3rd February 2012
The primary focus for harnessing the UK's potential for renewable energy is focused on the development of new nuclear energy and wind power – on and off shore. However, the question remains whether this approach will yield the required results.
The UK is the windiest country in Europe with off and onshore wind together having the potential to deliver 30% of the UK's electricity supply by 2020. Despite the UK government pushing wind power, the national grid has stated that it would not be able to cope with the surge of power from wind farms and estimates that turbines would have to be switched off on 38 days every year, because it would be too windy. They are currently switched off for 25 days a year, but this is forecasted to increase as more turbines come online. With wind farm operators being paid £2.6mn to keep their turbines idle last year, the UK government's decision to push for a seven-fold increase in wind power generated electricity is somewhat questionable.
In addition, there is a strong campaign to stop the spread of wind farms, especially onshore, in the UK. Campaigners sight high costs, inefficiency and also blighted views as reasons for not wanting more wind farms in their own backyards. To compound matters, there is a suggestion that winds sweeping the UK may be on the wane, with 2010 being the "stillest" year of the past decade.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change views nuclear power as low-carbon, affordable, dependable and capable of increasing diversity of energy supply.
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