UK gov greenlights 450MW wind farm
Ready to scare Don Quixote by 2013
UK energy minister Malcolm Wicks (who did a brief turn as science minister just before Mr. Blair
got his eviction notice from No. 11 stepped down) has given his blessing for a 450MW wind farm to be built off the coast of Cumbria, 14km from Walney Island. Wicks also gave the nod to the overhead connection line that will link a planned 1000MW wind farm in the Thames Estuary to an onshore substation in Kent.
The Cumbria wind farm is expected to have between 93 and 152 turbines, according to the government announcement. By the time it is completed in 2013, it will generate enough clean energy for approximately 360,000 homes.
Wicks says the news proves that the government is committed to renewable energy, despite recent leaks suggesting that its commitment is less than ironclad. "Actions do speak louder than words," he said in a statement.
The leaked report set out ministerial plans to persuade Eurocrats to let us off our pledge to switch to 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020.
The British Wind Energy Association, a lobby group representing the much of the UK's renewable energy industry, said that the leaked information is "threatening to destabilise the pioneering EU targets for 2020". It qualified its criticism, though, saying that it was ready to judge the government on its actions, rather than on speculation and leaked reports. ®
Closing the mouth of Morecambe Bay
Yet another nail in the coffin for the wildlife of Morecambe Bay. With the existing Barrow Windfarm, this Walney one, the Shell Flats site recently approved off Cleveleys, the pending Ormonde and West Duddon wind farm projects, and the exisitng gas rigs, there will effectively be a fence across the mouth of Morecambe Bay creating a serious barrier for migrating seabirds. Morecambe Bay is an internationally recognised RAMSAR site for wildlife, yet the goverment appears to be prepared to allow it to be seriously degraded by allowing these developments.
A paltry 450MW?
450MW is less than the output of one coal fired generator (i.e. < 1/4 of one power station). I totally agree that we need to move to clean and renewable forms of energy, but wind hasn't really been harnessed very well yet.
It takes up huge amounts of space and doesn't make that much electricity. It's also expensive.
The thing to remember is you will always get a lot less energy out of a generator than you put in. Coal runs around 30% efficient if you are *very* lucky, gas is a bit better. Unless you can find an energy source that has a least 3 times the energy in it that we can extract in some form than we need, then we're going to have a problem.
Cutting energy usage will probably have to be the priority for now until we get hydrogen based technologies working.
The electricity system in this country can cope with 20% of it's generation from wind. After that we need to think about storage, smart electricity systems etc. Currently we are at less than 1%.