'Consider that Germany has by far the largest base of installed wind power capacity in the world, with more than 20,622 megawatts of generating capacity. To put that figure into context, the runner-ups are Spain and the US with a little more than 11,000 megawatts of generating capacity each; Germany is far and away the undisputed leader.
'But although I've long been aware of these statistics, I wasn't quite prepared for the sight of northern Germany's Baltic Sea coast. In the first day and a half of the cruise, we departed the German port of Travemunde and sailed close to the coast en route to Stockholm, Sweden.
'What was most striking was the prevalence of thousands of windmills located both onshore and offshore. We passed these offshore wind farms for hours; some were truly massive in scale.
'Germany's wind industry is the product of more than a decade of government subsidy. Specifically, the German government uses a feed-in tariff system that requires utilities to buy wind power and pay generous subsidized rates for that electricity. The result: Building wind farms in Germany is highly profitable. Check out the chart below.
'As you can see in the chart, Germany's wind capacity has grown tenfold since 1997. Much of that capacity is located along the Baltic Coast in the North for the simple fact that it's windier in this region than in most other parts of Germany. Because offshore winds are steadier than onshore, many farms are located on the water.
'Given that Germany's total installed base of generation capacity is about 125,000 megawatts, wind power plants account for about 16 to 17 percent of total capacity.
'At first blush, these facts suggest that the nation's energy policy and wind power industry are a smashing success. But that brings us to the clever marketing trick used by many alternative energy firms; there's a major difference between the terms capacity and generation. Namely, just because a utility may own a plant with 1,000 megawatts of capacity doesn't mean that plant is operating at that capacity at all times.
'In fact, that's highly unlikely to be the case, particularly for wind power. That's because the speed of wind in an area at a particular point in time is unpredictable. Moreover, even relatively small variations in wind speed can mean large changes in power output from wind turbines.
'The rated capacity of a wind farm is far less important than how much those wind farms actually contribute to the grid in the form of generated electricity. If we look at Germany in that light, we get a far less impressive picture. Only 5 percent of Germany's electricity generation in 2006 came from wind. Bottom line: As impressive as offshore wind farms may be to behold, those strings of thousands of windmills located on the Baltic just aren't a particularly important source of power for Germany.
'But all the hype surrounding alternative energies obfuscates two other important trends that are facing most of the countries I visited last week. First, when I see all those windmills in Germany or listen to Sweden's plans to build more high-tech wind farms, I don't see countries that are becoming more energy independent or reducing their carbon footprints. Rather, I see a rapid rise in the consumption of natural gas and rising dependence on Russia.
'And second, Germany and Sweden both state their goal is to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. Paradoxically, however, both countries have undertaken the single most destructive policy with regard to that goal - a stated, national policy to phase out nuclear power.
'With regard to the first point, natural gas emits roughly 50 percent less carbon dioxide than coal. Gas plants are also a well-known technology that's reliable and can be counted on for always-on power generation. Because alternative energies can't be counted on to meet demand, countries like Germany install what's known as shadow capacity--generally gas (or coal) plants that can meet power demand when wind power output isn't sufficient to do so.
'Overall gas demand in Europe is projected to increase by nearly 4 percent annually between now and 2030, a total increase of more than 72 percent between 2003 and 2030. What's interesting is that's more than five times the 0.7 percent annualized growth in US demand; the Energy Information Agency projects that US gas demand will increase by only a total of around 17 percent in the same time frame.
'By far the biggest contributor to growth in European Union (EU) gas demand is the electric-power-plant sector. Demand for gas to fire Europe's electric plants is set to jump to more than 180 percent by 2030 and will total 11.9 trillion cubic feet annually by that year.
'Much of this gas will likely come from Russia. At the current time, the EU imports more than 4 trillion cubic feet of gas annually from Russia by pipeline alone. That works out to more than 11 billion cubic feet per day or around half of EU gas imports.
'With Europe's domestic gas resources in decline, the region will become increasingly reliant on imports; there are several new pipelines in the works to deliver gas from Russia to the continent. It should come as little surprise that Germany is the largest customer for Russian gas and among the most import-dependent countries in the world.
