This page references stories that were thought to be of interest to our users from late 2004 until late 2010. It has not been maintained since November 2010. The sheer volume of wind-related stories, nationally and locally, now makes it impossible to reference everything that might be of interest.
We would recommend two US-based websites which provide a wind-related news service that can be filtered to your requirements:
Read full article: The Journal, 22 November, 2010.
‘Campaigners have voiced their alarm following the publication of a map of potential wind farms in the North East.1
‘Bill Short, who has opposed turbine developments in Northumberland, has spoken of his concerns at an apparent “pox” of possible developments, having studied a document released by Newcastle International Airport last week.
‘His comments come as airport bosses revealed they have been approached about 250 wind farm proposals for the region in the last five years, most of which are for Northumberland.
‘Scotland is in “serious danger” of suffering power shortages over the next decade thanks to Alex Salmond’s “bonkers” green energy policies, the head of one of the country’s largest generators has warned.
Simon Johnson, Scottish Political Editor, The Telegraph, 13 Nov 2010.
‘Rupert Soames, chief executive of Aggreko, said Scotland’s lights will be “perilously close” to going out because a huge proportion of existing coal, oil and nuclear power stations are due to shut down over the next eight years.
‘He accused politicians of “holding hands and singing Kumbaya to the great green God” but warned the reality is it will be many decades before renewable energy can plug the gap left by traditional sources of power.
‘Unless Mr Salmond ends his ‘wishful thinking’ and draws up alternative plans, Mr Soames warned Scotland will be in “deep trouble” by 2018.
BBC News, 26 October, 2010.
‘A wind turbine manufacturer which received £10m from the Scottish government to safeguard jobs has gone bust.
‘The Danish company Skykon, which took over the Vestas wind turbine factory in Kintyre last year, has announced it is suspending payments to its creditors.
It seems that, despite government support and huge public subsidies, the wind sector is less than healthy.
In the North East of England, the loss-making Clipper Windpower was recently bailed out by its major shareholder (UTC) in return for agreeing to sell it the remaining shares in the company.
This came after the company was awarded a £4.4 million grant from the Environmental Transformation Fund last year to develop a factory on Tyneside to build their ambitious ‘Britannia’ offshore wind turbine.
Meanwhile, Vestas, the worlds biggest turbine manufacturer, is expected to issue profits warnings for the second quarter in a row. It says that it will axe 3,000 jobs and shut some plants.
DECC announces that CRC will no longer return revenue to participants
BusinessGreen, 20 Oct 2010
‘The government today quietly imposed a £1bn-a-year carbon tax on around 4,000 of the largest businesses and public sector bodies in the UK as part of its spending review.
‘The move was not announced as part of chancellor George Osborne's speech to parliament. Instead, it was left to a statement by the Department of Energy and Climate Change in which it detailed its spending review settlement and confirmed the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) would be reformed so that the Treasury keeps revenue raised through the carbon pricing scheme.
“Revenue raised from the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme will be used to support the public finances (including spending on the environment), rather than recycled to participants, ”the statement said.
BusinessGreen, 20 October 2010.
‘Anyone who reckoned the cabal of business leaders who wrote to the Daily Telegraph this week instructing George Osborne to continue full steam ahead with his cuts programme spoke for the entire British business community will have got a nasty shock this morning.
‘E.ON’s announcement that it is pulling out of the government’s Carbon Capture and Storage competition just two hours before Osborne is expected to announce that the government’s CCS programme is to be cut back by around 75 per cent is mischievous in the extreme and makes it absolutely clear what the energy giant thinks of cuts to these critical infrastructure projects.
‘E.ON evidently got tired of waiting to see if it would win the £1bn demonstration project, or if it lost the competition it could rely on a second wave of funding through a CCS levy of some form. It also must have got tired of waiting to see if the government would ever impose an emissions performance standard and if so what level it would be set at. Instead it is off to the Netherlands to build a pioneering CCS plant there.
By Daniel Fineren, Reuters, 14 October, 2010.
‘LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's plan to plant thousands of wind turbines at sea may cost cash-strapped consumers dear, reinforce the UK's risky reliance on gas and hinder deep cuts in carbon emissions.
‘Shamed by its failure to build many relatively competitive onshore wind farms [? Check the maps, Ed.], Britain is poised to pour tens of billions of pounds into the North Sea in a bid to reduce emissions of climate-warming carbon.
‘But offshore wind is one of the most expensive ways to make electricity, even if the multi-billion pound additional cost of building backup gas plants for calm days is ignored.
‘The strategy may only prolong Britain's unhealthy reliance on gas when there is little wind, ensuring the power sector continues to emit carbon unless still unproven carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology can trap it.
‘“Over commitment to subsidized wind power runs a high risk of cementing gas dependency at those times when our need for electricity is greatest, thus increasing the UK's exposure to gas rather than alleviating it,” John Constable, policy director at the Renewable Energy Foundation, said.
‘Keen to make up for Britain's poor renewable energy performance to date, largely because of public opposition to onshore wind, the government is offering big incentives to install turbines ever further out at sea at increasing cost.
‘The government expects offshore wind to make up most of the renewable electricity capacity needed to reach Britain's legally-binding target of getting 15 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020 and some 33 GW of offshore licenses have been offered to prospective developers.
‘Building that many turbines would cost about 99 billion pounds ($158.6 billion), at the UK Energy Research Centre's (UKERC) current estimated capital costs of about 3 billion pounds/GW, for about 15 GW of effective capacity. Grid work is expected to cost another 15 billion.
‘Even at an inflated cost to match Finland’s infamously over-budget nuclear project -- the Olkiluoto EPR -- Britain could build 24-27 GW of effective EPR capacity for the same money.
‘Such a large nuclear contribution could make coal plants redundant and mean less reliance on gas-fired plants which will need ever more imported fuel as Britain’s own gas output declines and need CCS fitted if Britain is to meet its 2050 emissions cut goal.’
