Questions raised over the UK’s ambitious wind power plans this week have cast a big doubt over the viability of this source of energy.
The UK was so determined to take the lead at the Bali summit last week that it ignored its own expert’s report and set a crazy course that is totally unachievable. So say the critics in the UK’s national press this week.
Plans for a huge 33 GW wind farm in the North Sea were unveiled amongst much smugness and flag waving, but, like the original 2012 Olympic budget, a cursory glance at the figures reveal gaping holes in the reality of the plans.
The total 33 GW output from the 7,000 turbine wind farm has been heralded as sufficient to supply almost 50% of the UK’s peak demand requirements of 75 GW by 2020. However this output is based on the maximum possible and, taking into account the variations of wind strength, the net deliverable power will reduce dramatically to around 11 GW.
Further, power grids need a stable supply and to provide backup in the times of low wind, an alternative supply needs to be provided. This shortfall would require approximately 12 nuclear power stations to be built at a cost of some £30 billion.
It gets worse. To realise the proposal, it would require two 850 ft turbines per day to be erected for the next 12 years. No-one has ever been able to get close to this number before. Denmark, with the world’s largest offshore wind resource has only managed to build two per week.
Financially it’s a disaster. The cost per GW would be about £1.6 billion, making a total of over £50 billion. Also, to accommodate this new source of renewable energy, the UK’s grid will have to be restructured costing further billions.
Then there is distribution loss. A growing consensus of opinion is in favour of locally produced energy. David Marks, visionary behind the London Eye feels so strongly about this that his practice has developed the “beacon”, a system of urban windmills that can be sited close to requirements increasing efficiency.
Ken Yeang, prolific Malaysian architect and author of a new book, Eco Skyscraper talks exclusively to WAN about this issue. Watch out for the podcast on News Review January 4th.
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