Contracts for difference for new onshore wind?

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After the 2015 Conservative manifesto pledge to “end any new public subsidy” for onshore wind farms, developers have been locked out of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) framework*.  New research reveals however that ministers could allow onshore wind bid on new contracts without contradicting its previous pledge to end all new subsidies.

The report** produced by industry experts Baringa Partners, commissioned by industry body Scottish Renewables, states that by allowing developers to bid in the first round of the auction, the industry could deliver an extra 1GW of capacity in the UK at the hugely competitive price of £49.40 per MWh. This is around half of the strike price agreed by the UK Government for Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, after being adjusted for inflation.

Since the 2015 subsidy ending announcement there has been a marked slowdown in the rate of development. Neil Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables said:

“Some companies are continuing to look at projects, but it is very difficult to see them going ahead without some sort of intervention,”

“If you want to deliver onshore wind capacity at a scale, which will make a meaningful contribution to the UK’s work to meet climate change targets and secondly keep bills down for consumers then you will need a CfD framework.”

Bidding on the first round of the CfD auction would not represent a subsidy as more money would return to the consumer over the last two thirds of the contract than the limited top up in the first third as the wholesale price of electricity increases. This would represent an overall saving for consumers.

The report also highlights the incredible reductions in the costs of renewables, particularly onshore wind, around the world. The decreasing price of turbines and auction mechanisms to ensure competition have seen the price tumble worldwide. The government can still now plan an important role in offering a low-risk route to market for subsidy free onshore wind.

The report that allows the UK Government to provide subsidy free support to onshore wind comes after a Conservative thinktank Bright Blue published a new survey*** claiming that the majority of Tory voters actually support on shore wind.

*The CfD mechanism is in place to stabilise revenue and cost for developers, thereby lowering the cost of capital and in turn minimises the cost of energy.

** https://www.scottishrenewables.com/publications/baringa-sr-analysis-potential-outcome-pot-1-cfd-/

*** http://www.brightblue.org.uk/images/Green%20conservatives%20polling%20report%20Final.pdf

SSE plans Doraville Wind Farm facelift

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SSE is to reduce turbine numbers and redesign the layout at its proposed up to 115MW Doraville wind farm in Northern Ireland.

The utility-developer is to file the new plans with Belfast’s Department for Infrastructure in response to a request for further planning information for the Tyrone project.  A reduction in turbine numbers from 36 to 33 is being envisaged, as is a new hardware layout plan.  SSE is to kick-off a further round of public consultation on the changes.

It first unveiled the project – that is yet to secure planning approval – in 2014.   SSE community liaison officer Vicky Boden said the company has made the “important revisions” after “listening to suggestions and concerns” raised during planning. “We believe this new design responds to those concerns, providing the maximum environmental protection balanced with delivering the best proposal that can go forward to help all of us meet the challenge of climate change,” she added.

Scottish firms exporting renewables expertise worldwide

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Research by Glasgow based industry body Scottish Renewables has found firms from across Scotland are working in countries as diverse as China, Russia, Taiwan and Cape Verde and are now active on every continent bar Antarctica.

Across the Northern Periphery and Arctic area Scottish companies have been active in the Faroe Islands, Finland, Norway, Sweden as well as other northern countries including Canada and Russia. Firms have been involved in projects totalling £125.3 million across 43 countries.

Businesses have included Orkney based consultancy Aquatera which has been involved in creating marine energy projects across the United States, Chile, Japan, Columbia, Peru and Indonesia.  An Ayrshire based crane company, Windhoist, has installed more than 4,800 wind turbines across the globe whilst Glasgow’s Star Renewable Energy has installed a heat pump in Drammen, Norway, which now provides warmth for the city’s 63,000 residents.   Jenny Hogan of Scottish Renewables has said “This research clearly shows that Scotland’s expertise in renewable energy is in demand around the world.”

“The stretching targets set in Scotland have meant our home-grown green energy industry has developed skills which are in demand on every inhabited continent, bringing investment and income to Scotland from across the world.”

The Scottish Government has welcomed the figures as evidence of low carbon industries to the Scottish economy.  Business, innovation and energy minister Paul Wheelhouse added: “Low-carbon industries and their supply chains generated almost £11 billion in 2014 and supported 43,500 jobs, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics published recently. “Together with this new research from Scottish Renewables, the figures reinforce the growing importance of the low-carbon industries, including renewable energy businesses, to the Scottish economy and vindicates the Scottish Government’s support for the sector and the increasingly crucial role it plays within our energy mix and the wider economy.”

