Blowing Hot and Cold on British Windmills

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Three or four years ago UK interest centred hilltop and coastal sites. Developments since 1977 have greatly changed the picture. Dr Peter Musgrove pioneered the UK the idea of putting windmills in the shallow waters the North Sea. He pointed out that there are vast areas shallow waters (less than 30 metres deep) the east coast of the UK. He showed that a number windmill clusters in these shallow waters could meet up to 30 per cent UK annual electricity needs.
To their credit the Department of Energy took up these ideas and funded a detailed study. No insuperable technical difficulties were found and the estimated building and running costs would indicate a price electricity which could become competitive the near future with nuclear or coal-generated electricity.
The CEGB has given the production costs for electricity stations currently being built. Nuclear power from Dungeness B is put at 2.62p/kWh: coal Drax B is 3.59p/kWh: oil Littlebrook D is 6.63p/kWh.
The Taylor Woodrow led study came up a number of different figures the cost of North Sea electricity depending the assumptions made. Let me pick the figure of 4.20p/kWh which was based the windmills having a diameter of 100 metres (which is the largest size presently being built the world). The figure taken for average wind speed is 9.5m/s.
Thus North Sea-generated electricity looks like being close to competitive present fuel costs. This figure 4.2p/kWh could come down dramatically if we find that we are able to build much larger diameter windmills than the present 100 metres. This is because foundation and lower costs were dominating the picture. Larger windmills would mean fewer windmills and hence lower overall foundation and tower expenditure.
(From an article by Norman Lipman in The Guardian)