Current affairs

By guest columnist Bill Wright, head of energy solutions, Electrical Contractors’ Association

What do you think of when you see the word ‘China’? I’m willing to bet that wind turbines aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. But it turns out the Chinese are light years ahead of us when it comes to embracing wind farms, wind turbines and all things relating to this source of renewable energy.

Last year China added 20GW of wind power to its supply, taking its total to 96GW. This is more than the entire electricity supply capacity of the UK. We must not rest on our laurels and think we are great at producing wind turbines when figures such as these are produced by China.

Don’t get me wrong, the UK has done a sterling job embracing wind power. The increase in wind farm capacity has meant that wind turbines provided up to 14 percent of the UK electricity supply in January 2015. The recent opening of a factory in Hull has shown the UK is committed to further expansion of this renewable source, but the fact that planning restrictions mean we can only develop wind farms offshore may hinder our attempts to catch up with the Chinese.

Hopefully, the recent oil price reduction will not hinder the progress of renewable energy systems. The price drop has been politically motivated and is succeeding in stifling research and production of oil from expensive sources. Inevitably the price will rise again in the future, meaning that renewable energy is required more than ever if we are to reduce our total carbon emissions, cut our costs and try to halt the seemingly inevitable effects of climate change.