Sunday, June 05, 2016

England not windy enough for onshore turbines!

Made no public comment about onshore wind for a while. Nothing much is happening. DECC Ministers are still re-deciding two wind farms in West Montgomeryshire. Hope it takes a good while yet. Only live issue is the disgraceful refusal by National Grid to tell me what the 'commit to connect' 'trigger point' is for the Mid Wales Connection Scheme to go ahead. Not taking this disgraceful refusal lying down though. I'll have my chance to raise the issue with the CEO at OFGEM at some stage. National Grid pretends to be "open and transparent" - Secretive and bullying more like. But that's not what this blog pist is about.

It's about the extensive coverage in today's Telegraph about comments from the new CEO of RenewablesUK, Hugh McNeal.  He seems to be accepting there will be no new onshore wind developments in England. It seems England is not windy enough. Not sure where this leaves Wales though. I suspect he is thinking more about Scotland when he thinks 'windy '. Mr McNeal is accepting there will no subsidy for onshore wind, and admits that without subsidy, onshore wind is hopelessly uneconomic.

But I know these wind farm developers too well. They are like Dobies Itch. You can't get rid. Once they have a taste for the landscape destroying, subsidy gravy train, they'll never go away. Seems the plan now is to seek a 'subsidy' but not call it a subsidy - if it's less that the support Govt has to give to get gas power stations up and running. Sounds like a real 'con' to me. I'd be surprised (and noisily disappointed) if DECC or the Treasury fell for that one.

As always there are several factors missing from the case being made by the onshore wind developers. Firstly the costs of associated infrastructure. In the horrific Mid Wales Connection Project (still on hold and a Sword of Damocles suspended over the heads of much of Shropshire and Montgomeryshire) the project will cost over half a million - even with only the limited undergrounding currently proposed. Secondly, there is never any reference to impact on landscape. As far as wind farm developers and their enthusiasts are concerned, our landscapes have no value worth mentioning. Thirdly there is the usual trick of talking about 'capacity' to produce power when the wind is blowing, not what actual power is likely to be produced (about 20% of capacity) . And fourthly there's no cost allowance for the back up needed to give security of supply when the wind is not blowing.

Only part of Emily Gosden's reporting that made me snort derisively was Mr McNeal's quote about "if plants can be built in places where people don't object to them....." The reality is that wind farm developers don't give a damn about what people think. In Montgomeryshire, the Local Planning Authority turned all the applications down, and the developers all appealed and turned up at the conjoined public inquiry with an army of barristers. Royal Oak in Welshpool was more like the Supreme Court for 9 mths. And now, in Wales, Councillors are so concerned about costs that local democracy is destroyed and wind farms that Councillors want to refuse are being approved. So much for respect for what local people think. That's better. Got a few things off my chest!!

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