Forget lower subsidies, the wind industry has a much bigger problem brewing

On the face of it, this has been a pretty good week for the wind industry. After a worrying month or so, in which George Osborne seemed to be listening to his party’s MPs, they appear to have got away with a mere 10% reduction in the large subsidies they get paid to produce (and sometimes not to produce) wind energy.

But if I were in the business, a piece of news that has received rather less attention might be making me feel just a tiny bit tense. The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) – which sets property valuations for the purposes of council tax – appears to have accepted that having wind turbines near your house can (and does) reduce the value of houses.

Until now, all suggestions that this is the case have been firmly rejected by the industry. But this week the Sunday Times reported the case of a couple living 650 yards from a large windfarm near Braunton in Devon. They aren’t trying to sell their house, but nonetheless, local estate agents value their house at £100,000 less than they did before the windfarm as was built, a result of the persistent noise and flickering (when the sun is behind the blades).

The result? The VOA has moved them from band F to band E. That saves them £400 a year. This makes sense.

We’ve written here often about land taxes and how land with the most value should be taxed more than other land. Council tax is the closest thing we have in the UK to a land tax, and it seems right to me at least that a negative land tax should be applied to property blighted by noise loud enough to be considered a statutory nuisance by the VOA.
 
But if you were the owners of such a property would that be enough? I suspect not. So what would you do about it?

My guess is that, now you had definitive legal proof that your finances had been materially affected by the windfarm, you would sue the windfarm developer. That’s exactly what Jane Davis from Lincolnshire did in 2008. After having her request for a council tax cut approved she went on to sue the windfarm owners (including EDF) in the High Court. The case ended last year in a settlement that included a very tight confidentiality agreement (although according to the Sunday Times, the windfarm owners bought the house from Davis).
 
So how big a problem is this for the windfarms? So far, at least five homeowners have had their properties re-banded as a result of windfarms. But the real number is probably much, much higher – only those applications that go to appeal are made public. “We do not record the number of occasions where a band challenge is made by a taxpayer due to the proximity of a wind turbine/farm”, says the VOA.

I don’t suppose this will stop the blanket of turbines moving across the country, but if all the homeowners suffering losses as a result of them sue, it is going to make the windfarm owners even more grateful than they already are to the Lib Dems and their efforts to keep subsidies high. It might even make them think twice about siting huge turbines within shadow distance of people’s bedrooms.

  • Joe Wilson

    Merryn,

    Although I accept your point, the ‘blight’ caused by windfarms will surely be a fraction of the properties or valuation change caused by high speed rail or say building a nuclear or coal fired power station in the same location.

    Is this really a big problem brewing?

  • Romford Dave

    It will be once the no win no fee gravy train rolls into town, whether there’s a railway line in place or not.

    It’ll make a nice change to have evening meals interrupted with unsolicited calls about Wind Farm Blight rather than PPI.

    PPI is so last year……..

  • Critic Al Rick

    To be facetious; it’s no problem, we’ll all end up being charged more for electricity ; and the money supply is no problem, just print some more.

    In for a penny, in for a pound; cretins!

  • Critic Al Rick

    It’s not so much a problem to ‘the industry’; they, as a virtual monopoly, will just pass the extra overheads onto us, the consumers. Ultimately, it’ll be a problem caused by them but be paid for by us; business as usual. Sickening, isn’t it; the cretins!

    Further impediment to the UK’s global competitiveness.

    ‘Shoot yourself in the foot’ Britain!

  • Agnostic

    Merryn, every time you comment on wind farms you display a certain ignorance. If your comments on wind farms are as perceptive and informed as on other financial matters I’m not sure I’m coming to the right place for financial advice.

    If a wind farm causes statutory nuisance, the persons affected are entitled to apply to the local Council for action to be taken against the operators. this has happened in the past and the offending wind farm, which was operating outside the noise limits of the planning consent, was shut down until appropriate measures were put in place.

    Is the loss of value to a house due to the proximity of a wind farm any different to the loss of value due to proximity of a coal fired power station, or a hot food outlet, or a noisy late night club, or any other ‘bad neighbour’ development?

