Glyndebourne Opera House, situated in the Sussex countryside, has become the first UK arts organisation to generate its own power using a large-scale wind turbine. At 67m, Glyndebourne’s Enercon E-44 turbine is twice the size of the types of turbine we typically deal with at Fine Energy, and we were heartened by the support received both from local people and from the wider arts community.
Launching the turbine, Sir David Attenborough said: “Wind power can never provide for all our wants but every bit of power generated by wind must be welcomed… It is almost unbelievable to me that we now have the ability to draw the power we need from every gust of wind.”
Gus Christie, Executive Chairman of Glyndebourne who lives next door to the opera house, said, “I believe this turbine is symbolic of our age and an object of beauty as it harnesses the wind to provide sustainable power. We hope our turbine will inspire other organisations to explore ways in which they can directly reduce their carbon footprint.” Making reference to the process of gaining planning consent for this project, he said he hoped other arts organisations and environmental bodies such as Natural England would now join forces to find sites for more turbines – and that it would not take them quite so long to achieve. “If all applications are blocked, then future generations will hold these bodies responsible for failing to address the issue of climate change.”
Echoing the sentiments of this last point, Attenbourough said of those who resisted the turbine, “I can’t help feeling such people haven’t really grasped where energy comes from. What do they imagine happens when they turn on a light switch or drive their cars? For most of my lifetime most power came from burning coal, which killed many hundreds underground and thousands overground from breathing in fumes, and in my memory caused smogs where you could not see your hand in front of your face.”
We agree with the gist of all this, but we also think that it is a little harsh. Taking account of the voices of local protestors is an essential part of the process of finding the best sites for wind turbines. The planning process is there to sift through the objections and ensure that valid concerns are upheld, and that generalised anti-wind sentiment is set aside. Glyndebourne’s success has proved that the planning process can work, but yes, it needs to be speeded up if we are to meet the UK’s renewable energy targets.
Wind enthusiasts who also like Mozart operas will surely enjoy the ‘turbine timelapse’ sequence at Glyndebourne’s website, set to an excerpt from Glyndebourne’s 1962 recording of the overture from The Marriage of Figaro. Landowners and arts organisations thinking of picking up the phone to us should please bear in mind that the turbines we normally consider, such as the Endurance E-3120, sit on a tower of height around 24m so their visual impact is much lower than that of the Glyndebourne turbine.