'To make matters worse, if Germany does decide to go ahead with the shutdown of its nuclear plants, gas import reliance will soar even more, as will emissions of carbon dioxide. Nuclear power accounts for around 27 percent of Germany's electricity supply and 19.5 percent of grid capacity. There's no way all that capacity can be replaced by alternatives.
(See full story: Elliott H. Gue, The Energy Letter, The Market Oracle. Jun 30, 2007).
The stillness of the three wind turbines at Grimshader in Lewis has a perfectly good explanation, it has emerged this week: they are not switched on.
Some Lewis residents have been using the ‘Gazette’ letters page to point out that while the turbines turn some days, others they do not — and it seems that the strength of the wind has little to do with this.
“Is it me, or does anyone else wonder why the three windmills on the Grimshader road don’t appear to work?” asked Alastair Fraser. “Enough power to boil several electric kettles is being wasted. Perhaps we don’t have the right kind of wind up here.”
However, Iain MacIver of the Stornoway Trust has confirmed to the ‘Gazette’ that the turbines are often switched off — because the National Grid is ‘problematic’. Mr MacIver contends that the Western Isles portion of the grid is not strong enough to make the turbines useful.
“If the large projects are going to go ahead, the first thing that would happen is that the grid has to be strengthened,” said Mr MacIver, adding that the expense of this may end up being the responsibility of the wind farm developers.
However, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), which maintains the grid, has stressed that any so-called ‘problems’ with the Grimshader turbines are not new, and were not unforeseen.
SSE spokeswoman Jennifer McGregor confirmed that because wind is not a constant reliable resource, the turbines are quite often switched off. “Because of the nature of the network arrangements on the island, there are times when energy is being imported and times when the island relies on the Battery Point power station,” she said. “The difficulty would be if the wind dropped and the extra generation of the windfarm would be very suddenly lost.
“Because a drop in wind energy would mean a drop in power to homes, SSE cannot rely on them without using the power station as a backup.
"This problem will exist as long as the grid remains in its current state. There are currently plans to upgrade the entire grid, including the Wester Isles, in 2012. However, there is no firm date for the Isles upgrade; and", the spokeswoman confirmed, it is certainly “some years down the line”.
She also confirmed that all this was fully appreciated by the developer before the turbines went up.
Richard Crosby-Dawson of the Oxfordshire-based firm FIM Services Ltd, the agent which manages the privately-owned development, disagrees.
“The grid is the problem. We are clearly dissatisfied with the situation,” said Mr Crosby-Dawson. “There is a strong pressure being brought to bear to get the damn things to work immediately.”
(See full story: by Eileen Bell, Stornoway Gazette, June 21 2007).
'Plans for a series of wind farms which would result in 26 giant turbines being erected in north Northumberland should be scaled down, according to a long-awaited report by independent consultants.
'Protest groups have been set up to oppose the controversial bids for three separate wind farms south and west of Berwick at Moorsyde, Barmoor and Toft Hill - amid claims they will ruin the landscape and harm the important local tourism industry.
''As well as the three live applications, wind farm developers are also interested in a number of other sites in the borough, such as Halidon Hill and Murton near Berwick and Bewick Moor near Chillingham.
'Now an independent study has concluded that the area can only accommodate about 10 to 15 turbines in total - around half the number currently proposed by green energy companies.
'Consultants Arup - who have been commissioned by the North-East Assembly to assess the impact of wind farm development on several landscapes in the region - say the Berwick area should only be asked to take up to 30 to 40 megawatts of generating capacity.
'Last night, anti-wind farm campaigners welcomed the results of the study and said it confirmed their claims that the landscape south and west of Berwick was too important and sensitive to accommodate the numbers of wind turbines being proposed.
'Andrew Joicey, who farms at Cornhill-on-Tweed and is a member of the Save Our Unspoiled Landscape group, said: "The study is very thorough and it concludes that this area does not have the capacity for development of the scale being put forward by many developers.
'"Action groups will still look to fight individual applications which they feel are inappropriate, and there are planning reasons why each of the current proposals should be refused.
