Monday, January 26, 2009

More on Wind Farms

Celtpower, a private sector energy company, want to knock down the 103 wind turbines at the Llandinam Wind Farm in Montgomeryshire, and replace them with about 40 much bigger turbines. The electricity produced will increase from around 30 megawatts to between 90-126 megawatts. In order to transport this extra power to the National Grid, Celtpower has agreed a deal with Scottish Power which involves a new 12 mile, 132 kv cable from Llandinam to Welshpool - passing close to the village of Kerry. Unsurprisingly, the people who live near Kerry, whose properties lie close to the proposed new line, do not like it - do not like it one bit. Earlier tonight, I joined a meeting between representatives of Celtpower and some of the local objectors.

The issue is too complex to explain in a single post, but it boils down to a matter of timing. Celtpower has submitted a planning application for the new turbines, has asked Scottish Power to provide it with a connection to the National Grid (which it is obliged to do) and wants to get on with it - because it makes business sense. So we have this new 132 kv cable. Now if we could persuade Celtpower to wait about 5 years, it would probably connect to a new National Grid 'hub' near the village of Carno instead - and there would be no line going anywhere near Kerry. This is because National Grid in going to build a new (grotesquely hideous landscape-destroying) 400 kv cable from somewhere in Shropshire, up through one of Montgomeryshire's beautiful valleys to somewhere in the Carno area. Most of the other proposed wind farms that are going to despoil the landscapes of Montgomeryshire are going to have to await the new 400 kv cable (probably 2016) - but not Celtpower. The company does not want to wait. Personally, I do not blame it, or any of the landowners who accept the payments available. I blame the Assembly Government for creating what is a totally shambolic position. In 2004, it adopted a policy which encourages wind farms to be built in an area, even though there is no means of transferring the power to the Grid - epically stupid, even by Assembly Government standards. Its only now this shambles is being addressed. Kerry is one of the villages expected to pay the price.

In passing, another interesting point that I appreciated only tonight. Its obvious if you think about it. When the existing 103 turbines at Llandinam are removed, the huge blocks of concrete on which they stand will remain in place, and lots of huge new holes are going to be excavated and filled with hundreds on tons of new concrete to serve as bases for the new turbines (and these blocks are going to be the size of sports grounds). The old bases are not good enough. That's as much mental anguish as I can take for one night. For those of us who love the landscapes and countryside of Montgomeryshire, its all just too depressing.


jrb said...

Why not make it a planning condition that the concrete in the old bases are re-cycled by being excavated, crushed and used as aggregate for the concrete to be poured in the new bases. This would considerably reduce the need for new aggregate, and the number of lorry movements delivering materials to the site.

alfsplace1986 said...

Your in passing
I pointed this out in a letter to our local weekly newspaper the Neath Guardian over a year ago.
They are digging up the mountains above the Neath, Dulais and Glyncorrwg Valleys for the turbines and replacing the ever decreasing peat with concrete. This is without them having to also build the roads, which have to be the size of one side of a motorway to facilitate the low loaders bringing them in.
The peat is a natural soak way for the rain water, if it is replaced with concrete what happens to that water. There is only one way for it to go and that is straight down into the valleys where it is inevetably going to cause more flooding, because the drainage system won't be able to cope with it.
Short term gain for someone, long term headache for many others.

Anonymous said...

I did a post on windfarms on my blog a few weeks ago, as there is a big debate going on about the off-shore windfarm being planned off Llandudno.

Whilst I am all in favour of "green energy", I must admit I have had a change of heart recently.

Over Christmas and into the new year we had the longest "cold snap" that we've had for a long time. During this period a high pressure area was sat on top of us, meaning no breeze most days, let alone wind.

So during a very cold spell of weather wind turbines would hardly have moved so where would our power come from if we were reliant on wind power?

frankie said...

So much for the supporters of windfarms, when they claim that the turbines will be removed after 25 years!! How many times have you heard that claim? No, of course they won't be removed, they will be replaced, as in Llandinam, by even bigger turbines - and more of them.

My heart bleeds for the loss of our glorious countryside.

Glyn Davies said...

jrb - sounds like a good idea, but I don't know if its practcal. I'll ask.

alfspace - Agreed. The point I'd not appreciated is that when turbines are renewed, (in this case because design has improveed efficiency) new bases are constucted, multiplying the problem.

dalesman - the power would come from a reserve capacity, which would be running on less than full capacity when the wind is blowing. I too am keen on renewable energy, and for many years saw in as an alternative to nuclear, which I disliked. But now its all too late. Government has failed us, through its procrastination and fear of tackling difficult issues - and allowed threats to our energy supply to develop

frankie - In Llandinam the proposal (I'm not absolutely certain about the numbers) is to remove the 103 0.6 megawatt existing turbines and to replace with about 40 turbines between 2.3 and 3.0 megawatts. The exact size is not known yet, which is why the output is given as a range.

Anonymous said...

i vote for a new nuclear reactor at carno, jobs and empliyment and energy for mid wales.....and yes we'll need cables still, but i'll have a better chance of living in my home area, curretly no jobs at all. Glyn, please, please start working on rural depopulation and the destruction of raditional mid wales communities.

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - There are many people in the Trawsfynydd area who comment as you do. I share your despair about the Mid Wales economy. For those of us born in Mid Wales who never want to live anywhere else, the way government has just walked away from the area in recent years is deeply depressing.