By Brian Daniel, The Journal, 30 September, 2010.
‘Developers hoping to build a controversial wind farm are taking their plans out of local control after a council failed to decide on it.
‘RWE npower renewables has appealed over Northumberland County Council’s failure to decide its application for eight 125m turbines on two sites near Kirkharle.
‘The application for land to the east of Bavington Hill Head Farm and land to the west of Northside Farm has been with the authority and its predecessor Tynedale Council since November 2008.
‘The proposal has previously been opposed by residents, Bavington, Birtley and Kirkwhelpington parish councils, the Campaign for Responsible Energy Development in Tynedale group, Newcastle International Airport and the Ministry of Defence.
‘But the company’s appeal will now trigger a public inquiry, less than two years after a hearing into three nearby wind farm proposals concluded.
‘That inquiry, which ran for almost a year, ended with wind farms at Ray Estate and Green Rigg being approved [not correct: the Ray Estate decision has not been finalised], and one at Steadings being rejected.
‘Richard Best, from RWE npower, said: “We have been working with the planning officer, but the council hasn’t made a decision on the application and have made no indication as to when this was likely to happen. The decision-making process is still open and the council, local interest groups and members of the public will still have an opportunity to represent their views about the wind farm to the planning inspectorate.”
‘He insisted the project “would make a vital contribution to the UK renewable energy targets”.
Last night, the council said the application had not been determined because the developer had failed to supply information requested of it by Tynedale to go alongside its environmental statement.
Reuters, 27 September, 2010.
‘LONDON (Reuters) - A huge jump in UK offshore wind power costs since 2005 is unlikely to be erased over the next 15 years and cost could rise further, the UK Energy Research Center (UKERC) said in a report on Monday.
‘Britain is banking on a huge expansion of relatively expensive offshore wind power over the next decade to help meet its 2020 renewable energy targets set by the European Union and the consumer will have to pay for it through subsidies to encourage new green technologies.
‘But, contrary to expectations that costs would fall as offshore technology develops, prices have soared because of a lack of competition between equipment makers, supply shortages, commodity price increases and a weaker pound for buying predominantly imported goods.
‘“Costs in the last five years or so have been heading in the wrong direction - going up when they were expected to go down,” Robert Gross, head of technology and policy assessment at the UKERC said at the report launch.
‘“Costs per unit of electricity generated have gone up by about 50 percent and actually the capital costs have more or less doubled.”
‘In mid 2000s Britain’s first offshore wind farms cost less than 1.5 million pounds ($2.37 million) per megawatt of capacity installed, but the UKERC estimates capital cost have leapt to around 3 mln pounds/MW.
‘The UKERC said its “best guess” was for offshore wind capital expenditure costs to fall to just 2.8 mln/MW by 2025 -- or from 145 pounds per megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity produced currently to 116 pounds/MWh in 15 years time.
‘“We think there are ground for cautious optimism looking out to the mid 2020s,” said Gross, the chief author of the report ‘Great Expectations: The cost of offshore wind in UK waters’.
‘“But we don’t expect a precipitous reduction in costs that matches this rather dramatic cost increase that we saw in the last few years.”
‘None of the cost estimates for offshore wind -- which compare to less than 100 pounds/MWh for nuclear and gas technology -- include the billions of investment in new gas plants which analysts say will be needed for when there is little wind for the thousands of turbines around Britain’s coastline.
Christopher Booker, Telegraph, 26 September, 2010
‘In all the publicity given to the opening of “the world's largest wind farm” off the Kent coast last week, by far the most important and shocking aspect of this vast project was completely overlooked. Over the coming years we will be giving the wind farm’s Swedish owners a total of £1.2 billion in subsidies. That same sum, invested now in a single nuclear power station, could yield a staggering 13 times more electricity, with much greater reliability.
‘The first all-too-common mistake in the glowing coverage accorded to the inauguration of this Thanet wind farm by the Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne, was to accept unquestioningly the claims of the developer, Vattenfall, about its output. The array of 100 three-megawatt (MW) turbines, each the height of Blackpool Tower, will have, it was said, the “capacity” to produce 300MW of electricity, enough to “power” 200,000 (or even 240,000) homes.
‘This may be true at those rare moments when the wind is blowing at the right speeds. But the wind, of course, is intermittent, and the average output of these turbines will be barely a quarter of that figure. The latest official figures on the website of Mr Huhne’s own department show that last year the average output (or “load factor”) of Britain’s offshore turbines was only 26 per cent of their capacity.
‘Due to its position, the wind farm’s owners will be lucky to get, on average, 75MW from their windmills, a fraction of the output of a proper power station. The total amount of electricity the turbines actually produce will equate to the average electricity usage not of 240,000 homes, but of barely half that number.
‘A far more significant omission from the media reports, however, was any mention of the colossal subsidies this wind farm will earn. Wind energy is subsidised through the system of Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs), unwittingly paid for by all of us through our electricity bills. Our electricity supply companies are obliged to buy offfshore wind energy at three times its normal price, so that each megawatt hour of electricity receives a 200 per cent subsidy of £100.
‘This means that the 75MW produced on average by Thanet will receive subsidies of £60 million a year, on top of the £30-40 million cost of the electricity itself. This is guaranteed for the turbines' estimated working life of 20 years, which means that the total subsidy over the next two decades will be some £1.2 billion. Based on the costings of the current French nuclear programme, that would buy 1 gigawatt (1,000MW) of carbon-free nuclear generating capacity, reliably available 24 hours a day – more than 13 times the average output of the wind farm.
‘The 100 turbines opened last week cost £780 million to build, which means that the £100 million a year its owners hope to earn represents a 13 per cent return on capital, enough to excite the interest of any investor. And these turbines are only the first stage of a project eventually designed to include 341 of them, generating subsidies of £1 billion every five years.
