I’m looking for a conversation, not a fight! I really am baffled by the kind of planning objections we have to deal with in the small/medium wind sector. There are hundreds of
turbines in the 5kw to 20kw range stuck in planning appeals in the UK. Here is a typical one we are facing in Lancashire ( http://www.lep.co.uk/news/environment/wind-plans-for-farm-1-5532409 ). I can understand, to an extent, objections about large-scale wind turbines in large numbers, but these are not ‘monsters’ we’re talking about they are typically on a 15-20 meter tower, as seen here. Most applications are for single turbines on rural land, usually farm land. So why object?
A lot of the rants in the Daily Mail, Telegraph and other anti-renewables press centre around either the inefficiency of wind or its perceived unreliability, or the level of subsidy for turbines. Well, these are arguments easily rebuffed really. Sellafield was just last week shut down due to bad weather! Centralised power stations are tremendously inefficient, with significant losses and inefficiencies in both energy production, and in transmission across the creaking national grid. As is shown in the Sankey diagram below, only about one-third of energy put into a fossil fuel power station arrives as electricity to end users.
So what about efficiency? When you are paying for fuel to go into a power station to get 30% useful output, that is inefficient. But wind is free (and renewable), so if the wind doesn’t blow for a couple of days and the turbine doesn’t spin, is that inefficient? What has been wasted? What has been the cost?
But here is the rub, there is a big difference between utility-scale wind farms, and the small-scale microgeneration turbines that we install. There is little similarity between the two (and I can argue in favour of both). Microgeneration turbines provide power to be used on site. To contribute to the electrical use on a farm or large house typically. Reducing load required from the grid, giving the owner cheaper power, a sense of doing the right thing, and yes, an income. That’s the other thing, subsidy. Yes, there is a ‘feed in tariff’ or subsidy to encourage uptake of the technology, but really, subsidy for renewables as a whole pales into insignificance compared to subsidy for fossil fuels, let alone nuclear. Just this week the IMF reported a $1.9 trillion (yes TRILLION) level of subsidy for fossil fuels globally.
I know this post is somewhat disjointed, but that reflects my frustration I guess. Whenever we put in a wind turbine application, all and every objection seems to be thrown at it. There is no willingness to see the difference between a wind farm of dozens of 150 metre turbines, and a single 15m turbine, in the middle of a farm, to help a hard pressed farmer make his business more sustainable.
So please, engage, no abuse, but I’d really welcome your thoughts about this, for or against.