I like to think I am openminded in terms of alternative energy sources such as wind and wave and solar power but when Mr Millionaire Dave Vince's company Ecotricity applied for planning permission to stonk wind turbines along the top of the hill opposite us the deluge of information which the locals dug up showing that wind turbines just aren't worth the taxpayers money convinced me to cross at least that energy source off my Vote For list. Ecotricity's application was eventually rejected, but they are now wasting all our time again by applying for another windfarm on a nearby site outside Gillingham in Dorset.
It is high time that SOMEONE IN GOVERNMENT WITH SOME COMMONSENSE (is there anyone?) called a moratorium on wind farm applications. Here are two articles from those who know their facts.
COMMENT ON RADIO "FARMING TODAY "
Emailed to BBC 12.11.09 by Alan Shaw DEng(Hon) BSc CEng MIET
Thank you for these interesting programmes. It is quite obvious that the wayleave rentals per wind turbine are an offer that few farmers can resist accepting. Also the developers, who retain the ownership of the wind turbine , obtain huge profits from the electricity they sell to the National Grid. Neither farmer nor developer can lose. Thus support for the government's windfarm promotion policy is assured.
Unfortunately wind turbine output is entirely dependent on wind speed , unpredictable, variable and strongest in the far north and west of Scotland while the UK main demand for electricity is below a line between the Humber and the Bristol Channel. Thus huge costs are incurred in building new overhead and underground transmission lines and in reinforcing relevant existing lines to convey outlying wind power to demand centres.
But UK total demand for electricity in the whole UK system must be balanced exactly by generation at every second of the day. A shortfall causes system frequency , normally maintained at 50 cycles per second , to fall, slowing down electric motors nationally. Excess generation causes frequency to rise causing motor overspeed.
Beyond a certain point either eventuality can destabilise the grid causing wind turbines and power stations to trip out, An extreme case can cause national black out. In a transient situation National Grid can presently prevent total blackout by use of low-frequency relays temporarily cutting out major consumer circuits such as water pumping stations, and, in last resort, national voltage reductions.
But we are heading into an unprecedented situation in which, due to lack of government generation planning, this could be a daily occurrence over many years. Because of total dependence on wind, every wind turbine must be "backed up" by construction of dedicated fully controllable fossil fuelled turbine of nearly equivalent capacity whose capital cost must be added to that of the wind turbine . As this will only be called upon subject to lack of wind, this expensive plant operates variably instead of at its designed economic full load steady state condition.
All the above makes windpower the most uneconomic form of energy generation. Its uncontrollability prevents it from generating contractually in either base load or load following roles.It is therefore connected to either the Supergrid or distribution networks as uncontrolled "negative demand".
National demand presenting for balancing by responsive thermal and hydro generation is net of this "negative demand". A windpower component more than about 8 per cent of national maximum demand is a potential system destabilizer as has been found on the European continent.
UK ministers and their civil service advisors do not appear to comprehend the nature of these basic technical problems and are continuing blindly to promote windpower on land and sea. Experienced chartered engineers are appalled at both the danger to electricity security and the enormous increases to the cost of electricity to consumers which are already appearing and will become astronomical. We face an unprecedented and protracted electrical crisis.
Dr Alan Shaw
Wind Energy: The Case of Denmark
With the British government planning to obtain up to 35% of UK generating capacity from wind turbines by 2020, it is instructive to consider the case of Denmark, one of the few countries that has got anywhere near that level.
Denmark generates the equivalent of around 19% of its electricity demand from wind, which on the face of it sounds like a great achievement. But because wind is intermittent and unpredictable, wind power sometimes meets as little as 5% of Denmark's demand, with an average over the last five years of only about 9.7% -- approximately half of the theoretical level.
Because electricity can't be stored in volume, wind can sometimes deliver too much energy that can't be used (for example if the wind blows strongly at night when demand is low). This creates entirely new challenges for transmission system operators. In the case of Denmark, about half of all the wind energy generated cannot be used, and has to be exported, below cost, to Sweden, Germany and Norway.
This brings considerable benefits to consumers in those countries, at the expense of Danish consumers and tax-payers. It is estimated that exported subsidies from Denmark amounted to €916 million between 2001 and 2008. Not surprisingly, Denmark's commitment to wind means that Danish consumers have the most expensive electricity in the EU. You may think that at least Danish wind-power is saving CO2 emissions in Sweden and Norway, but not so, because those countries rely heavily on hydro power, rather than fossil fuel generation.
Wind power has saved some CO2 emissions in Denmark, but at a very high cost of €87 per ton. For comparison, investment in building insulation can save CO2 emissions for between €10 and €20 per ton.
British estimates of the cost of wind power typically assume a 25 year working life for turbines. But the Danes are finding that ten to fifteen years is more realistic -- massively increasing the already high cost of wind generation. We are promised that green energy initiatives will increase employment. In Denmark this has proved to be the case, but the net new employment is small, and the cost-per-job in terms of subsidy is estimated at between 175% and 250% of the average worker's wage in Danish manufacturing industry. In terms both of power generation and job creation, wind power is fantastically costly and inefficient. Wind power investment and subsidy have had the effect of moving employment from more productive sectors in Denmark into the less productive wind industry, which has had a negative effect on Danish GDP.
There are lessons here for the UK. Our Labour government has naively assumed that if we build enough wind farms to deliver 35% of our electricity requirements, then that is what we shall get. The Danish experience suggests that we may be able to use only half of it; that it will fail to deliver the anticipated emissions savings or significant net new employment; and that it will damage prosperity and growth. We have been warned.
Source: The Danish Center for Politiske Studier (Centre for Policy Studies), Sept 2009; www.cepos.dk
Look Guys - I'm addressing here our hopelessly inept Government and the bureaucrats doing their bidding who don't have the courage to tell them they are bonkers - it only took one man, Samuel Pepys, to organise the rebuilding of our country's navy in the last half of the 17th century and do it on time and within budget. So, be good chaps, admit you made a right cock up of the energy from windfarms thing, go and apply for any job so long as it isn't remotely connected with energy, and let those of us who do have an ounce of commonsense take over.