The current Climate Change Act means the UK has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by at least 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels and this means we need to think hard about how to decarbonise electricity generation. A way to do this is to increase our capacity to generate electricity through renewables which currently accounts for a ¼ of the UK’s generation. Wind power is abundant, clean and home-grown and there is significant maturity in wind technology methods in comparison to others, making it a great alternative to fossil fuels.
Since the first commercial wind farm was built in North Cornwall in 1991 (Delabole Wind Farm) wind power has significantly expanded with over 1,000 onshore wind projects across the UK, generating just under 2% of total electricity. Delabole celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017 and since being built has undergone redevelopment costing £11.8 million to add a further 4 turbines so it can power nearly 7,000 homes.
The problem with wind energy is that wind is intermittent meaning you cannot guarantee supply will always meet demand. They also have environmental issues in relation to the visual impacts, as many people oppose the building of wind farms because it ruins the natural environment. However, improvements in battery storage surplus energy can now be stored in order to tackle the problem of it being intermittent.
Wind power is really important to invest in because it will not only reduce GHG emissions but will help the government in their efforts to phase out coal by 2025 and in 2016 wind even generated more energy than coal power plants. Due to advances in wind technology improving efficiency, the cost of wind power has fallen becoming the cheapest source of energy in the UK, 2015.
Due to the governments commitments to decarbonisation of the energy sector the decision we face is not between wind and fossil fuels but wind and other low-carbon solutions such as tidal or solar and therefore a combination of different energy technologies would provide the best solution to relying on just one.