Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Written Evidence


Written Evidence from Mynydd Llansadwrn Action Group

WIND FARMS

STATEMENT

  The Mynydd Llansadwrn Action Group accepts the need for an energy policy that focuses on emission reduction, but as the contents of this submission show, wind power is not a useful technology for achieving these policy objectives.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

  Researched evidence proves that wind power is an unreliable and intermittent source of energy that cannot provide firm predictable generating capacity; it is extremely expensive compared to almost every other energy source; and, it has limited value in reducing carbon dioxide emissions because of the need for spinning reserve backup from fossil-fuelled power plants. Wind farms are deeply unpopular with a growing number of people who object to the visual intrusion, the noise and light pollution and the damage to the environment and wildlife.

CONTENTS

1.   Energy output from wind turbines

  The energy output from wind turbines is lower than estimates given by the British Wind Energy Association and wind-power developers. These exaggerated claims are generally accepted by decision-makers.

2.   Fluctuations in generating capacity

  Wind-generated electricity is intermittent and unpredictable and, therefore, requires spinning reserve backup. Fluctuating energy supplies from wind turbines cause problems for grid operators, who have to stabilise supply with demand.

3.   Wind turbines and CO2 emissions

  Estimates of the contribution of wind power to a reduction in CO2 emissions are generally exaggerated.

4.   Wind turbines and global warming

  Wind turbines will have no significant effect on global warming trends.

5.   Environmental damage

  Building a wind farm with all its associated works and grid connections is a major construction project that inevitably causes environmental damage.

6.   Noise pollution

  The low-frequency noise and vibrations from wind turbines can be very disturbing for some people and have serious health implications.

7.   Light pollution

  Strobe effect and shadow flicker caused by wind turbines and pulsating lights that are sometimes installed on the turbines themselves are sources of light pollution.

8.   Threat to wildlife and livestock

  Wind farm construction is a threat to wildlife. Once operational, wind turbines kill birds and bats. Noise and light flicker from turbines can disturb livestock.

9.   Jobs and tourism

  Wind farms threaten the local tourist industry and create few, if any, jobs.

10.   Property values

  Wind farms have been shown to reduce the value of nearby properties.

11.   The economics of wind power

  Wind power is one of the most expensive forms of electricity; it survives on direct and indirect subsidies. This extra cost to taxpayers is not good value because wind energy cannot provide firm generating capacity nor can it make a significant contribution in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

1.  ENERGY OUTPUT FROM WIND TURBINES

The energy output from wind turbines is lower than estimates given by the British Wind Energy Association and wind-power developers. These exaggerated claims are generally accepted by decision-makers.

1.1  Capacity Factor

  Energy output from wind varies from zero to 87% of their rated capacity, depending on the wind. If the wind speed is less than about 5 metres per second (11 mph), no electricity is generated; if the wind speed is greater than about 25 metres per second (56 mph), turbines are shut down for safety reasons. According to the DTI, the average load, or capacity, factor for onshore wind turbines in the UK in 2003 was 24.1%. Ofgem estimated an average load factor of 23% for Wales during 2003. The capacity factor for wind energy is low compared to other power plants.

1.2   Exaggerated Output Estimates

  British Wind Energy Association (BWEA), the lobbying body for wind-power developers, claims that wind turbines have a load factor of 30% of their rated or installed capacity. This figure is generally used by wind-power developer to calculate emission savings and the number of houses to be supplied. The consequence is an exaggerated picture of what a wind farm can realistically achieve. In the case of the Blaengwen wind farm application in Carmarthenshire, the developers' exaggerated figures on emission savings and number of houses to be supplied were cited in the planners' final report as justification for recommending approval, despite the fact that the application contravened the local development plan. It should also be pointed out that our group and others had challenged the developers' figures but our comments were not acknowledged in the planners' report.

