Research on the Wind Energy Sector
The future of Wind Energy Wind Turbines and Wind Farms
According to the UK National Grid, 2020 was the "greenest year on record" for Britain, with record high levels of wind energy generation.
In May 2021, the International Energy Agency published Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector. The roadmap says that 90% of electricity generation globally will come from renewable sources in 2050, with solar and wind being responsible for 70%.
The International Energy Agency also produces a global forecast of growth in wind generation capacity (how much wind power can be produced). Increases in capacity are expected, the size of which depend on factors like the cost of wind, policy environment and public perceptions of wind
(Source: Office of National Statistics Article - dated 14.06.2021)
Brief Background on Wind in the UK
Over the last few decades, farmers and a growing wind power sector have begun to make use of the UK’s geography and take advantage of the fact that we are one of the windiest countries in Europe.
British farmers have been harnessing the wind’s energy for centuries. However, generating electricity has only been developed more recently, with the first commercial wind farm built in 1991 in Cornwall.
How does wind energy work?
Wind is essentially the movement of air across the earth, caused by the sun heating the earth, which in turn causes hot air to rise and cold air to sink down and replace it. The movement of the air, and changes in air pressure are what cause winds to blow.
Wind turbines capture this kinetic energy with their blades, and rotate, turning it into mechanical energy, which spins a generator to generate electricity. Like any generator, a wind turbine can be very small or very large; some of the largest turbines will have individual blades that are more than 100m long. The greater the rotor diameter, the more energy can be harnessed.
Nearly all wind turbines installed in the UK will need planning permission; only very small ones are covered by Permitted Development rights. The planning process involves community engagement to allow local communities to voice their opinion for onshore wind power developments. There are numerous planning considerations in local/regional/national planning policy – including sites near Public Rights of Way, designated landscapes, ecological and ornithological sites, etc.
Other things that will need to be considered in the development stage of a project include:
Siting of the turbine(s) – Average wind speeds, local topography and turbulence
Aviation Radar Interference with commercial or military systems
(Source: NFU Wind Energy Guide)
For further reading regarding Wind Farms, it is best to read the NFU briefing report in May 2015. To download the NFU Report you can contact us and we will send it through to you via email. Please use the contact form on our home page (Click here to be redirected) and enter in the message box "Wind Farm NFU Briefing Report Request".
(Source: NFU Briefing Report: NFU - the most successful representation body for agriculture and horticulture in England and Wales)
Why wind energy is important
Climate change is a topic that is high on the policy agenda and attracts substantial media and public interest. Renewable energies like wind are an important part of decarbonising our economy and slowing climate change. The share of renewable energy sources, including wind, in total energy consumption is also an indicator for the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, to help build a more sustainable future.
The UK government has set a legally binding target of "Net Zero" greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The UK has decreased emissions substantially since 1990, mainly because of the switch away from coal to natural gas and renewables.
Wind power is one of the largest sources of renewable electricity in the UK and is expected to continue to grow, so will be important to meet "Net Zero". The UK government included wind power in The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution and in the Energy White Paper.
(Source: Office of National Statistics Article - dated 14.06.2021)
Which Green Energy Source is better?
Wind is a more efficient power source than solar. Compared to solar panels, wind turbines release less CO2 to the atmosphere, consume less energy, and produce more energy overall. In fact, one wind turbine can generate the same amount of electricity per kWh as about 48,704 solar panels.
But the enormous power-generating capacity of wind turbines doesn’t make wind energy a clear winner. Some see wind turbines as an eyesore. They take up a lot of space. They have the potential to hurt some wildlife. They aren’t suitable for densely populated areas, which means they’re mostly located in rural regions — far from the cities that are most in need of their power.
(Source: Elemental Green Website Extract)
Conclusion and key points for land owners:
The boom in onshore wind power, likened to a "new industrial revolution", is being dominated by a small number of private landowners who will share around £1bn in rental fees over the next eight years.
Rental payments vary and are secret but, say property agents speaking in confidence to the Guardian, landowners can now expect circa £40,000 a year "risk-free" for each large turbine erected on their land. Those set to benefit include senior members of the royal family and the Forestry Commission in Wales and Scotland.
Analysis of onshore wind power investments suggests that the 13GW of energy anticipated by the government to be installed by 2020 will pay landowners upwards of £100m a year in total rents, on top of the EU farm subsidies they automatically receive for owning land.
According to agents in Scotland and Wales, competition for suitable land is escalating rents. Landowners can expect to be paid 5-6% of the annual turnover of windfarms, or around circa £40,000 a year for each large 3MW turbine. "They see windfarms as a new farm subsidy but they do not have to take any risk," said one agent. "Only 60% of development applications may go through, but the returns if they do get built are enormous."
In return, landowners are offering communities around £1,000 per MW installed, according to RenewableUK, the wind industry trade body, in compensation for what some consider visual pollution and other disturbances such as lack of access.
So far, 4.5GW of onshore wind power has been installed in Britain, with a further 8.5GW in the planning system or expected to be built in the next seven years.
Feelings are running high as remote areas such as the Cairngorms and west Wales are the subject of dozens of proposals. Plans for more than 600 of the largest turbines have been submitted or approved in the Scottish Highlands, including 11 for the wild Monadhliath mountains on the edge of the Cairngorms.
In Wales, where land ownership is less concentrated, the Forestry Commission is the biggest landowner and expects to earn more than £20m a year from turbines. In Scotland it may receive £30m a year for leasing land to four large companies.
(Source: The Guardian Website Extract - Article dated 28.02.2012)
‘Livestock perfectly happy and safe around wind turbines’
There is no scientific evidence from credible sources of wind energy having any negative impact on livestock. That’s according to the Irish Wind Energy Association’s Communications Manager, Brian Dawson. He continues to state: “Over twenty years of experience here in Ireland and decades of experience across Europe and globally shows that livestock are perfectly happy and safe around wind turbines,” Dawson told Agriland.ie.
“Wind energy by its nature is generally rural-based and so the vast majority of projects are sited alongside and within farmland, where farming can continue right up to around the base of the turbine.
“Farmers who have wind turbines on their land often comment that the animals love using them for shelter.”
He said that animal welfare is rightly a key concern for farmers but as recent research from Harvard University has shown, wind energy is contributing to cleaner air and the health of people and animals, by cutting harmful emissions.
“We are clear from experience today, all across Ireland, that livestock graze and raise their young around wind energy without any issue.”
A recent nationwide survey by Ipsos MRBI carried out in February 2016 showed that 70% of people are directly in favour of wind energy in Ireland, with only 10% opposed. Support for wind energy was consistent across the country in both rural and urban areas.
(Source: Agriland Website Extract - Article dated 05.04.2016)