Azara Blog: UK hits two gigawatts of operational wind power capacity

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Date published: 2007/02/10

The BBC says:

The UK has become only the seventh nation in the world to have more than two gigawatts (GW) of operational wind power capacity.

The milestone was passed on Friday when the Braes O'Doune wind farm, near Stirling, began producing electricity.

Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling described it as a "major landmark" for the UK wind industry.

The government has set a target for 10% of electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2010.
Latest government figures show that 4.2% of the UK's electricity is generated by renewables, including wind, solar, hydro and biomass.

Onshore wind farms have proved to be controversial, with a number of high-profile projects facing fierce opposition from local residents.

Plans to create England's largest wind farm in Cumbria were thrown out last March after campaigners said it would ruin the landscape of the Lake District.

The £55m development would have seen 27 turbines, each 115 metres (377ft) high, erected at Whinash, near Kendal.

And proposals to create one of Europe's largest onshore wind farms on Lewis, the most northerly Hebridean island, have been challenged by wildlife groups.

They say the 181-turbine development will harm important peat bog habitat, and threaten wild bird populations.

However, local councillors on Thursday backed the £500m project, although a final decision on whether the scheme can go ahead is likely to be made by the Scottish Executive.

Despite having some of the best wind resources in Europe, the UK is still a long way behind the world's leading nation on wind power.

Germany has more than 20GW of wind energy capacity, 10 times as much as the UK.

Wind power is not the carbon free miracle that its proponents always seem to claim (e.g. you have to build, install and maintain the kit) and it has some other negative environmental consequences (e.g. birds get killed, and there are probably other unforseen problems that will not be discovered for many years), but for the UK, wind power makes more sense than a lot of the alternatives (e.g. solar and nuclear).

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