Renew On Line (UK) 53

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue 153 Jan-Feb2005

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1.     Wave and Tidal move ahead

New Marine Renewables Centre

2.     Biomass Boost

£3.5m more

3. Wind power developments

Largest wind farm yet...      

4. Micro power shows off:

Micro wind boom

5. Funding programmes

£15.5m for Community Energy

£8.5m for Local  renewables

6. Policy Developments

Climate  Review

Emission Trading Review

Party Positions

7. Policy Issues and lobbying

‘Double the Climate Change Levy’

RO costs more than REFIT


8. Around the World

Australia, New Zealand, India ,Canary Isles, EU, US

9. Global Developments

IEA Research on renewables falls…

..but Solar hits 100 million

‘No’ to Large Hydro...

Climate Change 'a real threat'

10. Nuclear News

Ten new nukes? Not yet !

3. Wind power developments

Largest wind farm yet...

Lewis Wind Power Ltd, a joint venture of AMEC, the international project management and services company, and electricity generator British Energy, has submitted a planning application to the Scottish Executive for permission to build what is claimed to be the world’s largest onshore wind farm in the north of the Isle of Lewis located in the Western Isles off the north west coast of Scotland.

Lewis Wind Power Ltd proposes building a 234 turbine wind farm with a capacity of 702MW that would supply enough green energy to meet the average electricity needs of around 1.1 million people, over 20% of Scotland’s population, and achieve around 6% of the UK’s renewable energy targets. When compared with coal fired power stations, it would reduce CO2 emissions by 1.85 m tonnes per annum. The development has been designed to be large enough to provide real economic benefits to the Western Isles. If the planning application is successful it will provide justification to the electricity regulator for investment in a new grid interconnector and create the conditions for turbine component manufacture and assembly at the Arnish Point facility. It is estimated that during the four year construction phase the Lewis Wind Farm would create more than 300 jobs locally and that, over its 25 year lifetime, it would support the creation of a further 350 jobs in the Western Isles. It is anticipated that the proposal would provide an annual income to the Western Isles of £6-8m p.a. through rental payments, payments to crofters, community funds and rates.

A significant proportion of the wind farm would be located within the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area (SPA), a site designated for its important birds and habitats. However, Lewis Wind Power says it has gone to ‘great lengths to minimise the impact of the development’ and notes that ‘the final proposal takes up less than 1% of the area of the SPA. Impacts on the bird species affected, within the SPA, have been identified and mitigation and monitoring measures have been proposed.’  David Hodkinson, Lewis Wind Power director added: “We firmly believe that the Lewis Wind Farm would play a vital role in the development of the Western Isles as Europe’s leading centre for renewable energy, at the same time as helping Scotland and the UK meet their respective renewable energy targets. We acknowledge there are concerns about the impacts of the proposal on birds and on the landscape of north Lewis and have worked hard, including commissioning the largest bird survey ever undertaken in Europe, in developing the design to minimise these impacts.”

A decision from the Scottish Executive is expected later this year.

Wind Farm Debate

The House of Commons debate on Wind Firms on 25th Oct. was led by Tim Yeo (Con), who argued that the Government had failed to explore and develop the full range of renewable energy and was relying on the construction of onshore wind farms only. He saw them as an unreliable and invasive. He pledged that a Tory goverment would withdraw the new planning Guidance (PPS 22) and replace it with planning guidance that strengthened the role of local authorities in determining the siting of renewable energy projects.  He  urged the Government to develop a wider mix of renewables including hydro, off-shore wind, wave, tidal, solar, and bio-fuels and biomass, as well as combined heat and power, microgeneration, and energy efficiency. The Minister for Energy, Mike O’Brien, replied, pointing out that there was wide public acceptance of wind farms, but noting that the Government had also allocated £117m to offshore wind, £60 to biomass, £31m to solar photovoltaics and £50m for wave and tidal projects. He said that the Conservative policy was ‘dishonest because it claims to the public that investments in offshore wind farms and other renewables can deliver on renewables by 2010 when reputable scientists know that they will not’.  He argued that wind offered ‘the best, the most cost-effective and the only truly serious potential for expansion in the short to medium term’.

Celebs take sides on Wind

With Noel Edmonds having joined the anti-wind lobby, the British Wind Energy Association has recruited Chris Tarrant, compere of the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? quiz show, to the pro-wind campaign.

