Saturday, October 07, 2006

Rural wind-power initiative in the UK prospers

(Source: Rural power pioneers sail into the wind - The Guardian)

Rural communities in England have banded together to form wind-powered energy co-operatives; the co-operatives promote, construct and operate community “wind farms”—clusters of wind turbines that generate energy for surrounding communities—in which individual residents invest. This phenomenon, having started earlier in Denmark and catching the interest of an Englishman who brought the idea home, is becoming a popular way to utilize renewable energy.

Andrew King was the man to bring the idea to England; his initial £2,000 investment has helped launch the first and most successful co-operative currently in England. The Baywind Renewable Energy Co-Operative has 1,300 local investors in Lancashire, England and Cumbria, England. The co-operative returned 9 percent gross last year.

Energy4All, a company that supports the implementation of such co-operatives, is seeing increasing success with its renewable energy initiatives; in August, the company saw a share offering to invest in turbines raise £750,000, and expects to raise £4 million for a new community to launch by year’s end.

Despite the increase in popularity (and the benefits of renewable energy), the Co-Operatives prove to be bothersome to some; residents opposing the unsightliness of the co-operatives have stalled the construction of a couple of wind farms. Those opposing the wind farms claim, among other things, that tourism—an important part of the economy in that region of England—will suffer from the presence of so many turbines.


- Are such “wind-communities” a suitable solution to the problem of reliance on fossil fuels? Could these communities be implemented successfully in other countries? In the U.S.?

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