It's time to fill the fields with wind turbines

It’s time to fill the fields with wind turbines

For starters, the research shows that opposition to onshore wind among Conservative voters does not exist to the extent that some party members believe it does. On the contrary, a recent poll shows that there is broad support not only for more wind power, but more broadly for renewable energy.

In a survey conducted by pollster Opinium in early November, 74% of people expressed support for building more wind farms, with more than half strongly in favor of the move. Yet the real enlightening moment for the government should come from learning that 72% of Tory voters also backed more construction of wind farms.

This is completely at odds with the perception of most of the conservative elite. Separate polls conducted on behalf of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a non-profit organization that counts Lord Turner, the former chairman of the government’s climate change committee, and former business secretary Andrea Leadsom, revealed that 61% of Conservative MPs believe the people who voted for them in the last election oppose onshore wind projects.

In fact, a similar proportion of those who voted Conservative in the 2019 election say they would “think less of” an MP who campaigned against an onshore wind developing near them.

There are of course very legitimate reasons to oppose onshore wind farms, especially if you live nearby. But often the criticisms are exaggerated, the result of common misconceptions, or can be addressed by advances in technology combined with appropriate regulation and planning laws.

Wind farms can be noisy, but noise pollution can be reduced to about the same decibels as normal road traffic or light rain if built outside a 500m radius, according to the public broadcaster German Deutsche Welle.

There are also concerns about damage to wildlife. But studies suggest that cats, cars and pesticides are responsible for many more bird deaths, while measures such as painting the blades black also help to reduce losses considerably. Effective sensors for bats and birds are also being developed to temporarily stop the rotation of turbines.

And while there are lingering doubts about wind power’s ability to power our homes when the wind isn’t blowing, plenty of research shows that the challenges posed by intermittency are often overstated – especially in Great Britain. Brittany, where the wind blows most of the time. time.

Where wind variation exists, it can be countered by building networks in remote but windy areas, through high-capacity interconnections that smooth variations in wind generation, and ensuring that construction goes hand in hand. with the development of new battery technology to provide sufficient reserve. Powerful.

To win over the skeptics that exist, ministers need to start making some of these points stronger.

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