2.  FLUCTUATIONS IN GENERATING CAPACITY

Wind-generated electricity is intermittent and unpredictable and, therefore, requires spinning reserve backup. Fluctuating energy supplies from wind turbines cause problems for grid operators, who have to stabilise supply with demand

2.1  Spinning Reserve

  Demand for electricity is fluctuating but generally predictable, whereas the supply of electricity from wind farms is fluctuating but unpredictable. Difficulties arise for grid operators when they are forced under the current political regime to purchase wind-generated electricity and introduce this fluctuating and highly unpredictable supply into the grid system. In order to stabilise supply and demand, grid operators must maintain continuous spinning reserve backup ready to take over when the wind does not blow or blows too hard. All power plants need a certain amount of backup to cover down times, but wind power is unique in that the down times are intermittent and unpredictable, so the backup for wind power must be running continuously, ready to go on stream immediately in response to changing weather conditions. The crucial point here is that the spinning reserve is burning fossil fuels and emitting CO2 even when not producing electricity.

2.2  Spinning Reserve in Denmark and Germany

  The more wind energy penetrates the grid system, the more spinning reserve becomes crucial in meeting electricity demand. "The 2003 West Danish Grid [ELTRA] System Report . . . identified Spinning Reserve capacity as between 300MW and 500MW per 1000MW of installed capacity which means that with a Danish load factor of about 20%, `backup' can be of greater capacity than realised generation." 1 The German power company E.ON Netz in its Wind Report states: "The characteristics of wind make it necessary for these `shadow power stations' to be available to the extent sufficient to cover over 80% of the installed wind capacity." 2

2.3  Unusable Wind-generated Electricity

  Evidence from Denmark shows that even a large wind farm system is incapable of providing firm predictable generating capacity. Sometimes output is low when demand is high; sometimes output is high when demand is low. As a result, Denmark exports most of its wind-generated power to its neighbours at a financial loss. 3 Denmark is able to export its unusable electricity because it has grid connections with other countries. The UK has no such links, which means we cannot sell our unusable wind-generated electricity even at a loss. It is wasted.

2.4  Grid Instability

  Government policy is to increase the energy generated by renewable technologies, mainly wind power. However, the more wind penetrates the grid system the more problems there are trying to stabilise supply and demand. Hugh Sharman, in a recent article in the Civil Engineering magazine, has warned of the problems that can arise with wind-generated electricity. He concludes:

    The Government is advised that the UK's system can accept anything up to 26 GW of wind power . . . this advice cannot be regarded as sound. Ample evidence from relatively large wind systems in Denmark and Germany exists to prove that 10 GW (+/-25%) will be the probable safe upper limit of all wind capacity. Wind power's contribution at 10 GW, albeit small and costly, can be significant. However, its construction will do nothing to offset the inevitable loss of firm generating capacity. 4

  According to the E.ON Netz Wind Report2 the increase in wind power, because of its intermittent nature, has threatened the stability of Germany's electricity supply.

3.  WIND TURBINES AND CO2 EMISSIONS

Estimates of the contribution of wind power to a reduction in CO2 emissions are generally exaggerated

3.1  Exaggerated Claims

  The BWEA assumes that wind will replace coal-fired capacity unit for unit and bases its calculation for emission savings on this assumption. The BWEA figures are used to support developers' claims in their planning applications for wind farms. The developers of the Blaengwen wind farm claim a carbon dioxide offset figure of 0.85 tonnes per MWh, based on the assumption that " . . . the electricity generated by wind turbines effectively replaces the output of coal-fired power stations, unit for unit." 5

3.2  Government Estimates

  When wind-generated electricity is introduced into the grid system, it cannot be said with any certainly which type of electricity source it is replacing. It could be replacing coal, or gas, or even an emission-free source such as hydroelectricity or nuclear power. According to DTI's Wind Energy Fact Sheet, 6 "The UK electricity market is extremely complex . . and it is not possible to make categorical statements on how wind changes the generation mix." Therefore, it is more accurate to use a "grid average" to reflect the uncertainty as to the type of power, ie coal, gas, nuclear, etc, that is displaced when wind power supplies energy to the national system. Both the DTI and the Carbon Trust use a "grid average" figure of 43 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year when calculating potential emissions savings. This factor of 0.43 tonnes per MWh is about half that claimed by the BWEA and wind farm developers. After 2010, the DTI expects that the generation mix will have changed and that wind power will be operating in conjunction with Combined Cycle Gas Turbines (CCGT). Therefore, post 2010, emissions savings from wind turbines should reflect CCGT displacement, which at 0.27 millions tonnes per MWh is even less than the emission savings figures currently accepted by the DTI and the Carbon Trust.

