There is no doubt in many of your minds that I am a bit of a wind-power nut. I love to focus on it at any chance I get, but I’m sometimes held in check by a modicum of editorial power. Thankfully, when there is news like this, editorial power goes out the window in the face of a big story.
John Hutton, the British energy secretary, will this week announce plans to build offshore wind-farms that will generate almost half of the mother countries power requirements.
Britain has already been making steps towards increasing the amount of energy generated by wind-farms. Currently Great Britain’s power generation is focused in a range of coal, gas and nuclear stations, generating a total of 75 gigawatts (GW). Of that, only 0.5GW comes from wind-power.
But planning consents have already been given to increase that amount by 3GW, and the government has made it known that it would like to increase that further to 8GW.
Speaking at an energy conference in Berlin on Monday, Hutton will announce that he wants that target to be raised to 33GW by 2020. This number would, if consumption figures remain constant, mean wind would power every home in the UK.
His plan proposes that there will still be a need for fossil fuel stations to be built, on standby to fill in for windless days. However new research suggesting the linking of wind-farms may also make this necessity moot.
Britain has already seen the development of wind-farms pop up around its coasts, with test developments in 2001 and 2003. At the moment these farms are out of site well off the coast, but if Hutton’s plan follows then wind-farms would become a common site along the British coast.
Hutton has opened up the entire British continental shelf for development with few exceptions (for fishing and commercial shipping). The relatively shallow waters in the North Sea will also increase the probability of success, as developers will not have to deal with massive structural integrity bills needed for deep water construction.
Sadly, predictions of public outcry are already surfacing due to the possibility of wind-farms being within site of the coast. At heights that reach 850ft into the sky, and dotted along the entire coast, this would be an obvious issue. However one hopes that the human skepticism and ignorance, and the fossil fuel companies, will keep their mouths shut!
Already about to overtake Denmark in terms of offshore wind-farm energy production next year, Maria McCaffery, chief executive of the British Wind Energy Association, believes that this expansion could put the UK’s offshore market at twice the size of any other nations by 2015.
So if you are a Brit reading this article, or know of one, make some noise! I’ve personally never understood the problem with wind turbines, as they seem somewhat elegant. Add to that their purpose, and it seems a no-brainer to me. So let us hope that after environmental assessment, this plan will push past any naïve public opposition.
The Sunday Times – Giant offshore wind farms to supply half of UK power
Image © Elsam A/S – make sure you click on the image for a bigger look! It’s majestic!