Onshore wind farm

As a small island situated between the Atlantic and the North Sea, the UK has lots of natural wind. Not just a plentiful resource, energy from the wind is green, clean – and cheap.

And yet, in its recent plans for dealing with the energy crisis, the UK Government decided to keep the curbs on onshore wind farms it introduced back in 2015 – choosing expensive and slow-to-construct nuclear power as the way forward instead. Given all their benefits, are onshore wind turbines really that unpopular?

They’re not! The truth is that 80% of Brits support onshore wind – according to the government’s own research. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s official polling shows that support for renewable technologies is at an all-time high. Here’s why the British public has got this right:

Onshore wind can alleviate the energy crisis

New wind farms are needed now more than ever. The energy crisis is a gas crisis. The quicker we switch to renewables, the quicker we can do something about our eyewatering bills. The price of wind has remained stable. It is our cheapest energy source – typically costing about a third of what people will soon be paying for electricity.

Rising gas prices continue

Surging gas prices affect gas and electricity bills because a significant share of the UK’s electricity is still produced by burning fossil fuels, mainly gas. The war in Ukraine has made gas prices even more volatile so we want to stop burning them – especially as Vladimir Putin is largely funding his military aggression through gas sales. Prices won’t stabilise any time soon.

Rising energy bills

Our household electricity and gas bills are set to get even higher this October when the energy price cap – the maximum amount suppliers can charge for each unit of gas and electricity – will go up again. This will leave over 14 million people unable to pay their bills, according to Citizens Advice.

Planning barriers for wind farms

The UK Government hasn’t prioritised onshore wind in its plans for dealing with the energy crisis. Many energy experts had hoped the planning restrictions on onshore wind farms would come to an end. Despite their popularity and affordability, this has not happened.

Speed

Onshore wind farms are one of the quickest energy projects to get up and running. If planning restrictions were removed, any energy company could buy wind turbines and install them within months.

Around 600 wind farm and solar projects across the UK are being blocked. If they went ahead, they could provide enough clean energy to replace Britain’s consumption of Russian oil within 18 months.

Our own energy

Wind energy is British energy! More onshore wind turbines would make us more self-sufficient. Deriving energy from renewable sources is how we increase our energy security and stop our dependence on expensive fossil fuels from countries run by dictators like Putin.

Reliability

As an island positioned between the Atlantic and the North Sea, the UK has one of the best natural climates for wind farms. Of course, it’s not windy all the time. To ensure consistency and manage demand the green grid is increasingly powered by a mix of sources – like wind, solar and hydro, demand management and storage.

The Scottish example

England could look north of the border for an example of what support for onshore wind looks like. The Scottish Government has backed onshore wind and enjoyed great success. In 2020, 97% of Scotland’s electricity was powered by renewables. Onshore wind is Scotland’s biggest single renewable technology, accounting for 71% of installed capacity – while offshore wind, hydro and solar are its other major sources of green power. The Scottish government is exploring plans to double its onshore wind capacity by 2030, creating an additional 17,000 jobs.

The way forward

If you want to show support for onshore wind, there are three things you can do. The first is to talk to friends and family about the fact that onshore wind is popular in the UK. As things stand, too many people believe that other people don’t like it. The reality is, it’s more popular than the Queen.

Next, you could email or write to your local MP, outlining your views and asking them to support onshore wind.

Finally, if you have some spare cash, community-owned renewable energy may be for you. Ripple Energy is a new company that lets you purchase your own share of a new onshore wind farm. You receive the equivalent clean green electricity your bit of the wind farm generates and its offset against your bills. To date, its wind farms are located in Wales and Scotland. As with any investments, your money is at risk

A Great British success

Onshore wind energy is a Great British success story. Wind turbines are widely popular, quick to build, cheap and carbon pollution free. Increasingly, communities that host wind farms are pleased with the financial and other benefits they receive. Wind energy also helps to create British jobs. Let’s hope the UK can harvest the wind soon.

 

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