3.3  CO2 Emissions from Spinning Reserve

  The estimated emission savings from wind turbines must be balanced against the emissions from the fossil-fuelled spinning reserve required to balance supply and demand when wind power is brought into the grid system.

    [Reserve] capacity is placed under particular strains when working in this supporting role because it is being used to balance a reasonably predictable but fluctuating demand with a variable and largely unpredictable output from wind turbines. Consequently, operating fossil capacity in this mode generates more CO2 per kWh generated than if operating normally . . Thus the CO2 saving from the use of wind in the UK is probably much less than assumed by Government advisors, who correctly believe that wind could displace some capacity and save some CO2 , but have not acknowledged the emissions impact of matching both demand and wind output simultaneously. As a result, current policy appears to have been framed as if CO2 emissions savings are guaranteed by the introduction of wind-power, and that wind power has not concomitant difficulties or costs. This is not the case. 7

  The amount of CO2 emissions a wind turbine can save is a matter of conjecture since there are no mechanisms in place to take accurate measurements. However, Denmark, the country with the most wind-generated electricity per capita, has shown no reduction in its overall CO2 emissions; in fact, Denmark's CO2 emissions are rising. 8

4.  WIND TURBINES AND GLOBAL WARMING

Wind turbines will have no significant effect on global warming trends

4.1  Wind Farm Construction and Global Warming

  Wind turbines are being promoted by both the UK Government and Welsh Assembly as an effective strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thereby counteract global warming trends. Electricity generated by wind turbines is emission-free at the point of generation, and to this extent it does not contribute to global warming. However, there are many emissions and pollutants associated with turbine manufacture and delivery and in the construction of the wind farm site with its access roads, grid connections, substations, etc. Each turbine foundation requires between 500 and 1,000 tonnes of concrete and aggregate; concrete manufacture is one of the largest sources (about 7%) of man-made CO2 emissions. All these industrial processes contribute to global warming.

4.2  Removing CO2 "Sinks"

  Many wind farms are being proposed on Forestry Commission land. Building a wind farm on forested land involves chopping down vast areas of trees, which, if left standing, would absorb CO2 turbines unlike trees, do not remove CO2 from the atmosphere. According to the Environment Agency, one acre of coniferous trees absorbs 3.5 tonnes of CO2 each year. However, when trees are clear felled, the decomposition of vegetation that is left behind actually adds to the CO2 emissions problem. At the Cefn Croes wind farm site, not only were acres of forest clear felled, but deep ancient peat bogs were also stripped off and drained, releasing stored CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. As the peat gradually dries out, it will continue to oxidise and release even more CO2.

4.3  CO2 Savings in Perspective

  Electricity generation accounts for only one-third of our CO2 emissions the bulk comes from aircraft, vehicle exhaust, domestic heating and industrial processes. According to DTI estimates, reaching the 2010 renewable energy targets would achieve a reduction of about two million tonnes of CO2 per year. Even if this were achievable, it is not impressive when viewed in relation to national and global emission rates. A 2-million-tonne reduction of CO2 is a mere 1.7% of total UK emissions (550 million tonnes) and 0.0004% of world emissions (24,000 million tonnes). Global emissions are expected to rise by 2% a year, mainly from China and India. Wind turbines can have no significant effect in reversing, or even slowing down, these global warming trends.

5.  ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE

Building a wind farm with all its associated works and grid connections is a major construction project that inevitably causes environmental damage

5.1  Visual Intrusion

  Even wind-energy enthusiasts have to admit that these giant machines are out of keeping with the landscape. They are built on high-altitude, prominent sites to catch the wind, marring some of the most scenic mountainous regions of Wales. To improve output, turbines are becoming bigger. The turbines being proposed for the Welsh hills are usually about 400 feet tall, about three times the height of a typical electricity pylon, with a bladespan greater than the wingspan of a jumbo jet. Our remote and beautiful landscapes are further degraded by hundreds of miles of pylons and transmission lines needed to transport the electricity to the grid system and on to more populated parts of the UK. The visual intrusion of these structures contravene local development plans.