'"This report might just make wind farm developers think that their plans are not so viable economically."
'A spokesman for the Moorsyde Action Group said they welcomed the study's findings that poorly designed turbine arrays that were not properly scaled and located would have major adverse impacts on the landscape and living conditions of local people.
'Berwick MP Alan Beith said: "The findings of the study underline how impossible it is to deal with these applications separately. As I have argued all along, there should be a single public inquiry at which they are all considered together."
'Berwick borough councillors are due to finally consider the Moorsyde, Barmoor and Toft Hill wind farm applications in September. They are also facing an application for 10 turbines at Wandylaw near the border with Alnwick district, but this area has been examined in a separate wind energy study by Arup.
'Last night, borough council director of regeneration and development, Shona Alexander, said: "We welcome this study, which gives us an objective view of the impact which wind farm developments could have here in Berwick borough, where we have some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country.
'"We will now include the study in our assessments of all wind farm planning applications currently being considered."
'Malcolm Bowes, deputy chief executive for the North-East Assembly, said: "This cutting edge study provides an objective assessment of the impact that wind farm development would have on the south and west of Berwick landscape and has concluded that high levels of development would not be appropriate."'
(See full story: by Dave Black, The Journal, Jun 20 2007)
'A joint public inquiry is to be held into three separate wind farm applications in Northumberland.
'The Department of Trade and Industry's announcement that the inquiry would be held for the three proposals on land near Kirkwhelpington was welcomed both by objectors to the proposals and Northumberland County Council.
'Peter Bennet, who founded Friends of the Wanneys, a protest group set up to oppose the development plans, said: "Overall, you would have to say that it is good news.
'"Now we prepare ourselves for the next round - the fight goes on. This was the result that we always wanted to happen.
'"Of course it will now prolong the worry for us all as, effectively, the process starts all over again, in terms of writing letters and doing all we can to protect this landscape.
'The applications are for wind farms at Green Rigg site, the Ray site and the Steadings and cover more than 60 turbines.
'Gordon Halliday, divisional director for consumer protection, planning and waste at the county council, said: "We have always said that where several wind farms in an area are due to be considered at public inquiries, they should be combined to allow the overall impact on the area to be fully considered. The inquiry will take an overall look."
'The three schemes were to go to separate public inquiries - one under local authority application procedures and two, because they were larger schemes, under DTI rules.
'The Green Rigg bid by developers Wind Prospect, will go to public inquiry because Tynedale Council was unable to deal with it in the allocated time due to its complexity.
'Coun Peter Hillman, Leader of Northumberland County Council, said: "We as a council are supportive of renewable energy projects in Northumberland, but any applications must be seen to be in line with the county's environment and its cultural heritage."'
(Full story by Ben Guy, the Journal, May 19 2007).
The Journal 17 May, 2007.
'A North council has broken planning regulations by handing over public files to a consultant based 100 miles away.
'Berwick Borough Council’s handling of the planning row over a series of wind farm developments means local people cannot “easily access” papers dealing with the controversial developments.
'They include plans for 10 turbines at Moorsyde, near Allerdean, nine at Barmoor, near Lowick, 10 at Wandylaw, on the boundary with Alnwick District, and seven at Toft Hill, near Grindon.
'The authority – the second smallest in England – has no planning officers of its own capable of dealing with the applications. Instead, it has hired a planning consultant from Darlington to handle the huge workload – and he has the papers in his possession.
'A Planning Inspectorate spokeswoman confirmed that Under the Town and Country Planning Act of 1990, they should be openly available for public scrutiny in Berwick.
'A spokesman for Moorsyde Action Group said: “The days when Berwick had a planning department with officers who knew the area and felt a responsibility to local communities seem to be over. The planning department now appears to be run by consultants from outside the county, who are not accessible.
'“Local people are being denied access to public files.”
'He added: “We had the same problem in November 2006, when the Planning Unit repeatedly told us, without any explanation, that the Moorsyde case file was ‘unobtainable’. We only discovered later that the council’s consultant had removed it so he could work at home.” Senior planning consultant Rod Hepplewhite, of Darlingtonbased Blackett, Hart and Pratt, yesterday confirmed that the papers were currently in his possession.
