Trade body says UK has only one turbine per 100 sq km in response to wind power critics
The UK currently boasts just one wind turbine per 100 square kilometres, according to a new industry study intended to dispel the myth that the countryside is being paved with wind turbines.
The report from trade association RenewableUK confirms the UK is lagging far behind many other European nations in its development of onshore wind energy, currently boasting an average of just 1.11 wind turbines for every 100 square kilometres.
The concentration of turbines is even lower in England, where there are just 0.49 turbines for every 100 square kilometres.
The figures confirm the UK is lagging far behind European leaders in wind energy, including several countries with a similar or higher level of population density. For example, Denmark boasts an average 10.85 wind turbines per 100 square kilometres, Germany 5.95 turbines, and the Netherlands 5.54 turbines.
“There were 12,000 articles written on wind farms in the UK media last year, but just 400 turbines were installed,” a spokesman for RenewableUK told BusinessGreen. “There’s this huge interest and controversy, but compared with other nations we are far behind. People talk about the invasion of the countryside by turbines, but in England there [is about] one turbine per 100 square miles.”
He added that even if the government meets its renewable energy targets for 2020, the concentration of wind turbines in the UK will still be lower than the 3.39 turbines per 100 square kilometres installed in Spain currently.
The study also argues that opposition to wind turbines is far less entrenched than many reports suggest.
“The assumption is that the UK’s high percentages of refused planning applications for wind farms are indicative of negative attitudes towards wind power,” it states.
“However, polls indicate public support for wind farms. From 2006 to 2009, DECC published an annual poll on attitudes towards renewables. It is indicative that the percentage of people disagreeing with the statement that ‘they would be happy to live within 5km (three miles) of a wind power development’ has actually fallen from 24 per cent in 2006 to 21 per cent in 2009.”
The figures have been released to coincide with a new campaign organised by RenewableUK and backed by energy companies, green NGOs and trade unions.
Dubbed “Action for Renewables” the new campaign aims to step up calls for increased investment in clean energy sources and urge the government to provide effective support for the sector through its imminent Energy Bill, Localism Bill and Electricity Market Reforms.
“Survey after survey has shown a majority of the public in favour of the expansion of renewable energy – and yet, at the local level, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get the go-ahead, even for community-led projects,” said Adam Bell, Renewable UK’s national campaigns co-ordinator. “Action for Renewables is intended to give grassroots campaigners for renewable energy the tools, training and information needed to make a difference.”
Frances O’Grady, TUC deputy general secretary, added that the accelerated development of the renewables industry would help to create jobs and boost British competitiveness. “A bigger renewables sector will not only help reduce our carbon footprints, but by generating thousands of new jobs it could support a new sustainable economic growth model for the UK,” she said. “But a move towards renewable energy will not happen of its own accord, so campaigns such as Action for Renewables are vital to push it up the economic agenda.”