The Answer is Probably Not Blowing In the Wind

Now that Mr Huhne has resigned as Energy and Climate Change Secretary, his successor, Mr Davey, will be tested by a growing feeling that we are spending too much on subsidising wind farms. The one hundred Conservative Members of Parliament who have written to the prime Minister to argue that wind farms are over subsidised in these difficult economic time are right. The intermittency of the energy that wind turbines produces and the lack of any possibility of storing surplus energy makes it difficult to justify the present wind farm programme.

Renewable energy is very important and the fact that these are hard times should not be a reason to reduce expenditure on renewable energy, because renewable energy goes to yje heart of protecting the future of our descendants. Wind turbine technology is very advanced and there are unlikely to be any significant design improvements, except perhaps design that will enable wind turbines to work in higher wind speeds.
There does need to be a great deal of research on environmentally safe methods of storing electricity, and to my mind much of the wind farm subsidy should be spent on such research, rather than on wind farms themselves at this stage. The answer to our renewable energy needs is not yet blowing in the wind or in any of the electricity based renewable.

I believe that we do need to spend money on renewable, but heat producing ones, like solar thermal – solar water heating and solar space heating. A programme for this would be less visually intrusive than onshore turbines, have no adverse effect of micro climate or bird and other ecological users, and certainly would not interfere with radio and television signals.

Onshore wind turbines are useful on small islands, where they may displace fossil fuel generators to an extent, but as grid feeding devices they represent poor value for money.

4 Responses

  1. A very good common sense appraisal of the situation. Wind energy is not the way to go.

    If you agree, please register your objection to the Government on

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22958

    or by googling “E-Petition 22958” and following the link.

    Also, please persuade your friends to sign up too.

    Many thanks.

  2. The method of storing electricity was solved in the 1970’s by Dinorwig power station, at a cost of around £500M and which is sited below the Marchlyn mawr reservoir. Surplus electricity is used to pump water up to the reservoir and when there is electricity demand water flows down through turbines. Of course one such power station isn’t enough but when we were a nuclear power we were going to build enough of them to enable the reactors to run continuously and store what wasn’t being used. Wind and solar generated electricity could be stored in the same way. All the necessary sites were identified in the 70’s too.

    Wouldn’t this be a far better use of a few £bilions than building HS2?

    • This system is a good system and about the only viable one. There are energy losses, but these always occur and don’t particularly matter if the energy is free and would otherwise be wasted. The problem is that (a) you do need to have mountains (b) if you flood open land you release masses of CO2 and that causes environmental damage but the advantages are particularly good when it comes to storing wind and PV electricity and it does also solve the problem of nuclear generating a steady flow of current which takes weeks to adjust.

      Certainly this would be a far better use of investment funds that HS2, but energy is never a pressing requirement for government until it runs out.

      Robert

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