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Pondering the future of the wind power industry in the UK

WRITTEN BY DAVID TAYLOR.

Climate change is a very serious issue, and it was only recently that Prime Minster David Cameron said he believed man-made climate change to be ‘one of the most serious threats that this country and this world faces’. It is, therefore, no surprise, that there is increasing focus on a planet-wide push for greener energy. 

The Energy Minster Greg Barker announced last year that he wants a decentralised power to the people – not just a few exemplars, buts tens of thousands. He wants us all to do more to integrate new policies that help families produce their own renewable electricity. 

It is bold statements like this that leave us in no doubt that the renewable industry as a whole is gaining both support and momentum, but there’s still a way to go.

Despite the rhetoric from the Ministers we have just seen a substantial cut in the Feed in Tariff rate for wind turbines up to 15kw – those which largely serve the rural, domestic, farm, school and small business-based sector, where a combination of the Feed-In Tariff and renewable energy supply bring affordable energy independence to thousands.

So I suppose one must ask the question: Why are we penalising those very people trying to reduce their energy costs and make a contribution against climate change? Perhaps more importantly: What’s the alternative?

We have recently been privy to the second of three publications by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and it is one of the most comprehensive investigations into the impact of climate change ever undertaken.

The report is somewhat distressing. Specifically, it states that a global mean temperature increase of 2.5°C above pre industrial levels could lead to global aggregate economic losses of between 0.2-2%; put simply, a 2% reduction would wipe $1.4 trn off the world’s economic output. 

The evidence is there: farm scale wind energy is still a great investment on many levels. Small wind is a manufacturing success story, and the UK is one of the windiest countries in Europe, and domestic energy prices look set to rise.

Turbines are designed to capture wind and, unlike most conventional power plants, they do not pollute. 2014 to date has been blighted by floods and extreme weather, and evidence suggests that carbon dioxide is at its highest level for 800,000 years.

Capturing wind energy is one of the key ways in which we can work to reduce dependence on traditional energy sources. In doing so, we will see more manageable energy costs for all, a boost in the de-carbonising process, and ultimately a reversal in the impact of climate change. It’s a solution that I firmly believe will continue to build momentum as more people are educated on turbines.

Across the sector, manufacturers have been working to improve efficiency, lifespan and raise production levels so that Feed-in-Tariff support will be an increasingly smaller part of the equation.

It’s right that as more farm size turbines are installed support is scaled back, but cutting investment now will put British manufacturers out of business and make it hard for farmers and communities to generate their own electricity. To that end, we need to collectively nurture this investment.

The wind energy industry is working hard to raise awareness of the importance of Farm Scale energy, and to ensure that more proportionate-planning requirements which recognise the difference between farm scale turbines are put in place.

We all need to wake up to the current situation, and work together to ensure the future of this industry, and the environmental wellbeing of this country and abroad. ♦

David Taylor, is business development manager at renewable energy distributor UFW, part of DCC New Energy the Renewable Energy division of DCC Energy.

Posted 28/05/2014 by Reg Tucker

Tagged under: wind power , UK

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