Onshore Wind Debate. Some key points for consideration (Summer 2011)
Along with all European Union nations, the UK has a renewable energy target for 2020. The target across the EU is 20%, but the UK has been set a 15% target in acknowledgement of the fact that we have a considerable amount of ‘catching up’ to do. These are not ‘targets for targets sake’: they represent a very real need to reduce our reliance on fossil-fuel-based energy sources – for a whole variety of reasons, not just because of concerns about climate change.
The UK government has produced a strategy for meeting the 15% target. In it, both onshore and offshore wind power play a leading role. We have little hope of getting anywhere near the target without the contribution of wind towards electricity generation.
Onshore wind will need to supply approximately 9% of all electrical energy by 2020 (app. 35,000 GWh — Gigawatt hours —per year). This will require somewhere in the region of 14GW of installed capacity. We currently have around 4GW of installed capacity. So the challenge is to increase capacity by about 10GW over the next 8 or 9 years. It is in everyone’s long term interests to meet this challenge.
Despite the 14GW onshore wind requirement, we will not end up with wind turbines ‘everywhere’ as some claim. A report published by the RSPB called ‘Scotland’s Renewable Future’ is illustrative. In it, the number of wind turbines required to meet the more-demanding Scottish Executive’s 2020 renewable energy target (then 40%) is considered. The conclusion reached is that “even after avoiding environmentally and culturally sensitive areas (estimated to cover 60% of the Scottish land area) and MoD low-fly zones (26% of land area) there is ample opportunity to achieve this level of development.”
Across the UK, the RSPB has scrutinised hundreds of wind farm applications. It has only objected to about 7% as being unsuitably located.
The latest information available from DUKES (Digest of UK Energy Statistics) show onshore wind producing 7,564GWh in 2009, and offshore wind 1,740GWh. The total, 9,304GWh, is less than 3% of overall electricity supply. It is therefore totally misleading to try and compare the UK situation with countries such as Denmark where the figure for electrical energy from wind is about 20%. Nor is it true that Denmark has stopped developing wind farms.
From extensive public engagement, yes2wind can confirm what many surveys and reports have shown...that the majority of people look favourably on wind farm developments, both aesthetically and as a source of energy.
The SDC report on domestic energy bills shows the cost to the ‘average’ household of the Renewables Obligation Scheme as rising by about £1 per year from 2002 to 2007. In 2007 the figure was about £9.00. This covers ALL renewable generation, not just wind.
yes2wind calculations put the 2010 figure slightly higher than the SDC, at about £17.00 (about £6.00 of this is attributable to onshore wind).
Wind turbine proximity to properties is restricted by the need to comply with strict noise control planning requirements (ETSU-R-97). Turbines are only very rarely closer than 650 to 750m.