Saturday, 9 January 2010

Wind farms: Generating power and jobs?

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is launching a £100bn programme to build more offshore wind farms.

Bids for tenders for nine zones around territorial waters and the Continental Shelf were submitted to the Crown Estate, which owns the seabed to a distance of 22.2km off the UK coast.
According to the British Wind Energy Association, the UK has potentially the largest offshore wind resource in the world, with relatively shallow waters and a strong wind resource extending far into the North Sea.
The UK has been estimated to have more than 33% of the total European potential offshore wind resource, which is enough to power the country nearly three times over.

Each of the new zones will each have a range of energy-producing capacity.

According to figures released by the winning licence bidders, the smallest will be able to produce around 600 megawatts and one, based at the Dogger Bank zone, will have a capacity of 9,000 megawatts.

To put this into context, an average coal or gas powered station produces between 1,000 and 1,500 megawatts.

Offshore farms are more expensive to build.

Per megawatt of stored energy capacity, a gas powered station costs £1m to build, a nuclear power station costs £3m and a wind farm costs £3m.

Offshore farms are weather dependent. Whereas a nuclear power station operates all the time, a wind farm only operates when the wind is blowing.

However, there are no expensive fuel costs involved in wind farming.
full article

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