To see or not to see

Electricity – it’s all around us, we use it every day, whether in work or at home and now we can even purchase cars which run off it.

The electricity that we use every day comes from the earth’s natural resources such as coal or natural gas (fossil fuels) which can cause pollution and will eventually run out. We need renewable energy sources to reduce our carbon footprint and reduce our dependence on the limited fossil fuel supply.

With the UK population estimated at 63,489,234 (July 1st 2014) and growing the UK have committed to source 15% of all energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Renewable sources are made from the wind, water, sun and even animal waste (biomass) and with commitments to use more of these sources of energy we find these farms infringing upon space near our homes.

Wind

Wind Turbines work well in the UK because of the excellent resources of wind. It’s one of the most cost effective forms of renewable energy. 194 turbines are currently being proposed off the coast of Dorset, standing at 656ft they would be higher than the cliffs on the island. This is after the first wind farm in the English Channel has been given the go ahead. Eight miles off the Sussex coast 116 turbines will be installed on 28 square miles of land in early 2017.

Water

The UK is the undisputed global leader in marine energy. Recently the Government gave planning approval for the world’s first Tidal Lagoon Power Plant in Swansea which could potentially provide power to over 155,000 homes by way of a 9.5km breakwater wall in the Port of Swansea.

Hopes of five larger lagoons on the west coast of the UK would altogether contribute to 8% of the UK’s electricity.

Sun

Britain is currently leading the European solar expansion. Solar farms are usually between 1 and 100 acres of panels which generate green electricity. They are seen as the most nature friendly way of generating power. The Government have just completed the UK’s largest solar farm in Lyneham. However there are plans to create an even larger farm on Anglesey, across 195 acres of farmland, with ambitions to turn Anglesey into an ‘Energy Island’ with an Eco park project.

Biomass

Biomass plants produce energy through living or recently living organisms. Biomass is seen as the future, converting from and replacing coal. Tilbury power plant on the River Thames start building a £194m biomass plant power which will be commissioned in July 2017 and will power more than 80,000 homes. There are also plans for a multi-million pound plant in Anglesey adding to the Eco Park project.

Renewable energy projects are large scale but they can’t store the energy they produce. The energy the sources create needs transferring to the National Grid.

The one thing that links all these sources are pylons.

The National Grid has recently unveiled a newly design pylon which will be able to transmit the green energy from sources all over the UK. These won’t replace the 88,000 current structures but they will be appearing alongside them all over Britain’s countryside. The T shaped design will be 36 meters high but will still be able to transport 400,000 volts.

“Very slowly the landscape will start to change,” said a spokesperson from National Grid. “Over the coming years you’ll start to see more of them, but they’re meant to blend into the scenery.”1

With more and more renewable energy sources needed and new farms and plants being built across the UK we can be sure that we will also be seeing new pylons being erected.

Telecoms tycoon Brendan Clouston has had to reduce the asking price of his Scottish home by £12 million as Scottish and Southern Energy have applied for a compulsory purchase order for land on Mr Clouston’s estate to build pylons. The Beauly Denny project is 137 miles of overhead transmissions transferring electricity to the National Grid.

In order for us to continue using electricity it remains to be seen how the farms, plants and pylons will affect our environment and health.

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