Visions of the future or blots on the landscape?
Wind farms are guaranteed to start a debate; as a nation our views are mixed. Whether you regard them as beautiful additions to the landscape, as unwanted eyesores spoiling the countryside, or as important tools in a sustainable future, they are almost certainly here to stay. While some argue that their contributions in terms of energy are relatively small, others claim they are an important step in the right direction.
Undoubtedly, many people would rather see them located offshore and Britain is luckily well placed to do that. We are surrounded by seas and we are believed to be the windiest country in Europe. We already produce about 40% of Europe’s wind generated power from offshore turbines.
In the UK, the three main sources of renewable energy are biomass, wind and hydropower. In 2007, wind energy overtook hydropower as an energy source, 16 years after the first turbine was installed. The fact that wind energy currently contributes only around 7% of the UK’s electricity supply shows just how much we have to do to reach our 15% renewable energy target by 2020.
Since much of Britain’s global warming gas emissions into the atmosphere come from energy in the home, at work or in industry and transport, the target is important.
Make a difference
As individuals we sometimes feel that our contribution to a more sustainable future is too small to make a difference. But if we all do something it soon adds up to have a real impact. Simple actions like recycling, not wasting electricity, improving insulation in our houses, and driving fuel efficient cars can also save us money too.
Some people are going even further and generating their own electricity from wind turbines, from underground heat exchange in their gardens and from solar panels on their roofs.