5.2  Environmental Degradation

  Turbine construction will inevitably affect the local environment, probably destroying wildlife habitats. Building access roads, crane pads, and concrete foundations, felling trees and draining peat bogs change the soil composition at the wind farm site. The result is faster run-off of water during heavy rainfall with the associated risk of flooding in the lowlands. Once the rural uplands have been degraded by turbine construction and access roads, there is the danger that the area will be opened to further erosion through vehicle traffic and the pressure for further development.

5.3  Hydrological Disruption

  Wind farm construction can disrupt the hydrology of the area and contaminate water supplies. At Ovenden Moor wind farm a 200-foot turbine cracked the bedrock and diverted the natural watercourse. Excavation of cable trenches caused peat to dry out, and tracks to the turbines formed pools of foetid water that could not drain away. 9 The developers' of the Blaengwen wind farm admitted in their Environmental Statement5 that "the proposed turbines, crane pads and tracks have the potential to disrupt the hydrology regime of the site"; nevertheless, they did not feel it necessary, nor did the planners insist, that they undertake a hydrology study of the area. The site is drained by several watercourses and there are a number of private water supplies within a few miles of the site. Yet there has been no investigation into the potential effects that this construction project, which will involve blasting or drilling into the bedrock to build the turbine foundations, may have on the hydrology of the area and the water supplies of nearby properties. It is hard to imagine what other major construction project would be allowed to proceed with so little regard for the inevitable consequences for the local environment.

5.4  Damage to Peatlands

  Peatlands are vitally important on a worldwide scale. "The Ramsar Convention recognises that peatlands are a habitat that is generally overlooked, misunderstood, under-recorded, and yet which represents more than 50% of the world's terrestrial wetland, and which holds around 25% of the global pool of soil carbon. The world's peatlands contain more than three times the amount of carbon than is stored in the world's tropical rainforests. The carbon in peat is stored for thousands of years"10 During the construction of a wind farm at Derrybrien, Ireland, in October 2003, there was a bog slide. Here is an extract from the report on this incident:

    The whole rationale for constructing wind farms is that they reduce CO2 outputs by providing energy at a much lower rate of CO2 release than energy produced by fossil fuels. In most parts of the landscape, the CO2 outputs from wind farms are associated only with original construction of the components, and then vehicular emissions linked to development of the wind farm site and subsequent turbine maintenance. Peatlands are the one part of the landscape where wind farm construction results in significant additional and ongoing CO2 release. This is because peatlands represent substantial long-term stores of carbon which is released if they are disturbed . . .

    It is thus difficult to understand the logic of disturbing and releasing such long-term carbon stores in order to install devices whose whole purpose is to reduce carbon emissions. If wind farms are to be built, it is surely sensible to avoid using a habitat which, as a result of the wind farm, will release CO2 into the atmosphere throughout the life of that wind farm. 10

6.  NOISE POLLUTION

The low-frequency noise and vibrations from wind turbines can be very disturbing for some people and have serious health implications

6.1  Low-frequency Noise and Vibration

  Noise of the mechanical gearing system is similar to that of a motorcycle and this can be quietened to a limited extent. But the low-frequency, penetrating sound of the rotating blades is more troublesome. It has been compared to the low thud of base notes from loud music, or the sound of a helicopter at a distance. So far there has been no success in eliminating this noise, which can continue day and night for extended periods. Low-frequency noise, which is sometimes inaudible, is ground borne felt through vibrations that can resonate with the human body; it travels for several miles, much further than audible noise. However, developers do not generally acknowledge that wind turbines do produce low-frequency noise and vibrations, and they assume there will be no noise problems for residents living more than 500 metres away from a wind farm. At a recent wind farm planning hearing in New Zealand, residents living up to three kilometres from a wind farm described how their lives were disturbed by turbine noise and vibrations, sometimes for several days on end. 11 For first-hand reports on the problems of turbine noise see www.windfarm.fsnet.co.uk, the website for a group of residents living near a wind farm in Cumbria.

