Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Is Wind Energy really the answer?

Windfarms in the East Riding of Yorkshire

If each wind turbine that is currently being planned is given planning permission coupled with those that have already received permission or have already been constructed, the total amount of energy produced will exceed the 2010 ERYC target of 40.7mw by a considerable amount.

A windfarm survey was carried out in those communities surrounding the proposed windfarm at Sixpenny Wood between Gilberdyke and Howden; the response to the survey was very high, which demonstrates the importance of this issue to people.

Over 90% supported the government’s targets to generate 10% of our energy from renewable resources by 2010

64% supported the use of wind energy to help meet these targets

65% opposed the windfarm proposal at Sixpenny Wood

31% supported the proposal

It is clear that the majority of people in those communities surrounding the proposed Sixpenny Wood do not want this windfarm, but expressed a commitment to wind energy as a principle. The Government and ERYC planners must be made aware of this and great care should be taken in the siting of windfarms, the opinion seems to be “site wind turbines where the wind is consistent and where the impact on communities is minimal, with offshore Windfarms being the favoured option”.

There appears to be confusion has to how much renewable energy is to be sourced from wind energy across the East Riding within the next 15 years – the Government has set the East Riding a target of supplying 105,000 or 80% of households by 2021. Is this figure meant to include any potential wave or tidal energy projects? – The tides, as a source of energy is of course the most consistent. If wave and tidal power are to be part of the equation why is neither the Government nor the ERYC pushing these? There is also the question of solar power that many people support; the opinion seems to be that solar panels on roofs of buildings are preferable to large wind turbines

If we look at the reality of wind energy each wind turbine will have to be shadowed by a conventional source of energy generation, in case the wind doesn’t blow! But with tidal power the generation is consistent 365 days a year therefore there is not the same reliance on shadow sources, and looking to the future, perhaps not the need to develop as many new nuclear power stations. If one takes this to the logical conclusion the cost of wind power must include the cost of the shadow generating capacity whereas the cost of tidal power is simply the cost of the installation and running costs. In this context the cost of wind energy becomes expensive even with government subsidies.

There is also confusion over the policy about energy savings. Instead of the East Riding being given a quota to produce 148.2 MW of electricity from renewable means by 2021 - why should there not be incentives to actually save part of that quota? This can be done through encouraging (and financing) energy savings in buildings both new and old, as well as educating people in the simple measures that can save power, such as reducing the amount of appliances left on standby mode and the use of low energy light bulbs.

The ERYC is promoting energy derived from waste such as bio-mass combustion, projects such as that proposed at the Gallymoor site near Holme-on-Spalding-Moor and Saltend are to be applauded, providing that the effects on those neighbouring communities are minimised, and those same communities give their consent.
The East Riding, with its long length of coastline and tidal rivers could, and perhaps should be at the pioneering edge of tidal power development. It must be the role of the ERYC to develop a holistic energy policy, which should include both energy generation and energy conservation as these are inextricably linked. This policy could be innovative and forward looking that may well ultimately have the consent of the masses.

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