Big Blue Sky – And No Hot Air

VB friend and contributor Rowan Adams makes a visit off the Island, but finds some reminders of home.

I left the Island behind for a few days recently to visit friends and explore Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire – but I found a few reminders of home.

Islanders may make wind turbine blades, but we don’t get many chances to see them in action.

So it was very encouraging to see the name of Vestas on a working turbine.

I stopped counting after about three wind farms and four individual turbines.

Well done at least some of the locals for the imagination to realize that wind turbines make their Big Blue Sky more beautiful as well as helping to protect it from climate change.

Those locals included the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, with a wind turbine at the Cley Marshes Nature Reserve, ‘internationally reputed as a premier birdwatching site’.

(Though it seems the nimbys live in Norfolk as well as the Isle of Wight)

And it’s not just the wind.

In Ely I came across a public loo with solar-heated water for the basins.

But whether you think wind turbines ugly or beautiful, we need to recover from our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels.

If we don’t want wind turbines, we still need renewable energy, and we need enough of it – the sums have to work.

And on the same trip, in Heffers bookshop in Cambridge, I found the book that can help do just that.

It’s the best book I’ve ever seen on renewable energy.

David JC MacKay’s ‘Sustainable Energy – without the hot air’ gives the actual figures we need to understand how to survive without fossil fuel. And amazingly he’s made the whole thing available free online.

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Saturday, 27th June, 2009 3:04pm



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27 Comments on "Big Blue Sky – And No Hot Air"

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L Pinkerton

Yes, on our regular trips to the Broads we have seen wind tubines all over Suffolk and Norfolk. We moored about 100 yards from one up near Martham – no noise all night and in a land of windmills they are just the next extension of a simple technology.

Judge Mental
I was out in a boat fishing off Ventnor last Sunday and couldn’t hit the bottom with ten ounces of lead. The immense power of the tides probably escapes most people but there it is, relentlessly going backwards and forwards as it has done since the formation of the oceans. We have over 11,000 miles of coastline in Britain, what are we doing? Building windmills. You couldn’t… Read more »
You seem to be a little confused Rowan. On the one hand you denigrate those who disagree with you and who do not want the country covered in inefficient wind turbines with the “nimbys live in Norfolk” tag, yet you call Professor Mackays book as the “best” you have ever seen and that it “gives the actual figures we need to understand”. Perhaps you should actually read… Read more »

They would much prefer just 1 Nucleur power station to take over when the lights go out.

Why do these anti developing technologies people insist on posting rubbish stats again and again.

Everybody knows that wind won’t wholesale replace current sources, but it will extend current supplies and …one day… if we continue to develope the technology, who knows

It seems more people are waking up to the fact that these white elephants are not fit for purpose. The energy demand is met by quantifiable supply from a controllable source. As the wind is as unpredictable as… oh,”the wind” (there’s a well know saying connected to properties of wind) turbines can only be looked on as an additional(on top of) power source. The solar car analogy… Read more »
[email protected] said “It seems more people are waking up ” While this is true, there is still a substantial minority who either refuse to or cannot wake up. Despite proven data and even BWEA figures being used to dismantle the wind turbine case, examples of which have been gone into ad infinitum, they still don’t get it and just resort to name calling and derogatory statements such… Read more »
Christopher Bonney

Blimey! If that’s what it takes to be called ‘young man’, even by a know-it-all like colin, I must remember to do this more often.


“even by a know-it-all ”
See what I mean? No argument = slag people off.
Just can’t help yourself can you. Sticks and stones old boy!

Christopher Bonney
I think it’s you who’s confused Colin. We’ve gone and set light to the Mothership to keep ourselves warm. We are streaking through the void of space on our little planet with smoke pouring out the back. A countryside full of windmills may not be to your taste, but the countryside will be able to survive and those windmills serve as a timely reminder that the fire… Read more »
“We will quickly sicken on the sight of them and find a better solution” Isn’t that saying they are redundant even before installation So lets pump millions if not billions into a concept that will not give us the results required just to make ourselves feel better and get over the guilt that we all must be feeling for so called “destroying” of the planet. That sounds… Read more »
Demand for wind turbines is falling around Europe due to the fact that many countries have already reached their targets for renewable energy and thus have stopped providing subsidies and/or tax incentives for wind turbine developments. Yes wind energy is unreliable (for want of a better word), hence why wind farm electricity production values incorporate a capacity factor linked to the typical wind conditions in the area… Read more »
Lastly, unlike the damage already done to the earth’s climate… wind turbines are indeed temporary structures!!! they last for around 20 years, by which time hopefully new technology will arrive and we can take them down!! i.e no lasting effect on the local environment… unlike the CO2 being produced by the coal fired power station being used to supply your computer to let you read this blog…..”… Read more »
martin william wareham

Nail on head.Let the Dinosaurs have their say.

