Owner’s of the UK’s tallest mainland wind turbine have admitted that it was unable to generate electricity for nearly five months after two lightening strikes.
And a leading wind energy expert has confirmed that the sale of up to £400,000 worth of power may have been lost due to Gulliver, at Ness Point, in Lowestoft, slipping off the national grid.
Triodos Renewables, who bought the town landmark in 2005, has more than 3,330 investors who want their money to make a difference in the fight against climate change by recognising the business potential of renewable energy.
But last night Matthew Clayton, Operations Manager for Triodos told The Journal that the turbine at Ness Point has been completely off-line since October 30 last year and was only reinstated last week on March 19.
He explained that the delay was down to the scare supply of cranes available in the country to lower and raise the damaged blades, hampered during the thunderstorms.
He said: “We had two strikes during the summer, the first one in mid June and the second in mid August. The impact of the first damaged the end of the blade and a small crack appeared that wasn’t visible.
“The protection system should be able to withstand strikes, but I imagine what happened is that in some way part of it was damaged during the second strike. When lightening strikes the end of a blade that is travelling at 300mph, it’s going to need repair.”
Mr Clayton said the turbine was taken off line in October to make a full repair to the blade, while a shelter was built around them in December.
“We had to get the crane on site to lower the blades and then put them back up again,” said Mr Clayton. “I’m not exactly sure how many of them are in the country, maybe 10 or 20, but there are so many wind farms being built they are in scarce supply.”
Mr Clayton said concerns that Gulliver was also out of action between June and October were unfounded and were down to environmental issues.
He explained that during much of 2007, there was very low wind, which could have effected its production, and a decision was also made to take it off-line during times when the sun rising behind Gulliver caused a continual shadow affect, disrupting nearby businesses.
“There is nothing wrong with the equipment, it was something that was unforeseen,” said Mr Clayton. “We do have insurance so a claim will be made for at least some of the costs, but despite that Gulliver still stacks up for us.”
Last night Keith Tovey, Reader in Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia and CRed Energy Science Director said the loss of income during Gulliver’s down time was very variable according to the price of electricity, but a rough estimate would be around £400,000.
The figure is obtained by working out the amount of electricity generated over the same five months a year previously, assuming a whole sale prize of £50 and a Renewable Obligation Certificate price of £45, which monitors the eligible renewable electricity generated and the supply to customers in the UK.
Prior to the downtime and despite no generation in November, Mr Tovey said graphs showing the performances of all the wind turbines in Norfolk and Suffolk between December 2006 and November 2007, reveal that Gulliver produced the most energy at 32.2pc, which was above average.
“In terms of efficiency which is the amount of energy converted from wind into electricity a modern turbine like Gulliver would average at around 42pc,” said Mr Tovey.
“Even allowing for down time last year Gulliver would have produced sufficient electricity for 2,750 homes in Lowestoft.”
28 March 2008
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