Wind energy generation is currently the most advanced and efficient renewables technology.
While the ideal future scenario is for the UK’s energy mix to be diverse and sustainable in the long-term, wind power has a number of clear advantages:
- The UK has 40% of the total European wind resource - a massive untapped potential, theoretically sufficient to meet the country's electricity needs several times over
- According to the UK Government Department for Energy and Cimate Change (DECC), electricity generated from wind power has one of the lowest carbon footprints, compared with other forms of electricity generation. As with other low carbon technologies, nearly all the emissions occur during the manufacturing and construction phases, accounting for 98% of total lifescale emissions, whereas CO2 emissions during operation are relatively small https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/48356/5197-onshore-wind-faqs.pdf
- According to the UK renewables industry trade body RenewableUK, a modern 2.5MW (commercial scale) turbine, on a reasonable site, could generate 6.5 million units of electricity each year. Based on average electricity consumption per household in Scotland in 2011 (4,709 kWh https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/regional-and-local-authority-electricity-consumption-statistics-2005-to-2011) this is the equivalent amount of electricity needed to meet the needs of 1,380 Scottish households.According to the renewable industry trade body, Scottish Renewables, a typical 2.4MW turbine offsets approximately 2700 tonnes of CO2 a year http://www.scottishrenewables.com/technologies/onshore-wind
- Every unit of electricity generated from a wind turbine displaces energy that would otherwise be generated from fossil fuels
- One modern turbine saves 4,000 tonnes of CO2 each year
- The average wind farm in the UK will pay back the energy used in its manufacture within six to eight months
- The average cost of generating electricity from onshore wind is now around 3-4p per kilowatt hour, competitive with new coal (2.5-4.5p) and cheaper than new nuclear (4-7p)
- Unlike nuclear power stations wind energy produces no radioactive waste for future generations to deal with
- Unlike large power stations, electricity from wind farms can be fed directly into the distribution network, reducing electricity transmission losses and cutting waste
- The small size of individual wind farms reduces the risk of technical failure or industrial action compared with larger generating units.
- Wind energy is good for remote rural and island communities - the supply can be connected to diesel or solar systems to provide back-up when the wind is not blowing.
- Energy diversity, with wind as a major component, lessens international political sensitivity concerning fossil fuel reserves, volatility of oil and gas prices and the risks associated with nuclear power.