    As long as wind farms operate within the noise limits applied within their planning consent, it ain’t likely to be statutory or any other kind of nuisance.

  • Agnostic

    @Critic Al Rick, the ROC system, and renewable energy in general, encourages competition in the energy generation market leading to less of a monopoly.
    Now, the generation of energy is being democratised, by opening up power generation to a whole raft of new smaller scale generators. What we need now is a much broader competitive market in the retail supply of energy to households. Why should any market be dominated by a few players? why aren’t the government mandating the break up of the banks, the supermarkets, the media, the electricity suppliers, etc. Why not just have a general rule that no company should have greater than a 5% share of any market? Then we might have proper competition.

  • Freddie

    I do not hink these cases will go very far, because ALL forms of development cause a variation in house prices. Roads, neighbours extensions, airports (3rd runway), hospitals etc, if payments were demanded for house price falls then nothing would be built. Also the opposite can be true – a good school in close proximity – in that case could the school demand a payment for the uplift from property owners for the uplift?

  • Critic Al Rick

    @ 6. Agnostic

    You ask “why aren’t the government mandating the break up of the banks, the supermarkets, the media, the electricity suppliers, etc?”

    Because Democracy has been ‘democratised’ (corrupted).

    The generation and retailing of electricity, in my view, are facets of civilisation that are best owned and run by an uncorrupted state; next best, a relatively uncorrupted state.

    However and in my view, during the course of its advancing corruption the state ‘lost the plot’, mismanaged the economy, and was forced to sell off ‘family silver’ including the CEGB in order to reduce national debt.

    If we had a relatively uncorrupted state we wouldn’t have crony capitalism and we could have regulation of corporates by regulators with real teeth.

    However, we have what we have and as a consequence are, in my view, heading for catastrophe on several fronts.

  • harry

    could it be that when ‘wishful thinking green’ energy comes up against the hard economics of cheap shale gas, especially in the usa,the reality is the huge game changing potential of fracking will win despite the environmental consequences.
    perhaps the tree huggers in the states will be able to hug a redundant wind turbine column and reminisce about what might have been as the usa becomes energy self sufficient (and richer)

  • Lark Descending

    If a wind farm noise condition is left to the developer then home owners have to rely on the Local Authority to force the developer to abide by the condition.
    However if the noise condition is given directly to the local authority to enforce then that is another matter.

    Wind farms tend not to get developed when the latter occurs.
    I wonder why?

  • Nev

    If anybody doees anything on their land that causes the value of their neighbours land to drop the affected parties are entitled to sue for compensation for the loss suffered. Simple.
    Public authoritie pay compesation called Injurious Affection, representing the reduction in value caused by their developments to affected property. Since the 1940s, actually.
    The one exception I know of is that you cannot sue for the loss of a view. No one it seems is entitled to a view.
    Loss of the view is the complaint registered against wind turbines by neighbours up to 20 miles away in the flat counties of eastern England, where thousands of turbines are proposed.
    Now urbanites like me get anxious about blocks of flats on the local playing fields – but I wonder how I would feel about a group of structures, each taller than the London Eye, at the end of the road?

  • Ste

    Everybody likes the idea of saving the planet, but nobody is satisfied with renewable schemes such as wind farms, particularly in their back garden.

    This article is written with a fair amount of ignorance to the planning process and work that goes into minimising adverse effects on neighbours. Or the protection offered by statutory provisions through the local authority.

    Granted, their could be some adverse impact or financial loss in the absolute minority of cases but how far are we prepared to go to save the earth?? Just sue the developer if you are out of pocket, it’s all very simple.

    The public need to start getting behind turbine schemes – not being scaremongered into thinking windfarms are doom and gloom.

  • Agnostic

    @10. Lark Descending, I don’t know what you know of planning consents, but a condition is put on the developer, not the Local Authority. I can answer your query about why wind farms aren’t developed when the “latter happens”, because it doesn’t happen!