“Ok, CO2 is not absorbed by the oceans and by every plant on the planet?? And the huge concrete foundations that the turbines sit on will be absorbed by the earth immediately after the windmill is obsolete, sorry, taken down? How much energy is used and therefore how much CO2 is discharged in the production and installation of these white elephants? Add everything together and the net… Read more »
So nature will only absorb naturally discarded CO2? Mother nature must have a very refined and complex filtering system to be able to analyse the CO2 to establish its origin before absorption or rejection?! Nuclear power station on the Isle of Wight? Why? Is this the “we use electricity therefore we should have a power station”? Many fly away on holiday, surely we should have an international… Read more »
Sorry, I do want to disagree with [email protected] on this one. ‘Nuclear power station on the Isle of Wight? Why? Is this the “we use electricity therefore we should have a power station”? Many fly away on holiday, surely we should have an international airport here? Many Islanders eat fish, where is our fishing fleet sitting in an industrial dock?’ Well, yes actually, I _do_ think that… Read more »

“Demand for wind turbines is falling around Europe due to the fact that many countries have already reached their targets for renewable energy”
Would you care to put up the verifiable source for this “fact” Joe?


well you can pick and choose your expert…because there are dozens on both sides. Your expert is no more credible than any other, therefore a ‘fact’ is not a fact at all, it is a guess..and I like Joes version of a guess.

Joe I believe this highlights the fact that many contries in the EU have met, or will soon meet 2010 renewable energy targets, thus leading to the reduction in renewable energy developments. The biggest markets for wind energy development, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Luxemburg, Spain, Sweden and Holland have all met their targets and thus started to scale back wind energy developments. The countries that havent… Read more »
This is laughable. The link actually says “eu-to-fall-just-short-of-2010-renewable-target” does it not? Furthermore, it is nearly 2 years old dated 31 August 2007 and says the “Eu is on track” whereas analysts in the same article say “it will be difficult for the EU to meet its 2010 targets”. You compound your misleading information by then saying: “I believe this highlights the fact”. You “believe”? You have a… Read more »

There you go, looking for ‘facts’ again…there aren’t any..only theories

yes the article is 18 months old, and yes you seem to have read the headline and stopped there. The point the article makes is that almost all EU countries, as at the date of the article, were on course to meet their targets.. with the UK. belgium, greece and italy holding the EU back in reaching its overall target… hence my point that demand was falling… Read more »

for some reason i thought 18 months was 2 years, please read 24 months.

“yes you seem to have read the headline and stopped there.” Well you don’t want me to reproduce the whole article on here do you Joe? Let us deal with some of the other assertions then. “A record 7,500 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity was built in Europe in 2006. Wind energy now supplies 3.3% of the EU’s total gross electricity consumption.” “In 2005, 16.3% of renewable… Read more »
Thanks for responding folks. However, I didn’t write the article to claim that we can solve all our problems with wind turbines – of course we can’t. But we can’t get out of the problems of climate change and peak oil with only one technology, whatever it is. We need a range of solutions – and probably they’ll include at least some wind energy. If we don’t… Read more »
You are completely right to post as you did….it is the NIMBYS who ignore posts and try to shout down every other post whilst ignoring what is said. We all know that wind won’rt replace fossil fuels, we also know that we all (even at local level) have to take responsiblity for our energy conservation AND production. But the NIMBYS ignore this and talk over you, constantly… Read more »
I do feel compelled to comment on the ”efficiency” of various forms of energy generation. People state wind turbines of having an effiency of around 30%… this is completely illogical… efficiency is a measure of the ratio of the power in, to the power out. i.e states that the global average effiency for a coal fired power station is 31% (and they say wind is ineffiecient!!!)… Read more »