Renew On Line (UK) 59

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue 159 Jan-Feb 2006

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1.     Giving and taking: £30m LCBP/ RO cuts?

2. New Climate Review: wait for it!

3. New Energy Review: nuclear or not?

4. Decarb the UK:Tyndall Centre report

5. UK Wind is fine: ECI report

6. Green heat: biomass reviews

7. PAC slams‘£12.5 bn’ RO costs

8. Scots Adjust Renewables Target

9. Energy Efficiency: mixed reviews

10. Carbon Saving: UK results so far

11. EU News:  Germany does well

12. World News: Asian-Pacific Pact

13. Nuclear News: Safety and Costs disputed

5. UK Wind is fine

The UK wind regime is the best in Europe and is well matched to energy demand, with a high degree of reliability, according to a report by Graham Sinden from the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University, commissioned by the Dept. of Trade and Industry. The report, based on the the most extensive study yet of the UK wind resource, provides a detailed insight into the characteristics of the UK wind resource, analysing 34 years of hourly wind data from over 60 sites around the UK. It provides a comprehensive view of the long term patterns of wind power, ensuring that any extreme events (such as very high or low wind speed conditions) were captured. Graham Sinden commented that the report demonstrates the importance of country-specific wind assessments. “Wind power in the UK produces, on average, more electricity at times when demand is highest, and less electricity when demand is low. This pattern of electricity production improves the reliability of wind power to meet demand.”

On average, the report says, wind power delivers around twice as much electricity during the winter months of December, Jan & Feb as it does during the summer months of June, July & August, while there has never been an occasion where the wind turbines would have stopped operating across the whole of the UK due to high wind speeds. The study found that, during the past 35 years, the wind has always blown strongly enough- faster than 4 metres per second- to generate electricity in some parts of Britain: “Met Office records show that, while low wind speed conditions can be extensive, there was not a single hour during the study period where wind speeds at every location across the UK were below 4 metres per second. On average, there is about one hour per year when more than 90% of the UK experiences low wind speed conditions with those events being far more likely in summer. Low wind speed conditions extending across 90% or more of the UK during winter occur about one hour every five years.”

The key findings of the report are:
The UK has the best wind resource in Europe. The recorded capacity factor for onshore wind energy in the UK is 27%, greater even than in Germany (15%) and Denmark (20%) where wind farms are currently most widespread.
Availability of wind power in the UK is greater at precisely the times that we need it- during peak daytime periods and during  the winter.
The UK wind resource is dependable. The likelihood of low wind speeds affecting 90% of the country would only occur for one hour every five years.
The chance of wind turbines shutting down due to very high wind speeds is exceedingly rare- high winds affecting 40% or more of the UK would occur in around one hour every 10 years and never affect the whole country.

Malcolm Wicks, the Energy minister, said the study provided valuable insight for a sensible debate over wind power. He added: “This new research is a nail in the coffin of some of the exaggerated myths peddled by opponents of wind power”. The ECI report can be downloaded from:

Yes to renewables

A UK-wide public opinion survey by Populus last year found that despite concerns about future energy supplies, 59% of those questioned believe that it would be irresponsible to build more nuclear plants while problems remain in disposing of waste. Half said they believed nuclear  to be unsafe, while 79% backed renewables as a replacement for imported energy. Only 18% believed that nuclear power should replace energy imports.

..and Wind welcomed

The DTI’s It’s Only Natural web site includes an explanation of why what it calls the ‘top ten myths  about wind turbines’ are untrue. For example it notes that far from being unpopular, according to independent surveys, 90% of the public believe the Government should encourage the use of renewable energy and 80% support Government plans to significantly increase wind turbines, while 74 % agree that wind farms are needed to meet current and future energy needs. It adds that 66% would approve of a new wind farm in their area, and notes that approval is over 80% among those already within 5 km of a wind farm.

It also notes that a study by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors suggests that wind farms have no lasting impact on UK house prices- local house prices recover from any initial impact once a wind farm has been operating for two years and warns that  ‘People promoting fears of falling prices risk making them self-fulfilling’.  And it says that many wind farms are tourist attractions- 30,000 people have visited the information centre for the new Scroby Sands offshore wind farm since May 2004. It also quotes the conclusion of a 2004 pamphlet from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds that no windfarm has been associated with major adverse effects on the avian population, and adds ‘by far the biggest threat to UK bird populations is climate change, which is mitigated by renewables such as wind’- noting that  ‘every unit of energy generated by wind doesn’t need to be generated by carbon-producing sources,’ and that ‘any emissions savings lost through use of fossil fuel back-up will be minimal to 2010’.     


Offshore electricity transmission

“The development of an offshore electricity transmission system will be necessary to meet the requirements of new offshore electricity generation stations”, says the Department of Trade & Industry and the energy regulator Ofgem (Office of Gas & Electricity Markets) in their consultation paper on the regulation of offshore electricity transmission.

There has been a debate about the costs of transmission links- and who should pay for them.  The consultation paper asks whether the lower estimates of capital costs of £1.1 to £1.3 m per MW or the higher estimates of £1.5m are appropriate, with estimates of operating costs being put at £10 to £15/MWh. It also seeks to ascertain the likely levels of revenues for offshore windfarms and the impact of market factors, as well as the appropriateness of assumptions of 15 year project life, 35% load factors and 12% discount factors underlying the present value analysis.

Currently 500MW of offshore turbines has been installed worldwide, of which 120 MW is in Britain. The Round 1 UK projects are relatively small with an average capacity of 90 MW from a maximum of 30 turbines within a 10 km2 site, and are close to shore (1.5 to 8 km from the coast). The government has offered £117m in capital grants support to 12 R1 offshore windfarms to assist with their development, which accounts for 10% of development costs. However, the paper says “The limited experience gained from R1 development makes it difficult to estimate reliably trends in costs (with some reports of cost increase stemming from higher steel prices and contractor costs). R2 projects are of a significantly bigger scale- up to 1.2 GW and with sites up to 250 km2 and are situated further from shore.”

Wind roundup

*  The turbines on the Kentish Flats offshore wind farm started up last year- located in an area of shallow water 8.5km north of Herne Bay.
* A small wind turbine and solar PV panels are to supply electricity for a new cemetery near Morpeth  in  Northumberland
* Manchester City FC plan to use a large wind turbine to power their football stadium.
* A 35 metre high Danish wind turbine has been installed by the Greenhouse, a two-storey business centre being built on reclaimed land at Annfield Plain in Durham, commissioned by environmental charity Groundwork.
* Airtricity and Fluor have applied for consent to  develop a 500 MW offshore wind farm 25km off the Suffolk coast around the Inner Gabbard and Galloper sandbanks in around 30m of water.
And over the water...
* Dundalk IT campus in Co Louth has installed a 850 kW windturbine, which should provide almost all of the college’s electricity needs, with any excess being sold to green power company Airtricity.
* Larne-based renewables company B9 Energy is to recruit 12 more staff following the winning of 11 new operating contracts for windfarms in Britain & Eire.

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