    @11. Nev, thanks for the benefit of your legal advice. Injurious affection relates to public law, where the State is carrying out project development and/or compulsory purchase of private land. It doesn’t relate to private law. Wind farms are private developments on private land so injurious affection or any other head of compensation applies.

  • Agnostic

    @ 12. Ste
    I couldn’t agree more. There is so much ignorance around the subject. Couldn’t people inform themselves properly before spouting b******s on subjects they clearly know nothing about?

  • jock

    I f you dont live up against a wind farm you cant possibly comment.
    Wind farms blight an area.
    We have 21 to west
    3 to north with 6 more at reporter.
    4 to east
    13 to south in planning
    Surounded, all with in the last six months.

  • John

    Only thing is Joe that those impacted by the Hi speed rail link or a nuclear power station; what is descibed as infrastructure projects; do already get paid compensation. Those faced by wind turbines do not. In Denmark the Government agree compensation and then charge the wind farms. In the UK, the Government has simply proved to subservient to the wind interests.

  • Agnostic

    When burning hydrocarbons causes climate change, leading to ruined crops, flooded homes, high food prices, third world starvation, species depletion, etc, does the government charge BP and Shell and compensate the victims? Don’t think so. Still, at least they don’t spoil your nice view.

  • harry

    climate change(it used to be global warming) in my opinion is a jolly jamboree of utter b*****ks. the governments love it as you may notice everything green seems to be prefixed or suffixed with ‘charge,levy,duty,tax etc’
    about 30 years ago scientists were predicting the oncoming of another ice age with the freezing of the thames etc doom and more doom as ice age progressed hmmmmm
    perhaps the real problem facing mother earth is over population particularly in africa and asia but polititans shy away from discussing this as they fear being branded racist
    this may be too heavy for finance site but every one talks about man made climate as fact when perhaps any change in climate may just be a natural cycle (and we have wasted all this money building wind turbines etc)

  • Agnostic

    Harry, I don’t know why we have a multitude of climate scientists, NASA, etc, all working on scientific climate models, data collection, confirming climate change and the effect of increased CO2 levels, when we have your gut feelings to go on. Well done.

  • habitat21

    Wind turbines should not be regarded as renewable energy because they emit more CO2 emissions though their carbon own footprint and that of their back-up and regulating reserves (because of their inefficiency and intermittency) compared to running highly efficient gas-fired power stations at one-third of the cost.

  • Critic Al Rick

    The problems of the wind industry are a small symptom of the salient problems brewing in the West.

  • Agnostic

    @ Habitat21. You are quite wrong and are simply re-stating a standard anti-wind power myth. The energy audits carried out show that a typical commercial wind turbine displaces all the CO2 produced in its manufacture within around 6 months of operation. As far as back-up power sources, National Grid has stated that it does not need back up power sources specifically for wind. All power generation in the country requires back up capacity, just as for a nuclear or gas power station going off-line. Outages of generation are a normal feature and are simply managed around.

  • AML

    If you are still in doubt wind farms are a big waste of tax payers money….

    “Energy 101. It is impossible to have wind turbines without fossil fuels, especially natural gas. Turbines average only 30% of their “rated capacity” – and less than 5% on the hottest and coldest days, when electricity is needed most. They produce excessive electricity when it is least needed, and electricity cannot be stored for later use. Hydrocarbon-fired backup generators must run constantly, to fill the gap and avoid brownouts, blackouts, and grid destabilization due to constant surges and falloffs in electricity to the grid. Wind turbines frequently draw electricity from the grid, to keep blades turning when the wind is not blowing, reduce strain on turbine gears, and prevent icing during periods of winter calm.”

    Read the rest here:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/05/08/time-to-terminate-big-wind-subsidies/

  • Agnostic

    Energy 102. If you twin wind power with hydro power, there is NO requirement for hydrocarbon generation. Scotland is about to do so using a grid interconnector between Scotland and Norway. More grid links across Europe and Nort Africa will add to load balancing without hydrocarbon balancing. The problem here is one dimensional thinking. You take the current situation re load balancing and extend it into the future. You do not see any future development. Wind power is relatively new, and the grid will evolve to balance its power.
    Not sure what your point is re 30% of rated capacity. That is an average figure over a year. Since the raw material costs nothing and never runs out, it seems pretty reasonable. Prices can’t go up, no middle east wars upsetting supplies, no 70’s style ‘wind shocks’…seems ideal.