6.2  People's Reactions to Low-frequency Noise

  A recent study of a 17-turbine wind farm by Fritz Van den Berg, 12 a physicist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, noted that residents living 500 metres and more from the site reacted strongly to the noise; even those living up to 1,900 metres away from the wind farm had expressed annoyance. Van den Berg believes that infrasound may be a significant factor in the audible noise problem because the inaudible frequency modulates the audible sounds, creating periodic sound, which is stronger at night. He notes that this effect is amplified by the interaction of groups of several turbines. Van den Berg also concluded that background noise did not mask the rhythmic thumping noise as the blades pass the tower. Another study into low-frequency noise concluded that ". . . the levels of both ground-borne and air-borne sound which cause disturbance are lower in amplitude than originally thought to be troublesome or to be detectable by people." The report went on to say that because of rising levels of low-frequency sound, " . . . it is not unreasonable to speculate that in future a greater proportion of the population will be troubled." 13

6.3  Developers' Noise Measurement

  In assessing the suitability of a site, wind-energy developers tend to rely on out-dated information and research methods. For example, the developers of the Blaengwen wind farm claim in their Environmental Statement that there will be no noise problems for residents more than 500 metres away from a turbine and that most noise will be masked by background noise. In rural areas where wind farms are being built there is very little ambient background noise, but even if there were, recent research shows that background noise does not mask the noise from wind turbines. The Blaengwen developers used the ETSU-97 "The Assessment and Rating of Noise from Wind Farms" as a basis for assessing the noise implications. This report was published almost 10 years ago and the turbines studied were 450 kW machines. According to many acoustics experts, this is not an accurate benchmark for assessing the noise from modern wind turbines because the turbines studied were much smaller and the report does not take into account more recent research on the subject.

6.4  Health Issues

  For some people living near wind turbines there is no effect, but for others the low-frequency vibrations can be very disturbing, causing recognised health problems such as irregularity, headaches, dizziness and sleep disturbance. Research by Dr Amanda Harry showed that all but one of the 14 people living near the Bears Down wind farm in Cornwall had experienced increased incidents of headaches, and 10 said they had problems sleeping and suffered from anxiety. According to Dr Harry, a local GP in the area, there was a range of reported symptoms from headaches, migraines, nausea, dizziness, palpitations and tinnitus to sleep disorders, stress anxiety and depression. Dr Bridget Osborne, a doctor in Moel Maelogan, north Wales, where three turbines were erected in 2002, has presented a paper to the Royal College of General Practitioners in which she reported a marked increase of depression suffered by local people. Several residents living near the Blaen Bowi wind farm in Carmarthenshire have experienced dizziness and headaches since the arrival of wind turbines near their homes.

7.  LIGHT POLLUTION

Strobe effect and shadow flicker caused by wind turbines and pulsating lights that are sometimes installed on the turbines themselves are sources of light pollution

7.1  Strobe Effect and Shadow Flicker

  The strobe effect when sun is behind the rotating blades can, according to medical opinion, cause dizziness, headaches and trigger seizures. Shadow cker and reflected light from the blades can also cause problems. These light disturbances are experienced inside the home as well as outside. In April 2005, the BBC reported that the owners of a wind turbine near the Whitemoor Prison in Cambridgeshire had agreed to the turbine off in the early mornings to prevent possible "security problems" because the prisoners were becoming upset by the flickering shadows. Homeowners suffering from shadow flicker are not able to strike such a deal with the wind farm operators. For first-hand reports on the problems caused by light disturbances see www.windfarm.fsnet.co.uk, the website for a group of residents living near a wind farm in Cumbria.

7.2  Pulsating Lights on Turbines

  Because of the great height of the new generation of turbines, which are built on high hill tops, there may be need to install flashing red lights to prevent aircraft collisions. There are pulsating lights on turbines in France, for instance. In the case of the Blaengwen wind farm planning application, the developers and planners dismissed the issue of pulsating lights; however, they were unable to guarantee that flashing lights will not be installed when the wind farm is operational. If this happens, local residents will be adversely affected and the landscape will be further degraded with light pollution.