‘A final claim for the Thanet wind farm (which Mr Huhne boasts is “only the beginning”) is that it will create “green jobs” – although the developers say that only 21 of these will be permanent. These are thus costing, in “green subsidies” alone, £3 million per job per year, or £57 million for each job over the next 20 years. The Government gaily prattles about how it wants to create “400,000 green jobs”, which on this basis would eventually cost us £22.8 trillion, or 17 times the entire annual output of the UK economy.
‘If all this sounds dizzyingly surreal, the fact remains that we must begin to grasp just what the green fantasies of Mr Huhne, the EU and the rest are costing us. Even the Queen, we learn, tried to claim a “fuel poverty” allowance for her soaring electricity bills, which have risen 50 per cent in the past year. But a crucial first step towards getting some grip on reality must be for those who report on these wind farms to stop hiding away the colossal price we are all now having to pay for one of the greatest scams of our age.
The Guardian, 20 September 2010
‘Clipper Windpower, which is building a wind turbine factory in the north-east, is in crisis talks that could see it taken over by its largest shareholder.
‘Clipper has been burning through cash and by the end of August its reserves had dwindled to $86m (£55m) from $140m on 30 June. The company said it faces “significant liquidity strain” within the next year.
‘It has now opened its books to United Technologies Corporation (UTC), the maker of Sikorsky helicopters, which has indicated it wants to take full control of the ailing business. The shares plummeted 30% to 31.5p.
‘UTC rode to Clipper’s rescue in December when it spent £126m buying a 49.5% stake in the loss-making company, which is listed on London’s junior Aim market but generates most of its sales in the US.
‘Last year Clipper won a [£4m] grant from the government to build a factory in north-east that will make what it claims will be the world’s largest turbines. The factory, near Newcastle upon Tyne, is due to be finished by the end of the year and development of the new Britannia turbines will take another couple of years...
New Energy Focus, 19 October 2010
‘Technology provider agrees takeover of Clipper Windpower’
The Telegraph, 12 September, 2010.
‘Denmark has long been a role model for green activists, but now it has become one of the first countries to turn against the turbines.
‘To green campaigners, it is windfarm heaven, generating a claimed fifth of its power from wind and praised by British ministers as the model to follow. But amid a growing public backlash, Denmark, the world’s most windfarm-intensive country, is turning against the turbines.
‘Last month, unnoticed in the UK, Denmark’s giant state-owned power company, Dong Energy, announced that it would abandon future onshore wind farms in the country. “Every time we were building onshore, the public reacts in a negative way and we had a lot of criticism from neighbours,” said a spokesman for the company. “Now we are putting all our efforts into offshore windfarms.”
‘Even as parts of the British Government continues to blow hard for wind, other countries seem to be cooling on the idea. This summer, France brought in new restrictions on wind power which will, according to the French wind lobby, jeopardise more than a quarter of the country’s planned windfarm projects.
Bloomberg, 7 September, 2010
‘The German government’s plan to extend the phase-out of nuclear power risks hampering investment in offshore wind turbines, a technology that may provide much of the country’s renewable energy by the middle of this century.
‘Utilities including E.ON AG and RWE AG may cut their investment in the industry to compensate for a tax of 3 billion euros ($3.9 billion) a year they will be charged, said Charlie Hodges, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The levy on nuclear-plant operators is meant to support renewable energy.
‘“It’s probably detrimental for offshore,” Hodges said. “Keeping that much nuclear power online means electricity prices will be stable and maybe even with some downside potential. That suggests less investment in wind energy.”
The Sunday Telegraph, 5 September 2010.
‘They rise up high above the sun-scorched countryside, looking out over hilltop villages, palm trees, neatly-tended vineyards and olive groves.
‘But for all their promises of a clean, green future, Italy’s windfarms have now acquired a somewhat dirtier whiff - as the latest industry to be infiltrated by the country’s mobsters.
‘Attracted by the prospect of generous grants designed to boost the use of alternative energies, the so-called “eco Mafia” has begun fraudulently creaming off millions of euros from both the Italian government and the European Union.
‘And nowhere has the industry’s reputation become more tarnished than Sicily, where windmills now dot the horizon in Mafia strongholds like Corleone, the town better known as the setting for the Godfather films.
‘“Nothing earns more than a wind farm,” said Edoardo Zanchini, an environmental campaigner who has investigated Mafia infiltration of the industry. “Anything that creates wealth interests the Mafia.”
‘It is not just Italian criminals, however, who have spotted the potential for corruption. Recent research by Kroll, the international corporate security firm, has discovered examples all over Europe of so-called “clean energy” schemes being used to to line criminals’ pockets rather than save the planet. Some involve windmills that stand derelict or are simply never built, while others are used to launder profits from other crime enterprises.
‘“Renewable energy seems like a good thing, run by saintly people saving the world,” said Jason Wright, a senior director with Kroll, which performs background checks on renewable energy schemes on behalf of legitimate investors, and which has documented a sharp rise in the number of wind farms with suspect ownership.
‘“But a lot of people want to jump on board a sure-fire revenue spinner. I wouldn’t say the entire sector is corrupt, but there is a small percentage of corrupt projects.”
‘Further afield, scandals have emerged in Spain, Romania, Bulgaria and Corsica, among others. In one alleged scam on the Canary Islands, a mayor, five officials and two developers are fighting criminal charges that include abuse of office, bribery and misappropriation of land in an attempt to secure EU subsidies.
‘One case in Spain, meanwhile, involved a solar energy plant which claimed, miraculously, to be generating electricity at night. Investigators found that that the power was in fact being produced by diesel generators - the “green” subsidies paid for the plant were so generous that the owners still made a handsome profit.
Copenhagen Post, 1 September 2010.
‘‘Mass protests mean the energy firm will look offshore’
‘State-owned energy firm Dong Energy has given up building more wind farms on Danish land, following protests from residents complaining about the noise the turbines make.
