The first windmill used to produce electricity was built in July 1887 by Professor James Blyth of Strathclyde University. Ten meters tall with cloth sails, it was quite different to the carbon-fibre blades we see today.
Fast-forward a century, and things have moved on. Wind turbines are a more and more common sight - both on land (onshore) and out to sea (offshore). The UK has the 6th largest collection of wind turbines in the world, and three times more per person than China! We're a world leader in this stuff basically.
Turbines produce around 12% of UK electricity each year, with this figure rising to around 30% on particularly windy days. And in Scotland the numbers look even better. In the first three months of 2018, wind turbines produced enough electricity for 5 million homes. Pretty impressive huh?!
Wind Is Clean
There's no denying the fact that wind power really is a star when it comes to tackling climate change in the UK. As the windiest country in Europe, the more we use our wind the fewer dirty fossil fuels we need to burn. Wind power has been a vital part of the UK's route to meeting our climate change targets - and those targets are essential if we're going to take climate change on as a country.
Wind Is Cheap
You may think that all this saving-the-planet wouldn't come cheap. Not so. Clever cookies have estimated that the cost of onshore wind already matches new gas power - and the price of both is rapidly falling. On top of this, the government's own figures confirm that onshore wind will be the cheapest source of electricity by 2020 (if not before!).
Cheap, clean - what more could you want? Well...
Wind Is Popular
Sometimes it feels like you can't read a newspaper without hearing that wind turbines are ugly, noisy... something no one wants in their back garden. But wind is actually way more popular than people think. The government’s latest figures show that a huge 76% of the UK population support wind power and only 7% oppose it.
When the turbines are owned by communities themselves, the benefits are even bigger. On the isle of Tiree, they love their wind turbine so much they named her Tilly. Tilly has helped fund everything from upgrading broadband to running a village shop, taking elderly people to medical appointments to restoring the local museum. Check out our blog about her here.
And in the Forest of Dean it's the same story. The Resilience Centre's St Briavels wind turbine provides electricity for around 300 homes. It also generates a grant pot that has provided affordable accommodation for older people and installed potentially life-saving publicly accessible defibrillators!
The End of The Road?
Despite its obvious benefits, wind power is being hung out to dry by the government, who have robbed onshore wind of financial support and put up planning barriers, making building new turbines near impossible. And get this: at the same time they're supporting dirty fossil fuel power stations and pushing more fracking through the system. We risk being locked into fossil fuels for years to come.
10:10 are running a campaign, Blown Away, demanding the government remove the blocks to onshore wind power. They'll deliver a petition in July. So what are you waiting for? Add your voice NOW!
This blog post was written by our pals at 10:10