8.  THREAT TO WILDLIFE AND LIVESTOCK

Wind farm construction is a threat to wildlife. Once operational, wind turbines kill birds and bats. Noise and light flicker from turbines can disturb livestock

8.1  Bird Kills

  The construction process, with access roads and links to the grid,wildlife habitats. According to the RSPB, birds may be scared away from their usual locations during construction and/or operation of wind turbines. Access roads and buildings may destroy feeding, breeding and roosting sites. There is considerable evidence from around the world that spinning blades have killed huge numbers of birds. This seems inevitable when one considers that turbine blades weigh in the region of 1.5 tonnes and their tips can travel over 180 mph. At Blaengwen, the 45-metre-long blades of the proposed turbines will sweep within 20 metres of the ground, posing a considerable threat to all birds and bats in the area. According to the RSPB, birds may fly into the towers or the blades, especially during storms and conditions of poor visibility. The turbines at Altamount Pass in California, the largest wind-farm area in the world, have on average killed 200-300 redtail hawks and 40-60 golden eagles each year. At other wind turbine sites in southern California, an estimated 7,000 migrating birds are killed each year. A US expert has launched a lawsuit against the wind farm. The first major study into bird kills, carried out in northern Spain, found that about 6,000 birds and of bats were killed by turbines in one year. 14

8.2  Bat Kills

  Bats kills are also a serious problem. It is suspected that bats are killed from turbine chop and shock death from wake turbulence. Scientists with the Bat and Wind Energy Co-operative studying two wind farms sites in the USA found that the 66 turbines at the two sites killed as many as 2,900 bats during the six-week period of the study. They concluded that this was not a sustainable kill rate. Further research was stopped by the wind farm owners. 15 All bats are protected species under UK and European law.

8.3  Wind Turbines and Livestock

  The noise and light pollution mentioned above may also be harmful to livestock. The British Horse Society has expressed concerns about the effects that low-frequency noise, unexpected start-up and shadow flicker may have on horses. The Brechfa Forest, an area designated by the Welsh Assembly for wind farm development, is a major venue for the GB Endurance, a national long-distance horse-riding club.

9.  JOBS AND TOURISM

Wind farms threaten the local tourist industry and create few, if any, jobs.

9.1  Threat to the Tourist Industry

  Evidence from Europe suggest a 40% drop in tourism in areas where there wind farms. 2002 VisitScotland Survey of visitor attitude showed that tourists avoid landscapes with wind turbines.earns £2 billion a year for Wales. It contributes 7% to the GDP. Agriculture contributes 2%; the electricity industry also contributes 2% typical wind farm employs one maintenance person.

9.2  Effects on the Rural Economy

  The effects of a drop in tourism will be felt most keenly in rural areas. Most tourists come to Wales to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the countryside and to engage in outdoor activities. Wind farms are incompatible with this type of tourism. The result will be fewer visitors to rural areas and, therefore, fewer tourism-related jobs in communities where employment opportunities are already very limited. Our Action Group is aware of three rural business enterprises a game shoot and two sound studios whose continued existence is under threat from proposed wind farms. All these businesses employ local people, and visits from clients from outside the area to these businesses are a benefit to the local economy. The closure of these businesses will be a loss to the local community.

10.  PROPERTY VALUES

Wind farms have been shown to reduce the value of nearby properties

10.1  Legal Ruling on Loss of Value

  There has been a legal ruling on the loss of property value against a couple in the Lake District who sold their house without telling the buyers that a wind farm was likely to be built nearby. The judge, Michael Buckley, upheld the purchasers' claim that their house had been de-valued as a result of the noise pollution, light flicker and damage to visual amenity caused by wind turbines, and he ordered the vendors to pay compensation of 20% of the purchase value of the house.

10.2  Even Proposed Wind Farms De-value Properties

  In May 2005, property-owners in the Brechfa Forest, one of the areas the Welsh Assembly has designated for large-scale wind farm development, had a firm offer of £318,000 on their house. But a week later the prospective came back to them with a much reduced offer of £250,000. The buyer claimed to be doing the sellers a favour by taking the house off their hands for more than the 40% cent loss they could expect if turbines are built nearby. 16 In July 2005, a study of eight properties near a proposed farm estimated that the total loss in value if wind turbines were built nearby would be in excess of £1.5 million, or typically 20-25% on each property. 17

11.  THE ECONOMICS OF WIND POWER

Wind power is one of the most expensive forms of electricity; it survives on direct and indirect subsidies. This extra cost to taxpayers is not good value because wind energy cannot provide firm generating capacity nor can it make a significant contribution in reducing greenhouse gas emissions