Tarrant commented: “Wind turbines are modern-day guardian angels, a stunning addition to our rural landscape and a must if we are to move toward a future powered by green energy”.

Other high-profile supporters of the campaign include the architect Lord Foster, designer of the rebuilt Berlin Reichstag and the London “gherkin” office block; Historian Simon Schama; David Marks and Julia Barfield, designers of the London Eye; Guy Berryman, bass guitarist of Coldplay; the Bishop of Liverpool; the interior designer Kevin McCloud and stylist Wayne Hemingway, who designed the best selling Bug Radio. Also backing the ‘Embrace the Wind’ campaign are Anita Roddick from the Body Shop, Polly Toynbee from the Guardian and Ken Livingstone from the GLA. See:   for details of the campaign and an excellent series of rubuffs to common anti-wind myths. You can sign up as a supporter via the web site, and supporters of the campaign will have their names added to lists on four new wind turbines current being installed around the country.  You won’t be alone. Marcus Rand, BWEA chief executive, said NOP surveys undertaken in the summer last year found that 74% of those asked felt that wind farms were necessary to meet energy needs. Only 12% opposed their development.

* In addition to Noel Edmonds, notable anti’s include Bernard Ingham, David Bellamy, the Bishop of Hereford, Neil Kinnock, Cliff Richard and James Lovelock.

·        Wind power is set to generate more than 38,000 jobs in the North East over the next 15 years as the region capitalises on the growing offshore wind industry, according to  ESD.

Wind OK in Devon...

Devon has been something of a no-go zone for wind projects, but research by MORI shows that the vast majority of Devon residents support the use of renewable energy (86%) and only 2% oppose it.  76% supported wind power, 67% and biomass power (67%). 47% had no strong feelings about the way wind farms look, and the remainder who expressed an opinion were evenly split between liking them(28%) and disliking them (24%). Rural residents were more opposed to wind power than urban residents (18% compared to 13% overall), although opposition in rural was less than one in five of those responding. See:

... but not in Wales?

In a last moment intervention, David Bellamy has urged the National Assembly of Wales to reconsider its decision to allow the building of a 30 turbine windfarm on Scraweather Sands, 3.5 miles off the coast from Porthcawl, in S.Wales. In an open letter to assembly members, he claimed that “the Scarweather factory will simply wreck a beautiful seascape without making any significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions”.  Instead he asked, “why are the Welsh Assembly members not backing real energy efficiency for Wales?”  and pointed to “the potential of the Severn Estuary and its tidal and wave power, both of which would create thousands of worthwhile local jobs and give ailing home-based heavy industries a new lease of life”.

Energy pay back for wind

In one of his first responses as the new Energy Minister, Mike O’Brien replied to a Parliamentary question about the energy debt of wind plants. ‘A number of studies have estimated the overall environmental cost of building wind power generation based on energy payback or life cycle analysis. These calculations project  the energy output as a ratio of energy required to build, maintain and decommission the power station. The average wind farm in the UK will pay back the energy used in its manufacture within three to five months, and over its lifetime a wind turbine will produce over 30 times more energy than was used in building, maintenance and decommissioning according to a study commissioned by the BWEA.’

* Actually a life cycle study  in  Energy Policy (30, pp 1267-1278, 2002) said that wind plants will in fact generate up to 80 times as much energy as is used in their construction, operation and decommissioning- and put the equivalent figure for nuclear at only 16.

Maxing it

Researchers at Warwick University have claimed that the UK would need to build 100 nuclear power stations or 100,000 wind turbines to convert all cars and trucks from petrol to hydrogen fuel. In their article ‘the Arithmetic of Renewable Energy’, Economics professor Andrew Oswald and energy consultant Jim Oswald argue that few realised what the impact of such a change might be.  Jim Oswald told the Guardian that ‘The enormity of the green challenge is not understood. Many people think that hydrogen is a simple alternative to oil, but in fact it will require a huge investment in either wind farms or nuclear plants.’ 

About 100,000 wind turbines would, he said, cover a land mass the size of Wales if they were all onshore. And if all were placed offshore, they would form a six-mile deep strip encircling the coastline of the British Isles.  Well maybe. But whoever said wind alone could or should meet this huge demand?  What about wave, tidal, hydro, geothermal, solar, biomass to provide hydrogen, and maybe also some carbon sequestration, to do this cleanly from fossil fuels? And more immediately, what about liquid biofuels?  And public transport- to cut demand ?

For the full paper see:   or

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