BWEA: UK could be top for small wind

The UK could become a world leader in microgeneration and small wind but it needs a helping hand to create the market.

The UK is already leading the market in manufacture small wind turbines which can generate up to 50kW of power, but has one of the smallest installed capacities in Europe. Most of the small turbines made in the country are instead exported.

The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) estimates that the UK has the potential to install 600,000 of these small units by 2020, generating 1.3gW of power.

Continuing to operate a thriving export market of the turbines could also bring in £750m over the next eleven years and create thousands of jobs.

Speaking at an Environmental Protection UK conference in London, Alex Murley BWEA’s small systems manager, said: “The potential is there – we only have to reach out and support it.

“But all this is only possible if we support it in the right way and if we manage and sustain the market.”

However, retailer B&Q recently pulled a range of turbines from its shelves following a trial which found that they did not work effectively as first thought (see related story).

Mr Murley said that a number of issues will need to be tackled, such as the difficulties surrounding the planning system, and concerns over noise pollution caused by small urban wind turbines.

“We are still waiting for the dead, limp, inactive hand of Government to release guidance three years after promising it,” he said, referring to acceptable noise limits for turbines.

The conference – which addressed the relationship between local environmental quality and the drive to a low carbon society – was opened by Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, who sent in a video address as he was attending the Governing Council of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya.

He said: “With this conference you are asking a really important question – can we combat climate change and protect the environment at the same time?

“Well my answer to this is yes, because they are both different sides of the same coin.”

Environmental Protection CEO Philip Mulligan said it was important to tackle the two issues together.

“There are a lot of modelling skills that the air quality community have that can be used by the climate change community.

“Bringing the functions together in local authorities would bring a lot of benefits.”

Kate Martin

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