'He said: “The important thing is that the application documents themselves are still at Berwick, but I do have the response bundles here in Darlington.
'“If anyone wants to see the papers, I can deliver them up to Berwick myself, or have them sent by overnight courier.”
'Borough director of regeneration and development Shona Alexander said: “There is no problem. If anyone wants to see the files, we will make them available.”
'But a spokeswoman for the Planning Inspectorate said: “The regulations state that these documents should be readily available for public inspection at the principal planning office.”'
(See full story: By Robert Brooks, The Journal 17 May 2007)
'A couple who turned down a potential £6m to have a wind farm built on their land because of the effect it would have on the community and the landscape could still end up surrounded by turbines built on neighbouring farms.
'Frank and Clare Dakin say they moved to Northumberland for the "unspoilt and special" landscape, and have refused a number of lucrative offers from energy companies looking to erect turbines on their farm in Duddo, Northumberland.
'They say they also want to protect the integrity of two sites of extreme historic importance on their land - the ancient Duddo Five Stones and the Duddo Tower.
'And despite turning down the cash Mr and Mrs Dakin could end up hemmed in, with 26 turbines within a few square miles of their farm.
'Mr Dakin, 46, said agreeing to the turbines would be "selling the soul" of the farm.
'He said: "We don't blame those people who have gone for the wind farms - we were sorely tempted ourselves. But it is an issue of how it effects the wider community and the whole landscape. It is the effect that the turbines would have on people living here that concerns us.
'"The visual effect would be to spoil what is a special and splendid piece of land."
(See full story in the Journal, 8 May 2007).-----------------------------------
See also BBC Look North video.-----------------------------------
See also: 'FARMER OPTS OUT OF WIND FARM'.
This describes the pressures on a Shropshire farmer and the reasons why he, like the vast majority of landowners and farmers has decided not to take the developer's money.
Read - 'Wheels of Fortune', 26 April 2007.
Read - 'Wind-rush of ill will and bills', 27 April 2007.
Read - 'The noise that drives us mad', 28 April 2007.
Read - 'Millions thrown at the turbines', 30 April 2007.
Scroll down from the first story on 30 April to read:
'Opponents blast council in planning row'
'A tiny North council which is set to rule on three major wind farm applications has admitted having no planning officers of its own capable of dealing with them, The Journal can reveal.
'Berwick Borough Council has instead resorted to hiring planning consultants to cope with the mammoth task of handling the bids, which are all due to be decided at the same meeting on May 29.
'A tiny North council which is set to rule on three major wind farm applications has admitted having no planning officers of its own capable of dealing with them, The Journal can reveal.
'Berwick Borough Council has instead resorted to hiring planning consultants to cope with the mammoth task of handling the bids, which are all due to be decided at the same meeting on May 29.
'Alberta power utility Enmax Corp. said yesterday it is building a huge new power station in Southern Alberta fired with natural gas, partly to help boost the provincial grid's reliability after Alberta's aggressive expansion into wind energy made it vulnerable to power disruption.
'"We now have so much windpower generation that we need to fall back on reliable sources of power," said Peter Hunt, an Enmax spokesman.
'"The problem with wind power is that the wind doesn't blow all the time, so the greater percentage of the system depends on wind, the more vulnerable to disruption the system becomes when the wind stops blowing."
'The 1,200-megawatt station, which industry sources say would cost about $2-billion, would produce enough power to supply two-thirds of Calgary's needs.
'Alberta expanded into windpower generation aggressively since deregulating its electricity industry eight years ago. With more than 4% of its power coming from wind farms in the southern part of the province, it is the national leader in the green-energy source.
'But the growth turned out to be too much of a good thing and the provincial grid operator, Alberta Electric System Operator, slapped a ban last April on the construction of any more wind farms until the reliability issues are resolved.
(See full story: National Post (Canada), 21 April 2007)
'Supplies of electricity from wind turbines are highly erratic and cast doubts on their reliability as a source of power, official figures reveal.
