Eye of the storm

As storms battered the UK this week our wind turbine on the Orkney island of Westray was captured in this dramatic photo. We recorded sustained winds of over 76 mph with gusts of up to 100 mph causing widespread power cuts throughout the islands. Thankfully the problems were soon resolved and the turbine is up and running again.

Photo courtesy of Steven Bain.

Ironically the storm, which caused widespread flooding down the eastern coast, came in the same week the Government announced major cuts in support for solar and wind renewables together with tax breaks for fracking and a clear signal that the second “dash for gas” is well underway.

Rogershill blasts past 1GWh in 1st year

Our wind turbine at Rogershill Farm in Dorset is now one year old!

Despite a relatively wind-free summer DG002 has produced over 1,000,000 kWh of clean energy which amounts to a CO2 saving of 430,000 kg and met the annual electricity demands of 250 average households.

In June we made our first donation to Bere Regis Parish Council with 3% of all future gross income promised to community rewards.

In other news, our newest turbine (DG003) in Westray is now fully commissioned and operational. DG004 in Wanstrow (Somerset) is now under construction with foundation concrete being poured within days and DG005 in Tomarton (South Glos) scheduled for construction Spring 2014. Our first turbine in Faccombe (Hampshire) is approaching its second birthday and continues to run well.

USA wind cut CO2 by 80 million tonnes in 2012

A report by the American Wind Energy Association has shown that in 2012 wind farms across the USA reached a capacity of 60GW (60,000MW) generating approximately 140 TWh (140 million MWh) resulting in a lowering of CO2 emissions by 79.9 million metric tonnes.

An equivalent saving to taking over 14 million cars off the road.

By the end of 2013 new projects are expected to increase the total to 98.9 million tonnes of CO2 which can be offset against annual US emissions of around 5.4 billion tonnes of CO2 per year.

Conversely, here in the UK the latest FITs status report from OFGEM shows that installations of all renewable technologies including wind has shrunk to its lowest level since 2011 as subsidies and planning policy put in place by the last government are slowly eroded by the Conservatives.

DG004 components arrive in Somerset

Despite the best efforts of the weather, deliveries of turbine components to our Wanstrow site started this week…

Talbot Farm gets go-ahead

After some considerable amount of time in the appeal process the Inspectorate has finally allowed our appeal for a mid-size wind turbine at Talbot Farm overlooking the M4.

The application was refused permission by South Gloucestershire District Council in 2012 who cited unacceptable impacts on landscape and nearby heritage assets. The Inspector disagreed ruling that impacts were “less than substantial” and fully reversible.

The full appeal decision can be downloaded here.

“Unprecedented extremes” in climate

World Meteorological Organisation reports “Unprecedented extremes” in climate

Grim reading indeed.

First community payout from Rogershill

Way back in 2010 we presented details of our Rogershill Farm wind turbine to the both the Parish Council and general community of Bere Regis. At the time we made a public commitment to make generous community reward payments to the council for re-investment back into local good causes – not just once, but every year for the life of the wind turbine.

The Rogershill wind turbine received planning permission in late 2011 and was finally commissioned in November 2012.

We are now delighted to come good on our promise and make the first donation to the Parish Council for the sum of…..

… covering the first 4 months of operations. We understand that the donation will be initially be used towards a “kick wall” and outdoor gym for local children! We hope this is just the start of a series of new projects that our funding will make possible.

Last week, in conjunction with announcements regarding new planning guidance from DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government), DECC announced that wind farms should increase the level of annual community rewards fivefold – from £1000 to £5000 per megawatt (MW). Based on current forecasts we expect the 500kW Rogershill turbine to return an equivalent of over £10,000 per MW per year!

Green Cornwall Show 2013

We will be attending the Green Cornwall Show on June 27th – 28th on stand 49 in the Robertson Trading Zone.

For more information on the show itself please visit the Heartlands website.


Sad day for CO2 targets

Yesterday’s failure in the House of Commons to secure legal targets for de-carbonisation are a blow to environmentalists and would-be investors in green tech alike.

Tory MP Tim Yeo had tabled an amendment (to the new Energy Bill) requiring hard targets for CO2 reduction measures be decided by 2014 that proved unpopular with the Treasury, preferring as they do to back shale (aka fracking) and convetional gas as a “quick fix” and to defer any decisions until after 2016. No surprise there as No. 10’s new energy adviser turns out to be an ex-gas company lobbyist!

The amendment was largely supported by green and wildlife groups, the renewables industry, Labour, SNP and the Green Party but was narrowly voted down by just 23 votes because, tweeted Labour leader Ed Milliband:

“Only about 15 Lib Dems backed their own policy of decarbonising the economy by 2030 in Commons vote. Huge missed opportunity”

Last month, government adviser the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) suggested that the carbon intensity of power generation be reduced to an average 50 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilowatt hour by 2030 from the current 500 gCO2/kWh.

The CCC said this would limit new gas-fired power plants after 2020, unless they are fitted with the as yet commercially unproven carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology or else as back-up for intermittent renewables.

Friends of the Earth head campaigner Andrew Pendleton commented:

“Investors say that they need certainty so they can make long-term investments in clean British energy. Without it we risk losing business overseas to countries that have made a clear commitment to developing a low-carbon future.”

..and as if to echo this exact sentiment a new report shows investment in green energy has fallen to a seven year low.

Renewables set to save UK £45bn

Yes, you read that correctly… A report published by the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and presented to Government ministers estimates a saving of £45bn if the UK electricity supply moves away from fossil fuels to nuclear and renewables. Put another way this represents a saving of £1600 for every UK household.

This of course is quite contrary to the propaganda spread by climate change deniers and ‘big oil’  lobbyists that opting for the renewables route will  cost everyone an arm-and-a-leg.

The report indicates that between 2010 and 2020 the switch to low carbon forms of energy would add around £100 per year to annual fuel bills. Of course that’s not to say the cost of fossil fuels will not also be increasing and the overall increases in energy costs must not be blames purely on renewables. UK gas prices are expected to jump significantly next year as long term supply contracts for LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) from Qatar are due to be renegotiated in light of increased demand from Europe and Japan following the Fukushima incident.

As noted by energy minister Ed Davey this week

“The real reason for high energy bills is high global gas prices. I can’t control global gas prices but I can put a cushion between the high global gas price that people face and the bills consumers pay,”

So if anything the report probably underestimates the long term prices for oil and gas. The CCC’s £45bn estimate represents the value of savings in today’s money that British households would collectively make between 2020 and 2050. It is based on expected changes in the price of gas and the penalties big companies will face for their carbon emissions and could potentially rise as high £100bn – or more than £3,000 per household – if those figures have been substantially underestimated.

The report will likely increase tensions between George Osborne’s dash-for-gas Treasury and the Department of Energy and Climate Change secretary Ed Davey. Davey insists a decarbonisation target should be included in the Energy Bill and to apply from next year, while Osborne is pushing to defer a decision on whether to introduce a decarbonisation target until 2016.

To provide some balance it is good to note that at least some Conservative MPs support the CCC report such as Tim Yeo:

“There has clearly been quite a big attempt to portray decarbonisation as a huge burden to the consumer. But this report provides a robust rebuttal to that argument on anything but a short-term basis.”