  • Cyclopath

    The reason wind farms rarely create a statutory noise nuisance is the ETSU-R/97 guidelines drawn up by the industry & govt which make it virtually impossible to breach these guidelines. They effectively ignore low frequency noise (LFN) – below about 200 Hz, because of the A-weighted filter applied. Audible noise is a big problem caused by numerous wind farms.

    LFN can create serious health problems if you are close to wind farms. Some people up to 11 km from wind farms have been forced to abandon their homes. LFN can travel for miles and can be amplified by the house resonating.

    Our nearest wind farm is about 10 miles away yet my wife, who is sensitive to LFN, can hear it regularly. When atmospheric contiditions are right, the noise is very loud for her. We have very good reason to believe, through observations made over 5.5 years, that LFN can travel at least 25-30 miles.

  • AlanH

    ‘Agnostic’ argues for RenEn & and windfarms. He/she displays disappointing technical illiteracy, e.g.”If you twin wind power with hydro power, there is NO requirement for hydrocarbon generation.”
    Precisely, WHAT hydro power?
    You miss wind power CANNOT be predicted accuracyly, is stochastic, intermittent, erratic whereas fossil fuel and nuclear generation is secure, demandable and dispatchable.
    4 “30% rated capacity”, read Load Factor of 21-27% av. per yr compared to Installed Capacity; thus the technical illiteracy.
    If you view ‘bmreports’ you will find that, during the latest winters, wind generation has only been 1% or less of load demand.
    The “raw material”, i.e. gusts of wind, which “costs nothing” and “never runs out” costs the UK TAX-PAYER for the inefficiently running, atmospheric carbon dioxide increasing, fossil fuel backup. Try researching papers by Kent Hawkins, LePair, Udo and others.

  • Cyclopath

    Agnostic, about 10 years ago Denmark bought hydro power from Norway when there was insufficient wind. The reservoirs were run v low.

    The winter rains never came due to a v cold winter. The reservoirs never refilled that winter, leaving Norway v short of electricity. The price trebled that winter.

    When Denmark has a glut of wind generated electricity, they export it to Norway at v low prices. Norway shuts off water to its hydroelectric generators.

    When the wind doesn’t blow, Denmark imports electricity at premium prices. Net result is a flow of cash out of Denmark.

    Industrial scale wind power is a huge scam. Not a one conventional power station will be shut down. In fact, the more wind turbines that are erected, the more back up power stations (probably gas) will have to be built to back up wind power.

    The wind power companies are farming subsidies, not wind – all the subsidies are paid for through your electricity bills.

  • Cyclopath

    Agnostic, about 10 years ago Denmark bought hydro power from Norway when there was insufficient wind. The reservoirs were run v low.

    The winter rains never came due to a v cold winter. The reservoirs never refilled that winter, leaving Norway v short of electricity. The price trebled that winter.

    When Denmark has a glut of wind generated electricity, they export it to Norway at v low prices. Norway shuts off water to its hydroelectric generators.

    When the wind doesn’t blow, Denmark imports electricity at premium prices. Net result is a flow of cash out of Denmark.

    Industrial scale wind power is a huge scam. Not a one conventional power station will be shut down. In fact, the more wind turbines that are erected, the more back up power stations (probably gas) will have to be built to back up wind power.

    The wind power companies are farming subsidies, not wind – all the subsidies are paid for through your electricity bills.

