Wind power is flying high
For a long time now, wind power has been criticised as being an eyesore and an inefficient and hopeless method of power generation, but these criticisms are fast looking ridiculous. For example, wind power is Denmark is so successful that it is meeting their entire energy needs during periods of the year! They constantly monitor and display the output in the country and the net difference between energy produced and energy consumed (source: energinet.dk):
It's not just Denmark that's getting better and better on the wind power front. Here in the U.K., the power generated by wind in this country exceeded that of nuclear power during one period last year, as reported by the BBC. During that period, 'wind made up 14.2% of all generation and nuclear offered 13.2%'. Wind was producing 6.3GW! By comparison, nuclear energy can produce a lot of power IF all its systems are working… but they often aren't because water-cooled reactors are an inherently dangerous form of electricity generation and have to be shut down a lot to avoid dangerous faults occurring.
Globally, wind power is on the up too. Here's a graph that cheered me up no end:
Hooray! The graph came from a BBC article today which reports on a selection of new designs and technologies for producing more efficient wind turbines that can be installed in more areas with less disruption. I particularly liked this design, the Altaeros Energies' BAT design:
This one, made by Makani, is also pretty cool. It looks like a cross between a word war one transport plane and a stag beetle. It's designed to be tethered to the ground and then to soar in the air with the propellers acting as turbines:
For more details on these designs, do check out the BBC article.
It is extremely difficult to persuade people to use less power, if power is cheap. Fortunately, renewable power is improving fast and can compete with some forms of fossil fuel power already. It is also much cheaper than water-cooled nuclear power, if you factor in the exorbitant costs of setting up the plants, cleaning up and disposing of the waste and decommissioning the site. This is why almost all nuclear power companies set up very supportive long-term contracts with governments before building any nuclear plants of any size.
Britain is an excellent place for multiple forms of renewable energy. It is very good for wind power but it is also very good for wave and tidal power. Earlier this week, the BBC announced that a new series of tidal lagoons would be built to draw energy from tides. The 'six lagoons could generate 8% of the UK's electricity for an investment of £30bn'. That sounds like a lot, but the Guardian reported this week that the decommissioning costs at Sellafield nuclear plant have gone up by £5bn in one year. They now stand at £53bn! Also, the lagoon designs look a lot prettier…
These reports have cheered me up no end. Global climate change may be a runaway diesel train heading for a broken bridge, but in many parts of the world, including here in Britain and Western Europe, environmentally friendly power generation is getting better and better.