Common Concerns about Wind Power

The British government is committed to meeting its obligation to get 15% of our energy from renewable sources by 2020 under European agreements. While recognizing that saving energy and using energy more efficiently should be the top priorities, there are arguments for and against all forms of energy generation.

Hampshire Energy Group is committed to promoting the community ownership of renewable energy – including wind energy – on appropriate sites in the County.

There are many evidence-based analyses and academic studies of the social, environmental and economic aspects of wind power. These are summarized in ‘Common Concerns about Wind Power’, published by the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE); and available here:
http://www.cse.org.uk/downloads/file/common_concerns_about_wind_power.pdf

Some key quotations from this publication follow:
‘The average wind farm is expected to generate at least 20-25 times the energy required in its manufacture and installation over its lifetime’.

‘All forms of large-scale [energy] generation –whether low carbon or conventional – receive some kind of state support…The evidence demonstrates that wind energy is already competitive with conventional electricity generation over the lifetime of the plant. Fossil fuel prices are set to increase .the relative price of wind energy is likely to become even cheaper’.

‘Wind power is an efficient way to generate electricity, employing a free energy source that is also renewable’.

‘The UK continues to offer the best wind resource in Europe’.

‘Wind power is an intermittent source of energy when focusing on isolated sites…[but] the resilience of a distributed network of wind turbines can…be considered superior to large conventional plants that may go offline without warning…(nuclear plants must shutdown completely if there is a serious fault)’.

‘Onshore wind is currently the cheapest way for the UK to meet its legally binding commitments to cut CO2 emissions’.

‘The nuclear power industry in the UK and abroad has been traditionally beset with problems involving the start-up, operation and decommissioning of nuclear plants, resulting in economic inefficiency and threats to public health. The long start up time required to make a nuclear power station operational means that nuclear power is irrelevant to the UK’s target to cut CO2 emissions by 2020.’

‘There is compelling evidence that most residents who come into contact with them on a regular basis do not find the presence of wind farms objectionable. Provided the benefits to both the community and wider society are properly explained and taken on board, most people display a surprisingly unselfish view of the need for such installations’.

‘In recent years, estate agents and surveyors have begun to accept that data on house purchases clearly show there is no lowering of house prices caused by wind turbines’.
‘The wind energy industry has one of the best safety records of any energy industry’.

‘Detailed guidelines form part of UK planning regulations to prevent undue noise pollution. These, coupled with the quieter design of modern turbines, mean that the noise levels generated by wind farms are comparable to outdoor background noise… It is up to the wind energy industry and its supporters to be honest about any noise concerns local residents might have, and to work with them to minimize these affects within the framework of the planning regulations (designed for exactly this purpose)’.

Wind Power in the UK
Another authoritative source of information about wind energy – though now eight years old – is the Sustainable Development Commission report, Wind Power in the UK available here:
http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/data/files/publications/Wind_Energy-NovRev2005.pdf

Onshore Wind Energy
The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, has made a rigorous analysis of the most up-to-date evidence about onshore wind energy and concludes that wind ‘is currently the cheapest renewable technology in the UK, but it raises potential local environmental issues, and, as such, more expensive renewable technologies may be more attractive’. However in its policy brief The case for and against onshore wind energy in the UK, June 2012, available here:
http://www2.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/publications/Policy/docs/PB-onshore-wind-energy-UK.pdf

The Grantham Research Institute concludes that ‘onshore wind clearly has a role to play in the UK’s future energy mix’.

Conclusion
The Hampshire Energy Group (HEG) shares the views – expressed in Common Concerns about Wind Power – that ‘the increasing presence of wind farms across the country means that communities everywhere will need to address the issues surrounding wind power’ and that ‘keen proponents of wind power are sometimes too quick to dismiss any problems raised’.

The Group takes the view that – provided that real community benefits flow from the proposed wind farm – the overall balance of the arguments for and against the construction of 14 large turbines at Bullington Cross comes down in favour of developing a wind farm on that site.

HEG wants to see EDF Energy Renewables making available substantial funds for annual investment in the local parishes through a local Trust Fund, and a high degree of community ownership of the turbines. HEG is in negotiation with EDF Energy Renewables to achieve these objectives.

 

Photo Credit: Sheila Peacock