Tapping wind power

Published: Friday 15 December 2000

in a report entitled "North Sea Offshore Wind-A European Powerhouse", the German Wind Energy Institute has highlighted the wind power potential of five countries -- Germany, the uk , the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark. These five countries have a wind power potential of 1,933 terrawatt hours per year -- more than three times their combined total electricity consumption.

By efficiently tapping their wind energy potential, emission of greenhouse gases can also be reduced drastically. "If one per cent of the offshore resources of these five North Sea countries were to be used instead of power produced by using coal, carbon dioxide emissions could be curbed to a great extent," said Karl Mallon, energy analyst for Greenpeace, an international environmental group.

The report added that the technology of harnessing wind power is already available. The wind turbines are reliable and efficient enough to withstand the harsh North Sea environment. The report also assessed the potential environmental impacts of wind harnessing projects on flora and fauna of the region. The report stated there is a remote possibility of any impact, provided the guidelines are followed.

A Greenpeace study also reports that if just one per cent of the offshore wind potential of these countries was tapped every year, it would provide clean power for 6.5 million homes each year, generate employment opportunities for 160,000 people and allow closure of five coal power plants every year.

Greenpeace has called on the five North Sea countries to establish a licensing scheme to open up the wind resource to private industry as a vital part of their climate response strategy. Institutional barriers and a lack of political will has currently impeded efforts to harness the renewable energy.

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