“Wind power makes more environmental and financial sense than gas as our source of energy”. This is the claim made by a recent report by Cambridge Econometrics for RenewableUK, the report puts forth that installing more wind turbines will make the UK’s energy market more resilient to the unpredictable nature of fossil fuel prices.
With current domestic gas and coal supplies continually deteriorating the UK is being forced to make a choice: become more reliable upon volatile imports or introduce more diversity into the UK’s energy mix.
The UK is highly recognised as having the highest potential of wind energy within Europe, yet it often remains unutilised and excluded from the energy mix. Sophie Billington, co-author of this report, argues that using a higher content of wind energy within the UK will allow for a move away from fossil fuels, “this is a key message, particularly when you consider that the UK- for the past five years or so- has imported more gas than it has produced domestically”.
Billington went on to say that if the UK became heavily dependent on gas and there was a 40% increase in gas prices, electricity prices would soar by 8%. However if the same dependency were upon wind electricity prices would increase by only 4%. This substantial difference displays that whilst wind energy may have higher upfront fixed costs; the variable (unpredictable) costs after this are much lower than gas, meaning wind energy allows for “more price resilience”.
In addition to the improved stability it could provide to UK electricity prices, a recent report by Oceana, an environmental advocacy group, has stated that building wind farms on the Eastern coast of America could generate more energy than the oil and gas reserves in the Atlantic Ocean within just 13 years. Furthermore it predicts that offshore wind could create over 91,000 more jobs than offshore drilling when compared over the next twenty years.
With the oil industry under stress recently, it could be time that the UK looks to sources of energy for help, and with the estimations made about the financial, environmental and social benefits of wind farms it is somewhat hard to argue this as a worthwhile investment.
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