4   Wind

The UK has the best wind resources in Europe. Sustainable Development Commission

Wind farms will devastate the countryside pointlessly. James Lovelock

How much wind power could we plausibly generate?

We can make an estimate of the potential of on-shore (land-based) wind
in the United Kingdom by multiplying the average power per unit land-
area of a wind farm by the area per person in the UK:

power per person = wind power per unit area × area per person.

Chapter B (p263) explains how to estimate the power per unit area of a
wind farm in the UK. If the typical windspeed is 6 m/s (13 miles per hour,
or 22 km/h), the power per unit area of wind farm is about 2 W/m2.

This figure of 6 m/s is probably an over-estimate for many locations in
Britain. For example, figure 4.1 shows daily average windspeeds in Cam-
bridge during 2006. The daily average speed reached 6 m/s on only about
30 days of the year – see figure 4.6 for a histogram. But some spots do
have windspeeds above 6 m/s – for example, the summit of Cairngorm in
Scotland (figure 4.2).

Plugging in the British population density: 250 people per square kilo-
metre, or 4000 square metres per person, we find that wind power could

Figure 4.1. Cambridge mean wind speed in metres per second, daily (red line), and half-hourly (blue line) during 2006. See also figure 4.6.
Figure 4.2. Cairngorm mean wind speed in metres per second, during six months of 2006.