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About Me

Darren Winters is a self made investment multi-millionaire and successful entrepreneur. Amongst
his many businesses he owns the number 1 investment training company in the UK and Europe.
This company provides training courses in stock market, forex and property investing and since
the year 2000 has successfully trained over 250,000 people.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Energy Series: Wind

Wind energy producing electricity for the national grid has been targeted by government as the major alternative to the carbon burning alternatives. This would help the UK to meet its obligations for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and help us to contribute to the, generally agreed, need to reduce the march of global warming and the devastating impact that would have on the way we live.

Wind turbines are used to create the electricity and these can be various sizes from small ones to generate power for an individual house through large single or small groups to supply small complexes to large wind farms for feeding the national grid and for replacing coal and gas fired generators. They can be placed, subject to planning permission, anywhere that the wind blows sufficiently to produce electricity in economic amounts. They are large complex structures with a fan or veins that are rotated by the force of the wind. The veins can usually be adjusted so that maximum advantage can be taken of the wind’s power allowing for its direction. The rotors are connected to a shaft which, in turn, is connected to a gear box. The gear box is connected via a system of cogs to the generator and it is this that produces the electricity which is then fed by high powered cables to where it will be utilised. Technologies are being advanced all the time which is making these structures more efficient.

To produce enough electricity for commercial use wind farms have been erected in places where the wind is plentiful all year round so that they will often be found in remote areas such as on mountain sides or on flat plains that are exposed to the weather and at sea. It costs around two million pounds to erect each one and will need regular maintenance however after that, they become cheap to run as the wind is free. According to your point of view the wind turbines are either very beautiful or an ugly eye sore. They are also very noisy and the noise of a wind turbine in operation has been likened to that of a small jet engine. This noise multiplied several times over would be very hard to bear for anyone in close proximity to them but to those viewing them from a distance this may not be a concern.

These concerns have led to many wind farms being constructed at sea where the wind is more regular, is unaffected by obstructions and the noise only affects those that sail nearby. They are, however, regarded as a shipping hazard and they are much more expensive to erect and to maintain because of the harsh and difficult environment. They will be damaged by the force of the sea and by the salt and the high powered cables will need to be longer and run under the sea. They are, therefore, much more expensive to run and have needed to be subsidised more heavily to encourage operators to construct them there. They do avoid the objections often put up by those that will have them ‘in their backyard’ which will include the noise and the blot on a landscape. Many of the better sites will be beauty spots. The objections will delay planning permission and could extend the time before they are up and running to several years which also adds to the cost of building them.

The wind is variable and this makes for an unreliable source of power. Without wind, there is no generation of electricity possible. It is also possible for the wind to be too strong so that the generators have to be shut down. This is a big disadvantage of wind power as a smooth and reliable supply is required for the national grid. New technologies are being developed to overcome this disadvantage with the objective of storing the power at time of plenty so that it can be released when there is not enough electricity. It is clear that the national grid requires reliable and plentiful power and until this problem is overcome wind will remain second to fossil fuels and nuclear energy for supplying the nation’s electricity. In the meantime, subsidies and regulations will be the main reason why wind farms are developed but the certainties of the need for alternatives has also spawned the industries which will develop the existing technologies and find new ones to make this a viable long term alternative to fossil fuel.

Wind appears to have a clear long term future and as such can be invested in and there are a growing number of opportunities in which to do so. There are companies such as Green Energy which run their own wind farms and which provide the electricity produced for it’s growing customer base. Customers close to the wind farms they own are given a discount to compensate them for the disruption of living nearby. The company has been successful and appears to have a future of growth. Another is Greencoat UK Wind Trust which operates offshore wind farms that were sold to it by the existing operators who have retained a stake in the company. This is a good way of funding further growth as the companies have developed the farms to be profitable and they get the funds to allow them to continue developing new fields which, once successful can be sold on. Greencoat UK Wind is able to run the fields and produce enough cash to pay an attractive dividend and to enable them to buy new fields as they become available. There are also environmental unit and investment trusts that will invest in wind projects among other alternative energy and eco sensitive businesses. There are also ETFs that can be used such as First Trust ISE Global Wind Energy Index Fund.

There are clearly risks involved investing in new technologies but wind energy has become a part of our energy production programme and will find a growing place in the global energy sector.


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