The wind energy debate represents a new kind of environmental controversy which divides environmentalists of different persuasions who attach
contrasting priority to global and local concerns. Case
studies of public attitudes towards existing and proposed windfarm developments in Scotland and Ireland are used to test three counter-intuitive hypotheses
derived from previous attitudinal research.
Editor's Note: This study was conducted in collaboration with the Macaulay Institute, Aberdeen. The Institute's commercial arm, Macaulay Enterprises, acts as a consultant for the renewables industry, and is linked to the Scottish Renewables Forum and the British Wind Energy Association.
The pro-wind pre-disposition of the authors is evident and should not be ignored when evaluating survey results. Survey respondents generally expressed support of wind energy based on the belief that it was a solution for global warming. Given wind energy's limited effectiveness in reducing greenhouse gases based on today’s studies, we question how survey participants might respond if contacted again. The report also comments that communities selected had no organized opposition to the wind facilities. Today, throughout England, Wales and Scotland, organized opposition is the norm, not the exception.
This response to the Dti’s consultation has been prepared by Hugh Sharman of Incoteco
(Denmark) ApS, and The Renewable Energy Foundation, working in collaboration.
Hugh Sharman is an energy consultant, based in Denmark. Most of Incoteco’s work is done for
and with large energy companies seeking innovative environmental solutions to practical
problems. An example is its leading role in the formulation and development of the “CO2 for EOR
in the North Sea” (CENS) project during 2001. During 2004, Incoteco (Denmark) ApS completed a
wind-energy related study for the Danish Energy Agency that was also supported by a number of
important Scandinavian energy companies. Its purpose was to find more effective uses for the
large wind power surplus that is generated in West Denmark.
The Renewable Energy Foundation is a newly created foundation which has arisen from
widespread and growing public concern that the current renewables energy policy is in itself
unbalanced, and causing subsequent imbalances in the rest of the energy sector. REF
encourages the development of renewable energy and energy conservation whilst safeguarding
the landscapes of the United Kingdom from unsustainable industrialisation. In pursuit of this goal,
REF highlights the need for an overall energy policy that is balanced, ecologically sensitive and
It is broadly accepted that wind turbines do not emit CO2 at the point of generation. However, in common with all types of power station, it is emitted during their construction and, through damage directly inflicted on the construction site, over a much longer period. The total debt will vary from site to site but will comprise some or all of the following;
• Emissions arising from fabrication (steel smelting, forging of turbine columns, the manufacture of blades and the electrical and mechanical components);
• Emissions arising from construction (transportation of components, quarrying, building foundations, access tracks and hard standings, commissioning);
• The indirect loss of CO2 uptake (fixation) by plants originally on the surface of the site but obliterated by construction activity including the destruction of active bog plants on wet sites and deforestation;
• Emissions due to the indirect, long-term liberation of CO2 from carbon stored in peat due to drying and oxidation processes caused by construction of the site.
It is important to recognise that peat is a major store of carbon accumulated from dead plant remains over many millennia. It is held in perpetuity because the bog’s wetness and acid conditions prevent the access of oxygen and inhibit the growth of bacteria which would otherwise rot the vegetation. Draining peat for construction reverses both these long-term processes: the soil is exposed to the air, the carbon is converted to CO2 and released slowly to the atmosphere.
Several papers from the wind industry in Denmark and the UK have addressed the first two points with estimates of payback time ranging from about six to 30 months.
However, the industry rarely, if ever, considers the last two. This is a fundamental omission as their contribution to the overall CO2 debt, in particular the last, can be far greater than all the others put together. This paper outlines a procedure for quantifying it.
The guide has been prepared to enable anyone with access to the Environmental Statement (ES) that forms part of a Planning Application (PA) for a wind farm to estimate its CO2 debt. (If some of the requisite information proves to be unavailable, this ought to provide grounds for postponing consideration of the application and the commissioning of further assessment.)
The results of the calculations described should be submitted to planning authorities or Public Inquiries as part of the arguments used in assessing the merits and demerits of an application.
Stuart Young Consulting, with support from the John Muir Trust, has released a report studying the ability of wind power to make a significant contribution to the UK's energy supply. It concludes that the average power output of wind turbines across Scotland is well below the rates often claimed by industry and government. The executive summary of the report is provided below. The full report can be accessed by clicking on the link(s) at the bottom of this page.
The values in Table 2 are based on total availability and reflect the time that the
turbines are available to operate. Hence, no allowance is made for the effects of grid
outages or ‘weather days’ which could prevent access to turbines for repairs. The
planned availability was exceeded for only one month and the availability across the
site was below expectation especially during the autumn period. This was due almost
entirely to problems with bearings in the gearbox as will be discussed in Operational
Built in 2003, North Hoyle is the UK's first major offshore wind plant.....
A7 Energy's appeal against the Easington District Council for refusing to grant planning permission with respect to a wind plant consisting of 2 x 2.3MW turbines was dismissed by D. L. Burrows, an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The principal reason for dismissal was adverse impact the turbines would have on the activities of Shotten airfield.
The Service favors:
--conservation of wildlife in the public
--development of renewable energy
that is bird and bat friendly; and
--use of informed decisions based on
adequate environmental assessment and sound science.
The following submission first discusses BWEA’s position on the headline issues before
turning to detailed responses to the five questions and four issues on which Government
sought views. We are also including four appendices, which address the development of
onshore wind, offshore wind and marine renewables, as well as the combined contribution
that these technologies plus wind microgeneration can make to our power supplies in 2020.
We believe that the evidence we are presenting makes a strong case for setting a firm
target of 20% of our electricity from renewable generators in 2020. If this is done it will
show that the UK Government is serious in setting this country on a course towards its longterm
carbon reduction goals as well as increasing the security of our energy supplies.