Wind turbines could be vital in helping the UK achieve its net-zero emissions targets. Wind power is a form of renewable energy that generates electricity without producing greenhouse gases, which are the leading cause of climate change.
The UK has significant potential for wind energy generation, particularly with offshore turbines, and the government has set ambitious targets to increase the amount of electricity generated from wind power. Experts must focus on wind turbine blade repair and building projects to meet these targets.
According to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), by 2050, we must at least double the electricity generated by decarbonised sources if we are to meet net-zero goals. Realistically, given the UK’s wet and windy climate, wind energy is the renewable energy source with the most potential. Wind power already contributed 26.1% of the UK’s total electricity in the last quarter of 2021. So if things continue on this route, 2050 net-zero targets may be achievable.
Failure to meet environmental targets, including the net-zero aim, could be devastating worldwide. The UK Government’s current net zero strategies are primarily focused on elevating wind energy production, and a critical component of this plan centres on offshore wind.
An ambitious target of reaching an installed capacity of 50 GW by 2050 would enhance the chances of meeting net zero aims. However, a target as large as this is no easy feat. For example, around 150 km2 of the seabed is required for building turbines for just 1 GW. Thus, the desire to produce 50 GW in under 30 years would necessitate building many enormous structures. This, in turn, could lead to significant competition between offshore wind turbines, shipping, fishing, and wildlife.
Major offshore wind projects, including Dogger Bank’s, which will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm, are being approved around the UK. At the same time, older wind turbine farms are facing a decline.
Many experts in wind energy are arguing for a more diversified approach. Rather than solely focusing on building more and larger wind farms, we should also consider how we can keep our existing and future structures functioning for longer.
Undeniably, there is a need for repairing wind turbine blades and other components. Perhaps, given this, it is no surprise that many firms are pushing for technical and hiring advances within the wind industry.
For instance, Altitec, wind turbine blade repair specialists, are working to provide hands-on learning and work experiences. Businesses like Altitec are ensuring we have the necessary workforce and training for inspecting and repairing wind turbine blades. By boosting these essential resources, we can keep our wind turbines running more efficiently and for longer, reducing the pressure on new wind farms to produce the required 50 GW of electricity.
Alongside the repair and training efforts, many are working on technological advancements to support wind energy and beyond. For instance, drones and robotics are being improved to ease the burden and need for manual inspections. Or the self-healing composite, which is currently being tested and which many believe could significantly increase the lifespan of wind turbines worldwide.
Much evidence supports the hope that the UK will meet its 2050 net-zero targets. While nothing is certain, and many still have their doubts regarding this topic, it is indisputable that leaps are being made in renewable energy, especially when it comes to wind energy.