'Just weeks before the Government publishes its energy review White Paper, a research paper by National Grid shows that on some days, even in winter, wind turbines are virtually motionless.
'But, according to the National Grid, in the period between October 2006 and February 2007 there were 17 days when output from the existing 1,632 windmills was less than ten per cent of capacity.
'During that period there were five days when output was less than five per cent and one day when it was only 2%. In the whole five months, the wind turbines were operating at only 35% efficiency.
Jeremy Nicholson, director of the Energy Intensive Users Group, whose members include big energy users such as Corus, said: 'These figures show how necessary it is that the UK has a balanced energy policy. We simply cannot over rely on any one energy source.
(See full story: Financial Mail, 15 April 2007)
Protesters fighting plans for the region's biggest wind farm have been dealt a major blow, after a long-awaited independent study backed a 28-turbine development on moors in Northumberland.
The study, by award-winning consultants Ove Arup and commissioned by the North-East Assembly, says the site at North and South Charlton, near Alnwick, could accommodate 100 megawatts of wind energy.
Two wind-farms are currently proposed in the area - one with 18 turbines at Middlemoor, by Npower Renewables, and a second of 10 turbines by RidgeWind Ltd at neighbouring Wandylaw.
Although separate entities, locals say they are geographically close enough to effectively form a single cluster.
The Middlemoor application, which could generate as much as 75 megawatts of energy, is currently lodged with the Department for Trade and Industry, and will be the subject of a full public inquiry.
Wandylaw, at a smaller 20-30 megawatts, is awaiting a decision by Berwick Borough Council, although campaigners want to see it dealt with at the same hearing. South Charlton farmer Robert Thorp said residents would be dismayed by the new report's findings.
"These developments combined will stretch for several kilometres end to end along the skyline," he said.
"There's no way they can be absorbed by the landscape. The turbines for Middlemoor and Wandylaw are huge, at 125m high, and aggressive in design. It will be impossible to mitigate the effect."
But Mr Thorp said: "This can only be properly debated at a full public inquiry, and it is there that we will provide evidence to refute the Ove Arup report.
"There's also the fact that this wind-farm will only produce around 27 megawatts on average, according to the Government's own figures on turbine efficiency.
"The benefits will certainly not outweigh the detriment to the landscape and local people's lives."
Gordon Castle was deputy leader of Alnwick District Council when it first raised objections to Middlemoor back in 2003.
Last night he said: "Whether the landscape can sustain 28 turbines in that location is not scientific, it's subjective. The council still has serious concerns about the scale of the development proposed, and nothing less than a full public inquiry will suffice before a decision is taken.
"Arup may consider 100MW to be sustainable at North Charlton, but that does not reflect the sheer weight of public opinion."
But Malcolm Bowes, deputy chief executive for the North-East Assembly, said: "This cutting-edge study provides an objective assessment of the impact that windfarm development would have on the North and South Charlton landscape.
"The study concludes that the landscape can accommodate approximately 100 megawatts of wind energy.
"With the developer interest in wind farm development in Northumberland gathering pace, the findings of this study help to inform the difficult decisions that the DTI and local planning authorities will need to make on which locations might be acceptable."
The assembly says it will now be working with Alnwick and Berwick councils and the local parish councils to arrange a public event to discuss the findings of the study.
(Robert Brooks, The Journal, 11 April 2007.)
'Although there is little interest south of the border in the lacklustre campaign for next month's elections to the Scottish Parliament, something so odd is going on there that it has implications for us all.
'Fired by the fashionable obsession with global warming, the Scottish parties are all vying to see who can make the most extreme promises about how much Scotland should rely on renewable energy. The Labour-led Scottish Executive is already pledged to produce 40 per cent of Scotland's electricity from renewable sources by 2020, twice the target figure, set by the EU, to which Britain as a whole is signed up.
'At present, the Executive claims, nearly 12 per cent of Scotland's energy comes from "renewables", almost all from large hydro-electric schemes built in the 1950s. To raise that to 40 per cent can only mean a massive increase in wind turbines.
