June 17 - June 19 Windfarm news from warmwell.com with gratitude to Angela Kelly and D and L Robinson
Murky start for Britain's biggest windfarm
John Vidal, environment editor
Friday June 17, 2005The Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk/>
There was no sign yesterday of Cefn Croes, Britain's biggest windfarm, which officially began supplying electricity to 42,000 homes from the wild heart of Wales.
The 39 giant turbines were said to be whizzing round in the deep mists and horizontal rain covering the hills of Ceredigion, west Wales, but no one in the villages below could see or say for certain.
"Seeing nothing is gratifying," said the author and lecturer Martin Wright, who lives a few miles away in Ystumtuen and who led, and lost, a five-year protest against the farm.
On a good or perhaps bad day, Mr Wright can see from his house the 225ft turbines capable of generating 59.5MW of electricity, stretched over several miles of mountain. But from the top of nearby Plynlimon, he has a panorama of more than 300 machines in eight smaller windfarms. "The door has been opened to the industrialisation of the Cambrian mountains," he said yesterday.
The £50m farm, expected to produce 20% of Wales's wind power, has changed ownership since the disgraced US power company Enron proposed it more than seven years ago. Wynford Emanuel, a spokesman for its present owners, Falck, yesterday admitted it was a bad day to open a windfarm. "You can't see much at all," he said.
But Mr Wright said the mists hid Cefn Croes's secret: the damage done to the hillside. "When the towers first went up I thought they were not as bad as I had imagined they would be, but now I think they are worse. They've put in motorway-scale tracks across the plateau, they built a cement factory, they dug up the hillside for stone, and they have seriously disturbed the plateau," he said.
But Mr Emanuel insisted the hillside would soon recover. "Obviously you have to have access to the site. But in the long term, the landscape will be better for flora and fauna than before. It was previously used for intensive farming and forestry," he said. "The community will also benefit from more than £60,000 a year for local projects."
Opening the windfarm, the Welsh assembly's minister for economic development and transport, Andrew Davies, said: "Wind power is currently the only viable option to provide the bulk of our renewable energy needs, and with excellent wind resources in Wales, sensitively designed windfarms can play an important role."
Call for more windfarms as Cefn Croes opens
On the day the largest windfarm in the UK is opened near Aberystwyth, Friends of the Earth Cymru is calling for people and politicians in Wales to support more wind power, including a larger scheme in mid Wales (1). The opening of the 58.5 MW Cefn Croes scheme, near Devils Bridge, Aberystwyth brings the total capacity of UK onshore windfarms to over the 1,000 MW milestone.
Cefn Croes will make a significant contribution to combating climate change in Wales as it is estimated that it will save 2.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over its expected lifetime. It is expected to provide enough electricity for around 40,000 homes, around half the electricity used in Ceredigion.
Neil Crumpton, Friends of the Earth Cymru campaigner commented, “It is brilliant to see the Cefn Croes windfarm up and running. It is an excellent site for harnessing this clean source of energy.
“Climate Change is the biggest challenge we face today and renewable energy is very much part of the answer. The public is very supportive of wind energy as people appreciate the benefits it can bring to the environment and the Welsh economy.
“Electricity generation is the single largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK, contributing over 30% of all emissions (2). It is essential that we switch from fossil fuels to less polluting sources of electricity generation as soon as possible.”
Now Friends of the Earth Cymru, who were leading supporters of the Cefn Croes windfarm, are supporting proposals for a 100+ turbine scheme in the Camddwr area of mid Wales near Tregaron. The scheme is currently stalled because the RAF uses the area for training. The group is calling on the Assembly Government to lobby the Ministry of Defence to drop its objections (3). The Assembly Government is currently considering plans to promote the development of renewable energy in Wales (4).
Following today’s NOP opinion poll, which showed continuing strong support for windfarms in Wales (5), including mid Wales, Friends of the Earth Cymru is calling on the Assembly to support the large Camddwr windfarm (6).
