Wind Energy And The Environment
Tolland, H. G.
Bedford, L. A. W.
Worldwide interest in wind energy has been growing over a number of years. We describe UK wind energy activities with particular reference to the Department of Energy's programme and survey progress with large wind turbines overseas. We review the results of assessment studies which show that wind energy has the potential for supplying a significant proportion of the nation's electricity needs, at a cost which at the lower end of the estimates could probably compete with other conventionl sources. Significant exploitation of the wind energy resource would require large numbers of machines and it is uncertain whether such numbers would in practice turn out to be environmentally acceptable. Factors which will influence this will include (not necessarily in order of importance) visual acceptability and land use restrictions, ecological impacts, electro-magnetic interference, noise and safety. We review each of these aspects and conclude that for land based wind turbines the major impacts are visual intrusiveness, electromagnetic interference (particularly TV interference) and noise. These factors could be significant at all sites, other effects are likely to be site-specific. There are a wide range of pre-existing activities and interests which may impose constraints on the location of wind turbine arrays offshore. Nevertheless when allowance is made for these, the remaining resource is comparable with total UK electricity demand and the size of the available resource need not ·be a constraint on interest in offshore wind power.