'Scotland now has around 640, providing barely 2 per cent of the country's power. Even if all the 6,000 turbines currently proposed get built, they would only generate around 3,300 megawatts of electricity, equivalent to the output of the power station at Didcot in Oxfordshire. This would leave a huge shortfall when, within a few years, Scotland loses three nuclear and coal-fired power stations, which currently produce well over twice that much energy.
'Even on paper, to reach that 40 per cent target would require at least 8,000 giant turbines, many as tall as 400 feet, covering 2,000 square miles, equivalent to 7 per cent of Scotland's total land area. Other parties go still further: the Lib Dems want Scotland to be totally dependent on renewable energy by 2050.
'What none of these politicians appear to have grasped is that - unless they are happy for Scotland to return to the age before electric light, computers and Tesco - they will also need to build enough conventional power stations to provide back-up for the three-quarters of the time (averaged out) when the wind is not blowing at the right speed to generate electricity. Since none of them seem prepared to countenance replacing the country's two existing "carbon-neutral" nuclear plants, that will mean new coal and gas-fired stations, running 24 hours a day to cover for those unpredictable moments when the wind decides not to blow. In other words, all that destruction of a unique landscape with thousands of heavily-subsidised turbines will not reduce Scotland's "carbon footprint" at all.
'The politicians are so carried away by this idiocy that they still insist that schemes such as that to erect 181 giant turbines on the island of Lewis, on which the Scottish Executive has the final say, have popular support. Yet Allan Wilson, Scotland's Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning, recently had to admit that, of 11,546 representations so far received by the Executive, only 59 were in support of the Lewis scheme, with 11,397 against.
'The fact is that the Scottish people - as opposed to their politicians - are waking up to the realisation that wind power is one of the greatest hoaxes of our age. But, lest we feel insulated from the tragedy about to befall the Scots, we must recall that this is only a more extreme version of a collective self-deception which now has almost all our politicians in its grip.'
(Christopher Booker's Notebook: , Sunday Telegraph, 8 April 2007)
[Coldingham would add to the lines of turbines on the skyline seen from the Berwick area. It is being developed by Your Energy/Mistral "in partnership with PM Renewables"].
'A RESOUNDING rejection of the proposal to build a windfarm on Coldingham Moor was made at a packed public meeting in the village on Friday night.
'Despite an overwhelming majority voting against the plan to build 22 turbines at Drone Hill, the developers - PM Renewables - this week said that the meeting was not a true representation of local feeling. [Sounds familiar!]
'The meeting was convened by the community council and over 120 people attended, including representatives of other community councils in East Berwickshire and moor and village residents.
'Fears were voiced that the windfarm would badly affect tourism and also cause misery for nearby residents.
'"This is not an isolated area as there are lots of houses and farms on the moor and the road is the main tourist route down the coast," said protestor George Matthews who lives less than a mile away from the proposed site.
'A retired building control officer and chartered surveyor, Mr Matthews said he had never seen "such a hideous proposal".
Although PM Renewables has agreed to shorten the turbines from 100m to 75m, Mr Matthews pointed out that they were still ten times the size of a telegraph pole and said they would be a huge eyesore.
"The road through Coldingham Moor is called the road to tranquility but it won't be if this goes ahead," said Mr Matthews.
"The tourist trade will be badly affected and it will have a terrible effect on the quality of life of people living here," he added.
At the meeting, moor residents asked the developers if they would be compensated for an expected drop in their property prices but were told that would not happen although a £1 million sweetener has been promised to the community.
"According to a Mori survey property prices can go down by as much as 54 per cent which is extrememly worrying," said Mr Matthews. "If it does go ahead they should have some provision for compensating people."
(see full article:Berwickshire Today, 5 April 2007).
Developers frequently point to Swaffham as an example of how people with experience of large wind turbines really love them. However, it now seems that Swaffham doesn't want any more of them:
'SWAFFHAM'S "love affair" with wind turbines could be stretched to breaking point by green energy firm Ecotricity's plan to build six more on the town's outskirts.