Neil Crumpton continued: "Today’s opinion poll findings show that Cefn Croes and the other windfarms in Wales have strong majority support. The 38 turbines at Cefn Croes were approved after a long and well conducted public debate. Now we call on the public and Assembly to support a much larger 120 turbine scheme in the Camddwr area of mid Wales.”
1) The 58.5 MW Cefn Croes windfarm near Aberystwyth will be officially opened on Thursday 16th June. The scheme comprises 38 turbines, each of 1.5 MW capacity. 58.5 MW is enough to provide electricity for around 40,000 homes It is estimated that the Cefn Croes windfarm will save 2.3 million tonnes of Carbon Dioxide over its expected lifetime. The previous most powerful windfarm was the 50.6 MW Rothes windfarm in Scotland opened on 10th May 2005.
2) Impact of energy on the environment and society – 2004 update July 2004, DTI
3) The area is a tactical training area (TTA) used by the RAF's large Hercules transport aircraft. Yet the campaigners say the training area is little used and a large windfarm there would reduce the need to build windfarms in other parts Wales.
4) Several large areas, which would be designated as Strategic Search Areas, have already been identified and are now being proposed by the Assembly Government in its draft renewable energy planning policy known as Technical Advice Note 8 (TAN8). This is currently a draft policy awaiting Assembly debate later this month and Assembly Government approval probably before the summer recess. The Camddwr area is currently not included as it is a TTA, despite its potential for a large windfarm which could account for over 40% of the Assembly Government’s 2010 target. A group called the Camddwr Trust has been proposing to build a 300 MW plus scheme on the site between Llanwrtyd Wells and Tregaron for several years.
5) NOP World poll May 2005 (sample 500 people) commissioned by the British Wind Energy Association - showing 75% of Welsh public agree that windfarms are necessary (see attachment below). A 2002 Friends of the Earth Cymru commissioned Market Research Wales poll found 71% support in Wales for more onshore windfarms in Wales.
6) A scheme might comprise over one hundred turbines each between 2.5 and 3.0 MW capacity (similar to the proposed turbines at the Whinash windfarm in Cumbria) and generate about 1 TWhr/year or about 5-6% of Welsh electricity demand. The likely height to blade tip would be about 115 metres, which is about 20 metres higher than the 1.5 MW Cefn Croes turbines, for turbines which would be up to twice as powerful.
Source: Friends of the Earth Cymru
Highly recommended – frequent visits to:
June 19 news update can be seen at..
Copies of two letters of reply to Swansea councillor Ioan Richard from the DTI, after he'd written to the Prime Minister and the UK Energy Minister shortly after the May 2005 General Election, can be seen/downloaded at...
Plus an e-mail challenging the Awel Aman Tawe quango, on the validity of their claims on wind power can be seen at..
At the time of sending this e-mail out, the lady's challenge has not been updated on Awel Aman Tawe's so called 'message board'.
In fact there are only two entries in it and the last one is dated 28/11/2003.
These can be seen at...
http://www.awelamantawe.org.uk/lower_level_pages/sub_level_main.php?nav_title=Latest%20Messages&nav_title_welsh=Negeseuon%20Diweddaraf&lang=english&cat=11&sub_level_nav_id=72The e-mail address that the lady's e-mail was sent to was email@example.com just happens to be the same address as their invitation gives to submit to their 'message board'.
CAITHNESS TURBINES PROTESTS POUR IN
09:00 - 17 June 2005
A Bid to build a windfarm in north-east Caithness has attracted a flood of objections within a few days of the planning application being lodged.
Npower renewables have scaled down its initial proposal for an area of woodland at Stroupster Hill, near Auckengill.
In November, the firm envisaged putting up 23 turbines on the ground, inland from the main A99 coastal road.
But it has since revised the development to 12 turbines, standing 113m tall.
But the reduction in the size of scheme has not appeased objectors who turned out in force at a protest meeting in Keiss last week.
