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Farmer urges caution over wind turbines

A farmer is warning others do to proper research before investing in renewable energy after her wind turbine installation proved ‘totally disappointing’.

Ella James, who farms sheep in Builth Wells, Mid Wales, claims she was ill advised by Scottish firm SIAC Wind Energy.

Mrs James said she was told the 10kW turbine would produce an estimated annual yield of 26,810kWh, but in 12 months it has only achieved 8,000kWh.

She said: “Taking into account we have had one of the windiest summers, autumns and winters it is performing extremely under the estimation. I have lost just under £10,000 in potential revenue.”

Mrs James urged farmers thinking of venturing into renewable energy to ‘do their own research’ and make sure their site is suitable before proceeding.

SIAC managing director, Patrick Dormon, said the case had been fully investigated by the governing body the National Association for Professional Inspectors and Testers, which found all the requirements of the installation had been met.

Mr Dormon said: “Available wind resource varies day by day, month by month and year on year. The fundamental basis of the calculation is from the industry standard practice in using the Numerical Objective Analysis of Boundary Layer (NOABL) database of wind speed publicly available for every location in the country.

“As with all weather, sometimes wind performs better than expected, sometimes worse, although 2012 was generally a low wind year and so far 2013 looks to be better. The industry regulations oblige us to set out in contracts that we cannot guarantee the wind resource.”

Mr Dormon said the company had assessed Mrs James’s energy generation data and confirmed the peak output of the turbine had been achieving the maximum output power of at 12.5kW.

“This shows the turbine is doing exactly what it should be when the wind is blowing strongly,” he added.

“However the site has clearly suffered from a lower wind regime than the NOABL database indicates. Since this is not our error, as a goodwill gesture we offered to share the costs to relocate the turbine but this was declined.”