On-shore wind-turbines are far and away the cheapest (currently) and easiest form of renewable power to roll out. The UK is targeting net zero emissions by 2050 (as well as a 68% reduction on 1990 levels by 2030), so any rejection of the cheapest and one of the simplest means of power generation goes against all this. More urgent, the aim is to have a power grid that is 100% green by 2035 – just 12 years away.
The simple fact is, that farmers up and down the country can make good extra money by hosting turbines. Whether crops or grazing is the primary use of the land, wind turbines take up a tiny proportion of the land, and have no discernible effect on output.
Street lamps do not consume a great deal of electricity. Unfortunately, as there are many of them this rapidly builds up.
A new turbine that spins horizontally rather than vertically may make a big difference. Apart from anything, these turbines will be forced to turn as traffic passes, guaranteeing plenty of electricity each day. While these turbines are never going to make large amounts of power, given the large number of street lamps around the UK, it could generate a lot of power (it is estimated that it could create 6mw of power a day, enough to power a small village.
One of the real pushes in the UK towards clean energy is through the vast wind turbine farms placed out in the North sea.
With expectations of these growing dramatically over the next decade, these areas are very windy and therefore an incredibly reliable source of electricity generation.
Due to more and more wind turbines being built this record will not hold. At the moment wind power makes up roughly 20% of Britain’s energy generation. Over boxing day during a large storm, wind power produce more than 50% of the UK’s electricity.
Last year was the first time that more electricity came from renewables (wind water sunlight and wood) which produced 42% of the electricity in the UK compared to the 41% that came from fossil fuel sources.
This clearly suggests the UK has some way to go. However as the UK increasingly brings more and more wind farms online, and the pace of solar generation starts to pick up again after the government’s foolish eradication of financial support, it is conceivable that in the next 20 years the remaining 41% of our power generation reliant on fossil fuels could fall all too close to zero.
One of the big advances in recent years is the vast batteries that are starting to come online. In the past peaker plants (these are power plants that come online to support high periods of demand) have been the most dirty power. These are likely to quickly be replaced by batteries as they are expensive to run.
For the first time the idea of running a carbon-neutral economy, does not seem that far-fetched when looking at our current setup
Dams are often talked about as a fantastic way to cut carbon emissions. Aside from the fact that many dams in the world are more like a battery (water is pumped up when electricity is cheap and then flows down when it is expensive creating electricity) dams built in rainforests have such a huge initial carbon footprint from the destruction of the rainforest that sat on the land that in some cases the carbon savings will never make up for the carbon loss.
I am not saying that dams are useless. Far from it. However, if your dam is there to cut carbon emissions, it is in the wrong place.
Brazil has gone into dams in a large way. Unfortunately, these are so poorly constructed that they are collapsing. This means that land downstream gets hit twice – firstly loosing most of their water supply as the dam fills and then again as they are deluged with months or years of water in one go. What is worse here, is that many dams here are holding back toxic mud, left over after mining work. As such even after the flood of water has gone down, much of the land it has touched will be less productive.
It is not an either or choice for countries like brazil. They aim to cut carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, however 28-33% of that will come from non-hydropower sources (70%). Indeed in Brazil wind power is generating increasing amounts of their power. Indeed, in terms of installed wind power, Brazil now ranks just 8th in the world. Also given it is a country lying in the tropics, it gets a great deal of sun – there are currently 8.5GW of solar installed meeting 1.5% of Brazils needs. However 3.4GW were added just in 2020. It is therefore highly likely that assuming this acceleration continues perhaps 20% of Brazils electricity needs could come from solar by this date.
We need to cut our emissions dramatically in the next 10 years, however political pressure is often meaning that these efforts are going in the wrong direction.