By yesterday, nearly 50 had lodged formal objections with Highland Council's planning department in Wick.
Complaints range from the effect the giant turbines would have on the skyline to concerns about noise, the effect on tourism and the impact on local flora and fauna.
Objectors fear that, if the council give it the go-ahead, the firm will move quickly to apply for an extension to its original 35megawatt scale.
Npower renewables spokesman Patrick Spink yesterday claimed the firm had done its homework on the site.
He said: "Before we submit a planning application, we have to carry out extensive surveys and research on all aspects of the development.
"That has resulted in us coming up with a smaller-scale scheme than we originally proposed.
"It is up to the council to decide on our application, but we're extremely confident that it's a good site."
Mr Spink could not rule out a future extension, but he said the company was happy the development was viable as it stood.
The ground at Stroupster is partly owned by the Forestry Commission and partly by a private landowner.
Npower renewables - part of the RWE Group - operates 15 windfarms throughout the UK, including the Causewaymire site in Caithness.
A green saviour or get rich quick con?
By Stephen Rouse
17 June 2005
(c) 2005 The Newcastle Chronicle & Journal
A new proposal for a massive windfarm three miles from Hadrian's Wall is the latest in an explosion of bids across the region.
Stephen Rouse investigates whether developers are trying to save the world or cash in on a lucrative Government-subsidised scheme.
They call it "pincushion Britain."
It's a future landscape, seen from the air, where thousands of white columns are embedded in a once-green countryside.
Windfarm applications are mushrooming in Northumberland - England's windiest county - and County Durham.
Energy firm npower is consulting on three projects in Northumberland, 13 more turbines are planned for a windfarm hotspot in Derwentside while an
appeal is under way for a proposal near Trimdon, despite objections from Tony Blair's constituency agent who lives there. Now UK Coal is proposing 24
turbines at a disused opencast site on Plenmeller Moor, three miles from Hadrian's Wall.
At least 90 new turbines, many more than 100 metres from base to blade tip, are currently planned for the North's hillsides - roughly treble existing capacity.
Locals find it hard to understand why it's happening.
Erica Sykes, 38, of High House Farm, Satley, is campaigning against the application for 13 turbines just 600 yards from her home.
She said: "The windfarm companies may cry they want to save the earth, but I can't help thinking it's a money issue."
No-one would set up a windfarm as a purely commercial venture.
Wind turbine electricity is expensive to produce - 5.4p per kilowatt hour compared to 2.2p for gas production. And turbines only work around 25% of
the time (they will not function below gale force 4 or above force 10).
There are now more than 1,200 wind turbines nationwide but they produce only 0.5% of our electricity.
The only reason anyone builds them, critics say, is because the Government has skewed the market.
In a bid to increase generation from renewable sources to 10% of all supply by 2010, ministers have devised a horribly complicated system called the
Put simply, producers of environmentally-friendly energy receive Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) which can be sold on to supply companies.
According to Dr John Etherington, consultant to the anti-windfarm group Country Guardian, this has inflated the price of wind power to £81.30 per
megawatt/hour - three times the normal rate.
Television naturalist David Bellamy who lives in Weardale, County Durham claims the system, thought to add around 2% to electricity bills, is a
But, he says, as more studies reveal the inefficiency of windfarms, time is running out for the developers currently cashing in.
He said: "They are trying to get as many turbines up and running before the collapse of the market. I think the Government is beginning to wish it had
never started the whole thing."
Dr Nic Best, regional spokesman for the Campaign to Protect Rural England claims the Renewables Obligation has opened up more low-lying areas, where
winds are weaker, to development.
He added: "I would like to see our local authorities sit down with the windfarm companies and try to maximise output while minimising impact on the
"Senior planning officers in Durham and Northumberland are trying to negotiate with developers, but developers don't want to show their hand to
"Instead they are rushing through their planning applications so theirs gets considered first."
