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Demand for extra cash for turbines

A windfarm action group has shot a warning across the bows of government calling for more support for renewable energy.

The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) welcomes the government’s intention to switch to the greener ways of generating energy, but claims that sums will not add up unless financial support is increased.

The warning headlines the environmental group’s response to the government’s consultation, which proposes a significant change to the Renewables Obligation (RO), the support mechanism for renewable power in the UK.

BWEA’s chief executive Maria McCaffery said: “The RO has been highly successful in bringing forward the cheapest renewables: onshore wind, landfill gas and biomass co-firing.

“The government’s plan to band’ the RO could allow more technologies to share in this success, particularly offshore wind but this cannot be at the expense of onshore wind’s current strong growth.”

She added: “Accommodating the more expensive technologies whilst trying to get a 20 percent target in 2020 – using the same amount of money as a 15 percent goal is like trying to extract a quart from a pint pot. It just doesn’t add up.”

By banding the system so that more technologies are economic, the 20 percent would have to include capacity that is more expensive than would be brought forward by an unreformed system.

And the BWEA claims that the government is intending to get a third more renewable power with a mix that includes significant quantities of technologies that are not economic under the current system, for the same amount of money.

A move that the association described as unrealistic’ and problematic.’ But the turbulent news could send shock waves to Wirral and North Wales protestors who claim that wind farms are already costly’ and unproductive,’ in their joint campaign against the Gwynt y Mor offshore wind farm.

Set to be located in the Irish Sea, the NPower development will see 200 Blackpool Tower-sized turbines dotted 18m off Wirral’s shoreline – a project that has caused a storm.

This comes after recent studies found that both England and Wales are not windy enough to let large turbines work at the rates claimed for them.

Cllr David Elderton said: “I believe wind farms to be an erratic, inefficient, visually intrusive waste of time because they make an infinitesimal contribution to our future energy needs at enormous manufacturing, installation and maintenance cost.

“I have undertaken research on this subject for a number of years and nothing that I have come across gives me any confidence in wind farm generation as being a viable solution for this country’s energy needs.”

But Jonathan Lincoln from environmental group the Sustainable Energy Alliance (SEA), said: “Wind power, both on and offshore, must play a key role in the mix for our energy supply, along with other renewable technologies.

“Britain has the best wind resource in Europe and the potential to be a world class leader in this technology.

“Yes to Gwynt y Mor.”

By Kelly Barker