Long gone is the time when farmers used windmills to grind their grain and pump water. They certainly didn’t know they could use the power of wind to generate electricity for the whole country. Many of the disused mills that have not been left to fall to ruins have been converted into houses, a fun way of protecting them and finding them a new lease of life.
Traditional windmills have been replaced by wind turbines to produce electricity by using wind which is a clean source of renewable energy!
The cherry on the cake is that wind is free! The only cost, and I know it is quite significant, is the erection of the turbines, but it is a medium term investment that is good for our planet!
Wind energy industry is in full expansion in France and you will notice more and more turbines as you travel through the country. Many ridges and hilltops or windy flat areas are crowned with turbines as municipalities invest for the future as they get tax reduction for doing so.
For example the Midi-Pyrénées Region and especially the Aveyron (south of France) have invested in renewable energy and already produce about 5% of national energy; this places the wind turbine production in 3rd place after nuclear and hydroelectric production.
The Aveyron windmill farm produces about 50MW and is currently the largest windmill farm in France.
French wind farming is run by Electricité de France and is rated third in Europe after Germany and the UK.
We have grown used to the turbines’ gigantic white silhouettes and I find that they often blend into their surroundings or at least don’t deface the landscape as long as they are not too many of them.
The last thing we want is hundreds of them lined up on our hills despite the fact that mass production considerably reduces the running costs; and wind farming has got many detractors as you can imagine!
They think that turbines are ugly and noisy and are a threat to the environment and wide life as many birds get caught in their blades. I agree with this but have to point out that electric cables have exactly the same disastrous effects.
I am neither in favour nor against wind farming; I just think that it is a brilliant concept as long as it is developed under strict control and respect the environment and the beauty of the landscape as France is the number one tourist destination.
The downside of wind farming, though, is that you need wind… and sometimes there is none!