Npower Renewable's regional development manager for the North of England, Clare Wilson, admits there are "klondiking" windfarm companies, making
applications to cash in on the lucrative ROC market.
But she said generation companies like npower are committed to running any windfarms they build, and are not looking for short-term gain.
Further, the North-East Regional Assembly's regional spatial strategy has earmarked a number of areas as windfarm sites, avoiding sensitive
environmental and heritage areas.
They include Harwood Forest, Kiln Pit Hill, Tow Law and Hamsterley Forest. Sunderland and South Tyneside are deemed suitable for small urban farms.
Ms Wilson said: "This is a criteria-based policy which controls where you put these things and means you shouldn't end up with 50 wind farms in one
And in Northumberland, there are further measures to make sure the windfarm windfall stays in the region.
The Northumberland Renewable Energy Group negotiates with developers to make sure contracts to install and maintain the turbines are installed and
maintained by local firms. A new skills course is being set up to train people in windfarm repair and construction.
Clive Fagg, energy executive with the Northumberland Strategic Partnership said: "The turbine developers tell us there will be economic benefits and we
are pushing them to deliver on those."
However, there are fears that local efforts to safeguard against "pincushion Britain" could be over-ridden.
Both sides of the debate are nervously watching the on-going public inquiry into the proposal for 27 turbines at Whinash, Cumbria, on the edge of the
Because the farm would generate more than 50 megawatts of power, the case has been called for Government determination, and it is being seen as a test
case which could open the floodgates over local objections.
Charlton Hall farmer Robert Thorpe, is preparing to oppose npower’s plans for 25 turbines at Middlemoor, near Alnwick, which could also be determined
at Government level.
He said: "Developers seem to be trying to go above that figure and go straight to central government.
"I would have thought smaller schemes, considered by local planners, would get them introduced in a more sensitive manner.
"The way it's looking there will be little room left. Everywhere you look, there will be a windfarm."
United Kingdom Reaches 1000 MW Wind BarrierJune 17, 2005
Wales, United Kingdom [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] The UK wind energy industry has now installed over 1000 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity - making it one of only eight countries in the world to have surpassed this figure. The official opening of the most powerful wind farm in the UK to date, the 39 turbine 58.5 MW Cefn Croes wind farm in Ceredigion in Wales, brings the total to 1037.7 MW from 1273 turbines, which together generate sufficient electricity to meet the needs of well over half a million households - or a fifth of homes in greater London.
"Wind energy in the UK has now firmly arrived,"said Marcus Rand, CEO of the British Wind Energy Association. "The industry is experiencing record growth and will continue to grow both on and offshore over the coming years as it plays its key role in helping to meet the Government's climate and renewable targets.
Breaking the gigawatt barrier comes in a record year of growth for the UK wind industry, with a total of 18 new wind projects totalling some 500 MW of capacity expected to be officially commissioned by year end, taking UK wind generation to over 1 percent of UK electricity supply, and on track for expectations of the sector.
"We anticipate a further six gigawatts of new wind projects will be up and running in the UK by the end of 2010, split evenly between on and offshore developments," Rand said. "Achieving this objective will deliver energy security, environmental and industrial benefits for the UK."
The UK wind industry is projected to meet some three quarters of the Government's target for renewables by 2010, representing an investment of GBP 7 billion (USD 12.7 billion) into the sector, according to a survey carried out by the BWEA.
The news that wind broke the gigawatt barrier coincides with the release of a new opinion poll carried out as part of BWEA's Embrace the Revolution campaign, which was launched in Wales this week. The research shows that an overwhelming majority of people in Wales - three quarters - agree that wind farms are necessary to help meet the country's current and future energy needs.
The Cefn Croes wind farm is owned by Falck Renewables Limited, a leading European developer of wind projects and a subsidiary of the Falck Group based in Milan. It is operated by Cambrian Wind Energy, a subsidiary of Falck Renewables, and was developed by the Renewable Development Company (RDC)
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