News of the month (November 2004).

The European wind energy industry says it could eventually supply all of Europe's electricity.

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has recently projected that offshore "wind farms" covering an area the size of Greece could meet Europe's electricity needs with no greenhouse gas emissions.
But opposition groups think that giant wind turbines will scar the landscape, or blight the sea horizon, deter tourists and kill birds with their whirling vanes.

Alison Hill of the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) said her organization was mounting a major publicity campaign in newspapers, with billboard posters and a photographic exhibition extolling what she called the beauty of turbines to inform and win over people. She said "The argument is reaching ridiculous proportions. Most people don't understand climate change and they don't understand wind turbines," at an international meeting in London.

"It is a long standing case of Not In My Back Yard. Where people have knowledge they give support. In this case familiarity breeds content," she added.

Wind farms are sprouting in fields, on hilltops and out of the seas around Europe with major projects either under construction or in planning and with the Kyoto treaty* about to come into force, joining governments must seek clean and renewable sources of energy.

* Treaty committed to cutting carbon dioxide emissions throughout the world.


The Association says it can hit the target of generating most of the 75 gigawatts (GW) of electricity by 2010, of which 10 GW could be offshore, and with government intervention to remove long term support for the carbon dioxide emitting fossil fuel power industry, this could rise from a targeted cut of Co2 of 10% to 12 % by 2020.

"In the longer term, a sea area of 150,000 square kilometers ... could provide enough power to satisfy all of Europe's electricity demand," a EWEA spokesman said.

Rowena Langston of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said this type of development was being pushed ahead with scant reference to the impact on the local environment and in particular bird life.

"Until there is more robust information, we are not going to overstep our conservation brief and say a project should go ahead regardless," she told the meeting.

Renewable energy specialist Bryony Worthington of Friends of the Earth said that the climate crisis was now so grave that birds had to take second place to saving the planet, "the bottom line is that climate change is happening, endangering us all. It is extremely scary," she warned.


November 2004