  • Agnostic

    Alan H. I think you haven’t quite understood. What is meant by twinning wind power with hydro is that excess wind power is used to pump store water in hydro dams. During periods of low wind, hydro power is released. It’s not just me saying so, there are currently 3 grid projects lining up to do so.
    As to the old ‘efficiency’ chestnut, the rated capacity of a turbine means nothing, as you clearly don’t understand the term. Turbines are generally rated at a achieving a given MW/Hr output at a wind speed of 12m/s. At 12m/s or more (ip to cut out speed, usually about 25m/s) the turbine will produce 100% of its rated capacity. Over the course of a year, the turbine will output between 0% and 100% of its rated capacity. Due to periods of calm weather, etc over the course of a year, on a fairly average wind speed site of around 7.5m/s, the output will average around 30%. Despite how the antis seek to portray this as ‘inefficient’ I reckon it’s ok.

  • Barkingmad

    Building dams to store the water and wind turbines to pump the water back up is just hugely costly and paid for by UK consumers and companies – making us less competitive and costing us jobs. We need cheap(er) and more reliable energy generation.

    Often there is too little wind – sometimes too much – when they do generate it is often at the wrong ‘time’ – so yes you can use the surplus to refill dams etc. but now you have two methods of generation and a method of storage and a lot of cost. How many dams and wind turbines are we going to need to even do 15-20% of our energy requirement and how much will our electricity bills rise as a result.

  • Barkingmad

    I think we should be looking to the longer term – we need reliable power generation, ideally low(er) carbon and would be much better (strategically) if we did not have to import it.

    Factor in the deaths per TWh generated you realise how many people die from carbon fuels (coal is unsurprisingly the worst). I’m not saying nuclear is perfect but the public judges it today based on power stations that may be 30-40 years old. Germany is trying to get out of nuclear power – could cost it dearly and the irony is it may just end up importing electricity from France who have a LOT of nuclear.

    It’s lovely to think of wind farms generating our power cleanly and generating a suplus that is used to refill dams in Norway etc. – but just not realistic for the majority of our power requirement.

  • Agnostic

    Scotland generated 35% of its electricity from renewable sources last year, a combination of wind and hydro. And it has only just started.

    Geoff Immelt of GE in today’s FT: ‘Nuclear is too expensive, the future is a combination of wind/solar and gas.’

  • DickyJim

    If I was a betting man I’d say that Agnostic is talking his book.

    ‘Climate change’ is very different from global warming, or global cooling as was the concern before global warming, which I believe hasn’t actually been recorded since 1997.

    Continual climate change since time immemorial is a well documented fact through fossil records etc. Global warming however is just a political convenience and far from scientific fact. That NASA etc are looking for it doesn’t mean it’s there and certainly doesn’t mean that if it is there it is owing to man made CO2 emissions. This is a statement of the bleedin’ obvious. Furthermore it begs credulity that we don’t all know there are eminent scientists in no small number who flat deny global warming.

    In summary Agnostic it matters not how hard you plead your case it is clear the argument is turning against wind farms.

  • dave

    Whats Merryn’s solution? We got 300 years of coal in the ground, wind and tidal for free, some oil and gas, shale gas… find the right blend and become at least energy independent.

    One things for sure, get rid of nuclear. Anything that relys on 500 million years of “no mistakes” involving humans is a questionable idea!

  • Agnostic

    Dicky Jim, if you don’t believe in man made global warming, you won’t be persuaded that renewables/wind is worthwhile. Except maybe for less pollution, diversified supply, balance of payments, price stability, etc, etc,

    Nuclear isn’t the answer. I have kids and someday I hope grand kids. I don’t want to leave them radioactive waste. Renewables takes nothing from the past and leaves nothing to the future. What you use is produced now and used now. No radioactive waste. No air pollution. No climate change. Not much downside, except there are some wind turbines on some hills. Big deal.

  • Barkingmad

    “What you use is produced now and used now.”

    Sounds lovely – if unrealistic. What do we do when the sun does not shine and the wind is not blowing and the dams are empty…?

    Also how much would electricity cost if you were to generate let’s say 50% that way – from what I hear even with the massive subsidies etc. the government is struggling to get near 15%. How many jobs would be lost as a result of expensive energy and how much growth would we lose by being uncompetitive?

