“Wind energy is not controversial apart from its effects on wealthy land owners”
A claveton responded:
“I’m not sure in what respect it’s not controversial. It’s not ‘the’ answer to anything, except as very much a small part of something. The on-shore wind companies are now having to diversify because, they say, all the possible wind sites are taken. It’s true that not all those wind sites are built, it’s true that a huge number are in Scotland and it’s probable that a lot more will be built. But ‘a lot more’ won’t get us to 2010 targets, let alone 2020 targets (and even HMG recognised that – which is why offshore wind was given such hefty incentives and why industry now feels that the on-shore incentives lack sparkle). The issue is, isn’t it, what’s going to get us there, given that on-shore (or off-shore) wind isn’t.
(I note the optimism that we still have the engineering capacities we had in WW2 – and that we could “in a matter of years” build factories. We don’t have that time. Who would do it? And why haven’t they done so already?)”
2009/9/17 Andrew Smith <email@example.com>
A Claverton wrote:
> I’m not sure in what respect it’s not controversial. It’s not ‘the’
> answer to anything, except as very much a small part of something.
> The on-shore wind companies are now having to diversify because, they
> say, all the possible wind sites are taken.
Please can you provide a link to where they say that?
It’s going to come as quite a surprise to a lot of onshore wind
companies, given that new planning applications are getting submitted
all the time (1.8GWp submitted this year already –
http://www.bwea.com/statistics/year.asp – we currently have 3.2GWp
operating onshore, so that’s a pretty big potential increase).
We really have only just begun to explore the absolutely immense
potential of our onshore wind resource. Back in 1999, ETSU found an
accessible onshore resource of 317TWh/year, equivalent to 36GWe mean
power (“New and Renewable Energy: Prospects in the UK for the 21st
Century: Supporting Analysis” ETSU 1999). That would need, what, at
least 140GWp of onshore wind installed, to deliver 36GWe? That
calculation did assume no building in AONBs, National Parks, SSIs or
green-belt; assumed a hub height of 45m; and no building where mean wind
speeds at 45m AGL were below 7m/s; plus the usual buffers around woods,
airports, homes; and avoiding slopes over 10 degrees. So pretty
So that’s only about one-third of the potential resource. “A review of
the UK onshore wind energy resource”, Fiona Brocklehurst, ETSU-R-99,
estimated the *total technical potential* as exceeding 1000TWh/year
(114GWe mean power), quoted in The UK Wind Energy Resource, Wind Energy
Factsheet 8, DTI 2001 http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file17789.pdf (I only
have the latter, but would appreciate it if anyone has an electronic
copy of the former that they could let me see).
> I note the optimism that we still have the engineering capacities we
> had in WWII – and that we could “in a matter of years” build> factories. We don’t have that time.
To tackle climate change promptly, we need to be buying several GW per
year of turbines, every year. Which means that we comfortably have time
to build a native turbine industry: new plant can be set up in two to
> Who would do it?
Any of the existing turbine producers, new entrants to the market, or
even the public sector. Given that most of the risk is regulatory (see
below), then there’s a solid case for saying that the public sector is
the correct place for that risk to reside.
> And why haven’t they done so already?
Manufacturers and investors have been (correctly, as it turns out)
unconvinced that successive UK governments would commit to a long-term
policy to deliver renewables to the extent that they put a regulatory
and financial environment in place that would enable that delivery.
Such commitments are made in Germany, Denmark, Japan, and Spain, and
consequently they all have world-class renewable companies.
> But ‘a lot more’ won’t get us to 2010 targets, let alone 2020 targets
Well, there’s a thing we can test with the numbers. The 2010 target was
for 10% of electricity demand met by renewables, wasn’t it? Demand is
pretty flat, maybe even in decline at the moment. Let’s take a
forecast of 2010 as unchanged from 2008.
Net 2008 final consumption was 342TWh (DUKES 2009 table 5.1), of which
22TWh was from renewables (DUKES 2009 table 7.4). For the 2010 target,
we’d be looking for 34.2TWh from renewables, or an additional 12.2TWh
There’s been 648MW of onshore wind built so far this year. There’s
2059MW under construction, of which 1182MW is offshore, leaving 877MW
onshore. There’s a further 6,893MW consented, of which it looks to me
like 3,707MW is offshore, leaving 3,193MW onshore. (BWEA statistics,
Together, that looks to me like an additional 648+877+3193=4718MWp
capacity. Taking a capacity factor of 27%, that’s 11.1TWh.
So if we built all the onshore that’s already consented, we’d need just
a smidgeon more (1.1TWh) from new biomass plants, or windfarms planned
but not yet consented, which seems within reason – there’s at least an
additional 1GWp of onshore wind awaiting a decision..
Now, it won’t happen by 2010. Even though the credit crunch has created
spare capacity in the world, so the UK could scoop up all of the spare
output, the political will and finance isn’t there. The government could
fix both of those. I fear that neither this government nor the next has
the nous to deliver this, though.
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