Renew On Line (UK) 55
Extracts from NATTA's journal
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9. UK Renewables round up
Wind at Bradwell?
Npower Renewables is considering a plan for a large windfarm near the site of the now defunct nuclear plant at Bradwell, Essex. It’s at an early stage and no application for planning permission has been submitted, but the idea is to install up to 26 wind turbines, which they say would provide enough electricity for approx. 29,000 typical UK homes and offset the emission every year of around 117,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. npower noted that this was equivalent to removing around 38,500 cars from the roads of Essex for the life of the wind farm. But we hear there are local objections.
* The Bradwell Magnox nuclear plant was closed in 2002. It was built in 1962 and initially had a power rating of 300MW, but Magnox reactors were subsequently derated. So the new windfarm could have maybe up to a tenth of the generating capacity of the old nuclear plant- although due to the variability of wind, it would only have about half the load factor.
Lewis Wind farm ‘Too big’?
Over 2,000 objections were received by the Scottish Executive against a proposal to build the world’s largest onshore windfarm in Lewis. As noted in Renew 153, Lewis Wind Power wants to install 234 turbines which they say will create 300 construction jobs. The 702 MW facility would supply green power for 20% of Scotland’s population, and meet 6% of the UK’s renewables target.
Earth Energy wins out
Geothermal energy seems to be back in fashion. Hot rocks 800 metres down in an abandoned flourite mine at Weardale in County Durham are to be used to supply hot water at 80 degrees C for a district heating system for a new sustainable housing project with plans for 4000 homes as part of a local regeneration programme. A 1km deep bore hole has already been sunk by a team from the University of Newcastle led by Prof David Manning, using EU and regional grants of £545,000 and the regional development agency One NorthEast also have plans to use other renewables to power the eco-village project, including hydro, wind, solar PV and biomass.
In parallel, Plymouth City Council is thinking of opting for geothermal instead of PV solar to power its new bus station, because it is cheaper. The Council had won a grant under the governments MDP PV programme for 112 hybrid-crystalline photovoltaic modules which would have been used to heat the new bus interchange at Derriford. But the council may now choose to heat the building by using geothermal energy. This seems reasonable enough- PV for heating is a pretty extravagant idea at this stage in its development.
“We put in a speculative bid for funding in September 2004 because we were looking at using green energy sources to heat the park-and-ride terminal building”, a council spokeswoman told the local media “This bid was made to meet the DTI’s application deadline, but was made from the start with an emphasis from us that there was no commitment from this council to pursue this particular option involving solar energy, because we had not completed the design process and wanted to explore other eco-friendly energy sources. Since this bid we have decided that the solar option proposed at that time would not represent best value for public money because it involves a high capital expenditure. We are looking at other green energy sources, including technology to draw on ground heat.”
The council isn’t opposed to solar power- as noted in Renew 154, it already has 330 bus shelters around the city which are lit during the evening and at night using energy from solar cells mounted on the roof of the shelter. Source: This is Devon
Biomass creeps slowly
The use of biomass is developing slowly in the UK- despite a lot of government funding being available, including support for growing energy crops. In answer to a recent Parliamentary Question on this issue, DEFRA minister Alun Michael noted that ‘grants totalling £1.2m have been paid to date under the Energy Crops Scheme since it was launched in 2000. Funding has been approved for: 56 individual farmers to plant energy crops; and for three producer groups (comprising a total of 53 farmers) to be set up to supply energy crops to end-users. A further 91 applications for planting grants, totalling £1.4m, are currently being assessed.’
The problem however is that progress on building plants to use it has been slow. For example, a 23 MW biomass fueled power plant has been proposed for a disused airfield at Winkleigh in Devon. However, there are local concerns that the site is in an area serviced by narrow country roads inappropriate for large trucks used to transport wood chips. In addition, as Kevin Lindegaard argued in an interesting article in the Guardian (19/1/05), once again, as with Arbre, inadequately tested technology has been used: ‘the technology chosen involves the Ferco SilvaGas process, for which there is only one previous example, in Vermont, US, decommissioned in 2002 because of a lack of funding’. Why not, he says, use tried and tested heat generation systems, as widely used elsewhere.
Plans for a new landfill gas fuelled power plant have been given the go-ahead by South Gloucestershire District Council. Cardiff based renewable energy company Eco2 will extract methane gas from a landfill waste site at Hallen near Bristol and, it is claimed, will supply sufficient power for 900 homes.
The bottom line...
According to a parliamentary statement (Feb 7th) by Energy Minister Mike O’Brien, in 2003 wind energy accounted for 0.3% of UK electricity generation. while, of the renewables eligible under the Renewables Obligation, wind contributed 0.39% of electricity sales by licensed UK suppliers. For solar power the proportions were less than 0.01% on both bases. Biomass accounted for 0.63% of UK electricity generated in 2003, while biomass eligible under the RO contributed 0.47% of electricity sales by licensed suppliers. Slow progress...
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