The UK's position in the world makes it one of the best locations for using renewable energy – we certainly get wind and occasionally some sun! In fact, in Europe, we get the most suitable weather for renewable energy systems to work.
The most common way of getting energy from the wind is through setting up 'Wind farms'. The first wind farm was set up in November 1991. In 2007, approximately 1.5% of UK electricity was generated by wind power (with a total of around 4.5% of UK electricity coming from all renewable sources. As of May 1 2009 there are 211 operational wind farms in the UK, with 2,434 turbines and 3,391 MW of installed capacity.
When they were first introduced wind farms were very expensive form of energy, however over the years, initial costs have fallen, and therefore the cost of getting electricity from the wind has dropped considerably.
The UK government, along with others around the globe have introduced initiatives and proposals to ensure more of our energy comes from renewable energy. The 2009 UK Budget included a significant boost for offshore wind power that could amount to £525m between 2011 and 2014. Fears had previously been expressed that large projects would be abandoned or mothballed because of the difficulties in raising finance. While the ground on which the turbines are positioned can still be used for agricultural purposes.
Wind power enables electricity to be produced in an environmentally friendly way – the turbines don't produce chemical or radioactive emissions. While the ground on which the turbines are positioned can still be used for agricultural purposes. If the turbines need to be taken down, there is no damage to the environment and no residues are left behind.
However there are concerns from some people who are worried about wind farms being positioned in their area. The main worries are that they ruin the landscape – because they generally have to be positioned on hills to get the maximum benefits of the wind.
Wind farms can also be costly to maintain and electricity produced by this method is more expensive than that produced by other means. There are arguments put forth that the money would be better put into energy conservation. The noise generated from turbines has also been criticised by some people who live very close to the wind farms.
Certainly the number of wind farms in the UK is steadily increasing and as the industry grows, prices of generating electricity in this way should fall. In 2008 the UK became the country with the most offshore wind capacity, overtaking Denmark.
If the turbines need to be taken down, there is no damage to the environment and no residues are left behind.
With the passage of the EU Energy Directive in 2009 the UK Government agreed to an overall target of generating 15% of its energy supply from renewable sources by 2020. It is estimated that over 12,000 wind farms would be needed to make this goal achievable. The British Wind Energy Association estimates that this will require an ambitious 35-40% of the UK’s electricity to be generated from renewable sources by that date.
Alternative energy sources: