The North-east countryside could be “hijacked” to help meet renewable energy targets, an expert has warned.
Ecologist Dr John Etherington said the Government would require armies of turbines – and that the open spaces of the North-east could be a prime site.
He said: “Rural land is being hijacked as the renewable power generating areas for the cities and big towns.
“Your countryside could become an electricity generating ground for local urban areas and also add to Scotland’s already large export of electricity to the south.”
The UK Government wants 10% of electricity to come from renewables by 2010, rising to 20% by 2020.
Dr Etherington said: “Most of this will have to be met by windpower, as hydroelectricity and bio-fuelling are already near practicable limits and almost nothing is yet produced from tidal, wave and solar resources.”
But he warned that because the wind does not always blow hard, turbines produce on average a third of their potential power.
The 20 78-metre turbines at the Glens of Foudland near Huntly are rated at 1.3 megawatts each.
Meeting the 2010 UK renewable energy target – about 14,000 megawatts – would require almost 11,000 of these turbines across the country.
Dr Etherington said: “If wind power is failing to supply much electricity, or help with the CO2 problem, how can it be financially viable?
“It isn’t – but suppliers are required by Government to buy a percentage of renewably-generated electricity and a huge subsidy is paid for it.”
But the British Wind Energy Association predicts that around 2,000 “larger machines” will be enough to meet demands by 2010 and that the “majority of the growth” after that will be at sea.
BWEA’s director of economics and markets Dr Gordon Edge said: “By 2020 the UK should have about as much onshore wind power capacity as is currently installed in Spain – about 6,000 turbines – and that country is looking to double that by 2010.
“So countries can and do accept the level of build we are expecting without major public objection.”
3 August 2007
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