‘It had been Dong and the government’s plan that 500 large turbines be built on land over the coming 10 years, as part of a large-scale national energy plan. This plan has hit a serious stumbling block, though, due to many protests, and the firm has now given up building any more wind farms on land.
‘Anders Eldrup, the CEO of Dong Energy, told TV2 News: “It is very difficult to get the public’s acceptance if the turbines are built close to residential buildings, and therefore we are now looking at maritime options.”
Reuters, 27 August, 2010
‘LONDON (Project Finance International) - Two projects in the embryonic but fast growing offshore wind sector are currently seeking debt finance. The sponsors, large European utilities, want to transfer construction risk on the deals to the banks to keep the financings off their balance sheets. A further test for the financiers is the fact UK wind speeds have been at 180 year record lows this year - raising concerns about the reliability of wind as an energy source.
‘C-Power - in which RWE (RWEG.DE) and EDF (EDF.PA) are involved - has put together a second 950m euros financing on its 325MW Thornton Bank scheme off Belgium while Centrica (CNA.L), DONG [DONG.UL] and Siemens (SIEGn.DE) are out to banks on their new 270MW £1bn Lincs deal off the UK.
‘Despite the risks, neither scheme has a construction guarantee from the sponsors. And there is plenty of risk on offshore deals. The Fluor (FLR.N) additional revenue claim on its US$1.7bn Greater Gabbard construction contract now stands at US$202m and could rise further. The 500MW UK scheme, being developed by Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE.L) and RWE, had been suffering from faulty monopiles. The scheme is being financed solely on balance sheet. C-Power believes, as an expansion project with an operating first phase, its construction story is already well progressed. However, its first phase was for just 30MW whereas the latest will be for a further 295MW. The Centrica team is offering various financial contingencies to cover its construction risk - up to £180m on the £1bn plus scheme.
‘The deals are being launched as it has become clear 2010 has been a bad year for UK wind speeds, perhaps the worse since 1821. Wind speeds clearly have a direct impact on energy MW yields from wind.
‘A recent report from wind consultancy Garrad Hassan said UK wind yields have dropped this year to perhaps a 1 in 15 year event due to stable high pressure. Energy levels from wind dropped 27.8% in the first quarter compared with the average and 18.3% in the second quarter - compared with a 5% drop in the last quarter of 2009 and a 15.7% increase in the third quarter of 2009. The North Atlantic Oscillation index has been measured since 1821 and this correlates with the Garrad Hassan wind index which itself been in existence for 15 years. The NAO index numbers for the 4 months from December 2009 to March 2010 were the most negative since 1821.
‘Unless something very odd is happening [climate change?] it is fair to assume wind yields will continue to vary quarter by quarter. Debt and equity financiers use probability models - P50 and P90 tests - to make judgments on the wind yields over a period of time so while low wind yields are not good, they can be factored into financial models.
‘The much bigger question, however, is for energy planners. Relying on a variable source of energy creates problems in terms of day-to-day security of power supply, particularly if wind accounts a quarter of the country's power generation by 2030 as planned in the UK. National Grid Company (NG.L) has already started to build up its short term operating reserve (STOR) programme to encourage the building of peaking power plants which can be turned on very quickly, for short periods of time.
Just over 90% of the income to the scheme is backed by power purchase agreements and renewable obligation certificates (ROCs) with Centrica and DONG. The equity on the deal is around 40%. The EIB and EKF have been approached as potential funders, either by providing direct loans or funding banks, or even the EIB funding an EKF guaranteed portion. Low wind yields Lower than expected wind speeds can be a global phenomenon in the renewables market. In a recent note on FPL Energy American Wind's US$250m of bond debt, rating agency Moody's referred to the recent "very low wind years" in the US. However the bonds kept their rating due the financial structural protections built into the debt. In Europe, rating agency Fitch has downgraded the 350m euros of bonds issued by Breeze Finance twice this year on a portfolio of German and French wind farms to below investment grade due to lower than expected wind yields and some unbudgeted construction costs.
Sunday Times (subscripton required), 22 August 2010.
‘Scientists investigating the deaths of dozens of seals whose mutilated carcasses have washed up at a beauty spot believe the construction of an offshore windfarm is probably to blame.
‘They believe the seals were sucked into “hidden” propellers on boats travelling to and from the windfarm site off the Norfolk coast and ejected with corkscrew-like injuries.
‘At least 38 carcasses have been found near the village of Blakeney, west of Cromer, in the past eight months. The seals had been killed by a deep, clean cut that began at the neck and spiralled around the body.
‘The grisly find had baffled marine experts and conservation groups.
‘However, an investigation involving Norfolk police, the RSPCA and the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) at St Andrews University, Fife, has now established that building work at the harbour in nearby Wells-next-the-Sea started last December, when dead seals first began to appear along the coast. The work involved the creation of a pontoon and jetty, allowing equipment and turbine parts to be transported to the Sheringham Shoal windfarm, which began construction in April about 12 miles off the coast.
‘The dead seals have become so frequent that the National Trust has sent out early-morning patrols to clear carcasses before children arrive on the beaches. The area is home to a 500-strong colony of grey and common seals — both protected species.
Daily Mail, 17 August, 2010.
‘It’s not exactly rocket science – when building a wind farm, look for a site that is, well, quite windy.
‘But more than half of Britain’s wind farms are operating at less than 25 per cent capacity.
‘In England, the figure rises to 70 per cent of onshore developments, research shows.
‘Experts say that over-generous subsidies mean hundreds of turbines are going up on sites that are simply not breezy enough.
‘Turbines operating well under capacity are still doing well out of the scheme, but Professor Jefferson, of the London Metropolitan Business School, wants the cash to be reserved for the windiest sites.
‘He said: “There is a political motivation to drive non-fossil fuel energy, which I very much respect, but we need more focus.”
