Windfarm study suggests we should DOUBLE the size of turbines to 1,000ft in diameter for improved efficiency
The vast wind turbines peppering the countryside have sparked controversy and outrage from those who say they are ruining the views across England’s green and pleasant land.
But in a study that could solidify the trend toward construction of ever-more gigantic windmills, scientists have concluded that the larger the wind turbine, the greener the electricity it produces.
They propose that the size of wind turbines should be doubled to almost 1,000ft diameter to take the most advantage of this economy of scale and help move the world to a greener energy standard.
Wind energy provides almost 2 per cent of global electricity worldwide, a figure expected to approach 10 per cent by 2020. The size of the turbines also is increasing.
One study shows that the average size of commercial turbines has grown 10-fold in the last 30 years, from diameters of 50ft in 1980 to nearly 500ft today.
With the size of the turbines growing every year, Swiss and Dutch researchers looked at whether building larger turbines makes wind energy more or less environmentally friendly.
Their study, published in ACS’s journal Environmental Science & Technology, showed that bigger turbines do produce greener electricity – for two main reasons.
First, manufacturers now have the knowledge, experience and technology to build big wind turbines with great efficiency.
Second, advanced materials and designs permit the efficient construction of large turbine blades that harness more wind without proportional increases in their mass or the masses of the tower and the nacelle that houses the generator.
That means more clean power without large increases in the amount of material needed for construction or fuel needed for transportation.
The findings come as UK ministers say taxpayers could stop subsidising onshore wind farms and solar power providers by the end of the decade.
Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Letwin confirmed that financial support – currently worth around £400million – will have ‘disappeared’ by 2020.
George Osborne is believed to be arguing for a 25 per cent cut in renewable energy subsidies. But Mr Letwin revealed in an email to a campaigner that the cut could go much further.
‘I anticipate subsidies… will come down to zero over the next few years and should have disappeared by 2020, since these forms of energy are gradually becoming economic without the need for subsidies,’ he told Terry Stewart, president of the Dorset branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.
Mr Stewart, who had written to Mr Letwin – his MP – to complain about plans for 160 wind turbines in Dorset, said: ‘The subsidy for wind turbines is iniquitous – it is a stealth tax.
‘It is being paid out to rich land owners and foreign energy companies and developers.’ Electricity companies have to pay twice the market price for energy from onshore wind farms.
This is then passed on through higher bills. There are currently more than 3,000 onshore wind turbines in Britain, with another 4,500 expected to be erected.
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