Oct 172011

Let me start by stating, “I like wind farms”. This is just as well because we have one of the largest being constructed just offshore and you can’t get in or out of the area I live without passing numerous hillsides littered with wind generators. Nevertheless, I like them. I think they look good, tumbling over the landscape like cart-wheeling giants. Renewable energy is a goal well worth striving for and I accept we aren’t going to get there quickly or get it right first time. There will be lessons to be learnt on the way.

I’ve heard the so-called “facts” that building wind farms generates more greenhouse emissions than can ever be recouped by renewable energy. It will be the most expensive energy we’ve ever generated and the country will be littered with new pylons connecting them all to the national grid. Whether all this is true or not, I don’t know. Time will tell I suppose, but I’m certainly not anti-wind farm.

But…. (you could tell there was going to be a ‘but’ couldn’t you.)

I don’t understand why we seem to have put so much investment into wind power. We have no control over the wind, it blows when it wants to. We need to generate energy to meet demand. What’s the point of generating when the wind blows if we don’t need it and what happens when we all put the kettle on and the wind isn’t blowing.  Wind Power, Solar Power, Wave Power, all share the same problem, they only perform intermittently and unpredictably.

We live on an island surrounded by sea. Twice a day, every day, the tide comes in and then goes out again. It’s predictable. You can even buy a little book of tables which tell you when the next tide is due and how high it’s going to be. Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t prevent it happening and it goes without saying that a tide is a powerful force. Why then, aren’t we investing in tidal power as our primary source of renewable energy?

With the money being spent on our giant wind farm off Walney we could have constructed a barrage across Morecambe Bay which would not only generate energy from every incoming and outgoing tide, it would do amazing things for the local economy by improving transport links and also save the huge amounts of energy currently expended in getting goods and people in and out of the Furness peninsula every day.

Conservationists say it would destroy important natural habitats. Why? The tide will still come and go, albeit in a more controlled manner. The habitat would not disappear, it may change, and it may even change to become an even more important habitat. I appreciate the need to protect the environment, it’s all part of the renewable energy argument too. To not do something for the same reason as wanting to do it, means we end up doing nothing at all. Doing nothing is no longer an option.

I’m sure there are many other areas of our coastline that could benefit economically from being straightened out a bit and in the meantime contribute to our energy needs.  I think this is where we should be concentrating our investment, even if I do like wind farms.