Stretching over an area of 430 square miles, the wind farm project planned for Dogger Bank off the coast of Yorkshire is set to be the biggest in the world, with a capacity of 2,400 MW and the potential to provide power for some two million homes in the UK. The £8 billion project has just been given the green light and reinforces the government’s current commitment to wind power, at least when it is installed off shore.
In the last four years, the UK has invested nearly £15 billion in the wind power industry, not only creating thousands of jobs for local workers but also producing plenty of electricity for the UK that reduces our reliance on harmful fossil fuels and makes us more energy independent. The project is utilising the shallow waters out on Dogger Bank which should make it far easier to lay foundations and the installation is set to be the furthest constructed out from the mainland in the UK.
According to RenewableUK: “It is a project that pushes the offshore engineering envelope, demonstrating how far this technology has evolved in the 10 short years since the first major offshore windfarm was installed in North Hoyle just five miles from shore.”
Investing in our coastal towns
Despite those who have rallied against wind power in the recent past, including some of our more prominent media outlets, the industry still seems to be thriving particularly off shore where several major installations have been undertaken in the past ten to fifteen years. The surprise for many people is that, not only is wind adding valuable clean energy to the grid, it is also helping to create investment in our coastal towns and cities by another route.
The reason is The Coastal Community Fund which receives a good portion of its money from leasing out offshore land which belongs to the state to wind farm companies. That money is currently being used to refurbish areas like Blackpool and Cornwall and is an example of the renewables industry putting more back into the community through more indirect means than producing clean electricity.
The public backs wind farms
Whilst politicians and those with a vested interest in other fuel sources might get their voices heard more often in the media, recent polls suggest that the UK public are far more in favour of wind farms than some of the debate in past years might have suggested. This could have an effect on the future development of onshore wind farms which have come under attack over the last year or so. According to PM David Cameron last year on shore wind farms had to be curtailed as ‘enough was enough’. They were a blot on the landscape and people didn’t want them.
However, a recent survey of 2,000 households found that the majority of people are in favour of wind farms and see them as an integral part of the UK’s energy future. In contrast, support for initiatives such as fracking remains in the low 20% with many concerned about its effect on the environment. According to Gordon Edge at Renewable UK: “It’s so hard to understand why the Conservative Party is turning its back on onshore wind, threatening to kill off the industry if it wins the next election. Independent polls show that David Cameron is totally wrong to claim that people are ‘fed up’ with onshore wind – they show the reverse is actually true, and that being anti-wind is a net vote loser.”
The amount of power wind produces
The truth is that with our weather conditions, the UK is one of the best places to put up renewable technologies such as wind turbines. According to the New Scientist the contribution of all renewables to the UK’s energy production has increased significantly over the last four years (from 6.8% in 2010 to 14.9% in 2013) and is set to overhaul nuclear in the near future. A large part of that contribution has come from wind power and an installation like the one at Dogger Bank is set to improve the offshore contribution by a further two thirds.
2014 was a pretty good year for turbines with the National Grid statistics confirming that wind power generation jumped by 15%, providing enough power to feed into over 6 million homes in the UK. That is set to increase over the next few years and should see wind as the major large scale renewable energy source in the country for some time to come, even with the recent push towards a solar rooftop agenda.
Despite numerous articles in the media in past years saying that wind farms are either ‘milking us of trillions of pounds’, not producing enough electricity, or destroying the indigenous wildlife, it seems the majority of us are happy to have the technology and believe it makes a real contribution to lowering our carbon emissions and making us more energy independent.
You can find out more about how wind turbines work on our main website.