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Ecotricity Explains: Wind energy

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By Imogen Ford
9 May 2024

29 years ago, green energy didn’t exist. By introducing it to the market we kick-started the Global Green Energy Movement and we continue to lead the way.

Wind energy has always been a big part of what we’re all about – in fact, Dale built our first windmill on a hill near our office HQ in Stroud back in 1996. This windmill, Lynch Knoll, was the result of a five-year long battle to bring green electricity to local residents and businesses – and it’s been doing so ever since.

lynch knoll

As you might expect, we get sent a lot of questions about wind energy and our turbines, so we wanted to answer some of the most popular all in one place for you.

First up, why do you call them windmills?

a) It sounds a bit nicer than wind turbine

b) They’re really just a modern version of an old windmill which was used to mill flour

c) It goes nicely with calling our solar parks ‘sunmills’ and our green gas site a ‘green gasmill’

d) all of the above

Why are windmills white?

Ours are actually a very light shade of grey, which is mainly to make them as unobtrusive as possible. Plus, the light colour also helps to keep the turbine cool.

Research carried out by students at the University of Wyoming recently found that insects and their predators were also more attracted to white windmills, and that those in shades of light grey, dark grey and green were less attractive.

What about the birds?!

This is arguably one of the most common questions we’re asked – and we know it’s a big one.

We have an experienced Development team who carry out extensive research before we even get to the building stage, as it’s really important to us that we minimise our impact on nature as much as possible.

It’s also worth looking at it proportionally. Fossil fuel power plants actually kill 35 times more birds than windmills do, killing 9.4 birds per GWh compared to the 0.27 killed by windmills.

wind birds
How has the onshore wind ban affected your green plans?

Whilst the Tory de facto ban on new onshore wind parks brought a halt to many of our plans, we’d still managed to build 74 windmills spanning across 24 wind parks before it came into play – we might still be a small fish in a big pond, but we’ve definitely done a lot. We hope the next government will overturn the ban and support green energy in favour of fossil fuels – finally!

Are they noisy?

Even at 300m away, the only noise you’d hear from the windmill would be similar to the hum of a fridge – you'd barely notice it.

In fact, our windmills have to be placed at least 800m away from houses to prevent noise pollution – you definitely wouldn’t hear anything at that distance.

Last but not least, why wind?

Britain has 40% of Europe’s wind source and it won’t ever run out – it’s an incredible natural resource and there’s enough of it to power the country several times over.

Over the past 28 years we’ve built 24 wind parks all over the country. These wind parks are home to 74 beautiful windmills, generating enough green energy to power over 56,000 homes.

The environmental benefit of our windmills is huge, saving over 31,000 tonnes of CO2 each year in the fight against the climate crisis.

Plus, the wind blows day and night, so we’re currently building our first grid scale battery project, designed to store green energy generated when demand is low, for use at peak times. Innovations like this are essential in our mission to end fossil fuels.

Ready to join the mission for a greener Britain? Join Ecotricity today online or by phoning 0808 123 0123.

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