‘He suggests that the full subsidy be restricted to turbines which achieve capacity of 30 per cent or more – managed by just eight of England’s 104 on-shore wind farms last year.
‘Those that fall below 25 per cent should not be eligible for any subsidy. Professor Jefferson said: ‘That would focus the mind to put them in a sensible place.’
‘Britain has 2,906 wind turbines spread over 264 sites. But a further 7,000 are planned for the next 12 years to meet European targets on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
‘Nick Medic, of Renewable UK [formerly the British Wind Energy Association], which represents the wind industry, said talk of efficiency was ‘unhelpful’.
By Brian Daniel, The Journal, 5 August 2010.
‘PLANS to build a wind farm in Northumberland have been withdrawn - to the delight of residents.
‘E.ON Climate and Renewables UK yesterday said it was pulling the plug on its planning application for eight 115m (377ft) turbines at West Ancroft, near Berwick.
‘The developer has decided to shelve its scheme after the Government’s decision to refuse plans for turbines at neighbouring Moorsyde earlier this year.
‘The news was last night welcomed by people living near the site, who said the scheme had been a blight on their lives and hoped it would not return.
By Mark Entwistle, Southern Reporter, 5 August 2010.
‘SWEDISH energy giant Vattenfall has declined to say whether it will appeal any decision to refuse approval for its controversial plans for a wind farm on the Minch Moor when Scottish Borders councillors meet on Monday.
‘SBC’s planning committee will debate a recommendation by the local authority’s planning officers that the 12-turbine application from the Swedish state-owned company’s subsidiary - Vattenfall Wind Farm Power Ltd - be turned down on the grounds it would be detrimental to the environment and have a negative impact on the landscape, as well as contravening the council’s own structure and local plans.
Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 31 July, 2010.
‘More than FOUR MONTHS after one of the two turbines on top of Civic Centre 3 broke down, it is still out of action.
‘And a Kirklees Council spokesman said there was still no date for a repair.
‘The two turbines on top of the building alongside the ring road have become a familiar sight since they were put up four years ago.
‘But in the middle of March, one of the two 6kw turbines had stopped working and Kirklees Council confirmed it was broken.
‘The council confirmed the electrical generator was faulty and officials were investigating repair costs.
‘Today, a council spokesman said: “No date has been set for the repair of the faulty turbine.”
‘The Examiner revealed last summer that the pair of 27ft-tall turbines on top of the Civic Centre cost far more to run than the amount of money they save the council.
‘The two turbines only generated enough energy to cover a third of their upkeep in 2008.
‘The two turbines brought £2,078 into Kirklees Council coffers, but cost £6,431 to maintain and repair.
‘They cost the council £101,000 to buy and install.’
Denmark is usually presented by the wind industry as a country where the population live in harmony with more than 5000 wind turbines. This is far from the truth.
Around the country there are acrimonious conflicts between the authorities and neighbours of wind turbines.
Then there is the case of the offshore wind turbine test centre. The Danish government is bulldozing through plans for the world’s largest industrial test centre for offshore wind turbines in Northern Jutland. It is proposed to build seven 250 meter high offshore turbines onshore, clearing 15 square kilometres of forest and wetland between the Thy National Park and Vejlerne, a Ramsar site which is northern Europe’s largest breeding ground for migratory birds.
The area is currently categorised as a recreational area, where the building of wind turbines is prohibited.
Jyllands-Posten, Denmark, 22 July 2010. (Translated from the Danish).
‘At more and more places protests have made politicians hold off with wind turbine projects.
‘More and more people living near projects protest against new, large onshore wind turbines, so Østerild in the Thy district is far from the only example of bitter conflict between the authorities and turbine neighbours.
‘The barely half year old National Association of Neighbours to Giant Wind Turbines has already had 40 citizens’ groups join up which are battling against planned or existing turbines, and a half dozen more are in the process of joining the Association.
‘“People are sick and tired of having their property depreciate and having their night’s sleep spoiled by noise from large turbines 130 and up to 200 metres high. We constantly receive calls from citizens’ groups that want to join,” says the Association’s chairman, Boye Jensen from Odsherred.
‘In many places the protests have prevented turbine construction or got the local council to hold off.
‘That is the case, for example, in Odsherred Commune, where the Swedish energy giant Vattenfall had to give up on plans for three large turbines when a narrow majority in the town council said no to two of them after strong pressure from protesting neighbours.
‘In Svendborg the town council has just decided that in the future turbines over 80 metres in height will be refused permission after a local citizens group in Tåsinge has protested strongly against two turbines of nearly 130 metres in height which were built in the autumn.
‘Neighbours complain not least about the noise, and this has made an impression.
‘”The strong protests and uncertainty about low frequency noise have resulted in us not wanting to expose our citizens to more large turbines just now,” says Vice-Mayor Lars Erik Hornemann (Liberal).
‘In Esbjerg there are four 200 metre high experimental turbines planned close to a residential area.
‘“It is not right that politicians try to sneak the project in by the back door. The case has now gone further to the Nature Protection Board of Appeal,“ says Thomas Barratt, who represents a protest group of a couple of hundred people.’
The Oregonian, 17 July, 2010.
‘On the afternoon of May 19, in a single chaotic hour, more than a thousand wind turbines in the Columbia River Gorge went from spinning lazily in the breeze to full throttle as a storm rolled east out of Hood River.
‘Suddenly, almost two nuclear plants worth of extra power was sizzling down the lines -- the largest hourly spike in wind power the Northwest has ever experienced.
‘At the Bonneville Power Administration's control room in Vancouver, it was too much of a good thing. More electricity than its customers needed. More than the available power lines could export from the region. And more than the grid could readily absorb by ramping down generation at the region’s network of federal dams.
‘So the edict went out: Feather your turbine blades; slash output.
‘It was an unwelcome instruction for wind farm owners, whose economics depend on generating electricity whenever possible. Yet it’s one likely to go out with increasing frequency.
