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Science
COSTING THE EARTH
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Thursday 21:00-21:30
Costing the Earth tells stories which touch all our lives, looking at man's effect on the environment and at how the environment reacts. It questions accepted truths, challenges the people in charge and reports on progress towards improving the world we live in.
Contact Costing the Earth
LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 30 August 
PRESENTER
MIRIAM O'REILLY
Miriam O'Reilly
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Thursday 30 August  2007
Wind turbine
Wind turbine

Wind Rush

Wind power is the fastest growing renewable energy sector in Britain. The government is investing massive amounts of money in its future. But experts interviewed on Costing the Earth claim the power of the wind to deliver electricity is being overestimated by companies keen to cash in on big subsidies.
In order to fight climate change we have meet targets set by the EU which wants 20% of our energy to come from renewable sources like the wind by 2020. The government has admitted its struggling, but says it is determined to meet its obligations. Companies which hit green energy targets are rewarded under the government’s Renewables Obligation Certificate Scheme or ROCs.
On paper wind power is a great proposition. We are the windiest nation in Europe – but despite the government having subsidised the wind industry to the tune of half a billion pounds so far - as yet its failed to deliver half of one per cent of our electricity needs.
Michael Jefferson Policies Chairman of the World Renewable Energy Network and former Chief Economist with Shell believes the industry is encouraged to exaggerate not only wind speeds but the amount of potential wind energy a farm can supply. He worries there are many badly sited poorly performing wind farms in England.
Engineering consultant Jim Oswald has analysed the figures submitted to the electricity watchdog Ofgem on every wind farm's load factor - the amount of wind generated across the year. The recommended load factor for a viable and efficient wind development is 30%, but he says the average across Britain is 28%. He says the problem lies with the volatility of the wind and although Britain is the windiest country in Europe, it’s not consistently windy enough to generate a regular energy supply. Sometimes we have high winds and often no wind at all and there is no way of storing wind energy. He also says that many wind farms are being built in places where there will never be sufficient wind power to generate enough electricity. He has serious concerns that with no long term strategy for upgrading our electricity infrastructure over the next decade an over reliance on wind power could result in major power failures and increase our electricity bills by up to 50%.



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