Over the coming decade the world faces enormous challenges; a changing climate, dwindling fossil fuels reserves and rising energy demands are interconnected problems that demand a common solution. In the words of Bob Dylan, ‘the answer my friend are blowing in the wind’ and shining in the sun, flowing in the rivers and hitting the coast line of the UK 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the form of an infinite supply of renewabley generated energy.
The Centre for Alternative Technology has been working since 1973 to explore solutions to the environmental challenges we face. CAT supports wind power as a means of generating renewable electricity. Given the reality of diminishing fossil fuel resources and the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change, we believe that the UK should reduce and eventually stop the use of fossil fuels as soon as possible.
In our Zero Carbon Britain 2030 report (www.zcb2030.org) we have outlined how the whole of the UK can be powered using renewable sources. Wind power, both on- and offshore, is the biggest single potential source of renewable energy available in the UK in the short- or medium term. The UK enjoys an enormous wind resource that is proven, cost efficient and infinite.
The UK is the windiest country in Europe, so much so that we could power our country several times over using this free fuel. A modern 2.5MW turbine at a reasonable site will generate 6.5 million units of electricity each year, enough to meet the annual needs of over 1,400 households, make 230 million cups of tea or run a computer for 2,250 years.
Wind turbines do have an impact on the local environment where they are built, and for some people they “spoil the view”. But change is coming whether we like it or not- given that we will not simply stop consuming energy, we will need to accept some form of power generation technology. Compared to the devastating effects associated with the use of fossil fuels and nuclear power, renewable energy is the best option in the UK, wind power has an enormous role to play within that energy mix.
The UK has enormous potential to take a lead in renewable energy generation, bringing benefits to the economy and providing many needed jobs. Wind power could deliver more jobs and more income for local people than it currently does. This can be achieved through encouraging community ownership of wind turbines and a UK manufacturing industry. In this way, we can generate a sustainable source of income from the sale of electricity and well paid permanent qualified jobs.
Opposing this technology without suggesting alternative means of power generation that don’t just offload the negative impact on people in other countries (as with climate change) or future generations (as with nuclear) is irresponsible. We must take action now and avoid committing future generations to years of climate, energy and economic insecurity
CAT is pleased to be hosting The Future for Renewable Energy in Wales conference on the 17th of October 2011 for further information on the conference please check out the Renewable Wales Network website
This article is an edited version of one that appears in the Public Service Review