British public wants wind energy – but government has different plans

» By | Published 07 Aug 2013 |

Off2An overwhelming majority of the public in the UK approve of the government providing financial support for renewable energy technologies, according to a new survey. The YouGov poll for the Sunday Times found support from across the political spectrum, with Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP voters all agreeing that the government should continue investing in low-carbon technologies.

The survey found 65% of respondents in favour of government spending money for wind power, while 76% said the same for tidal energy and 78% backed financial support for solar. In comparison, only 49% approved of public financial support for nuclear, 57% for clean coal and just 40% said the government should provide support for shale gas. 47% of respondents considered shale gas projects as damaging to the environment.

Despite this, Chancellor George Osborne recently revealed tax breaks for the fracking industry, with a 30% tax rate for onshore shale gas production, much lower than oil taxes. Osborne called his new tax regime “the most generous for shale in the world”.

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EU wind industry faces critical worker shortage

» By | Published 05 Aug 2013 |

Workers-Wanted-TPwind-2The European wind industry has grown so rapidly over the past decade that it is facing a critical shortage of skilled personnel, a new report reveals. There is currently a shortage of 7,000 qualified personnel required by the European wind energy sector each year, a figure that could increase to 15,000 by 2030 if the number of graduates taking courses relevant to the industry does not rise.

The figures come from a new report by the European Wind Energy Technology Platform (TPWind), based on research by renewable energy consultancy GL Garrad Hassan: “Workers wanted: The EU wind energy sector skills gap”. A full 78% of companies that responded to the TPWind questionnaire said they “found it difficult or very difficult to find suitably trained staff”. This in an EU with an overall 11% unemployment rate, and a youth unemployment rate of 20.9% (5.5 million people between the ages of 15-24).

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Keeping it safe – how do wind workers avoid danger?

» By | Published 22 Apr 2013 |

keepingitsafeWhile the wind industry will never face the equivalent of a Deepwater oil spill or a Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, its spectacular growth rates over the last decade do mean there are more health and safety hazards.

An electrical fire can occur; heavy parts can fall from great heights; lifting huge unstable loads with cranes could go wrong; transferring workers from vessels to an offshore turbine in wavy conditions could be dangerous and, when an accident occurs in a remote wind farm, rescue can take longer.

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Wind dreams in Nepal

» By | Published 16 Apr 2013 |

Continuing with the series of “wind energy stories” from around the world, in association with Global Wind Day, Robert van Waarden travels to Nepal to meet Amrit Singh Thapa in Kathmandu.

Amrit points it out as we zoom past on his motorbike.  If you look closely, past the Nokia sign, past the other motorbikes, over the jumble of electric wires, and let your eyes drift upward, you might see it. It is a solution to the energy problems of Nepal, turning in the wind. Amrit turns a corner, jokes with a security guard and drives into the grounds of the Kathmandu Engineering College. A few minutes later we are on the roof, listening to the whirling of his homemade wind turbine and looking out over this crowded and noisy city called Kathmandu.

Amrit Singh Thapa, owner of, lives and breathes wind energy. When he was still a student at the Engineering College, he began researching sustainable technology and felt deeply that his path was entwined with wind energy. He hasn’t looked back since.

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Turbines represent modernity in Thailand

» By | Published 21 Mar 2013 |

Today, photographer and wind power enthusiast Robert van Waarden reports on wind energy in Thailand, as part of the Global Wind Day “wind energy stories” series.

“A wind turbine represents modernity. So, they want this in their community. Hey we are modern, they say. This is latest technology and we are independent, from Burmese gas and from imported oil. Our energy is produced here with our own resource – that is wind – zero emissions and we are proud of it,” Nick Suppipat said.

Nick Suppipat and the company Wind Enterprise Holdings have recently completed the largest wind farm ever in Thailand. The 207 MW wind park is built in the Nakhon Ratchasima district. It is a significant step for the fledging wind industry in the Thailand and an example of how sustainable development can be a win-win.

Seven years ago, oil prices were skyrocketing and Thailand was in the midst of a financial crisis. Nick, an investor since he was 17, was convinced that renewable energy would be the next big thing and figured that wind was going to take the biggest share of that. For him, the business case made sense and he jumped in.

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