Ikea – not all flat pack and meatballs

Ikea – the flat-pack superstore famous for swedish product names you can’t pronounce and meatball suppers, has just bought a wind farm in Scotland.

The 12.3 megawatt wind farm could cover up to 30 percent of Ikea’s total UK energy use.

However, Ikea isn’t stopping there. With typical nordic efficiency, they’re also planning to install 39,000 solar panels across 10 UK stores which will provide an average additional 5% of each stores energy usage. (source Bloomberg).

The Ikea Group already owns wind farms in Denmark, Germany and France.

According to Bloomberg, Ikea is looking to reduce its exposure to fluctuating energy prices, which cost the company $1.7 billion a year.

The planned solar panel installation will cost in the region of 4 million pounds.

photo credit: tgkohn

Australian Dr calls for halt to Wind farm construction

Stock and Land reports that a Doctor from South Australia is calling for a halt to wind farm development whilst studies into the effect on local health can be investigated.

Dr Laurie reckons there’s evidence of local residents suffering the effects of sleep disturbance due to low frequency sound and infrasound.

Patients have been waking in a panicked state and suffering other symptoms of sleep disturbance.

The effects have been felt within a range of 10 kilometres of a wind farm.

Wind farm companies and the Australian Psychological Society have dismissed suggestions of negative health effects from wind farms, claiming there’s a “robust evidence base” which suggests wind farms didn’t present any major health risk.

With so much open land – particularly in a country like Australia, it does make you wonder why it’s necessary to build any wind farm close to homes anyway.

photo credit: kevin dooley

Wind Farms? The Peasants are revolting…

Last week, The Independent got sight of a report into the state of the UK’s wind energy industry. The picture painted is one of chaos and disarray.

Planning approvals for wind farms are at their worst with only 1 in 3 getting approval after successful objections from organised local opposition groups up and down the UK.

Whilst the number of new wind farms becoming active has fallen by 30% – due partly to the recession, there was a 50% drop in planning approvals in England alone.

Campaigners against the wind turbines, whilst appreciating the need for wind farms to help combat emissions, say the turbines are an eyesore, unacceptably noisy and decimate local bird life.

They want to see all wind farms built off-shore, despite the increased costs and length of time it takes to build off-shore installations – up to 7 years.

As an average, it now takes two years from the point of application until approval is gained.

Sorry folks – the UK can’t wait that long.

The Independent’s fascinating article (if you missed it) carries quotes from opposition groups and local councillors and is well worth a few minutes of your time. Read it here.

photo credit: shimelle

Wind Power – could we use farm assets more wisely?

I’ve said it before but it’s really great to discover new sources of renewable energy ‘talk’ like this article on Farming Futures.

The gist is this – basically, farmers want to invest in renewables, given the large areas of land they own but are finding it difficult to get the right subsidies as bureaucracy dictates they simply cannot ‘hook up’ to the ‘grid’ if they’re not using the energy themselves.

The article by David Hugill quotes other problems farmers are experiencing – availability of grid connection and confusion over what funding is and isn’t supported.

I came away from reading the article thinking “we’ve really got to do more to support these guys”. The opportunity for using large areas of land, whilst offering farmers an income without subsidies (for not growing crops or keeping livestock) must surely be seized?

The first 6 months of this year has flown by hasn’t it? Bare in mind that there’s only another 19 such periods to 2020 when we’re supposed to be generating 15% + of our energy needs via renewables.

Read David Hugill’s full article by clicking here.

photo credit: me’nthedogs

Lake District wind turbine planning refusal proves renewable is no guarantee

Just because it’s renewable doesn’t mean it will automatically get planning approval as West Coast Energy have discovered, following a Government ruling to uphold a local council’s decision to refuse permission for a wind farm on the edge of the Lake District.

The plan even attracted the likes of Sir Chris Bonington (who I saw speak once in an absolutely spell-binding presentation on some of his climbing expeditions, in the early ’80’s at a venue in Stevenage) who spoke up in defence of the “iconic” landscape not being developed.

According to the BBC website, the Eden Council Leader is quoted as saying “The council along with other public bodies recognise the need to develop renewable energy sources, but we also recognise the need to protect the unique character of our local landscapes for future generations.”

You can read the full article on the BBC website by clicking here.

photo credit: video4net

Britain is an attractive place to live – from a renewable energy point of view

Absolutely delighted to share Business Green’s news that according to accountancy firm Ernst & Young, Britain tied 5th place with Spain in the latest global Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices.