The town has been generally supportive of the two giant turbines standing either side of its A47 bypass and forming a landmark gateway to West Norfolk.
But when the latest plan to build six more of the same size on the Sporle side of the bypass, next to the one put up in 2003 at the request of Swaffham residents, was discussed at the last town council meeting councillors decided enough was enough.
They are opposing the plan because of its potential noise, flicker effect and visual impact on the surrounding landscape – and looking to formulate a policy on future wind turbine applications.
(Full story in the Lynn News, 30 March 2007).
'Everyone in Germany is talking about climate protection -- everyone, that is, except for energy companies. They're planning to build dozens of new coal-fired power plants -- with the support of the governing coalition in Berlin.
'[the Social Democrats] want the planned power plants to help bridge the electricity gap that will inevitably arise in coming years due to the phasing out of nuclear energy. Germany's previous governing coalition between the SPD and the Green Party decided in 2001 that Germany would abandon nuclear energy -- and Gabriel and his colleagues will not allow the decision to be reversed. If the SPD were to question the construction of new coal-fired power plants, it would inevitably have to rethink its schedule for closing down Germany's nuclear power plants.
'Merkel and Gabriel seem confident that in the end, it will all fit together somehow: the new power plants, securing jobs and climate protection goals. The future will sort everything out, they hope.
'Gabriel plans to use sophisticated technology to curb the emission levels of the new coal-fired power plants. The assumption is that modern power plants will be able to channel their CO2 emissions into giant subterranean deposits within 10 years at the latest. Such "clean coal" technology, as it is called, would then be made mandatory for all coal-fired power plants. But Gabriel knows very well that Germany is still a long way from an across-the-board use of the new technology.
'Merkel also likes to talk about clean coal. But unlike Gabriel, there is a second exit strategy available to her: If she wins the national elections in 2009, she could join forces with Germany's Free Democratic Party (FDP) and make the construction of numerous new coal-fired power plants superfluous -- by abandoning the plan to phase out nuclear energy.'
(Full story in Spiegel Online, 22 March 2007).
'A farmer has pulled out of plans to site wind turbines on his land as he does not want to profit at his neighbours' expense. Steve Ellsmoor was approached by energy firm Nuon Renewables about allowing part of a wind farm on the Staffordshire-Shropshire border to be built on his land.
'The 49-year-old, who lives at Dorrington Hall Farm, said he initially considered the proposal, but later pulled out when he began to have doubts about the project.
'His comments come ahead of a meeting this week to consider the first part of the plan.
'He said: "I showed interest as I didn't know what was involved. Then people started to worry about property prices and I decided it wasn't for me.
'"I don't want to make money out of someone else losing money on their property. I have still got to live here."
'He said he also had concerns about how Nuon Renewables was going about the scheme.
'He said he had been told by a Scottish wind farm developer who visited the site that it was best practice to make sure the turbines were at least 1,000 metres away from any houses.
'Nuon Renewables wants to erect nine wind turbines on land near Knighton and Bearstone and if the plan goes ahead some will be closer than 1,000 metres.
'Mr Ellsmoor said: "If you measure 1km from where the turbines will be, there are many houses in that circumference."
'And he said his own farm would be just 800 metres from the turbines.
'He said: "I think it's a scandal that these wind farms can come in so close to people's houses.
'"We could have problems with noise, which could make our property unsaleable.
'"I had a valuation done on the farm and if this proposal goes ahead, our property could be worth 15 to 20 per cent less than it is now.
'"If you equate that to all the properties in the area there will be millions of pounds knocked off property prices. I am very disturbed about the whole thing."
'He said the landowners who had decided to allow the turbines on their land were under a lot of pressure from villagers who were worried about the scheme.
'Mr Ellsmoor said: "They have been offered a lot of money if it goes ahead, and I'm not sure it will.
'"At first I thought if it was going to go ahead I might as well look at having them.
'"But I wouldn't like to think anyone else was losing money because of my actions."
(The Sentinel, 18 February 2007).
The Journal,8 February, 2007.
© The Journal.
