# Wind turbines: intrusive, expensive fig leaves

I must express my feelings about the letters about the proposed wind farms that appeared in the Gazette of January 19, and some of the inaccuracies and misconceptions contained in them.

Phil Russell, the artist, in defending his work, says that “Middlemoor, at 18 turbines, each producing 3MW gives 54MW” and he makes the same calculation for the Wandylaw proposal’s 10 turbines.

Unfortunately, Mr Russell is making the same mistake made by many people in not recognising the difference between installed capacity and output. The installed capacity of 18 turbines at 3MW is indeed 54MW, but this is NOT their output.

A factor known as intermittency means that output is only 30 per cent of installed capacity (wind industry figure) or 26 per cent (DTI official figure), hence the output of these turbines is not 54MW, but a tiny 16MW. So in effect, they produce power for only two days out of every seven. On the other days, either with too low a windspeed or if it is too windy, their output must be replaced by conventional power stations.

This brings me to Bridget Gubbins’ statements in her letter. The fact that the turbines will be a mile from the road will not detract from their visual intrusion on the landscape. At 400ft high, plus the added height of their whirling blades, these things will be visible for miles, as anyone who travels the A68 to Edinburgh will know, and the turbines beyond Carfraemill are smaller than the ones proposed here.

She also says that she would prefer “wind turbines above nuclear – any day”. Would that the choice were so clear! It would take not 18, but 1,300 of these turbines to equal the output of one ordinary power station – over 2,000 in the case of a station like Ferrybridge, or closer to home, 300 to equal the output of Alcan’s station at Lynemouth. 1,300 turbines is no less than 72 wind factories the size of the Middlemoor proposal. How much landscape are we supposed to sacrifice? The absence of choice between wind and nuclear (or coal, or gas) comes about as a result of intermittency. Quite simply, the other stations need to be kept running all the time to be able to take over when the turbines fail to produce on 5 days out of 7.

The choice isn’t between wind or nuclear (or coal, or gas), it’s wind and nuclear (or coal or gas), so they don’t even reduce CO² emissions, because of the need for back-up.

The true reason for the mass development of wind factories here and all over Scotland is that the land is cheap and the developers get a highly subsided price, well above the normal price of electricity through the ROC payment, which comes from a surcharge from all our bills. They are being built because they mean big bucks to the developer and a fig-leaf for the politicians.

Alan Gilbertson,
Warkworth

Northumberland Gazette

26 January 2006

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