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Wind farm presentations were not adequate

We have been following with interest the letters in your newspaper written pro and con wind farms in the Borders, mostly against, for some time now.

The right of reply is of course an important one. But we were disappointed to see the continuing misleading rhetoric of the wind industry in an article published on January 12 in your paper written by James Spencer-Nairn, Enertrag’s new project manager for the proposed Blackmains wind farm near Ayton, Cairncross and Reston by the AI. We took particular exception to his comment that a modern wind turbine “will be generating electricity for 70-85% of the time”.

Whilst this may well be true, it is grossly misleading. It should be pointed out that for much of this time the turbines will not be producing much electricity at all. For example when the wind speed falls by half, the generation falls to a level of around 10% of capacity (a cubed power law). And additionally we already know that the timing, or volume, of electricity generated is seldom matched to demand, often high when we don’t need it and low when we do. And don’t mention the shut-downs when the wind is too strong.

Does this mean that the useful electricity produced is in fact well below the load factor of 29.2%? Unfortunately, we are not provided with the original wind farm generation data. However, Ireland does publish its wind generation data, with values provided for every 15 minute interval 24/7. It is very instructive. The generation of electricity for the first half of 2011 was about half the quoted load factor for Scotland. What is going on? Scotland and Ireland share the same weather systems don’t they? Why is the Irish number so low? Or, more interestingly, why is the Scottish number so high?

Perhaps we can see the wind data from the Blackmains met mast when it finally goes up? Unfortunately, it is now already a few months overdue so we will have to wait.

There are other issues in the letter, but just a final point that is Spencer-Nairn’s gratuitous comment that “We (Enertrag) appreciate the constructive discussion we have had with the local community so far…”. This echoes a much earlier letter from Carolynne Sutherland, the previous manager for the proposed Blackmains wind farm, who misleadingly applauded Enertrag’s ‘presentations’ last year to the local communities. It did not help – she is no longer with Enertrag.

Our own observation was that the presentations were not adequate, and that there has been a lack of constructive discussions with the public, and, not surprisingly, a great deal of local opposition to both Enertrag as a company and for its proposed wind farm at Blackmains.