a wind farm in their back yard. Offshore wind solves this problem but onshore wind is cheaper and is a key part of government strategy. It is worth remembering that relatively little land is needed. After all, it needs an area of 70 square miles ( Note: the original article as submitted stated “an area of size of a square of side 70 miles by 70 miles” which is 4900 square miles not 70, but was badly sub edited by someone whose maths is poor) to be able to generate all of Britain’s power requirements.
“Wind farms just make sure we use less of the fossil fuel than we would otherwise, therefore cutting emissions”
Unfortunately, the best place for a wind turbine is likely to be an area of outstanding natural beauty, but there are plenty of places of marginal value land, where the wind is good enough.
Wind turbines mounted on houses are also an option, although the idea of putting one up in a fashionable are of London such as Notting Hill – as David Cameron tried to do – is unlikely to work. Wind turbines will work only if they are in are high or remote rural areas.
New research funded by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) suggested that only 450,000 households could benefit from small-scale wind turbines.
People may not want them in their back gardens, but it is one of the few technologies that we know works, has no hidden dangers and, crucially, can be built very quickly if we put our mind to it.
Anyway, the Government’s dithering over the years has left us with precious few other options.
- Dave Andrews is and independent energy consultant and head of the Claverton Group, an energy think tank.