11.1  Cost of Wind Power

  According to a report by the Royal Academy of Engineering18 the cost of generating electricity from onshore wind farms is 5.4 pence per kWh with standby generation. The cost of generating electricity from offshore wind farms is 7.2 with standby generation. (The cost of the standby generation capacity was based on the cost of an open-cycle gas turbine, which is the cheapest new plant option.) In comparison, the cost of generating electricity from gas-fired (CCGT) plant is 2.2; from nuclear fission plant, it is 2.3, which includes decommissioning costs. (Decommissioning costs are assumed to be neutral in the calculations for the cost of wind power.)

11.2  The Subsidy System

  Wind-generated electricity is too expensive to be commercially viable without huge subsidies. It has been estimated that wind farms receive about thee times as much in subsidies as they do producing electricity. 19 The Renewable Obligation subsidy system pays for wind power at the point of generation, not delivery. This means that even the wind-generated electricity that is lost in transmission or wasted because it is generated when there is no demand is rewarded with government subsidies. The Committee of Public Accounts Report on Renewable Energy, published in September 2005, concluded that the Renewable Obligation subsidy system gives undue support to wind power at the expense of other renewable technologies.

11.3  Cost to Consumers

  The Committee of Public Accounts Report on Renewable Energy, published in September 2005, estimated that the Renewable Obligation subsidy system will be adding £1 billion a year to electricity prices by 2010. The expansion of distribution and transmission capacity needed to meet the Government's 10% renewables target will add another £1.5 billion to consumer costs.

11.4  High Cost for Poor Results

  This high cost of wind power for taxpayers and consumers is unjustified given the poor performance of wind turbines in providing firm generating capacity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Wind power is not a useful technology in fighting global warming, nor can it make a reasonable contribution in meeting the UK's growing energy demands. We are paying a very high cost for very poor results.

REFERENCES1.  "The Renewable Energy Debate" by Henry Thoresby, Chairman of the London School of Economics Environmental Initiatives Network, appeared originally in the September 2004 edition of Business-Money

2.   Wind Report 2004, E.On Netz: Bayreuth, 2004.

3.  Hugh Sharman, "Why wind power works for Denmark" Civil Engineering 158, May 2005.

4.  Hugh Sharman, "Why UK wind power should not exceed 10 GW" Civil Engineering 158, November 2005.

5.   Blaengwen Wind Farm Environmental Statement, Entrec Ltd, 7 January 2005.

6.   Wind Energy Fact Sheet 14: Energy and Performance, DTI: August 2001, page 4.

7.  David White, BSC, C Eng, FI Chem E "Reduction in Carbon Dioxide Emissions; Estimating the Potential Contribution from Wind-Power" Commissioned and published by the Renewable Energy Foundation, December 2004.

8.  V C Mason, "Wind power in West Denmark: Lessons for the UK", October 2005. See www.countryguardian.net/vmason.htm

9.  "An ill wind  an objection to wind farms in Ireland" by Nigel Barnes. See www.geocities.com/nigbarnes

10.  R A Lindsay and O M Bragg, Wind Farms and Blanket peat: The Bog Slide of 16 October 2003 at Derrybrien, Co Galway, Ireland. University of East London, 2004.

11.  Reported in Dominion Post, 16 November 2005.

12.  G P Van den Berg, "Effects of the wind profile at night on wind turbine sound", Journal of Sound and Vibration, Vol 277, 2004.

13.  D M J P Manley, P Styles and J Scott "Perception of the Public of Low Frequency Noise" Journal of Low Frequency Noise, Vibration and Active Control, Vol 21 No 1 2002.

14.  See www.iberica2000.org

15.  Reported in Charleston Gazette, Charleston WV, 8 June 2005.

16.  Reported in the Carmarthen Journal, May 2005.

17.  Gareth Scourfield, "Report on a sample of properties inspected near a proposed wind farm at Esgairwen Fawr, near Lampeter, Ceredigion" 11 July 2005.

18.   The Cost of Generating Electricity, The Royal Academy of Engineering, March 2004.

19.   The Economist, 18 March 2004.

30 November 2006





 
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