Wind is one of the humanity’s oldest energy resources – we have been using it for at thousands of years for sailing, milling and pumping water. Today wind is also used to generate electricity, and County Durham is in a fantastic position to take advantage of this energy resource.
Electricity generated using wind energy does not produce any CO2 emissions, since the energy is extracted from moving air instead of fossil fuels. (Although the manufacture and installation of wind turbines does have small associated emission, this is offset by the generation in a few years). Wind energy is also sustainable – if our sun shines there will be wind.
Wind turbines require relatively high wind speeds to generate electricity. These wind speeds are usually found high off the ground – which causes friction that slows the wind down (along with trees, buildings, and other obstacles). The ideal site for wind is a place with no hills, valleys, trees, or human infrastructure of any kind. This location is out at sea, where the turbine’s size is limited only by the materials used to build them.
Of course, that’s not to say onshore wind isn’t a great idea, just ask Durham based company Lanchester Wines, who are already using wind power at their bottling plant and they and are now using this at their new bottling facility too.
There are dozens of wind turbines all across Durham, and you can view the largest ones on MyGridGB map for renewable energy. Finding a good location for onshore wind is pretty easy, with maps such as the one on rensmart which highlight potential sites.
For example, on this map the dark purple and red squares represent strong wind speeds in County Durham. The orange, light purple and red tiles in this map indicate a square kilometre where wind might be suitable.
So, are there any drawbacks?
Well, noise was once considered an issue. This is no longer the case – just like with cars, our understanding of the aeolian aerodynamics has improved greatly over the past few decades and we can now design turbines which are much quieter.
Waste has been highlighted as a potential future issue, but there are already solutions in the works to address this and you can read more about it on the insight energy website. The other challenge with wind turbines is the potential threat to birds, however this is already being mitigated with simple, elegant solutions as mentioned in this BBC’s article.
If you are interested in wind power for your business, the first step is to check if you are in a suitable area. Following this, you’ll need to contact a wind turbine contractor who can provide a ‘micro-siting survey’ –where they will assess the most suitable location for wind on your site. Once planning permission is accepted, the install can begin, and the process should not take more than a few weeks. Once the turbine is installed, your business will have a clean, green, renewable (and free) source of electricity for the next two to three decades. What are you waiting for?