Tilting at Windmills

By Email author - Thu, 20 Oct 2011 10:31:00 GMT
Tilting at Windmills

UK wind farm via Shutterstock

I suppose it must be a good twenty years since the first of the "new generation" windmills first graced England's green and pleasant land. If I remember rightly, the first wind farm that I saw was on the way to my in-laws' home in Cornwall, at Carland Cross. When I first saw these beasts, I must say that I caught myself uncharacteristically thinking the thought "cool" to myself. They were quite a striking sight in the early years of the nineties; tall elegant structures that kicked out electrical energy.

Carland Cross has been in production,

when the wind blows, since 1992 with fifteen 400 Watt generators on the site. Plans are afoot to see these replaced (presumably in an environmentally sympathetic manner, of course) with ten newer, larger machines, each of which will have a capacity of 2MW. Fewer, bigger turbines, in this day and age, have met with local opposition this time around.

Currently, the UK has 5.2 GW of wind turbine produced power, making the UK the world's 8th largest generator of wind producer power with 283 wind farms playing home to something like 3150 individual turbines. The UK nuclear power production capacity is about 10.7 GW of electrical power, but that is based on 18 centres of production and works whether the weather looks kindly upon the venture or not.

Wind turbine on a wind farm in Scotland

Wind turbine on a wind farm in Scotland via Shutterstock

It is inconceivable that planning permission would be granted for three hundred power plants to be scattered across Britain's most beautiful vistas, but, somehow, this does not seem to be a concern when one talks of "clean" energy.

Whereas I used to find these "tokens" to a cleaner, nicer age as a welcome site, I now find them to be obtrusive "get rich quick" schemes that seem to have been popping up all over continental Europe like a bad case of acne. To my irritation, they often are not producing power when the wind blows and even when going at full tilt, a small minority always seem to sit recalcitrant on the sidelines refusing to budge (God forbid that "free, clean" energy should actually cause your energy bill to drop, of course!).

I remember driving around one of the Canary Islands; enjoying the marvellous sun and the stunning scenery as we climbed the spiny back-bone of the island only to be greeted with a ridge-line adorned with bloody windmills - at last I finally understand how Don Quixote must have felt.

Green Opinion is an Earth Times Blog; The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author

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Topics: Renewable Energy / Wind Energy