    Wind and solar by their variable nature can cause grid instability issues – using hydro based solutions to store excess energy (pump water etc.) is one option – but at this point in time with current technology / costs it is unlikely to be able to contribute more than a small percentage.

  • Barkingmad

    It’s likely our need for power will continue to rise as our economy grows and our population increases – think a better option would be to further encourage efficiency (home insulation, high energy efficiency standards for new houses, low power lighting etc.) – seems smarter to use less than try and generate more by expensive means.

  • Barkingmad

    “Except maybe for less pollution, diversified supply, balance of payments, price stability, etc, etc.”

    Not so sure. Less pollution – perhaps – but it takes a lot of resources to make these wind turbines and install them at sea / on hills and link them into the grid – they also require huge amount of land compared to conventional generation. Diversified supply – ok – but you could say that of anything extra method of generation. Balance of payments – ok – but thats assuming we import the ‘other’ fuels and I’m betting most of these turbines and companies installing them are not-UK – so who is actually benefitting from the profits and subsidies? Price stability – guess you mean ‘artificially high’.

  • phantom fluff

    @Agnostic “The energy audits carried out show that a typical commercial wind turbine displaces all the CO2 produced in its manufacture within around 6 months of operation.”
    Again a supporter only refering to the CO2 produced in “Turbine Manufacture” !! They has missed a hugely vital element in Windfarm construction … thousands of tonnes of CONCRETE, highly poluting both in production and transportation (also the risk of groundwater contamination). Lets not forget the CO2 production of diesel burning heavy haulage, quarrying of stone, blasting, land stripping and of course the decomissioning process at the end of their 25yr license/consent.

  • Agnostic

    @Barking Mad. This is a bit like Monty Python, “OK, ok, apart from ……. what have the Romans ever done for us?

    It’s not “unrealistic”. Scotland is at 35% renewables already. You point out the lack of hydro. That’s why there are 3 international grid projects ongoing to link Uk to Norway and Europe.

    Your reasoning is all pretty much the antithesis of ‘can do’. It’s all about a curmudgeonly dislike of change and progress. The simple fact is that Renewables are do-able and they are being done. They are way ahead.

    But I’m sure you will get plenty of like minds in the UK. We used to be a country of progress but now there are no solutions, only problems.

  • Agnostic

    Phantom Fluff. An average foundation for a 2MW wind turbine is about 15m square by 3m deep. 45m3. Concrete has a density of 2.4t/m3. So an average large commercial turbine foundation is about 115 tonnes. Hardly the 1000’s of tonnes you suggest. What do you think a nuclear reactor is made of? Chocolate?

    At the end of the 25 year operating period just about everything is recyclable (except the concrete foundation, which is left in situ, covered in topsoil to 1m and agriculture resumes).

  • Lupulco

    I would go along with wind turbines up to a point, but we are building then off shore, [expensive and require vast amounts of cableing]
    We build them on top of hills, visualy can be seen for miles and again require vast amounts of cableing.
    Why not, install 1 x 1MW wind turbine on every Industrial Park in the Country. This would spread the load equally, be less susceptical to lack of wind and would not require as much cableing.
    Has the Wind Turbines are remotely controled and highly automated, it should not cause to much of a problem?

  • DickyJim

    To me it seems to crystal clear that the primary purpose of wind turbines is to make individuals in the wind turbine industry very rich. While the industry sells itself as a virtuous service to mankind it is plainly nothing of the sort. But while there is money to be made the lie will continue.

  • Agnostic

    @DickyJim . You find renewable energy distasteful because it makes a profit???
    Don’t tell me, you’ve spent a lifetime in the public sector? Whilst ‘everyone else’ has had to dirty their hands with ‘profit’ to make a living?
    You’ve certainly never run a business, and your attitude is right out of curmudgeon 101. Thanks for your views but I hope never to have to heed them. It’s an attitude like that which had taken the Great out of Britain.

  • AML

    I thought we were discussing wind power here? Why do you have to add hydro to the equation? Oh, surprise, surprise: wind power can NOT stand by itself!
    Remove all the subsidies and we will have wind farm cemeteries all over the land. And some rich landowners very disappointed with their lost income. Can’t wait!

