Last edited 19 Jul 2021

Wind energy


[edit] Introduction

The scientific community has warned that there is an urgent need for a transition to a low carbon economy if we are to avert a global catastrophe due to climate change.

The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere reached 400 ppm in 2014, up from 280 ppm in pre-industrial times, corresponding to 375,000,000,000 tonnes of CO2 released into the atmosphere since 1750.

Wind is a clean, plentiful renewable energy source.

The UK has relatively good and easily exploited wind resources:

Wind is the most developed renewable energy source in the UK.

[edit] Wind installations in the UK

The first British wind farm was established in 1991 at Delabole, Cornwall. Since then, largely due to the government's Renewables Obligation, UK wind energy capacity has flourished and is now considered one of the best locations in the world. In 2012, the UK was the world leader in offshore wind.

As of August 2018, there were 8,930 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of over 19.2 GW (12,121 MW of which were onshore, and 7,155 MW of which were offshore).

In 2017, wind power contributed 15% of the UK's electricity generation.

Installed wind capacity UK.JPG

In February 2017, it was reported that the construction value of offshore wind reached £4.1 billion in 2016, increasing from £2.45 billion in 2015.

[edit] Public perception of wind power

There are some vocal opposition groups to wind power who object to new wind farms being built in their area, claiming that they are noisy, a danger to wildlife and a blight on the countryside.

However, by and large, the British view wind power in a favourable light. In surveys carried out in 2012 for RenewablesUK, the body which champions UK wind and marine energy, and for the Sunday Times, it emerged that:

[edit] Advantages and disadvantages of wind power

[edit] Advantages

Analysis from the Carbon Trust suggests offshore wind has the potential to deliver significant benefits to the UK, including:

  • A 7% reduction in UK carbon emissions versus 1990
  • A quarter of a million UK jobs by 2050
  • Annual revenues of some £19 billion by 2050

[edit] Disadvantages

  • The main disadvantage is the unpredictable nature of wind speeds resulting in turbines being immobile for significant periods.
  • It is difficult to store generated power.
  • Wind turbines tend to be large and very visible within the countryside.

[edit] International comparisons

[edit] Worldwide

There was 250 GW installed capacity worldwide in 2012. The UK ranks 8th in the world for installed capacity, however on a per-capita basis the UK is not in the top 20.

The 8 countries with the most installed capacity are (2011 figures, GW):

  • China (62.4)
  • USA (46.9)
  • Germany (29.1)
  • Spain (21.7)
  • India (15.9)
  • Italy (6.7)
  • France (6.6)
  • United Kingdom (6.5)

[edit] Europe

The UK had the 5th largest installed capacity in Europe at the end of 2011; this reflects its fairly late uptake of wind power compared for example with Germany, which has by far the most capacity, or Spain.

Installed capacity in Europe, end of 2011 (MW)

Ger Spain France Italy UK Port Den Swe NL
29,060 21,674 6,800 6,747 6,540 4,083 3,871 2,907 2,328

Germany had the largest new installed capacity in Europe in 2011 (2,100 MW) with the UK following at 1,300 MW, of which 752 MW was offshore wind. Spain came third (1,050 MW) and then France (830 MW).

NB: RenewableUK claim that a new UK record was achieved for wind energy on 17 August 2014, when 22% of the UK’s electricity was generated by wind, an average of 5,797 MW.

[edit] Policy

In March 2019, Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry announced the launch of a new joint government-industry Offshore Wind Sector Deal intended to supply a third of all UK electricity by 2030. Ref

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

[edit] External references


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