WindTurbines are an excellent mechanism for generating electricity. While they have a large capital cost, they are relatively efficient, ObligateRenewable, and produce very little pollution, other than that caused by their construction.

Despite this, they have caused a large debate about their importance. It is, of course, worth noting that several of the pressure groups arguing against WindPower have, in fact, been funded by the NuclearFission power generating industry who, clearly, have a vested interest. Despite this, there are a number of issues with WindPower which can not be entirely ignored. I discuss these issues here in no particular order.


One of the daftest arguments is that of intermittency. It is an obvious point that you can only generate WindPower while there is Wind. No Wind and your Turbines don't turn. The Anti WindTurbine groups have been known to argue that, therefore, for every WindFarm, you still need a power plant to provide Energy when the Wind has gone.

However, all forms of Energy generation are intermittent at some level. Every NuclearReactor, for example, has to be switched of periodically, but you don't need a spare one as back up. You need to an excess of generation capacity, but we have this anyway.

Secondly, even if this were true, the Wind blows quite a lot of the year around. If you can stand down other NonRenewable power plants for some of the time this is still a good thing.

Thirdly, while the UK does get becalmed periodically, it's very rare for example, for all of Europe to be so, and power can be shared. Of course, long tranmission is inefficient, but if this happens only rarely, the inefficiency is not a huge difficulty (capacity may well be). Alternatively, you might use other systems like AirShips to move Hydrogen or Methane produced from a BioFuelGenerator.

Finally Energy can be stored in any number of ways. My own favorite is a BioFuelGenerator (which is, of course, a totally undeveloped technology at the moment). Storing Energy in this way may well make sense anyway for those WindFarms which are a long distance from the Electricity Grid.

Bird Deaths

Tradtionally, bird deaths, running into the turbine blades have been a significant problem for WindFarms. However, in recent years, the tendancy has been to use fewer, larger turbines rather than the old technique of many smaller ones. The larger turbines tend to be more efficient and have a lower maintainence cost. The also rotate much more slowly, and the blades are much higher up in the air, which reduce the problems of bird deaths significantly.

The flip side of this is that the size tends to increase the overall visibility of the WindTurbine, which impacts on it's potential Ugliness.


It is, of course, a valid concern that putting WindFarms all over some of the windiest parts of the UK will look really ugly. I'm an avid hill walker, so this is something that I can respect. However, I would argue that they are a lot better than the alternatives.

Secondly, a well sited WindFarm can actually look pretty beautiful. Almost the entirety of the British landscape is man made anyway, and adding WindFarms is not really changing this. Indeed, some parts of the world—Holland being the obvious example—are famed for the beauty bought to their landscape by their WindTurbines.

The argument often goes that we should, therefore, use only OffShoreWindFarms. This is a nice idea, but is flawed. OffShoreWindFarm technologies are not as well researched and less mature. Both are needed.

Updated: 06-05-08
Home / Index