Thursday 29 October 2009

I want to be a YIMBY (please)!

Another view of TG4718 : Wind turbine and farm, Somerton - four of the eleven turbines at this wind farm.

Heading home from Essex to Norwich, we pass a series of signs along the A140 saying "NO GIANT WIND TURBINES HERE". I confess I'm a bit of a fan of wind turbines, as much for their aesthetic appeal as for their utility. Once, on the way to Winterton Beach, I commented to R that I was surprised the council hadn't installed accident blackspot signs to take into account all those drivers whose attention must surely wander from the road ahead while they admire the beautiful juxtaposition of Norman churches and 21st Century windmills!

She laughed and suggested that it might only be me in danger of that!

There’s an argument I hear a lot that goes “Renewable energy will never satisfy all our requirements, so we need to build more coal / nuclear / gas (delete as appropriate) power-stations”. This argument seems especially prevalent when people talk about wind farms, where even the most ardent supporters have to concede that the wind doesn’t always blow as hard as you need it, just when you need it.

And I think the argument’s true. Renewables can’t satisfy all our requirements, if we carry on wasting energy the way we as a society do. But if we combine a programme of renewables with efficiency measures that match the shortfall as we run down non-renewables, surely that can give us what we need, in a way consistent with our energy and CO2 commitments, at a price we can all afford? I’m no energy analyst, but I’ve yet to find anyone who can tell me that this is an incorrect premise to start from.

All choices are fraught with difficulty and, for example, George Monbiot (a commentator for whom I have a lot of time) has suggested that to achieve proper returns, wind farms need to be big, and need to be offshore to persuade people to have them built.

But, when it comes to wind-farms, I consider myself a bit of a YIMBY - a “Yes, In My Backyard” (please!). Maybe the way to promote a new spirit of wind-farm “YIMBYism” is for communities to sponsor the installation of the wind turbines in return for a share of the output (or a cut of the proceeds if the electricity’s fed into the grid). Perhaps, more radically, community cooperatives could join together and form their own local energy companies!

At the end of the day, I’m sure people would prefer a wind-farm to a nuclear power-station in their back garden?

Picture Credit: Another view of TG4718 : Wind turbine and farm, Somerton - four of the eleven turbines at this wind farm. © Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

No comments:

Post a Comment