  • Agnostic

    @AML. Because wind and hydro are complementary.

  • Jeff

    All the people who support wind farms should be put on contracts where their electricity supply is cut off when the wind isn’t blowing.

    Personally, I’d rather live next door to a nuclear plant.

  • Barkingmad

    “Why not, install 1 x 1MW wind turbine on every Industrial Park in the Country. This would spread the load equally, be less susceptical to lack of wind and would not require as much cableing.”

    Well the problem is to get any decent output you need to locate them where it is windy – locate them on industrial parks and the output would be even lower and you still have the issue with it being very variable output.

    They also generate more power at night – not so useful for people working normal hours…

  • Barkingmad

    Just seems very inefficient (and expensive) to use wind to generate electricity to then power water pumps to then use that water to drive a turbine to generate electricity again.

    Would be a bit like using the gas supply in your house to generate electricity to charge a battery bank which then powers heating in your house. At least conventional generation generates all (or at least almost all) the time.

  • Barkingmad

    “An average foundation for a 2MW wind turbine is about 15m square by 3m deep. 45m3. Concrete has a density of 2.4t/m3. So an average large commercial turbine foundation is about 115 tonnes. Hardly the 1000’s of tonnes you suggest.”

    Except you miss the point they were referring to a wind ‘farm’ not just a single turbine .

  • H Willits

    if say 50% of houses had solar panels fitted we could surely generate enough electricity to scrap wind farms on land and just leave those off shore. Solar panels are more reliable than the wind in any case.

  • coltek

    Just tell how many wind turbine plants run on wind turbines, or how many solar panel plants run on solar panels.

    Here’s a clue – NONE!

  • Agnostic

    If they’re based in Scotland, about 35% of the plant’s electricity would come from renewables, and 100% by about 2020. Most European turbine and solar manufacturers are based in Germany, who have a similar commitment to renewables. Sorry, Coltek but you’re a bit out of date.

  • Barkingmad

    I’d be interested to know if the 35% being quoted for Scotland is based on actual GWh generated or just ‘potential’ as these wind farms typically generate far less than their rated / maximum output.

    So you reckon if they reach 100% in 2020 they will not need any conventional generation – not sure I’m that optimistic.

  • Agnostic

    @Barkingmad, yes, that was actual 35% output.

    Pretty much every innovation since the invention if the wheel has progressed to a chorus of pessimists saying ‘it’ll never work’. Renewable energy is just the same. There is a seismic shift in global energy production from hydrocarbons to renewables – its happening now – but still there’s a chorus of scepticism and pessimism, generally from the middle class, Telegraph reading, over 50’s. Twas ever thus.

  • Patrick

    There is a widely held assumption that alternative energy sources like nuclear and renewables can readily substitute for conventional fossil fuels and we can carry on with business as usual. But is this really the case? Run through the maths to see.

    In 2010, UK electricity production was 381 TWh – Nuclear 15.6%, Gas 47.3%, Coal 28.4%, Renewables 6.9%, Other 1.8%

    Of the 6.9% renewables, 2.6% was wind. In 2010, 10 TWh were generated from wind farms.

    By 2020, to get to 15% renewables, an additional 47 TWh from wind farms will be required.

    A modern 3.0MW wind turbine will typically generate 8760 MWh per year. Therefore, over the next ten years another 5,369 wind turbines will need to be built – equivalent to 206 Scout Moor wind farms.

    Don’t get me wrong here. There are compelling arguments as to why we should be doing everything we can to develop renewable energy sources. If anything, I’d argue that we should be doing more than we are already.

  • Patrick

    I’m not surprised to see objections to industrial scale developments in rural locations. Wind turbines should be dispersed rather than concentrated. Every industrial estate should have its own, as could every housing development, village or rural community.

    If we achieve these targets we would be slightly less reliant on imported gas and coal but not by very much. Currently gas and coal account for 75.7% of electricity generated. With 15% renewables, they would still account for 67.6%.

