Earthsummit 2002 - A guide to UK Local Agenda 21 renewable energy projects. Earthsummit 2002
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A windsurfer.

Wind Power.

How do we use the wind to generate electricity?
Humans have known about wind power for a long time, the first windmills appeared around 2,500 years ago. Today these windmills have evolved into hi-tech, computer-designed wind turbines, which harness the power of the wind and turn it into electricity. Modern turbines vary greatly in size and power output, the largest turbines, singularly, can generate up to 2 megawatts of electricity, enough to power a small town! Much smaller wind generators can be used for small site-specific electricity requirements or indivdual applications like charging a battery.

Commercial developments of many wind turbines grouped together are called "wind farms". These can generate large amounts of electricity. The first large wind farm developments were in California and a little later in Denmark. Just twenty years since these were first built, turbine performance and reliability have dramatically improved and costs have fallen considerably, making the technology much more viable.

Wind Power In the UK.
The UK is the windiest country in Europe, so naturally we have some of the best wind resources with which to generate electricity. In particular our offshore wind resource is very large. Even when excluding areas, which could interfere with shipping, fishing or have unsuitable seabed conditions we could still generate over, 60% of our entire energy needs through offshore wind farms.

Government legislation already states that 10% of the UK's electricity must be generated through clean sources by 2010, so the power companies have been given the incentive and have the capability to develop the technology. Planning legislation is also being revised to speed up the process of planning consent, designing & building wind farms. (Although it must be stressed planning constraints and public consultation will still be very much be part of the process.)

© Ambit Interactive 2002
This web site has been produced with funding from
The Open University
The DTI's New and Renewable Energy Programme
Scottish and Southern Energy plc.