The wind turbine at Green Park has been revealed to be one of the least effective in the country.
The turbine ranked 210 out of 218 in data gathered by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), an industry charity which promotes energy conservation.
The REF data shows the turbine to be operating at just 17.3 per cent of what is theoretically its maximum capability. That capacity is based on what the turbine could produce if it had 24-hour wind. Most of the more effective turbines in the UK operate at around 30 per cent.
Now campaigners fighting the Partnership for Renewables (PFR) plans to build four turbines at The University of Reading’s land at Rushy Mead, Arborfield, say those turbines are likely to be similarly ineffective.
Their height, 130 metres to the top of the blades, (10 metres taller than Green Park) is, they claim, to try to make them more effective.
Campaign group Householders Against Rushy Mead (HARM) argues that turbines so far inland produce little energy and are only built because of the subsidies available. Its claims are backed by REF.
Director for policy and research Dr John Constable said wind was insufficient at sites such as Rushy Mead and Green Park.
He said: “Economically they are not the kind of prime sites for the UK. They are considerably sub prime.”
He believed the subsidy issue was such a mistake it would one day be explained in business schools to illustrate the dangers of Governments getting involved.
Developers of windfarms are paid per unit of electricity they produce from their turbines. REF estimates the Rushy Mead development will attract £20 million in subsidies over its 25-year lifetime.
Jan Heard from HARM said: “These proposals are for much larger blades and the reason that needs to be the case is that Green Park is so ineffective. The basic fact is we are in a low wind speed area.”
But Mike Cheshire, who’s a spokesman for Ecotricity which built the Green Park turbine, said it produced enough electricity to power 1,000 homes and said offshore turbines cost two to three times more to build.
Subsidies, he said, were to jump-start renewable energy facilitates, which in Britain, lagged way behind European targets. He highlighted nuclear power stations which, he said, also attracted subsidies.
He added: “Every turbine has to be viable.
“We are not in the business of putting them where they are not viable and Green Park is no exception to that.”
Mr Cheshire said myths existed around noise and health issues and that people who have concerns should visit the Green Park turbine.
HARM has had photo-montages produced which shows views from Lower Earley and Arborfield.
They will be on display in the Toby Carvery car park in Chalfont Way, Lower Earley, on Saturday from 11.30am.
Site affects the wind…
Tony Duffin, from Partnerships for Renewables, said: “The wind resource available on a site can be influenced by features such as buildings and the topography of the site.
“This is why it’s so important to gather site specific information rather than looking at data gathered nearby. We have conducted two years of detailed monitoring on the site to build a clear picture of the wind flows over the Rushy Mead site which has shown that a wind energy development on the site will generate a significant amount of energy.
“The detailed modelling of the wind has also enabled us to fine-tune the site layout, removing one turbine which was going to sit in turbulent air, and this allowed us to move another turbine further away from a local byway. We will also use the data gathered to help select the best turbine for the site.”
He said at 130 metres the height was consistent with the new generation of turbines.
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