‘During the last three years, the building boom spawned by green energy mandates in Oregon, Washington and California doubled the generation capacity of wind farms in the region. By 2013, it’s expected to double again.
‘That seems like great news. Plenty of carbon-free energy with no fuel costs. Jobs. Property taxes.
‘In the real world, however, the pace and geographic concentration of wind development, coupled with wild swings in its output, are overwhelming the region’s electrical grid and outstripping its ability to use the power or send it elsewhere.
Teesdale Mercury, 15 Jul, 2010
‘PLANS for a controversial wind farm in Teesdale have been scrapped, it was announced today.
‘Following information from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), about a radar at RAF Leeming, the company behind the proposals for a site near Bolam, decided to withdraw the application.
Bloomberg Businessweek, 12 July, 2010.
‘Thousands of U.K. manufacturing jobs are threatened by the government’s drive to slash carbon dioxide emissions and boost renewable power, London-based policy analyst Civitas said in a report.
‘Green energy policies have already boosted energy bills to businesses by 21 percent, a figure that could rise to 70 percent by 2020, the group said today. That endangers jobs in industries such as steel, cement, chemicals, paper, ceramics and plastics, according to Jeremy Nicholson, a co-author of the 35-page study.
‘“If we do not see reform of energy and climate legislation a whole swathe of businesses will not be able to operate competitively in the U.K.,” Nicholson said in a telephone interview. “The only question is how long it takes for their closure to result.”
Recharge News 12 July, 2010
‘The offshore wind industry faces a disquieting reality: that the cost of building projects has risen dramatically over the past five years - and is likely to continue rising for the foreseeable future, rather than fall as has been predicted.
‘“Let’s face it, if you didn’t have government support through the EIB [European Investment Bank] pouring in, very few of these projects would be going ahead”, says Subocean managing director John Sinclair. In the past, when confronted with offshore wind’s eyebrow-raising price tag, supporters have consistently fallen back on the line that costs will shrink as the industry gains experience and economies of scale.
‘That may yet prove true. But with 1GW now installed in UK waters, and the industry supposedly shifting into a rapid-growth phase in anticipation of Round 3, the notion that offshore wind will naturally become cheaper seems more slippery now than ever.
‘“Sadly, it would seem we have not derived benefits from learning, scale and technological improvement over the last five years,” says Rob Hastings, director of the marine estate at the UK’s Crown Estate. “We have, indeed, gone backwards.”
‘Consider the 60MW North Hoyle project, owned by Germany's RWE, which in 2003 became the first major offshore wind farm commissioned in UK waters. North Hoyle was built at a cost of £1.2m ($1.8m) per megawatt, according to Hastings.
‘Allowing for price inflation and the current weakness of the pound, it would cost at least £2.6m/MW if built today.
‘Yet even that figure is significantly less than the £3.25m/MW average quoted for most projects currently moving into the water. Moreover, a new report, written by consultant Douglas-Westwood and published by the trade body RenewableUK, concludes that things will get worse before they get better.
‘“It is likely that costs will increase - or at least remain high - during the initial stages of Round 3 projects due to a combination of factors, such as increased project size, distance from shore and water depth,” the report says.
‘With Round 3 projects not set to enter construction until 2014 at the earliest, many industry sources worry that investors will simply lose patience. A financial chill - exacerbated by the recession - has already clouded the prospects for many projects.
‘Making matters worse, the UK has not decided whether to extend the increased Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) [subsidy] banding for offshore wind, set to regress from two to 1.5 ROCs in 2014.
Bloomberg Businessweek, 9 July, 2010.
July 9 (Bloomberg) -- Spain will save consumers at least 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion) through 2013 by cutting the subsidies they pay to wind farms and solar thermal plants, a person familiar with the government’s analysis said.
‘The reduction coming from a cut in the price paid for clean energy may be as much as 1.3 billion euros, said the person, who asked not to be named because the analysis is confidential.
‘Spain’s conventional power producers have been lobbying the government to rein in a subsidy system that rewards renewable power producers with extra payments totaling 5 billion euros in 2009 even as consumer prices failed to cover the full cost of electricity.
‘Under the current system, Endesa, Gas Natural and Iberdrola SA, the biggest power companies, borrow money from banks and bond investors to cover the shortfall in consumers’ power payments. They’re paid back over 15 years, effectively helping the government finance its deficit.
‘The government under the law must eliminate the deficit with power producers by 2013. The system has created debt of about 16 billion euros for which the government is ultimately liable.
See also: ‘Spain to shed 2/3 of wind power jobs by end 2010’ Wall Street Journal, (On IWA), 18 March, 2010.
Dorset Echo, 3 July 2010.
‘A £20,000 wind turbine brought in to make a Portland primary school more environmentally friendly has been turned off because it was killing seabirds.
‘Headteacher Stuart McLeod, of Southwell Community Primary School, said they “tried everything” to solve the problem but had no choice but to shut it down.
‘In the past few months the nine metre high generator has taken the lives of 14 birds – far higher than the manufacturer’s estimate of one per year.
‘The wind turbine was installed at the school around 18 months ago, thanks to grant funding, to provide six kilowatts of power an hour.
‘Mr McLeod said: “ We’ve got the ideal location for wind power but unfortunately seagulls kept flying into it.”
‘“We were told by the manufacturer to expect maybe one fatality a year but it killed 14 in six months so we took advice and made the decision to turn it off.”
‘“If it had happened at night time you could understand that the birds couldn’t see the blades, which rotate at 135mph but it was happening at all different times of the day.”
‘Fall of 7.5% in power obtained from wind, hydro and other renewable sources blamed on dry winter with low wind speeds.
The Guardian, 28 June 2010.
‘Britain's renewable energy revolution suffered an abrupt setback this winter when the power supplied from wind, hydro and other "clean" sources fell, despite years of promises and policies to end the nation's dependence on fossil fuels and slash global warming pollution, the Guardian can reveal.
