Renew On Line (UK) 54

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue 154 Mar-Apr2005

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. A new UK Climate Plan

2. Green Heat and Biofuels

3. Local support for Tidal power

4. Wind rush- and wind problems

5. Micro power push: PV and micro-CHP

6. Clean-coal ‘better than wind’

7. Industrial ups and downs

8. Grid Connection Charges

9. £80m for Innovation

10. Efficiency Drives

11. World news: Kyoto goes live

12. World Renewables Round up

13. Nuclear Power- more or less?

4. Wind rush- and wind problems

Construction of wind farms hit a record last year. According to the British Wind Energy Association, 253 megawatts of new capacity  started generating- five times the average annual capacity built in the 1990s and more than double the figure in 2003. And a survey of six of the largest wind farm developers, including some of Britain's biggest utilities, predicted that almost £7bn will be invested in development by 2010 which would take capacity close to government targets. The BWEA says that about 8,000MW of wind capacity, 'enough to power about 6m homes', will need to be built if the country is to achieve its aim of generating 10% of electricity from renewable sources by 2010, with wind power thereby supplying about three-quarters of this target. This would require almost 3,000 more turbines to be erected across the countryside and along the coast, compared with about 1,000 currently in place.

However, the BWEA stressed that meeting the government’s targets would depend upon offshore schemes going ahead as planned- and developers remain concerned about possible planning delays, opposition from military and civil aviation authorities over radar interference (see below), as well as the cost and availability of grid connections that could undermine the economics of offshore schemes.

Nevertheless, the pace of deployment was increasing.  Another 18 developments providing a further 617MW are likely to be completed next year. Work has yet to start on a further 68 schemes totalling 2,000MW, half of it offshore, which have received planning permission. Another 96 schemes, mostly onshore, totalling 5,000 MW, equivalent to 5 per cent of the country’s electricity needs, have been submitted for planning approval.

Marcus Rand, BWEA chief executive, said: “Onshore construction at this rate should run at about 600 to 700MW a year through to 2010 which would be enough to meet its share of the renewables’ targets. We now need to speed the development process for offshore projects.”

Wind on the radar

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and NPower Renewables (NRL) have published the results of trials undertaken last year to assess the impact of offshore wind farms on marine radar, communications and positioning systems. The trials took place at the UK’s first major offshore wind farm at North Hoyle, off the coastline of North Wales, which covers an area of 6 square kilometres and comprises 30 turbines, each with an approximate maximum height of 110 metres above mean sea level and rotors of 78 metres diameter.

The report concludes that there is minimal impact by offshore wind farms on communications systems (VHF radios and, indeed, cellphones- where there is coverage), or on ships’ Automatic Identification System (AIS), or on the reception of Global Positioning System (GPS) data- the satellite navigation system. In addition there were few problems with magnetic compasses other than that that could be reasonably expected (i.e. close up to the metal structures). It also concludes that although the wind farm may be clearly and readily identified at distance by radar, erroneous and spurious radar returns may be generated in closer proximity to the turbines.  It also found that similar effects can occur with land-based marine radars and suggested that mitigation measures may be needed.

The North Hoyle Trials Report is available at:

Scotland meets targets

Scotland has 70% of the onshore wind schemes currently being considered for planning approval in the UK, and is on course to meets its interim renewable energy target. First Minister Jack McConnell said the Scottish government has already granted approvals for projects which, when built, would be sufficient to meet its 2010 target of getting 18% of its electricity  from renewable sources. They were now determined to ensure that Scotland meets its longer term goal of generating 40% from renewables by 2020. 

However there were still some problems. There have been objections to plans to erect 50 metre tall grid pylons across the Highlands to bring renewable electricity from the Western Isles.  All five of the proposed routes have been rejected by the Highland Council because of the threat they posed to “the natural and cultural heritage”.  And Scottish Natural Heritage, pointed out that every proposed route would go through several areas protected under international law because of their importance to wildlife. The five routes are all designed to take power from Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis to electricity substations at either Beauly, near Inverness, or Fort Augustus at the other end of Loch Ness. They have been put forward for consultation by a subsidiary of Scottish and Southern Energy, but the National Trust for Scotland condemned the way the plans are being promoted, as ‘unacceptably piecemeal’. 

The pylons are tied in with plans to build three large wind farms on Lewis. The largest is the 234 turbine project on Stornoway. The National Trust for Scotland is concerned that plans for the wind farms and the pylons are not being taken together. “It is wholly unsatisfactory that this line is being considered separately from those of major wind farms on Lewis.”   It added “The generation of renewable energy in northern Scotland and its transmission to the main centres of demand should be subject to strategic environmental assessment”. 

The Trust feels that consideration should be given to laying a cable under the sea from the Western Isles to England, a view shared by the Highland Council and by Scottish Natural Heritage- the latter also suggests that the cables could be buried underground for part of the way to reduce the environmental impacts. However, Scottish and Southern Energy, while acknowledging that it was ‘a very important environmental issue’, pointed out that sub-sea cables were expensive and had an impact on the marine environment and that burying the cables underground was 10-25 times more costly than overhead pylons.

There are plans for undersea connections from the Shetlands and the Outer Hebrides to the mainland grid, but the high cost of running it further could price the islands out of the marketplace. Even without undersea transmission, the costs of connection for small remote suppliers could be high. However, it seems that there are plans for for transmission charges for renewable generators in peripheral areas to be capped or discounted. The Scottish Executive is seeking to ensure that transmission losses will not be charged on a geographical cost-reflective basis- a vital concession for generators in peripheral areas.

 Sources: Shetland News Agency; Sunday Herald 21/11/04

Welsh wind plan

 The Welsh Assembly has issued ‘Technical Advice Note 8’ (TAN 8) which is part of its new framework for a range of renewable energy technologies (see Renew 152). It includes a target of an additional 800 MW of onshore wind by 2010 and identifies 7 strategic areas for wind development.

Although evidently it was not consulted on TAN 8, the British Wind Energy Association has supported the plan and said it believes that, although there could be problems in some of the areas, the target can be met subject to ‘extensions of the proposed strategic areas of development and creation of additional strategic areas.’ It added  Attention should also be paid to the many millions of pounds of investment which have already been made in projects in Wales in expectation of TAN8. We are concerned that those projects currently in development that lie outside the identified areas will be excluded.”

Devon wind Test Case

What would be Devon’s second commercial windfarm has met with opposition from residents of Higher Darracott, near Torrington. The three turbine 3.9MW project was given the go-ahead following a public inquiry in May last year. But Pat and Arthur Poulton, whose home lies 470m from the nearest of the proposed turbines, challenged the inspector’s decision and called for a judicial review of the outcome. Then, after the case was formally dismissed, the couple decided to take their case against the scheme to the European Court of Human Rights.

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