Britain today becomes the seventh country in the world to install more than 2,000 megawatts of wind power capacity when Alastair Darling, the Trade Secretary, opens a new turbine outside Stirling.
Two gigawatts, or 2,000 megawatts, of wind power will generate sufficient electricity to meet the needs of 1.1 million households ““ 4 per cent of British homes, or a third of homes in London, or almost half the homes in Scotland.
The 36 turbine, 72 megawatt, wind farm at Braes of Doune takes Britain past “a significant milestone” according to the British Wind Energy Association.
First for wind power in the world now is Germany, with more than ten times Britain’s capacity. Then comes Spain, with 11,615 mw and the United States with 11,273 mw. Britain now ranks below Italy and above the Netherlands.
When it installed its first 1000 megawatts, Britain was sixth in the world, but has since been pipped by Italy.
It took 14 years to reach 1000 megawatts of wind following the construction of the UK’s first commercial wind farm, Delabole in Cornwall in 1991.
The second megawatt of capacity has been installed in 20 months and there are now 137 wind farms in Britain.
It is still unclear whether the wind industry will meet the Government’s target for 10 per cent of electricity supplies from renewables by 2007.
The industry said yesterday that nearly 8 gigawatts of is still caught in the planning system from onshore wind projects alone.
Critics of wind power say that there is almost certainly a limit for the amount of wind energy that Britain can install without destabilising the national grid, since wind power is variable.
Studies have linked the variability of wind power with a massive grid disturbance which put lights out in 15 million households across Europe on Nov 4 last year.
By Charles Clover, Environment Editor
9 February 2007
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