Renew On-Line 5

Renew On-Line 5

Extracts form Renew 103 and the forthcomimg 104.

As with all NATTA materials, the views expressed should not be taken to necessarily reflect the

views of all NATTA members, EERU or the Open University.

Renew On-Line 5 Sept 1996

1. UK Renewable R&D Cut

2. Wind Farm Objections

3. Offshore Wind in the UK

4. NFFO Developments.

1.UK Renewable R&D Cut

The Non Fossil Fuel Obligation may still be supporting 'near market' renewable energy projects, with electricity consumers meeting the extra cost, but Research and Development on new renewables is being cut back.

In its 1997 Energy Paper 62, the Department of Trade and Industry outlined a 20% cut back in R&D support for renewable energy technologies, down from £25.6m as in 1992/93 to £19.78m for 1994/95. Further cuts were expected in subsequent years. And that has been what has happened.

The figure for 1995/96 is £17.8m - a 30% cut from the 1992/93 allocation, and more like 40% if you take account of inflation.

Source: Hansard Vol.275, No. 83 Col. 148.

Renew 103 looks at what might be the 'second wave' of renewables in the UK, following on from those that have obtained NFFO support . The new options include offshore wind, wave and tidal streams- plus photovoltaics.

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2. Wind Farm Objections

Objections continue to the siting of some wind farms in the UK, and Labours

planning spokesman Keith Vaz is reported to be:

'conducting a review into the spread of wind turbines (and) has indicated a tougher

stance from a Labour Government (and) wants to see whether there is a strong case

for a moratorium while the turbines' environmental impact is assessed.'

(Surveyor 20/6/96).

However, the level and significance of objections can be overstated. 42 of the wind schemes given contracts in the 1990 and 1991 rounds of the Non Fossil Fuel renewable energy programme were given planning permission and only 16 rejected. The proportion will not be as good for the third (most recent) round, issued in late 1994, in part since many of the easiest sites have now been used, but nevertheless a good proportion of these schemes have been, or are likely to be, given the planning go-ahead.

Renew 103 looks at some recent objections to windfarms, while Renew 104 looks at what might be one way to reduce objection- the idea of local co-operative ownership.

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3. Offshore Wind in the UK

The UK's first offshore wind project was proposed recently by PowerGen – involving twenty five 1.5 megawatt Vesta's wind turbines for installation two miles off the coast of East Anglia, near Great Yarmouth.

They would be built on concrete plinths in 20ft of water at high tide. PowerGen are seeking support for the project under the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation.

With on land siting becoming increasingly hard, due to local opposition. offshore siting would seem to be a good alternative, but there have been some objections – on the grounds that the PowerGen project might interfere with seals, who sometimes bask at low tide on a local sandbank. PowerGen say they have chosen the site to avoid this problem by placing it a quarter a mile away, but local objectors are concerned that there may still be problems with access to tourist boats.

Great Yarmouth's chief planning officer told the Guardian 'it is more than two miles offshore, so its not technically within our district. But you can see the Scroby Sands out to sea. They shift around a little and there are boat trips out to view the seals’ (Guardian 15/08/96).

Friends of the Earth however have given a qualified welcome to the project, although they did note that the sanddunes north of Scarby Sands were designated as a site of Special Scientific Interest.

Previous UK studies of offshore wind had suggested that construction costs might be 50% higher than for on-land wind machines. However, PowerGen claimed that the use of the early developed 1.5MW Danish machines would mean that construction and operation costs would be 'significantly lower than previous UK studies had predicted! (The Engineer 22 Aug. 1996).

Overall the project cost was put at £35m for 25 machines under £1000 per KW; and PowerGen argued that rather than being seen as a 'long shot' it got in the DTI's 'watching brief' strategy 'offshore wind should be reclassified as a technology that deserves some support'.

National Wind Power has also produced plans for offshore projects. Their spokesman, Peter Musgrove, told the Engineer that is shall be possible to have a demonstration project on stream by 1998-99. He added 'I would be disappointed if we don't see significant offshore wind from developments within 10 years'.

Renew 104 looks at an analysis of an offshore windfarm concept developed by University College London.

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4. NFFO Developments

The total renewable energy capacity from projects supported under the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation has gradually been creeping up as more schemes come on stream under NFFO-3 and if projects supplied under the first Scottish Renewable Order and the first Northern Ireland NFFO are included, the total comes to over 352 MW so far for 160 projects with more to come. 40 of these are wind projects (82 MW), 33 are hydro (20 MW), 50 are landfill gas (85 MW), 26 are sewage gas (33 MW), 6 are waste into energy projects (72 MW).

A total of 1343 MW Declared Net Capacity has actually been contracted so far, but some of the schemes have not gone ahead, while others are in the pipeline: so there is still some way to go before the year 2000 1500 MW DNC target is reached although NFFO 4 and NFFO 5 are meant to bridge the gap. All the above figures are in 'declared net capacity' (DNC). The DNC figures used in the UK adjust the installed wind plant capacity (by 43%) to reflect the variable availability of windpower. So the 82 MW DNC wind capacity actively involves around 190 MW of actual generation capacity.

There are moves to have the NFFO 'fossil fuel levy' charge printed on consumers electricity bills – as was originally promised in the early version of the 1989 Electricity Privatisation legislation. It didn't come to pass because of the 'administrative difficulty' in calculating the proportion of the levy falling on individual consumers in each area of the country. But now that the (large) nuclear element of the levy is being phased out, attitudes seem to be changing.

The NFFO debate continues

The future of the UK Non Fossil Fuel obligation cross subsidy scheme is still being debated and not least by the Sustainable Energy Roundtable group of which NATTA is a member. Some of the uncertainly is due to the imminence of free market liberalisation from 1998 onwards after which all consumers can choose amongst suppliers. For further discussion see Renew 102 and 103.

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