Far from being widely embraced as the green energy source of the future, wind power has experienced more than its fair share of criticism as wind farms have become more common place across the UK. Many of the critics regard wind farms to be destructive to the landscape, expensive and inefficient in providing power. The latter of these has recently been subject to review after last week it was announced that wind power had exceeded nuclear power by over 1%, and experienced record power generation of 6,372 MW a few days prior.
This occurrence has been put down to faults at nuclear plants in addition to unusually high winds, and whilst it was only a temporary situation it does cause reason to reconsider the role of wind in diversifying the UK’s energy sources. Whilst there are currently over 4,500 onshore turbines and 1,075 offshore (making the UK the world leader in offshore wind turbines), wind has often been overlooked as a strong contender to the UK’s energy provision. With wind overtaking nuclear power for the first time could it be time that wind energy is reconsidered in its contribution to the UK energy mix?
A recent report published by the Adam Smith Institute claims that whilst wind can offer strong input to our energy demands, due to fluctuations in wind energy we can never be fully reliant upon it. Nonetheless, as Jennifer Webber, director of External Affairs at Wind Industry Body Renewable UK, clearly identifies ‘all electricity sources provides varying amounts of energy over the year’ and whilst wind may experience more variation than say nuclear power, the fact that it provided over 5 million homes with power should ensure it is still strongly involved in the UK electricity mix.
Owen Paterson, former environment secretary, disregards this information claiming that wind energy is much too costly for the feeble amount of energy it provides. He suggests that wind farms should be abandoned and mini nuclear power plants should be constructed around the country instead, something which appears to be supported by the Conservative party who have vowed to end subsidies for Wind farms if elected in 2015.
Spokesperson for the current government has stated on several occasions that a diverse energy mix is essential to UK energy security. Rather than questioning the cost and inefficiency of wind farms, people should perhaps consider instead the fact that wind power did outstrip nuclear power last week, clearly demonstrating its potential to provide power in situations where other power sources are lacking.
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