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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Andrew Burston

Design Concept For a 100KW scale wind turbine suitable for UK Rural Ownership and Operation

Andrew Burston

Design Concept For a 100KW scale wind turbine suitable for UK Rural Ownership and Operation

By understanding the fundamentals of energy and how this relates to the development of societies it can be seen that our present energy-intensive trajectory is not sustainable. Examining agriculture it can be argued that the prevalent industrial system absorbs vastly more energy than it produces in the form of food at a time when hydrocarbon fuels, upon which industrial agriculture is dependant, appear to be entering terminal decline. The industrialisation of farming is also disenfranchising the smaller family farms, undermining the sustainability of rural areas, and promoting practices which contribute little to food safety.


Wind power in the UK has been developed using a similar intensive industrial approach, driven in part by Government targets and subsidy, and is meeting increasing resistance from members of the public, particularly in the rural areas where developments are often proposed. It would appear now that future developments are more likely to be built offshore, leaving a significant onshore resource untapped.


The paper argues that there is considerable potential for developing a new medium scale affordable wind turbine, specifically aimed at rural community and farmer ownership, which would be less intrusive and more acceptable to the public. The key to implementation is integrating renewable energy production into the farming process as a natural extension of existing farming activities. It is argued that a low energy future society can only be fed by a large number of small farms and that one of the best ways of protecting our existing small farms and helping them make the transition to low-energy organic production is by encouraging them to see themselves as harvesters of energy as well as food.