Thursday 27th October 2016                 Change text size:

Innovative turbine to be trialled in Scotland

wind turbine sky

Scotland has stepped up its ambitious bid to become 100% renewable by 2020 with the announcement of a wind turbine trial, but Alex Blackburne explains how the wind power sector has been branded as “useless” by a scornful member of the royal family.

With its blustery coastlines and its mountainous landscape, Scotland is arguably one of the most ideal places in the world to become a trendsetter in wind power.

Its historical dependence on oil might soon be a thing of the past, with the Scottish Government announcing plans for its energy to be 100% renewably-sourced by 2020. Certainly a bold statement, and one that has the potential to completely revolutionise the country, making it a frontrunner in the global shift away from fossil fuel consumption.

In line with this, the Government has revealed its plans to pioneer a large, two-bladed wind turbine off the coast of Methil in Fife.

The turbine, bigger than the regular models and with four times the energy producing capacity at six megawatts, will be positioned 20 metres offshore, near Fife Energy Park, and is set to be made by a Dutch company, 2B Energy.

In 2010, an independent report on offshore wind potential, Offshore Valuation, described the North Sea’s potential to be the ‘Saudi Arabia of renewable energy’. The Scots appear to have seized this possibility by both horns (or blades).

Energy minister in the Scottish Parliament, Fergus Ewing, praised the project, saying that it is a positive step for not only the country but for Europe as well.

Innovative companies deciding to test their new ideas in Scotland is further evidence of our reputation as a place to develop and deploy all forms of new green energy technologies”, Ewing said.

We are working to create the optimum conditions for low carbon investment to ensure we remain well-placed to become an international hub for low carbon expertise and a green energy powerhouse for Europe.”

Just a day after the Scottish Government’s announcement, though, the plans were granted a somewhat crushing blow from one of the Britain’s most senior figureheads.

The Sunday Telegraph, amongst others, reported how Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh (of all places), had made a scathing, sweeping attack on wind power – not specifically 2B Energy’s proposed project – labelling all turbines as “useless” and “a disgrace”.

The Duke, somewhat renowned for his brash, blunt opinions, offered his view on the matter to Esbjorn Wilmar, managing director at wind turbine producers Infinergy.

Somewhat taken aback by the out-of-the-blue verbal damning aimed in his direction, Wilmar then tried to explain to the Duke that wind farms were very cost-effective, to which he received the reply, “You don’t believe in fairy tales do you?

Sadly, Prince Philip’s views sum up the thoughts of many people who have objections to the growth of onshore wind farms (“not in my backyard“), matching hostility to subsidising any form of renewable energy and ignoring the direct and eternal costs of fossil fuels.

Although currently not as cheap to produce energy as fossil fuels, the overwhelming advantage of wind power, and the reason we need to put money and development into the sector, is that it is renewable and will always, always be readily available.

There will always be a place in the UK where the wind blows. There is also no need to fight wars in distant lands to protect our wind resource – unless the Norwegians get uppity.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change produced a report in 2010, detailing the cost of various methods of electricity generation in the UK. It found that in the long-term, wind power will be cheaper and more cost-effective than fossil fuels.

The Duke of Edinburgh also told Wilmar that the wind power sector “would never work as [the turbines] need back-up capacity”. Whilst this is true, we know that there will always be wind somewhere in the UK and at high altitudes.

Scotland’s innovativeness in striving for a completely renewable future is encouraging. It’s just a shame that people in such a position of authority and respect – like Prince Philip – feel they have to offer groundless opinions of what is one of the planet’s biggest hopes for a green, sustainable and ethical future.

His view is perhaps even more surprising when you consider that the Crown Estate (profit £231m, 2010/11), the income from which the monarch surrenders in return for the civil list (£7.9m), will generate some £100m extra per year from offshore wind farms, over the next few years. Less a case of “stay away from my estate” than “come on in, the water’s lovely.”

Investment in renewable energy companies, such as wind power, is the key to this. If you would like to invest, ask your financial adviser, if you have one, or complete our online form and we’ll connect you with a specialist ethical adviser.

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