Green energy supplier Ecotricity is this week celebrating another milestone for UK wind energy this week, after the firm’s first ever wind turbine turned 20.
The Lynch Knoll windmill in Gloucestershire was completed just before Christmas 1996, and over the 20 years it has been in operation it has generated enough clean electricity to power almost 300 homes every year.
It was not the UK’s first electricity-generating wind turbine – that accolade goes to a machine installed in 1887 by a Scottish academic called James Blyth, who designed a turbine to light his holiday home in Marykirk in Scotland.
But when Ecotricity’s first turbine was installed 20 years ago, wind power as we know it today was still very much in its infancy, with only a handful of turbines installed across the country, mainly in Cornwall, the home county of Ecotricity founder Dale Vince.
“This was one of the first windmills in Britain, and the biggest in the country back then,” Vince said of the Lynch Knoll turbine. “It was also the first to work without a gearbox – really a pioneering approach to wind energy at the time.”
“It was born from the realisation that energy was the biggest single cause of climate change – and that we had to begin to change the way electricity is made,” he added. “I had no horizon beyond that first windmill really. It started with just that dream, but quickly expanded into what Ecotricity is today.” Ecotricity now supplies almost 200,000 customers with green energy across Britain.
To celebrate the turbine hitting the two decade milestone, Ecotricity illuminated the machine with a display of green lights earlier this week.
The UK now has more than 7,000 wind turbines installed onshore and offshore across the country, with a capacity of more than 14GW, according to data compiled by RenewableUK.
And according to figures released earlier this week, wind farms now play a major role in reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, saving 36 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted over the six years to 2014.
The sector also set a new output record this month, passing the 10,000MW mark for the first time.