Untapped Power: Lost Energy Potential from Unambitious National Policy in National Parks
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Progress in developing sustainable energy has been rapid in recent years. However targets still require the development of much more and a principle source of renewable energy is wind. As more and more space is required, space where wind resource is suitable and fulfills all stakeholders’ requirements is rapidly being used up. This paper analysed the renewable energy content of the Lake District, as an analogy to the nation-wide policy of disallowing medium and large scale wind turbines in National Parks. A brief visibility impact assessment was also carried out using a zone of theoretical visibility (ZTV) to test whether building more turbines in the area would necessitate spoiling the landscape or if areas exist that can minimize this. The Lake District is estimated to be capable of producing a mean annual power production of 600,000 ± 100,000 kW for 100m diameter turbines. 700,000 ± 100,000 kW is estimated for 50m turbines. Within 30km of the Lake District, the range turbines 100m tall can have a visual impact, there is 2,600,000 ± 600,000kW of potential energy with 100m diameter turbines. There is a large amount of energy in and around the Lake District that could be exploited, however there is very limited space which does not visually interact with the national park. There also exists a great deal of wind farms already in operation in the area, and North and South of the Lake District the land is already visually saturated according to the ZTV. There are areas that are ideal for wind turbines but still capable of minimal impact on the national park. The Lake District’s variable terrain makes reducing visual influence easier. This suggests that there is still significant space to exploit before significant visual impact upon the Lake District would be necessary for continued, productive expansion of wind farms.