CGN Europe Energy buys 14 windfarms in Northern Ireland and Ireland from Gaelectric

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Gaelectric Holdings has confirmed the sale of wind farms totalling 230MW in Ireland and Northern Ireland to CGN Europe Energy, the renewable energy arm of China General Nuclear Power Group. The deal comprises 10 operating projects with a total capacity of 184MW, and a further four wind farms totalling 46MW that will be operational by mid-2017.

Seven of the wind farms are in Northern Ireland and seven in the Republic of Ireland, Gaelectric said. The company added that it will continue to provide asset management and power offtake services to CGN Europe Energy following the sale.

Gaelectric Holdings chief executive Barry Gavin said: “This agreement allows us to support the group’s balance sheet, paying down debt and creating the foundations for our other operational and development interests in the renewable energy sector.”

First micro-scale community wind power project in North Karelia

Jakokoski community established a 20 kW wind power plant in October 2016 as a LEADER co-financed project to provide power for the observatory and a community building.

Jakokoski community initiated a community wind power in their community development plan in 2009. The planning included a detailed engineering thesis work of a person living in a community. Project was identified feasible, and implemented with LEADER co-financing. The total budget for the investment project was 74 500 €’s with 50% co-financing, and a loan from the municipality.

The location of the 19 meters high power plant is optimal, as it is at the top of the hill Terttulanvaara – a popular of its observatory and public star shows.

The generator power is 20kW, estimated production (with average 5 m/s wind) is 19 625 kWh. Estonian TUGE Energia headquartered in Tallinn manufactures the wind power turbine. It manufactures and supplies small wind turbines with capacity of 10 and 20 kW.  A regional power company provides additional electricity and purchases the excess power.

The technology is innovative, as the metering of the wind power and direction is based on ultrasound, and rotor turns automatically in optimal direction. Turbine can also be monitored and partly controlled online, and hydraulic lifting enables service and maintenance operations.

 

 

Scotland Loves Onshore Wind

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Four out of five people in Scotland support onshore wind according to a new poll. The poll for ComRes found 73% of people in the UK support the sector as a whole with this number increasing to 80% for Scotland. The poll was commissioned by climate charity 10:10 for the launch of their Blown Away campaign.

The results are interesting as Scotland, with the highest support for onshore wind in the UK also has the highest concentration of onshore wind in the UK.

The poll also found that people in the UK underestimate support for onshore wind. Only 11% of people think that 71% or more people in the UK support it.

Although support for onshore wind development is more popular amongst city dwellers, higher support in rural areas was recorded than previously thought.

Max Wakefield from the climate charity 10:10 was reported as saying “The UK public love wind power and they don’t even realise. It’s plainly not true onshore wind is unpopular with the UK public. It’s time our politicians caught up. Onshore wind is already the cheapest tool we have to achieve energy independence, keep bills under control and tackle climate change.””

The poll also found that Scotland has 85% support for offshore wind farms and 83% support for solar farms whilst only 33% for fracking wells for natural gas.

The polling comes after the Conservative governments victory in 2015, with 37% of the vote, has all but ended windfarm developments through subsidy cuts, as their manifesto pledged to do.

Things that go BUMP in the Night

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Signs in a number of local towns and villages have warned of parking restrictions applicable through the night over the last 8 weeks, with warnings of dire consequences should they be ignored.  This all led to a heightened sense of anticipation of what was about to be moving through our region during the wee small hours.

Residents in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area have seen a number of very large vehicles transiting through the area over the last number of weeks.  These large transporters have been delivering large sections of wind turbines to a site at the Ora More windfarm in Boho.  Travelling at night in order to minimise disruption to local traffic and residents, these vehicles have become something of a local attraction in their own right, with many postings on social media from people fascinated by the logistics and challenges of making these plans come to fruition.

One local photographer has captured a number of still and moving images of this nocturnal activity which have attracted significant levels of interest with local people.

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When fully functioning, this wind farm will produce sufficient electricity to supply somewhere in the region of 13,000 homes.  In the context of our region, this is not an insignificant contribution to the local offering in terms of Renewable Energy.  This development has at least put Renewable Energy activity on the agenda for discussion in the region……………and that can only be a good thing.

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Photographs Courtesy of Mr Roy Crawford, Enniskillen