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Could 2012 be year of the wind turbine?  

Credit:  By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent, The Telegraph, www.telegraph.co.uk 3 February 2012 ~~

Britain is building more wind turbines this year than ever before with almost 800 turbines due to start spinning across the countryside and around the coast over the next 12 months.

Some 478 turbines will be completed onshore, more than 70 per cent than last year, according to RenewableUK.

Around the coast 303 turbines will be brought online, more than doubling in one year the amount of electricity generated offshore by the UK.

The largest wind farm in the world, made up of more than 100 turbines off the coast of Cumbria in the Irish sea, was due to be opened by Chris Huhne, the Climate Change and Energy Secretary, next week.

However, following the Lib Dem minister’s resignation it is unclear who will now “cut the ribbon” to open Walney wind farm.

Already there are more than 3,500 turbines in Britain providing 6GW of electricity, enough to power 3.4 million homes for a year.

The Coalition Government remains committed to an ambitious programme of constructing wind farms, hoping to boost this number to up to 10,000 turbines onshore and 4,300 offshore by 2020.

Ministers insist that the drive for wind, that was championed by Labour in the last Government and taken up by the Lib Dems and Tories, is an opportunity to lead the world in an innovative new source of renewable power.

Internationally the UK is ahead of any other country in the world in terms of offshore wind, with both the US and China taking a close interest in how the industry develops.

However critics said the only reason so many wind turbines are being built in one year is to take advantage of subsidies before they are cut and the so-called “wind rush” is “a disaster in the making.”

They point out that because of the intermittent nature of wind, it has to be backed up by other technologies that can come on quickly like gas.

This means that more power stations will have to be built, to ensure that the UK has a steady supply of electricity.

The expense is further increased by the very nature of having to build huge 350ft structures in the some of the windiest spots around Britain. There are already concerns that the barges, skills and equipment needed are in short supply.

Subsides for wind and other renewables already add £52 per year to the average household electricity bill every year.

John Constable, Policy Director at the Renewable Energy Foundation, said the cost of subsidising wind and other renewables will make up a fifth of the average electricity bill by 2020, as well as adding to the cost of goods and services.

He said developers are rushing to put up wind turbines this year to take advantage of more generous subsidies before they are cut over the next five years.

“Planning permission isn’t nearly as big a problem for the wind industry as is sometimes claimed, and there is in fact a large backlog of unbuilt consents. With clear signs from the Treasury that the subsidies to wind will have to be cut significantly, investors are now rushing to get the already consented wind farms constructed before the guillotine starts to descend,” he said.

As well as the 3,358 turbines already built around Britain, there are more than 3,000 consented and more than 2,000 in planning.

The Government insists 60,000 jobs could be created in the offshore wind industry alone by 2020.

Rob Norris of Renewables UK, the lobby group for the wind industry, said Britain is taking advantage of its greatest natural resource by building turbines to harness the power around the coast and leading the technology worldwide.

He insisted that a ‘super grid’ across Europe will solve the problem of intermittentcy by allowing the UK to import renewable energy from other parts of the world and export our own power.

He pointed out that coal, gas and nuclear all received massive subsidies to get going but unlike those fossil fuels, wind provides runs off a free renewable source once it is up and running.

“Wind is not going to provide 100 per cent of our energy but it is going to be part of diverse portfolio of energy,” he said.

Source:  By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent, The Telegraph, www.telegraph.co.uk 3 February 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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