'Developers of renewable energy schemes such as wind farms are profiteering from the Government’s drive to curb carbon emissions by making customers pay more for their electricity than is necessary, the energy regulator Ofgem warned yesterday.
'Publishing figures which reveal that the cost of the so-called “renewables obligation” is at least eight times greater than other schemes designed to combat climate change, Ofgem called for a wholesale shake-up of the current arrangements.
'The obligation works by requiring energy suppliers to buy a certain proportion of their electricity from renewable sources or buy certificates to cover the shortfall. The cost of this is then passed on to the end customer.
'Ofgem calculates that since the obligation was introduced in 2002 customers have been overcharged by £740m. The scheme adds £7 to the average annual bill at present, but by 2015 this will have risen to £20. At present, 5 per cent of the UK’s electricity comes from renewable sources, but this is due to rise to 20 per cent by 2020.
'The regulator said the way the scheme worked meant that customers paid more even if renewable generation projects did not get built or were delayed, for instance by planning problems.
'It also said that because the level of subsidy under the scheme was not linked to the wholesale price of electricity or the market price of carbon, developers were benefiting at customers’ expense, as electricity prices rose. “This is leading to much higher returns for current renewable generators than investors expected or required.”
'The regulator calculates that it costs between £184 and £481 to cut a tonne of carbon under the renewables obligation. This compares with a cost of between £12 and £70 under the European Union’s emissions trading scheme and £18 to £40 under the Climate Change Levy.
'The Department for Trade and Industry last night rejected Ofgem’s criticisms, saying: “The Renewables Obligation is here to stay.” However, it is proposing changes to the obligation so that subsidies are banded according to the type and cost of technology involved.
'Ofgem said this did not go far enough, and called for a new scheme under which the level of subsidy is linked to the wholesale electricity price and long-term contracts are auctioned to guarantee renewable developers a fixed return.
'Alistair Buchanan, chief executive of Ofgem, said: “We think that a review of the scheme could provide more carbon reductions and promote renewable generation at a lower cost to consumers who are already facing higher energy bills.”'
(Michael Harrison, Business Editor, 23 January 2007 Independent.co.uk)
'The UK is not as windy as the British government thought. The country’s first generation of wind farms are delivering less power than predicted, according to an analysis of official data on their output. The finding dents government hopes that wind turbines could generate up to a fifth of the UK’s energy by 2020.
'While Scottish and offshore wind farms generate more than 30 per cent of their theoretical capacity, no English region does better than 26 per cent, 4 per cent below government predictions. However, the national average of 28.4 per cent, while disappointing, is still the highest in Europe, says the report, which was released on 8 December.
'The study is published by the Renewable Energy Foundation, which represents many local groups opposed to the [onshore] construction of wind turbines. It blames the extreme variability of wind, coupled with the fact that power generated is a function of the cube of wind speed, which magnifies the difference in output between windy and calm days.
'Most worrying for government strategists, though, may be the discovery that a network of wind farms across the country would do little to even out total wind-power production. Much of the time, the weather is either calm or windy across the whole of the UK. So on some days less than 10 per cent of capacity would be produced, and on others above 90 per cent - making it tougher than expected to compensate for the vagaries of the wind.'
(New Scientist magazine, 19 December 2006)
'The nation that leads the world in wind-farm development is going cool on the environmentally friendly source of power.
Since the boom year of 2000, when as many as 748 turbines were erected, the number being built in Denmark has steadily fallen. So far this year, only six new wind turbines have been put up.
While many countries around the world are clamouring to buy Danish wind turbines, Denmark’s government is finding it difficult to convince its own population to accept an increase in the domestic use of the green technology.
Describing turbines as “poorly located, noisy and unsightly”, a number of local authorities, backed by grass-roots campaigners, are rejecting plans for new wind farms.
The situation has not been helped by a 2004 decision - the architect of which was Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish prime minister - to remove state subsidies for wind power, leaving it to market forces.
(Full story in The Scotsman. 1 November 2006.)
PS Official figures show that 9 turbines were installed in Denmark during 2006.
© Laurie Campbell
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