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Politics no image

Published on April 26th, 2012 | by Robert Bickers
Image ©

Wind Turbine © JMT
This week the American Tycoon Donald Trump restated his opposition to wind farms and protested against plans to build one next to his £1 Billion golf course in Scotland. Trump before a committee of MSP’s claimed that wind turbines are not an economic way of producing power and are bad for wildlife and tourism. He argues that the world cannot afford to build them, but the truth is that it cannot afford not to. The UK and indeed the world need to make bold steps in building renewable and low carbon sources of electricity and the simple truth is that it cannot be done without wind farms. With the onset of climate change, it important to embrace energy sources that produce no carbon dioxide. Donald Trump agrees with this but argues that there is no need for wind turbines as tidal and wave power can provide enough energy on their own. This is simply untrue as both sources of energy are highly experimental and even if they are proven to be workable technologies there would be relatively few places which they could be used, hence limiting the electricity produced. Under these circumstances it would be an enormous and wholly unnecessary gamble to stop investing in wind turbines in favour of these other technologies. Another foundation of Trump’s argument is that wind farms are uneconomic and do not represent value for money. However using the wind to generate energy is economic in the long term as they have very low running costs due to low maintenance and the fact that there is no need to buy fuel. The cost of constructing them is relatively high but it is important to make that investment in order to get long term returns. Ending our dependence on fossil fuels is not only important for tackling climate change but also for energy security. As North Sea oil and gas is running out we are increasingly reliant on imports from Russia and the Middle East to meet demand. It is strategically important to build the infrastructure now in order to ensure we have electricity production capability that is not reliant on volatile world markets and regions. Obviously wind power alone cannot provide complete security as it is weather dependent but it is part of a sensible energy security policy. The environmental impact of wind turbines on wildlife is greatly exaggerated by their critics. Earlier this month a report by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds found that there was only a minimal impact on birds from flying into rotating turbines. Trump calls wind turbines ‘unattractive, ugly, and noisy’ and says that tourists would avoid visiting his golf course if they were built nearby. Despite believing that wind turbines look nice, I accept that this is not a view shared by everyone. In any case how something looks should not be a significant factor in whether something is built and what is important is its economic and environmental value. Due to the significant value of wind power as an energy generating resource the governments north and south of the border need to push ahead with wind farms despite the opposition.

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The need for renewable energy cannot be Trumped

Wind Turbine © JMT

This week the American Tycoon Donald Trump restated his opposition to wind farms and protested against plans to build one next to his £1 Billion golf course in Scotland. Trump before a committee of MSP’s claimed that wind turbines are not an economic way of producing power and are bad for wildlife and tourism. He argues that the world cannot afford to build them, but the truth is that it cannot afford not to. The UK and indeed the world need to make bold steps in building renewable and low carbon sources of electricity and the simple truth is that it cannot be done without wind farms.

With the onset of climate change, it important to embrace energy sources that produce no carbon dioxide. Donald Trump agrees with this but argues that there is no need for wind turbines as tidal and wave power can provide enough energy on their own. This is simply untrue as both sources of energy are highly experimental and even if they are proven to be workable technologies there would be relatively few places which they could be used, hence limiting the electricity produced. Under these circumstances it would be an enormous and wholly unnecessary gamble to stop investing in wind turbines in favour of these other technologies.

Another foundation of Trump’s argument is that wind farms are uneconomic and do not represent value for money. However using the wind to generate energy is economic in the long term as they have very low running costs due to low maintenance and the fact that there is no need to buy fuel. The cost of constructing them is relatively high but it is important to make that investment in order to get long term returns. Ending our dependence on fossil fuels is not only important for tackling climate change but also for energy security. As North Sea oil and gas is running out we are increasingly reliant on imports from Russia and the Middle East to meet demand. It is strategically important to build the infrastructure now in order to ensure we have electricity production capability that is not reliant on volatile world markets and regions. Obviously wind power alone cannot provide complete security as it is weather dependent but it is part of a sensible energy security policy.

The environmental impact of wind turbines on wildlife is greatly exaggerated by their critics. Earlier this month a report by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds found that there was only a minimal impact on birds from flying into rotating turbines. Trump calls wind turbines ‘unattractive, ugly, and noisy’ and says that tourists would avoid visiting his golf course if they were built nearby. Despite believing that wind turbines look nice, I accept that this is not a view shared by everyone. In any case how something looks should not be a significant factor in whether something is built and what is important is its economic and environmental value. Due to the significant value of wind power as an energy generating resource the governments north and south of the border need to push ahead with wind farms despite the opposition.

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