Harnessing the wind presents great opportunities in the modern world, and rural areas. As agriculture and the pattern of rural business activity both continue to change quite rapidly, there is pressure to find new ways of earning business income.
A great deal of much publicised activity has taken place during the nineties to build 'wind farms', not just in the U.K. but in many countries of Europe and the world. This activity has been driven by national and international concerns to
diversify energy supplies and to curb global warming.
While there is debate about the environmental benefit of windfarms because of their novelty and appearance in the landscape, the technical and economic benefits are very clear.
There are now highly developed wind turbines on the market, of advanced designs which are almost unrecognisable from those of the nineteen eighties, and there is a worldwide wind industry.
Wind turbines generate electricity which is a high value product that is becoming increasingly marketable because, in parallel with the growth of the wind industry, energy markets are becoming fully deregulated.
There is now opportunity not just to save on energy bills by using wind turbines but to sell electricity as well. There is even the prospect of selling this electricity at a premium price because it is 'green'.
A guide is available from the Sustainable Development team which is mainly concerned with single wind turbines rather than large windfarms, concentrating on the opportunities for existing business and new partnerships to gain value from their own local wind resource. Initial investment is high but maintenance and supervision costs are very low. A payback of 5 years is possible, and an operating life of 20 years is expected.
There is a wide range of types of business that can use windpower and there are many types of application. Heavy power users are good candidates, and these include intensive livestock farms, feed mills, distilleries, vegetable cold stores, food and fish processing factories, quarries, tourist and leisure complexes, and so on. There are also many cases where using wind power is the least expensive of a number of costly options, for example where the grid is inaccessible; wind power can be used to supply heat and to pump water.