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Green Corner


 

 

 

An A-Z of the environment & issues

by Peter Hatswell

 

 

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W  X  Y  Z

 

W is for Wind power

Used for centuries before and since the Industrial Revolution, wind power has provided man with sustainable carbon-free energy for grinding corn, pumping water and most recently electrical power.

 

Renewable energy from wind farm sourceOf the few disadvantages of electrical wind generators, the first is that the best winds are often found in the least inhabited parts of a country, needing long transmission lines to feed into the national grid and secondly, the visual aspect of wind farms on familiar and beautiful natural landscapes.

 

 

Dunstable in its position on the north west slopes of the Chiltern Hills has favourable resources from the prevailing westerly winds and the high population density make wind turbines in this area worthy of consideration. Earlier this month, a local authority granted planning permission for a wind farm north of Milton Keynes where the only significant objections concerned the visual impact. Some people however believe that the turbines are elegant structures and are happy for them to be built to avoid the burning of coal, oil and gas in traditional power stations. We know that the latter are one of the major sources of global warming gases.

Some enterprising souls have even attached micro wind turbines to their houses with mixed success mostly due to an underestimation of wind strength in built-up areas. However any device that reduces power from fossil fuels particularly in conjunction with solar panels is to be commended.

Our own Government has been particularly slow in accepting the need for sustainable energy production forcing the development and manufacture of wind turbines and solar panels abroad instead of supporting our own industry. Grants to householders for micro generating systems have been slashed from 50% to about 12% whilst support for national power generators and nuclear solutions has increased. The recent announcements that all government sponsored projects must have a carbon impact cost factored into the overall cost is good news. As long as these carbon costs are consistent with findings of the Stern Report (which looked at the costs of damage repair and limitation if insufficient climate control measures were undertaken) many environmentally unfriendly projects could be dropped or substituted by more sustainable solutions.

Wind power is here to stay and for ordinary individuals there are many investment opportunities in co-operative wind farm schemes throughout the country. Home-grown carbon free electricity already enjoys a premium price over power from traditional sources which increasingly relies on the vagaries of foreign fuel suppliers and world prices for fuel.

 

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