To suppose that large onshore wind turbines are a sensible source of green energy for the South West is an idea that should have died out long ago. Most locally-elected politicians, councillors and planners know that the South West terrain and environment is generally unsuitable for the larger type of windfarm, and that should be that.
But Regen SW plods on with the assertion that onshore windfarms are a good idea for the South West, including the daft Fullabrook Down scheme. Matthew Spencer, its chief executive, should take a look at the Vestas Wind Systems company website.
Ditlev Engel, chief executive of this international manufacturer with some 30,000 wind turbines generating in over 50 countries, complains that there is too much “hype” for large onland windfarms.
Each turbine is a complicated structure with over 7,000 parts. Conveying huge, heavy loads onland has difficult and expensive construction and transport problems.
His turbines now cost 50 per cent more than they did two years ago, and the delivery time is now more than three years.
Perhaps the most important point he makes is that large wind turbines offshore can be 50 per cent more productive than those on land because the whole layout is easier to design for best output, along with more wind offshore than onshore. For good measure Vestas adds that visible onland turbines near where people live or visit as tourists are universally disliked. And they should know!
To be constructive about green energy, we should remember that the South West has plenty of surrounding sea for offshore schemes from wind, wave and tidal power.
Last November a seminar was held in Gloucester about harnessing the River Severn’s tidal power with a barrier between Cardiff and Weston-super-Mare. It was said this tidal barrier would provide one-sixth of current electricity consumption, equivalent to the output from covering all Cornwall with wind turbines.
Whatever Regen SW says, large green energy generation schemes should be thought of more in national terms and in what is most suited for a particular environment.
J G Millar
8 May 2007