Fossils fuel anti-wind lobby - 14th June 2012

The UK is the windiest country in Europe, and it’s not just politicians that generate all that hot air. In fact, if we set our minds to it, we could harness the power of the wind to drive the whole country without needing gas, coal, or any of the fossil fuels we rely on at the moment.
 
Even more crucially, to meet the government’s renewable energy targets, we will have to make better use of renewable energy, whether that comes from the wind, sun, or making electricity from food waste. And since Japan and Germany have pledged to abandon nuclear power, there’s even more demand for the limited fossil fuels available, and a good chance that prices will go up. So finding a solution – before we have to – makes economic sense as well as being good for the environment.
 
Of course, not everyone think the same way; Some organisations, the newly-formed National Opposition to Windfarms, or NOW, for example, claims that wind farms actually damage the environment by destroying habitats. Others, such as the RSPB, argue that the greatest long-term threat to birds and wildlife is climate change, so cutting CO2 emissions by switching to renewables is the right way forward. The RSPB even goes so far as to say that wind power – carefully sited and managed – is the most advanced renewable technology available, so we should be doing as much as we can to support growth. And if a recent RenewableUK poll is right, most of us agree. Apparently, 66% of people in the UK are behind the development of more wind power.
 
So why are some people so opposed to wind turbines? It seems that for many, it’s simply the appearance they don’t like; instead of being inspired by the sight of a battalion of turbines resolutely powering its way with the elements, they see a technological eyesore. Personally, I think they are much more attractive than a traditional power station and actually enhance the landscape – we’re all used to pylons, so what’s the problem with a turbine that gives us clean, green energy?
 
Another common argument against is that since a lot of offshore wind companies are based overseas, they won’t be good for our economy. This goes against evidence proving that the number of people employed in the UK’s offshore sector has grown from 700 to 3,200 in just four years. A recent report by the Renewable Energy Association shows that the renewables sector already employs 110,000 people, with an extra 400,000 needed to meet government targets by 2020.
 
And then there’s efficiency. Opponents say that wind is an unreliable energy source – because it can’t be stored, we can’t count on it to be available when needed. However, this may not be the case for long. In the US, ground-breaking work has resulted in a technique to enable storage, and the state of California has even passed legislation requiring utilities companies to integrate storage into their facilities.
 
So with a bit of luck, more renewable power will soon be plugged into the mainstream, helping us power-crazy folk live our lives in a more resource efficient way. And the nay-sayers? Maybe they need a short sharp shock to see the light.

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