Sunday, June 28, 2009
Visualizing wind farms for Cambridge University
I thought it would be a fun exercise to see, on a map, whether we could imagine powering the University of Cambridge from local wind turbines. The University's average electricity consumption is 11.4 MW, and its gas and oil consumption is 8.7 MW. (That's the University departments and offices only, not the colleges.) If we switched our heating over to heat pumps and insulated all the buildings, maybe the total consumption could be covered by 16 MW of electricity. Probably about 72 MW of wind capacity would be required to produce 16 MW on average. That's about 36 big wind turbines of the standard 2-MW size in the photo above, which shows Red Tile wind farm.
This web page contains my notes and the map, which is reproduced below. [Please click on the map to see the whole thing.]
The left side of the map shows West Cambridge, with locations for wind turbines shown by the green and red circles. Exclusion zones are indicated by blue circles. I've assumed that turbines could be put alongside the motorway and that motorway noise would dwarf the turbine noise, so that smaller exclusion zones are appropriate near motorways.
The right hand side of the map shows the Red Tile wind farm to the same scale.
I don't know who owns any of this land, nor have I done any wind surveys, so no-one should take this map seriously.
It would cost roughly £70 million to put up these turbines.
If people don't like the idea of having iconic wind turbines ruining the tranquility of the M11, another option would be for the University to buy a 1.6% share of a new nuclear power station. That might cost £32 million or so.