WIND FARM - Royal Geographical Society

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Visions of the future or blots on the landscape?
Wind farms are guaranteed to start a debate; as a nation our views are mixed.
Whether you regard them as beautiful additions to the landscape, as unwanted
eyesores spoiling the countryside, or as important tools in a sustainable future,
they are almost certainly here to stay. While some argue that their contributions
in terms of energy are relatively small, others claim they are an important step in
the right direction. Undoubtedly, many people would rather see them located
offshore and Britain is luckily well placed to do that.
We are surrounded by seas and we are believed to be the windiest country in
Europe. We already produce about 40% of Europe’s wind generated power from
offshore turbines.
Renewable energy In the UK, the three main sources of renewable energy are
biomass, wind and hydropower. In 2007, wind energy overtook hydropower as an
energy source, 16 years after the first turbine
was installed. The fact that wind energy
currently contributes only around 2% of the
UK’s electricity supply shows just how much
we have to do to reach our 15% renewable
energy target by 2020. Since much of
Britain’s global warming gas emissions to the
atmosphere come from our use of energy in
the home, at work or in industry and
transport, the target is important.
It is surprising just how many wind farms there are already
on land in Britain.
Loch Turret: hydropower was the beginning of
commercial renewable energy in Britain.
© Adrian Warren & Dae Sasitorn/Last Refuge Ltd
Make a difference As individuals we sometimes feel that our contribution to a
more sustainable future is too small to make a difference. But if we all do
something it soon adds up to have a real impact. Simple actions like recycling,
not wasting electricity, improving insulation
in our houses, and driving fuel efficient cars
can also save us money too. Some people
are going even further and generating their
own electricity from wind turbines, from
underground heat exchange in their
gardens and from solar panels on their
Solar panels are the most affordable
renewable energy option for the home at the
moment. © Corbis
The UK is home to half of the newly installed offshore wind farms in Europe.
An average commercial wind turbine produces enough energy to meet the
needs of 1,400 households.
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