Renew On Line (UK) 51

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue 151 Sept-Oct 2004

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1.Wind power- problems  offshore, new co-op

2.Photovoltaic solar - mandatory soon?

3.Funding Wave & Tidal Energy- £50m more

4. Biomass Heat Gap- RCEP report

5. Hydrogen Arrives- on the farm

6. New Energy Policy ? Yes please!

7. UK Energy Research Centre- soon

8.UK Government policy news- Energy Bill Passes but targets cut

9. European news- Bonn was good, Denmark gets better

10. US News- Local wind problems, hydrogen plans

11 Other International news- 40GW of wind now in place.... 

12.   Nuclear news'EU needs nuclear'

1.            Wind power

Offshore wind and Shipping

Offshore wind farms are being built too close to busy shipping lanes, with there therefore being a risk of collision, according to the House of Commons Select Committee on Transport, which claimed that the Government has failed to heed warnings from the shipping industry when deciding on the location of wind farms.  It says that the Government had woefully mishandled the development of offshore wind energy” adding that the way the policy had been drawn up had “shown departmental government at its worst”.

Neither the Dept. for Transport or the Maritime and Coastguard Agency were it seems represented on the DTI-led offshore wind farm steering group, and ‘as a result, the DTI has developed a policy which ignores the basic needs of the shipping industry.’  The committee was concerned about the rushed approach and urged the Government to balance the need for renewables with ‘the very real risks that offshore installations pose for shipping’.  It added that, given ‘the possibility that vessels may lose steerage, and vessels in difficulty may well be crewed by persons whose qualifications and experience are not gained in the UK, we believe that some sort of collision, at some time, is inevitable, and that plans must be in place to deal with it’.

The Governments 2002 consultation document, Future Offshore, suggested that offshore wind developments should be located in three ‘strategic zones’- the Greater Wash,  Liverpool Bay and the Thames Estuary- areas which had good wind regimes, shallow water and suitable connections to the electricity grid. But the Select Committee noted that that the steering committee which made the selection had made no reference to ‘minimising potential interference with navigation or dredging activities’.   However, the Select committee noted: ‘Every one of the strategic areas is on the approach to a major port or ports’.

It was also concerned about interference with marine radio communications: it was ‘surprised that, three years after the publication of Future Offshore, the Department is consulting on what such research should cover. There could hardly be a more telling example of a lack of joined up government.’

Source: Transport Committee, 9th Report Session 2003-4 ‘Navigational Hazards and the Energy Bill’, June 04.            The transcripts of evidence taken by the committee from  stakeholders make interesting reading. cm200304/cmselect/cmtran/uc555-i/uc55502.htm

* The Northern region of the Trades Union Congress has called for the plan for the offshore wind farm near Redcar to be rejected since it says, at only 1.5km off the coast, it would be too close to shore, and could undermine the local fishing industry.  It called on the DTI to reject the plans on the grounds that ‘no other offshore wind farm in the UK will be located less than 5km offshore’.

Offshore Wind Centre

A £5 m offshore wind power centre is to be built at Lowestoft in East Anglia. The new centre will house new and expanding firms involved in the offshore wind industry and become a focal point for the UK renewable energy sector. Partners include the East of England Development Agency and Renewables East. Lowestoft was selected due to its location between The Wash and the Thames Estuary, areas designated by the government for large scale offshore wind development. Construction of the Powergen £75m Scroby Sands project near Gt. Yarmouth should start soon. Elsam’s Kentish Flats project is likely to be next, with first electricity due in summer 2005. So far the government has given consent for 12 offshore projects out of 18 Crown Estate licenses granted.

On land wind is still pushing ahead. Scottish and Southern Energy is to invest £550m into wind power this year, up from £250m the year before, and it has announced plans to build five more wind farms in Scotland- although it has also warned that government targets for renewable energy were “too ambitious”. It’s certainly not easy going.  According to Platts, the international energy information provider, over 2,500MW of proposed green energy capacity in the UK “have hit some kind of planning delay”.  And the newly formed Renewable Energy Foundation, with its campaign against wind, could make matters worse.  See Forum in Renew 151.

New Wind Co-op

After 10 years of campaigning led by Adam Twine, work has now started on the five turbine 4.25MW community- owned Westmill wind farm, at Watchfield near Shrivenham in Oxfordshire.  The start up comes hard on the heels of a decision by National Wind Power not to fund the project after a planning application for bigger, 1.3 MW machines, was deferred by the local council. However, NWPs loss is community wind power’s gain as the whole project is now being organised as a co-operative venture, with Baywinds help, on the basis of the existing planning consents for 850kW machines.  The total investment will be £4 million consisting of share equity being raised via a co-op share ownership scheme and the rest coming from a loan from the Co-Op Bank. Preference for joining the co-operative is being given to those who live in the district to ensure maximum benefits from the scheme remain in the local community. The minimum cost of becoming a member is £250 and a savings scheme will be put in place before the share offer is launched. Each member has an equal say in how the co-op is run, regardless of whether their stake is £250 or £20,000, with the seven directors drawn from the local community. 

The wind regime in Oxfordshire in not particularly favourable, compared with that for the larger commercial projects elsewhere- backed by large companies.  Small local schemes like this typically run at around 6p/kWh for the electricity produced, or maybe even more. It has been argued that it is rather unfair that, under the Renewables Obligation, the large commercial offshore wind farms get about the same- plus, at least for the first round, significant grants from the government (several £100m so far) to help with start up.  By contrast small community projects have to rely on whatever they can get from the governments £10m Clear Skies programme, plus usually low prices for the electricity produced. One idea being pushed by the community wind lobby is that small schemes (up to say 5MW) be supported by a special ‘feed -in’ tariff.

Tories on Wind

In July, Conservative leader Michael Howard, said that he would change planning rules to ensure that local objections to wind projects could not be overruled or ignored.  He claimed that   Labour was  ‘determined to press ahead regardless’. More in Renew 152.

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