I had the pleasure of visiting the Whitelee Windfarm last weekend. My wife and I took my four month old daughter Amélie Sofia around the tracks of Europe’s largest windfarm in her buggy after asking the advice of the very helpful and informed member of staff about the suitability of using a four wheeler on the paths that extend to 70km. I was incredibly impressed by the sheer spectacle of these ‘wind catching machines’ and blown away (no pun intended) by the number of them as we wandered around to see them closeup and also sprawling over the wet & windy horizon. A grand total of 140 of these huge turbines powering 30,000 homes each year have to be seen and heard, its a subtle and beautiful sound playing a harmony of a low hum & high whistle as they pass overhead combined with a visual experience you will never forget.
Most of the complaints about this type of renewable energy come from people who are interested in preserving the landscape of Scotland, which I completely understand and have had many serious conversations about with people on both sides. Although sadly there has been some more ridiculous complaints from arrogant, greedy businessmen who are looking to Scotland with a view to increase their wealth. Donald Trump is the person I direct this previous point at, he states that Scotland will never become Independent under the leadership of Alex Salmond as a result of the introduction of wind turbines (that are seemingly ugly, inefficient, expensive and a cause of the total destruction of tourism). He predicts a “third world wasteland that global investors will avoid”. I find this entire concept completely ludicrous and naive especially when the USA (Mr Trump’s home country) built more windfarms last year than the UK has altogether. Surely the very facts that Scotland is the leading nation in renewable energy, with 35% of Scotland’s energy being supplied by wind & other renewable means in 2011 is, in my opinion, very impressive indeed. Without going into to too much detail, it is clear that without the use of renewable energy we will have no where to call a “wasteland that global investors will avoid”, because quite simply we will tire our resources as we have been doing already and eventually wipe ourselves out.
On a final note, I would like to look at the positive things that come from sourcing energy from natural resources and more importantly, renewables in your own country.
- We have seen a clear increase in employment and jobs in renewables over the last decade as a result of the boom industry of renewables. There are are over 11,000 people employed in this area in Scotland.
- As far as tourism is concerned I think these windfarms are a great attraction especially when when they are the largest in Europe (as the Whitelee Windfarm is) and also host a very exciting and informative visitor centre with helpful staff and an outstanding cafe.
- The environment undergoes a change for the good as carbon emissions are lowered due to the introduction of windfarms, also these windfarms are in position for 20 years and then a decision is made whether or not to move the location or allow the land to return to its original state.
- On a personal note, I felt very proud and humbled by the experience of the visit to Whitelee. It felt very good to be part of something that the world is watching. Scotland should be very excited that they are once again pioneers of the engineering & application of something great and once again a forward thinking attitude that is to be admired.