    There are serious questions regarding the future supplies of these fuels—which are being consumed more quickly than they are being found, and are increasingly concentrated in only a few countries.

    Renewable energy sources might be able to sustain us in a ‘post carbon’ future, but not in the manner to which we have become accustomed. One thing that will become a pressing issue, sooner or later, at some point within the next two decades, will be the need for energy conservation.

  • Barkingmad

    “Every industrial estate should have its own, as could every housing development, village or rural community.”

    Except that would hardly be efficient – these things are not that efficient when they are located in optimum locations (hills etc.) – put them in urban environments and they would be worse still.

    “One thing that will become a pressing issue, sooner or later, at some point within the next two decades, will be the need for energy conservation.”

    Except with a rising and more advanced world population energy requirements will increase. Efficiency is certainly worthwhile but is just likely to mean the increase in energy requirement is a bit slower.

  • Barkingmad

    @Agnostic – Patrick says:

    “In 2010, UK electricity production was 381 TWh – Nuclear 15.6%, Gas 47.3%, Coal 28.4%, Renewables 6.9%, Other 1.8% Of the 6.9% renewables, 2.6% was wind. In 2010, 10 TWh were generated from wind farms.”

    Now I realise that was 2010 but who is right – or are you saying with just 2.6% of power generated by wind across the whole of the UK – those Scottish turbines *actually* provided 35% of Scotland’s total power requirement?

    My concern is people accidentally quote the rated (maximum) output of wind turbines not what they actually generate (which is typically far, far less). 35% seems very high considering Patrick is claiming 2.6% for the UK as a whole.

  • Agnostic

    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2012/03/geenenergytargets29032012/

    In 2011, 35% of Scotland’s electricity came from renewable energy generated in Scotland. I know the difference between efficiency, rated capacity and output. Do you? Don’t believe everything you hear. Wind turbines themselves are incredibly efficient machines. Their output depends on the average windspeed of site they are put on. You need to appreciate the difference between their efficiency and their capacity factor.

  • Barkingmad

    @Agnostic – what is strange is that they say ‘assuming gross consumption in 2011 is similar to 2010’ – yet they know exactly how much was generated by renewables but clearly do not know how much was used?

    Ok let’s use ‘capacity factor’ (although I think many people would understand efficiency being the amount generated over a year against the amount it could generate over a year). The point I was making is that they would generate less if installed in non-optimal urban / industrial locations. I ‘assume’ you would agree?

  • Barkingmad

    @Agnostic – I wonder what the efficiency / capacity factor is of a combined wind / water storage system – must be worse – i.e. to generate electricity from wind, use it to pump water then (later) release that water to drive a turbine and generate electricity again.

    So next step – what is the cost per GWh of a combined wind / water storage system – i.e. something that (hopefully) can generate power more of the time – when combined to gas, coal or nuclear?

  • Agnostic

    You are correct that ‘most people’ don’t know the difference between efficiency and capacity. Is a car inefficient if it’s driven at less than its top speed? Of course not. Neither are wind turbines inefficient, no matter how many times ignorant, ill informed people say so.
    Generation technology is essentially the same for all electricity production. Energy from nuclear/coal/gas/hydro/wind/etc drives a turbine which converts rotary motion into electricity.

  • Agnostic

    @Barkingmad. The pumped hydro storage is maintained by excess electricity. As long as there is excess capacity in the system, the energy used to pump is essentially free. The current system also has to maintain excess capacity, to deal with unforeseen large power plant outages.
    It’s just a matter of balancing the excess generation with the required hydro back up.

  • REAF

    The UK has 1.6 TWh /year tidal resource that is cm predicatble. A report in 2004 stated that if exploited this would supply 50% of all of Europes demand. Whilst there are small beginnings in the Orkneys we have crazy schemes like shale gas and little or no investment in tidal. We should be the kings of tidal & and off shore wind. But we have a government and their rich friends with vested interest in fossil fuel industry trying to divert investment away from renewables (Oh, and that CO2 thing ; lets ditch that as well!) We are going backwards in this country.

Merryn

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