Renew On Line (UK) 74

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 174 July-Aug 2008
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. Policy developments- 15% 2020 target, go for FIT’s?  

2. Wind power- growing, but Shell out, Lewis blocked

3. Marine Renewables – tidal turbines power up

4. Policy debates- UK ducking it?

5. Regional policy- Scotland, Wales, N. Ireland 

6. EU Developments- EU plan views, Ireland unites

7. Green energy round the world- wind and PV boom

8. Nuclear news- reprocessing waste still an option?


Shell Exits

Shell has withdrawn its 33% stake in the consortium behind the £2bn flagship London Array 1GW offshore wind farm proposed for the Thames Estuary. However it claims that it is not backing out of renewables generally, although it said it was pursuing wind projects in the US rather than Britain due to the economies of scale and because planning permission was easier to obtain.

Shell say this was an investment assessment decision:  projected costs for the London Array had soared by 45%. The reaction however was strong and bitter. Friends of the Earth commented “We’re very disappointed that Shell, which touts itself as a progressive green company, is pulling out... and leaving a key clean energy project high and dry”. 

Greenpeace added “Unless it puts its money where its mouth is and invests seriously in clean energy then Shell will rightly be known as one of the biggest climate villains on the planet”.

Caroline Lucas, Green MEP for the south-east of England,  said ‘Mere days after reporting first-quarter profits of £4bn, Shell has shown its true colours in what can only be described as a PR disaster for the company, and further proof that its media-friendly ‘greenspeak’ is both dishonest and irresponsible’.

Roger Gale, the Conservative MP for north Thanet, said: ‘This is clearly not helpful at a time when contracts for the project are due to be awarded. I cannot help feeling that having announced profits in excess of £3 bn it is a pity that Shell appears to be more interested in investing in the Far East in petroleum related facilities rather than putting money into UK renewables.’

Steve Webb, Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, said that Shell’s decision ‘blows a huge hole’ in the government’s rhetoric on renewable energy, while Environment minister Hilary Benn saw Shells decision as ‘very disappointing’.

Shell’s former partner, E.ON, also expressed its concerns about Shell’s actions, and indicated that the future of the project was in doubt. Paul Golby, the chief executive of E.ON UK said ‘I believe that at the very least, some delay to the project is now inevitable. While we remain committed to the scheme, Shell has introduced a new element of risk into the project which will need to be assessed.’

* Although Shell is no fan of nuclear, it could well be that  its assessment of the risk of the London Array project represents a wider market reflection of renewables in relation to the governments obvious commitment to nuclear. But the British Wind Energy Association, was more  hopeful ‘We expect to see a great deal of industry interest in taking over Shell’s share in the London Array’.

Other Offshore wind moves  

Despite Shell backing out of the 1GW London Array project (see above), offshore wind is sill moving ahead.

 E.ON, has submitted a planning application to build a £700m 300 MW wind farm off the east Yorkshire coast, despite last minute opposition from the Ministry of Defence, who it seems are worried about potential impacts on military radar. 

Meanwhile Centrica is building its Lynn and Inner Dowsing 54 turbine wind farm about three miles off the coast of Skegness. It should be running fully by the end of the year.

 In parallel, work has restarted on npower renewables’ 25 turbine Rhyl Flats Offshore Wind Farm, five miles off the north Wales coast at the eastern end of Constable Bank.

And the Government has given permission for the 64 MW offshore wind farm (Gunfleet Sands II) planned for the Thames Estuary. This development by DONG Energy Ltd will lay a min. of 5 miles from the Essex coast at Frinton-on-Sea on the seaward side of the already consented, but not yet built, 90 MW Gunfleet Sands wind farm. Gunfleet Sands II will comprise a max. of 22 turbines, ‘enough to power up to 45,000 homes’ according to BERR.

One problem for the current offshore projects has been getting access to the large vessels needed for installing the turbines- and also for cable laying. That’s not an issue for on-land wind, which is still moving ahead reasonably well- despite continued local opposition in some sites- as at Lewis (see below).

 The Government has given permission for two new on land wind farms to be built:

* 85 Megawatt (MW) onshore wind farm planned at Keadby, North Lincolnshire. The development by Renewable Energy Systems Ltd  will have 39 turbines, producing DBERR says ‘enough  electricity to power up to 38,000 homes’.

* 66 MW onshore wind farm planned at Thorne, S Yorkshire. The development by E.ON UK Renewables Ltd will have 22 turbines, said to be ‘enough to power up to 26,500 homes’.

ScottishPower Renewables is planning a multi-million pound state-of-the-art Visitor and Learning Centre at Whitelee Windfarm which, when completed in 2009, will be the EU’s largest onshore windfarm- it’s 322 MW full power rated with 140 turbines.

We were also very pleased to see the 5 Westmill wind co-op 1.3 MW Siemens windturbines now in operation just outside Shrivenhan on the Oxfordshire-Wiltshire border. It can be done!

Urban wind also moving

Plans to build two 6kW wind turbines at a Tesco outlet in York have been given the go ahead green light by councillors. City council leaders have also given the go-ahead for an assessment of 4 possible sites for Oxford’s first wind turbines, including sites adjoining land near the BMW car factory at Cowley and at Sandford Brake, south of Greater Leys. And the proposed multi-MW wind turbine on the Olympic park in east London, known locally as ‘the Angel of Leyton’, will provide power to the local grid after the Olympics are over. Meanwhile, Ford’s UK diesel engine plant at Dagenham Essex, is installing a third Ecotricty1.8MW wind turbine.

Lewis wind farm blocked

The giant 181 turbine 650MW on-land wind farm proposed for the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides have been formally rejected, after Scottish ministers ruled the £500m scheme would have ‘significant adverse impacts’ on some local wildlife and the peatland environment- one study had suggested that disturbing the peat would release part of the 2bn tonnes of carbon that it stored. The rejection came despite baking for the project by the Western Isles council and the island’s main community trust.  But 11,000 objections had been received and many conservation and wildlife  groups, including the RSPB, had opposed it.

The Scottish government said that the decision did not ‘alter in any way this government’s unwavering commitment to harness Scotland’s vast array of potentially cheap, renewable energy sources’. It had approved 13 wind schemes since last May, and was processing applications for a further 35 wind and hydro schemes, which, along with existing schemes,would generate enough to supply all Scotland’s homes. 

It clearly is a blow to lose Lewis, and that might give a fillip to other anti-wind campaigns- though equally you could say that it demonstrates that the planning system works: if a convincing case is made against projects then they can be halted.  But debates will no doubt rage as to whether this actually was a poorly conceived project, while the developers may yet submit proposals for a smaller project.  Meanwhile though RWE Innogy is collaborating with Wavegen on a wave power plant on Lewis- a 4MW pilot project at Siadar Bay. If their recent planning application is successful, the 18 month construction programme could begin in 2009.

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