Ford’s Dagenham Plant – the windy city

turbo’s with added vroom…

Daily Tech reports that Ford have had to install a third wind turbine to power a new engine production line at it’s Dagenham plant.The new turbine means Ford’s diesel engine plant is now fully powered by the wind.The two previous turbines produced enough power to provide for 1,794 homes. The new turbine means a combined energy production of 11.4 million kWh.Standing at 150 metres high, the three turbines are not Ford’s only green contribution – the example and use of renewable s being used in other Ford plants across Europe.Read more at Daily Techphoto credit: brian snelson

Wind turbines the size of the London Eye

A question of scale?

The Swindon Advertiser reported last week on an upcoming planning meeting that was going to draw a lot of locals out in protest at the siting of 3 wind turbines, at the Honda plant site.

Residents who reckon they’ll be within 320 metres of the 400ft turbines aren’t against renewable energy, just the suitability of the proposed site.

Noise and ‘flicker’ are a real concern, according to one resident.

If passed, the 3 turbines would be the tallest structures in Swindon.

What’s interesting is the comments the story generated with both sides (for and against) claiming scientific knowledge proves or refutes many of the local residents fears.

You can find the full article and read the comments left by readers of the Swindon Advertiser here.

photo credit: jukka zitting

48% of all onshore wind farm applications rejected

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

Green taxes actually have negative effect on renewables construction

How many tonnes of cement does it take to generate one megawatt of offshore wind energy?

1? 2? 10?

I found the answer whilst perusing an article on the Telegraph’s website about how the raising of green taxes was actually harming the very companies that produced the materials used in wind turbine construction.

The answer is actually 150 tonnes.

Whilst that might seem like an incredible figure (if you’ve every laid a concrete drive, a cubic metre looks like Mount Snowdon), what’s more incredible is the fact that due to tax rises, it may actually be cheaper for the companies to buy cement from Spain rather than produce their own in the UK.

The Telegraphs article carries stark warnings for steel and lubricant manufacturers, all feeling the effects of raised ‘green taxes’. It’s well worth a read which you can do so by clicking here.

photo credit: tu

Why so much negativity over Wind Power?

I can’t be the only one?

I’ve noticed, of late, that there seems to be a lot of stories and articles regarding wind turbines, that have really called into question the usefulness of wind power as a viable renewable alternative to our energy problems.

On the face of it, what could be simpler?

The wind blows, turns the blades which drive a mechanism which converts revolutions to electricity which is then sent off to the Grid.

The reality seems to be far from simple.

For starters, there’s been lots of headlines about the small amounts of useful energy actually produced by wind farms with some suggesting that energy production has fallen.

This has been blamed on too much (or too little) wind, too much and the turbines overload the system and have to be switched off. Too little and well, that’s pretty obvious.

Then there’s the costs involved of siting large scale installations off-shore, and the dangers of working in such environments.

On land, wind turbines fair little better, having planning applications routinely objected to or denied.

And some are even claiming detrimental health caused by living too near to existing wind farms.

So are the days of wind turbines numbered? With so much adversity (both human and logistical), it would be easy to assume that.

What do you think?

photo credit: lance cheung

Wind turbines at East Midlands Airport

It’s usually an aircraft manufacturer that announces new turbines, not the airport, however that’s exactly what East Midlands Airport has just done as installation work was completed on two wind turbines.

The 148ft high turbines are expected to generate 5% of the airports electricity according to a BBC report (click here).

Now there’s omething else for pilots to avoid hitting….

photo credit: egm tacahopeful

Californian wind turbines removal forced by bird deaths.

Spotted on Wind Power Monthly was this snippet about a wind turbine development in California that’s been ordered to remove all it’s wind turbines in the next 5 years.

The problem is located in the Altamont Pass. 2,400 turbines will be replaced with newer, less dangerous turbines over a 4 year period. Many of Altamont’s wind turbines are over 25 years old.

A study found that between 1,766 and 4,271 birds were being killed each year including the protected Golden Eagle – read the full report here.

photo credit: nigel wedge

Could a new wind turbine design be heading for the UK?

“great scott!”

Spotted on was this snippet about a new style of wind turbine that could soon be appearing in the UK.

The Multi-Rotor Wind Turbine has overcome all the usual design and development obstacles and looks set to be a big hit with investors and users alike.

The design apparently answers many of the planning issues currently thwarting permission for present wind turbine designs – it’s quieter (close to zero decibel output), takes up less space (it can in fact be roof mounted) and for investors, has a much quicker return on investment claim its developers – VNCS.

Picture and full story here.

Apparently, UK commercial interests are already lining up to try out the new turbine and it’s hoped that with the usual planning obstacles removed by it’s clever design, we should see the first turbines in operation in the UK by 2012.

Nice work guys.

photo credit: stringbot

Despite being green – wind turbines need planning permission

Just because it’s green doesn’t mean the normal rules and regulations regarding planning and other permissions don’t apply.

Take planning permission for Wind Turbines for example.

As the Governments Planning Portal site admits – “the planning regime for installing wind turbines is complex and evolving”.

At present, you’ll need planning permission from your local authority to place a domestic wind turbine on your house or on the grounds surrounding your home.

Each local authority decides what information it wants to consider your proposal but in general, they’ll cover the visual impact, noise, vibration, electrical interference (with TV aerials) and safety.

If you’re installing a wind turbine onto the home itself, then building regulations will apply including consideration to the size, weight and force expected to be exerted on the fixing points.

In both cases, free-standing or attached to your house, building regulations will still apply to the electrical part of the installation.

As always, the best advice is check with your local authority before going ahead with anything.

Read the full guidance notes on Planning Portal.

photo credit: fiona macginty

Badgers most at risk from Wind Turbine blades

Environmentalists and anti-wind farm lobbyists have produced a list of the top ten wildlife creatures most at risk from onshore wind farms.

Top of the list by a wide margin is the humble Badger!

With their distinctive black and white striped noses, the Badger is just tall enough to be ‘clipped’ by the blades of wind turbines when the blade rotation reaches its lowest point.

The Badgers low ‘squat’ stance, ideal for it to sniff out food – Badgers have a very keen sense of smell and can eat up to 200 earthworms an evening – places it in the greatest danger of all the wildlife creatures.

Despite being accused of having little ears, Badgers are drawn to the death-dealing blades by the soft ‘whooping’ sound made by the blades traveling through the air.

The sound is not dissimilar to the hooting noise of an infant badger in trouble. Badgers are naturally good parents and will often go to the aid of a badger infant if the mother isn’t present.

Studies are now being conducted around a number of wind farms in the UK to confirm the findings. A spokesman said they hoped their study would lead to an answer to stopping badgers approaching the wind turbines. One popular theory is that large plates of mashed potato left at the foot of the turbine towers, opposite side to the blades, could stop 100% of badger deaths.

special April Fool’s Day photo credit: janetmck

For the real low-down on Badgers – visit Billy Badger’s webpage.