Even if you’re not a tree hugging environmentalist, you can’t have failed to notice that much of the energy headlines are being dominated by the push for renewable forms of energy production.
The Governments practically ramming solar energy down homeowners throats with pay back tariff incentives, which has also caught the eye of investors, who’ve started offering free solar panels, in exchange for the homeowner renting out their roof to the installation companies.
But there’s more to renewables than just solar.
On-shore and more noticeably, off-shore wind turbines are also producing measurable amounts of clean energy for the UK.
These large scale (and small scale) producers are critical if the UK is to meet it’s carbon reduction targets – agreed limits with the rest of Europe with a strict deadline (which looks every further in jeopardy).
However, all is not well.
The Birmingham Post revealed how nearly half of all on-shore wind turbine installations were turned down at the planning stage last year – the exact figure being 48%.
This is a significant and worrying increase from the 33% rejected in 2009.
Most of the rejections stemmed from public opposition to what is seen as an unwelcome blight on a local landscape.
Now a commercial law firm has warned that ‘Town Halls’ may not be seeing the bigger picture, when upholding local interests and denying wind turbine applications.
Development companies are not lying down though, concerned that they’re not getting a “balanced hearing”. “National interest is being over-ridden by local concerns”.
What do you think? Have you recently fought to get a proposed wind turbine application refused? Should all turbines be sited off-shore?
photo credit: incase
Spotted over the weekend on the BBC website was this snippet about an anti-turbine march in Shetland.
Despite the plan being amended – cutting back the number of planned wind turbines from 150 to 127 and reducing the land ‘ground area’ required in the original proposal, protestors still aren’t happy, claiming it is still too large.
The final decision on the application now rests with Energy Minister Jim Mather.
photo credit: larry johnson
“whistle for the wind?”
I was intrigued to read Chris Goodall’s piece on Carbon Commentary last week that wind farms in the south-east may be facing defaults on their bank loans due to a lack of wind.
It seems that when negotiating with the banks over funding for wind farms, the anticipated generation factor is taken into account – a kind of security against the loan I suppose.
However, 2009’s and it’s looking like 2010’s figures as well, generation figures were much lower than had been forecast due to a lack of wind.
Whilst experts ponder over the wind speed figures and try to re-evaluate their models for predicting wind patterns, based on previous ‘cycles’, it’s leaving some wind farm developers close to defaulting on loans.
Worse still, according to Chris, is the fact that the re-calculation of anticipated energy production figures may put off future investment and make wind farms a not so sure bet.
Chris argues that solar power is much easier to predict than it’s green wind ‘cousin’ however, he concludes that more data is probably required before financial investment will be an attraction.
It’s a very in-depth report and if your interest is purely financial, scientific or you’re just interested in weather patterns and causes, then there’s definitely something for you in Chris’s piece.
Read his full report here.
photo credit: ell brown
A letter published in the Scotsman tells of the news that Denmark has pulled out of further onshore wind farm development amidst an apparent public back-lash against wind turbines.
Denmark has more than 4,000 onshore wind turbines – two-thirds more than Britain, in a country only a fifth the size of the UK.
The author argues that without the power generation subsidies, not a single turbine would have been built in Scotland and reckons the companies are only interested in generating income rather than generating green electricity.
Indeed, we’ve already reported on this blog how poor they performed during the Winter – a statistic the author shares:
“For several days, Britain’s wind turbines, said to be capable of delivering 5 per cent of our electricity, in fact delivered only 0.2 per cent. If, as the government plans to do, we were relying on wind for 30 per cent of our power, the lights would have gone out.
The wind in Scotland blows enough for windmills only to produce electricity around 27 per cent of the time. So the paradox of building windmills is that you have to build a lot of ordinary power stations to back them up and, in the short to medium term, those are going to be high CO2 emitting fossil-fuel gas or coal-fired plants. The trouble is, such is the fixation with wind power that nobody in the Scottish Government is planning for new gas or coal-fired power stations. Having already ruled out any new nuclear plant in Scotland, we can be certain of one thing: the lights are going to go out.“
It’s emotive stuff, and as you would expect, it’s led to some interesting exchanges in the following comments.
What’s your opinion? Read the full letter and view the comments by clicking here.
photo credit: karen horton
Europe’s largest onshore wind farm in East Renfrewshire is going to be even bigger.
Scottish Power Renewables is to add another 75 wind turbines to the farm on Eaglesham Moor by 2012.
This will take the farm’s number of turbines to 215, raising its generation capacity to 539MW – enough to power 300,000 homes.
The expansion will also create an additional 200 jobs.
The additional turbines will make it one of the largest wind farms in the world.
It’s more economic good news for the area and for renewable energy generation as a whole in the UK.
Read a more in-depth report on the BBC website.
photo credit: daveybot
10 wind turbines making up the UK’s first commercial wind farm are to be replaced with just 4 new ones, which are twice the height of their predecessors, and will measure a neck aching 325ft high to the tip of the blade.
The 9.2MW capacity will be enough to supply nearly 8000 homes.
The farm was first built in 1991.
Read the full article by clicking here.
photo credit: rikie rizza
When we started this solar panel blog, we soon realised that there’s just as much interest in, and information about, wind turbines sought by the UK Public.
Wind Turbines have the benefit of a high visibility factor – many parts of the UK now have wind farms and individual clusters of one or more wind turbines.
Of course, generating energy from the wind is not a new idea (think back to the windmills of old) but technology is trying to bring these wind giants up to date by making more use of available power in increasingly smaller turbines.
Many experts agree that the UK is well placed for exploiting wind and wave energy and if you’re read back through some past posts here on this blog, you’ll be aware of the various wind farm projects taking place around the country, both onshore and offshore.
Wind Turbines are not without their problems, like their solar panel counterparts, if there’s no sun, there’s very little energy produced. The recent cold spell at the beginning of 2010 bought very still conditions – as a result, some have estimated the power output dropped to virtually unperceptible levels.
Wind turbines may not have the appeal of solar panels on single domestic installations but for larger community based projects, wind turbines may well come into their own.
Browse through our previous posts or search for ‘wind turbines’ for previous blog posts and articles on generating energy from the wind.
photo credit: norhendraruslan
One industry that’s been hit particularly badly during the recession has been the UK wind energy companies – as loans and credit to finance new projects dried up.
That’s hopefully going to change as £1.4 Billion worth of funding is being made available to three UK based banks, who’ll be able to offer eligible onshore wind farm projects new loans.
The money is coming from The European Investment Bank who are providing £700 million on a loan term of 15 years. The other half of the money will be matched by RBS, Lloyds And BNP Paribas Fortis.
*Many small independent wind farm developers (who the scheme is particularly aimed at) will hopefully be able to complete the funding for their projects now, as the £1.4 billion will be available to projects over the next 3 years with a cost of between £20 million and £100 million.
*source Domain B.com
photo credit: warby