‘The news comes as the government will tomorrow unveil a major report into how it will pay for the hundreds of billions of new spending needed to meet the UK's targets for renewable energy and cutting climate change emissions by setting up a new Green Investment Bank (GIB).
‘The DECC Energy Statistics for the first quarter of 2010 show renewable electricity fell from 6.7% to 6.2% of total supply. Supply from coal power also fell, while nuclear and gas generation increased, bringing the total electricity supply up slightly, by 1.1%, although consumption of electricity fell fractionally. Total energy consumption, including heating, fell by 1.1%.
‘RenewableUK [formerly know as the British Wind Energy Association], the industry lobby group, said the ongoing increase in wind power would reduce problems from relying on hydro schemes as climate change was expected to bring an era of less reliable rainfall.
‘However Sir David King, the government’s former chief scientist and director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University, said the figures highlighted the need for new nuclear generators to help cut emissions and keep power supplies reliable. “We can’t rely too heavily on wind because it always requires a gas-fired turbine to be able to be switched on to provide alternative energy,” he said.’ [our emphasis]
The Telegraph, 20 Jun 2010.
‘With a fortune estimated at close to £100 million, Dale Vince, a former hippy who once lived in a truck, is probably Britain’s most successful eco-tycoon.
‘The self-styled ‘Zero Carbonista’ has made his money – make that lots of money – from a wind farm empire that stretches from Somerset to Scotland.
‘Not everybody is delighted by his financial acumen, however. Vocal critics complain that his company’s rapid growth is one of the most glaring examples of the huge sums that can be earned from the generous subsidies available to wind farm owners.
‘An energy think tank has concluded that in a 12-month period, Mr Vince’s 14 wind farms have received more than £6.3 million in subsidies. In total over the past eight years his company Ecotricity [a wholly-owned private company] will have received more than £22.6 million – a sum which is effectively added on to consumer electricity bills.
‘Should Ecotricity manage to put into operation all the wind farms it is currently planning, the annual subsidy will rise to close to £25 million, according to the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), an organisation opposed to onshore wind farms.
‘The subsidy – known as the Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) system – was put in place by the previous Government to encourage energy companies to invest in renewable energy. But opponents claim the levy is overly generous and is encouraging a rapid growth of wind turbines in some of Britain’s loveliest stretches of countryside. They even suggest the ROC subsidy is leading to wind farms being built in areas where the wind is not necessarily that strong.
‘Margareta Stanley, REF’s spokeswoman, said: “The Renewable Energy Foundation has long argued that the ROC system has rewarded the wind industry with an income disproportionate to the quality and usefulness of the power produced ... The income of companies such as Ecotricity demonstrates this distortion. ”
‘New nuclear power stations in Finland and Sweden are poison for the Danish wind industry, but good for electricity prices.’
Jyllands-Posten, Denmark, 19 June 2010 (our translation).
‘Sweden’s decision to allow the construction of up to 10 new nuclear power stations may result in the electricity price in Denmark collapsing. That will destroy the economy for wind turbines, biogas plant and other forms of sustainable energy, according to Lars Aagaard, a director of Danish Energy.
‘“10 new nuclear power stations will produce a surplus of electricity equivalent in size to Denmark’s entire yearly consumption. That will cause the electricity price to fall - and smash the market for sustainable energy. The result may be that we either have to cut back on our ambitions for sustainable energy or be prepared to pay a substantially higher subsidy for wind power.” Says Lars Aagaard.
‘Christian Ege, Chief Secretary at the Danish Ecological Council, is also concerned at the onward march of nuclear energy.
‘“More nuclear power puts our sustainable energy under pressure,” Christian Ege thinks.
‘“But, one half hopes that the Swedish government will lose the next election, so the decision can be reversed. I don’t quite believe that the Danes will be inclined to let sustainable energy die. I believe that there will be a general agreement to raise subsidies so that wind and biomass can compete with nuclear energy.”
‘Alternatively, Christian Ege hopes that some of the coal-fired Danish power stations will be shut down.
‘“Because nuclear power, purely in in terms of climate, is a better solution than coal-fired power stations.”
‘The energy administration expects that a larger supply of electricity will cause the price to fall. When Finland opens its next nuclear power station in 2013 the electricity price in the whole of Scandinavia is expected to fall by 2.5-6.5%.
‘According to General director Luis Echávarri of the OECD Nuclear Energy Authority everyone is banking massively on nuclear energy.
‘Poland and Italy are new nuclear energy states, while Finland, Great Britain, France, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Rumania and Belgium as well as the USA, China, India and now Sweden are developing more’.
By Robert Mendick, The Telegraph, 19 Jun 2010.
‘Britain's biggest wind farm companies are to be paid not to produce electricity when the wind is blowing.
‘Energy firms will receive thousands of pounds a day per wind farm to turn off their turbines because the National Grid cannot use the power they are producing.
‘Critics of wind farms have seized on the revelation as evidence of the unsuitability of turbines to meet the UK's energy needs in the future. They claim that the ‘intermittent’ nature of wind makes such farms unreliable providers of electricity.
‘The National Grid fears that on breezy summer nights, wind farms could actually cause a surge in the electricity supply which is not met by demand from businesses and households.
‘The electricity cannot be stored, so one solution – known as ‘the balancing mechanism’ – is to switch off or reduce the power supplied.
‘The system is already used to reduce supply from coal and gas-fired power stations when there is low demand. But shutting down wind farms is likely to cost the National grid – and ultimately consumers – far more. When wind turbines are turned off, owners are being deprived not only of money for the electricity they would have generated but also lucrative ‘green’ subsidies for that electricity.
‘The first successful test shut down of wind farms took place three weeks ago. Scottish Power received £13,000 for closing down two farms for a little over an hour on 30 May at about five in the morning.
‘Whereas coal and gas power stations often pay the National Grid £15 to £20 per megawatt hour they do not supply, Scottish Power was paid £180 per megawatt hour during the test to switch off its turbines.
