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Are wind farms the future of renewable energy?

Wales' largest wind farm, at Rhyl Flats off the north Wales coast, is celebrating its official opening.

The UK government wants to encourage more offshore wind farms to meet targets to reduce carbon dioxide. Welsh secretary Peter Hain says Wales is in a prime position to benefit from the jobs and investment that will be created.

But critics of wind farms argue that they are expensive, unsightly, inefficient and subject to the vagaries of the weather.

What do you think of wind farms? Do you have one near your home? Are there better ways to generate renewable energy in Wales?

Click here to read the main story

Published: Wednesday, 2 December, 2009, 08:13 GMT 08:13 UK

All comments as they come in

Added: Thursday, 3 December, 2009, 11:19 GMT 11:19 UK

We need many more wind farms and more investment in solar and wave energy. I would like to windmills in every open area where the weather conditions are appropriate – including the London area and the Thames estuary.

[Astralite], London

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Added: Thursday, 3 December, 2009, 10:53 GMT 10:53 UK

Maybe.

1. Build the turbine structures now while material resources are readily available, BUT plan the structures to last MANY many decades.

2. They MUST be designed so that the actual machinery can be replaced with more efficient technology as it comes on stream.

3. WHY, do anything, if 25%+ is going to be automatically wasted.

4. BURY electricity transmission cable network & LONG TERM SAVE 25% electricity, emissions, EVERY YEAR, thats a WHOLE years generation saved EVERY 4 years.

[SKYISBLUESOAMI], UN-SUSTAINABILITY THE EPITATH OF HUMANITY, United Kingdom

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Added: Thursday, 3 December, 2009, 09:19 GMT 09:19 UK

CO2 is necessary for life both for its chemical and its greenhouse gas properties. But too much of it traps more heat and so warms the planet. This is not scientifically controversial.

Rene Descartes

The scientific properties of CO2 may not be controversial. How it affects a climate system which is naturally changing all the time is the subject of the biggest debate ever in the scientific community.

Sheldon Cooper, Why didn't the Millennium Bug affect millions of computers?

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Added: Thursday, 3 December, 2009, 09:12 GMT 09:12 UK

In Yorkshire we are one of the windiest places in UK, yet far behind other areas for wind. It might be something to do with Yorkshire being the power generator of the UK as we have most of the nasty dirty coal powerstations which make the air filthy & probably why life span is shorter.

[MrWonderfulReality]

Lucky for yorkshire they instead have a stable power supply which is not over expensive. With any luck that wont change until a real alternative is looked into. Wind is not powerful enough

wayne, lancashire

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Added: Thursday, 3 December, 2009, 07:54 GMT 07:54 UK

Wind farms definitely have a place but they need to be complemented by other sources such as hydroelectric, tidal, wave, nuclear and energy-from-waste in order to maintain pace with demand. I am a fan of wind farms, but even I am alarmed by some of the recent planning applications because they are getting too big: a recent planning application was for wind turbines the height of Salisbury Cathedral. Now we have reached the stage where a renewable source is becoming a serious blight.

Brontus Horace

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Added: Thursday, 3 December, 2009, 07:46 GMT 07:46 UK

Our town is situated at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and the scenic Thousand Islands ( so tourism is important ). Several months ago a new wind farm with 86 turbines was Opened on Wolfe Island abouy 3 km from Kingston. We see the turbines but hear nothing. It works. We don't have to reduce population !! Personally I think the technology looks good and saves us from future grief.
I lived in Newport for a year before emmigrating to Canada, beautiful country.

Mike Summers, Kingston, on, Canada

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Added: Thursday, 3 December, 2009, 06:30 GMT 06:30 UK

could someone please inform me on the cost implications of windfarms. I know they are subsidised, but how much does it cost to make one of these windmills compared to how much electricity they will provide in the future. When it comes to costing how do they fare with their carbon footprint e.g the cost of the steel production, transportation, construction etc?

dave rees

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Added: Thursday, 3 December, 2009, 03:29 GMT 03:29 UK

'Wind farms' are an insult to farmers. They are costing us the earth to fail to save the earth. Never has so much money been poured down the drain to no avail except to enrich their commercial and political proponents. Never has so much public money been wasted to destroy our landscapes and threaten our treasured wildlife. The central issue is that they need up to 90% back-up of conventional generation to ensure supplies are maintained. An Alice-in-Wonderland world indeed!

David Insall, Corwen

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Added: Wednesday, 2 December, 2009, 23:13 GMT 23:13 UK

Those that believe that wind farms are the answer to Britains energy needs must know very little about them indeed. Most of our wind turbines are sourced from abroad and are hugely expensive to build and commission and once operational they only last for 25 years. The energy produced isn't constant as it isn't always windy and to top it all off the government pays thousands of pounds each year to landowners to site them.

Nuclear is the only answer.

On or off the fence

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Added: Wednesday, 2 December, 2009, 22:44 GMT 22:44 UK

"Wind should be part of a broad portfolio of energy provision that includes nuclear, wave, tidal, solar and reducing fossil fuel usage."

I keep hearing this, but if you're going to have nuclear anyway then what's the point in having wind power at all when a single extra nuclear power station will do the job of every planned turbine, and far more reliably?

[ForceCrag], Stockport

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Added: Wednesday, 2 December, 2009, 20:56 GMT 20:56 UK

Do people actually realise how big these turbines can get, I live in Llandudno where we will be forced to look at 250 of these turbines which I have been informed will be 540ft high, this is around two thirds the height of our local Great Orme. All you will be able to see from our lovely prom, will be not the sea, but a sea of turbines on the move where 20yrs ago there was nothing but the sea. Come on people wake up they just want your money not to save the environment.

Graham Jones, Llandudno

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Added: Wednesday, 2 December, 2009, 19:23 GMT 19:23 UK

"But why should we trust any calculation of yours? You claim to have recalculated the greenhouse effect of the 0.038% of CO2 but you won't say what it's based on or where it's published.

harry portsmouth"

Harry, I've done the same calculations, independantly & I make it nearer 300 years! Same ball-park, so he's not just plucking figures out of the air! Just the CO2 generated in making the blades takes over 100 years to pay back!

Glenn Willis, Lyme Regis, United Kingdom

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Added: Wednesday, 2 December, 2009, 19:11 GMT 19:11 UK

Please note, in the figures I posted earlier, (at 18.15 GMT), I hope it was clear that the 2000million windmills required would be to generate the extra output required if transport were to go electric. Not the total rquired by the UK. With industry and homes added this would be double that at least.

[ThankyouandGoodbye]

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Added: Wednesday, 2 December, 2009, 18:17 GMT 18:17 UK

Many objections to wind power are based on the issue of "load balancing" - the problem of matching the supply to the demand. Wind is of course variable but our grid distribution and metering systems evolved during a time when most of the power sources - coal, gas, nuclear - were pretty stable. New infrastructure developments like variable pricing and smart meters - switching in non-critical loads when supply is plentiful for example - can easily overcome these challenges.

John Surridge, Cardiff

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Added: Wednesday, 2 December, 2009, 18:16 GMT 18:16 UK

At best wind turbines are 70% efficient (too much or too little wind to produce power and maintenance downtime) - that means for 1MW of wind power there must be 300KW of online standby power supplied from other sources. One German report actually said they were 18% efficient (OK it was from a power company).
To me the only real alternatives are nuclear and tidal the only use for wind is on the small scale - street, village, but a credible alternative to current power generation - no.

David Griffiths, Amsterdam

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