Ernst & Young cite barriers like planning and grid connection resulting in long term hopes on off-shore wind farms etc.

Well done Britain. Read the full article on Business Green by clicking here.

photo credit: rennett stowe

Wind Farms have no negative impact on property prices – US study concludes

If you’re worried about the effect a nearby wind farm may have on your properties value when you come to sell it, or even if there are plans afoot to develop and site a wind farm or single wind turbine near your property, in the US, a study has concluded there should be no negative impact on the selling price.

The Department of Energy carried out a comprehensive 3 year analysis comparing house prices before and after wind farm installations, taking into account house characteristics and repeat sales and sale volumes across nine states.

The report, published on Renewable Energy Focus goes on: “None of the 8 models uncovered any conclusive evidence of the existence of any widespread property value effects that might be present in communities surrounding wind farms. Specifically, neither the view of wind turbines nor the distance of homes to turbines was found to have any consistent, measurable or significant effect on the selling prices of the homes.

“Though the analysis cannot dismiss the possibility that individual homes or small numbers of homes have been negatively impacted, it finds that if these impacts do exist, they are either too small and/or too infrequent to result in any widespread, statistically observable effect,” the report notes.

“No matter how we looked at the data, the same result kept coming back – no evidence of widespread impacts,” says report co-author Ben Hoen. It took three years to collect the data and analyse 50 different statistical model specifications.”

This line particularly interested me… “Although studies that have investigated residential sales prices near conventional power plants, high voltage transmission lines, and roads have found some property value impacts, the same cannot be said for wind energy facilities, at least given our sample of transactions,” adds co-author Mark Thayer.”

So wind farms – good for the environment and if the UK follows suit on the data revealed in this american study, not bad for your property value either.

photo credit: I See Modern Britain

Why large scale solar / wind power will turn to stored power sooner

Spotted over at Silent Energy Blog

Victor Babbitt who works in the field of large scale batteries within wind and solar energy applications reveals the current ‘problem’ with many large scale solar and wind power farms – namely that the require a co2 chugging generator to control the power and make it usable within the grid system.

Because you can’t ‘dial-up’ a solar plant and say “I’d like 45MW between 10 and 2 today” as Victor points out, you can’t rely on the sun to be shining at that moment.

The solution is either a regulating generator or large scale batteries to store the immediate power and release it steadily into the grid system.

There’s lots of facts and figures quoted and much of it center’s on a study which states that the USA can reach a 20% integration of renewables without needing energy storage.

Victor Babbitt asks at what cost and makes the case for why the industry is re-thinking it’s policy on stored energy.

This quote really brings home the importance of the issue: “Yet, many wind farms are presently being curtailed because ERCOT can’t use the power they produce at the time they produce it. They are actually shutting down wind farms in preference of burning coal and gas. I am personally working with some of these Texas wind farms being curtailed as much as 20% of the time. So at 3.5% wind penetration we have serious issues on a grid that supplies 13% of the nations needs. Seems like there is more work to do here.”

More work to do indeed.

photo credit: razor512

People feel wind farms have a positive local impact

More from The Energy Collective

Whilst reading their fascinating report on ‘Local Power’, this also caught my eye.

“An English MP wants a new rule to say wind turbines can’t be built within 1.5 miles of homes. This would mean saying goodbye to new wind farms in the English countryside.”

Apparently Peter Luff MP – Conservative member of Parliament for Mid Worcestershire, tabled a ten minute rule in February 2009 asking for an “arbitrary 2Km buffer zone between wind turbines and homes in England”.

This is despite most surveys showing people feel their local wind farm has had “a positive impact on the area”.

You can read the full article here – Even though it was February, I’m sure the repercussions may still be being discussed.

We can’t offer you an online quote on having Wind Power installed on your property but we can offer you an instant online quote for Solar Panels & solar energy installation. Click here to get your free instant quote now. No salesman will call but you could find out how much installing solar panels on your home would cost in minutes.

photo credit: davestokes

Cornwall Council approve wind turbine development in Davidstowe Woods

The BBC website reports that a Cornish planning application for 20 wind turbines to be built in Davidstowe Woods has been approved.

The turbines, standing 410ft high (over two-and-a-half times the height of Nelson’s Column) will create 7 new jobs. Construction starts next year.

The approval comes amidst local objections from those concerned about damaging the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, whilst the company behind the development said the approval was “fantastic news”.

Read the full story on the BBC website by clicking here.

photo credit: pondspider