‘It raises the prospect of hugely profitable electricity suppliers receiving large sums of money from the National Grid just for switching off wind turbines.
‘Dr Lee Moroney, planning director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, a think tank opposed to the widespread introduction of wind farms, said: “As more and more wind farms come on stream this will become more and more of an issue. Wind power is not controllable and does not provide a solid supply to keep the national grid manageable. Paying multinational companies large sums of money not to supply electricity seems wrong.”
‘Earlier this year, The Sunday Telegraph revealed that electricity customers are paying more than £1 billion a year to subsidise wind farms and other forms of renewable energy.
‘The proceeds of the levy, known as the Renewables Obligation (RO), are divided between the main renewable energy sources, with wind receiving 40 per cent, landfill gas 25 per cent, biomass 20 per cent, hydroelectric 12 per cent and sewage gas 3 per cent.
‘Professor Michael Laughton, emeritus professor of electrical engineering at the University of London, said: “People will find it very hard to understand that an electricity company is getting paid the market rate plus a subsidy for doing nothing. It is essentially a waste of consumers’ money.”
By Jenny Fyall, The Scotsman, 12 June 2010.
‘Damaging wind farms that unleash carbon dioxide from the soil are being permitted in Scotland because no government body is equipped to advise on the impact of building on peatland, The Scotsman has learned. Peat bog has been described as “Scotland’s rainforest” because it stores huge quantities of the greenhouse gas , which is released into the atmosphere if the peat is disturbed.
However, council planning teams in Scotland have been unable to get advice on the damage individual wind farms will do, because of a lack of anyone with the necessary expertise.
Documents seen by The Scotsman reveal that neither the Scottish Government, the country's environment watchdog the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, nor Scottish Natural Heritage, can provide informed advice on the issue.
Environmental groups have said they think it “extraordinary” that such an important issue has been neglected and there have been calls for a moratorium on wind farms on peatland until the issue is resolved.
Planning officials at Shetland Islands Council tried to get advice on the likely impact on peat of the 150-turbine Viking Wind Farm, which, if built, would be the largest onshore wind farm in Europe.
However, they came up against a brick wall.
A reply from David Liddell, a planning official at the Scottish Government, said: “Sorry, but not aware of a particular source of expertise on the carbon accounting query.”
In what the Shetland Council staff member, Hannah Nelson, then described to colleagues in an e-mail as a “surprising response”, Mr Liddell added: “Given that government (and also government planning) policy is in favour of wind and other renewables, I wouldn’t encourage you to query the carbon benefits of wind farms.” [Our emphasis]
Helen McDade, head of policy at the John Muir Trust, said: “I think it’s extraordinary that there is nobody available with the necessary expertise. It seems to be a case of see no evil, hear no evil.”
“How on earth are local councils supposed to know what to do? It’s absolutely urgent that something is done about this.”
She believes wind farms that damage peat bogs have already been granted permission in Scotland.
See also ‘Uplands inquiry disputes ‘greenness’ of turbines’, Wales Online, 6 April 2010. (Article on a Report prepared for the Welsh Assembly).
Both Environment Agency Wales and the Countryside Council for Wales pointed out that turbines have been built without any thought to the effect on carbon storage – and are now allowing carbon that has long been locked away to be released from the land.
Forestry Commission Wales confirmed that no assessment had been made of the impact of the Welsh Assembly Government’s policy of using national forest estates for wind turbines on the carbon stored in the uplands.
And no-one knew who was responsible. The Forestry Commission indicated that it was the planning authorities, but Environment Minister Jane Davidson suggested that it was the responsibility of the developer.
The report expressed concern that no-one accepted overall responsibility and called on the WAG to carry out the assessment, and for soil carbon management to become a central consideration in the current review of TAN8 – the policy that defines areas suitable for wind turbines.
It also called for a ban on forestry and wind turbines on deep peat “in order to ensure maximum environmental benefit in future”.
CPRW director Peter Ogden called for an immediate moratorium on any further wind schemes proposed in upland areas with deep peat.
“We have been proactive in supporting wind farms when appropriate but we are very concerned about the number of proposals we are getting.” Charles Johnston, SBC principal planning officer.
Janice Gillie, Berwickshire News, 12 May 2010.
‘The Scottish Borders approved more MW of wind energy power than any other Scottish authority per 1000 population and the region has Scotland's second highest amount of wind farm electricity generating capacity according to 2008 national figures.
‘Across the region there are currently 163 operational wind turbines, 92 approved but not yet built, 103 pending, 30 refused, 48 (at Fallago Rig) pending appeal and scoping proposals for another 16 wind farms with a combined total of 220 turbines.
‘Of the 12 approved wind farm in the Borders, planning officials believe six of them could be expanded, including Crystal Rig to the south.
‘And while to some people it may seem like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, Scottish Borders Council has drawn up guidelines for wind farm development in the region, and the document is now in the public arena for a 12 week consultation period.
Ben Webster, Environment Editor, The Times, 23 April, 2010
‘Wind farms are much easier to build in Britain than in most of the rest of Europe, according to a study that contradicts claims by the turbine industry that the planning system is too slow and needs to be reformed.
‘It takes an average of 26 months to win permission for a wind farm in Britain, compared with an average of 42 months across the EU. In France, it takes 29 months, Germany 30 and Spain 57, according to the EU-funded study by the European Wind Energy Association. Wind farm developers face the longest wait in Portugal, where the average wind farm takes 58 months from application to consent. Finland gives the fastest response, approving wind farms in only eight months.
‘Britain also has one of the least bureaucratic planning systems, with developers needing to contact an average of 15 authorities and organisations to obtain permission, it was reported. The EU average is 18. In Greece, applicants must contact 41 bodies.
ELECTRICITY GENERATIONBalancing Mechanism Reporting System (BMRS).