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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Rockett

At least some of the answer is blowing in the wind

My dad was right about a lot of things, he knew they would vote for Trump in 2016, the same for Brexit. He didn't necessarily agree but he seemed to know what people would think. He was wrong about wind turbines though, he thought they were ugly and expensive and, since they wouldn't work all the time, not much of answer to renewable energy.

On the first point, beauty can of course only be in the eye of the beholder, but when you consider the alternative...would anyone really prefer a fossil fuel power station on their doorstep, with all its associated emissions? If we want affordable electricity, we need to accept pylons, substations, and power generation in some format, anything else is cakeism.

The cost of generating electricity from wind turbines used to be high compared with the alternatives, but the beauty of wind (and solar) is that the fuel is free, once you've built and paid for the infrastructure. So, when there's a war in Ukraine, or OPEC decide to restrict oil production, the cost of oil or gas powered generation goes up, the cost of wind (or solar) doesn't change. Today, onshore wind power is about the cheapest power source we have, and around 9 or 10 times cheaper than gas!

As to whether they work all the time, well of course not, but they're deliberately sited in places with higher than average winds. Right now wind is producing 45% of the UK's power needs, it's a windy day, and in the last year it's averaged 28.5%; those percentages will only grow as we build more sites. And, according to the UN, with current technology, we could already power the whole world's energy needs using wind alone.

Wind cannot be the only answer, we need to cope with windless days, but it is part of the answer to help us build a more sustainable and secure future, free from the vagaries of the oil and gas markets.

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