Is wind power a safe bet?
As long as the wind is blowing, it certainly seems a safe source of renewable energy. The same amount of energy generated from all the plants in the world today could be produced by covering 1% of the planet’s land mass with wind turbines.
Having turned their fortunes around since a bankruptcy scare four years ago, Vestas – the world’s biggest turbine manufacturer – is growing at a huge rate, with £530m net profit recorded in the last year. 62GW of wind power capacity was installed in 2015; a quarter more than the previous year. This is due in part to the cost of producing turbines dropping since the recession, with materials becoming cheaper. Europe’s largest ever onshore wind project was recently announced, due to be built in Norway.
With the wind wind power industry growing at such a rate, many believe it has hit its height, as it will struggle to better recent figures. The industry could also be affected by cuts to subsidies. Furthermore, as with all methods of energy production, there is a finite number of sites on which wind farms can be built.
Offshore wind is expanding as a result; more than 3,000MW of power was generated in Europe’s seas last year. Offshore farms are more expensive, but invite less controversy with local communities. Construction of the world’s largest floating wind turbine farm is soon to begin in Scotland.
Investment in wind farms is expected to increase, with the global deal on climate change agreed in Paris in December. Many consider wind power a low risk, ethical, long term investment.