A lack of experienced renewable energy engineers could put contracts for nine new wind turbine projects in jeopardy as there are not enough suitably qualified people to install the turbines at their designated locations in the Firth of Forth and Moray Firth in the Scottish Highlands.
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After 18 days of sit in protests from 11 workers trying to get their voices heard and save the Vestas Blades factory on the Isle of Wight the fight is over. A court order granted last week gave the authorisation for bailiffs to forcibly remove the sit-in protesters from the building.
The day after the release of the DECC White Paper announcing the government’s intention to invest more in wind power, committing to a target of 30% of the country’s energy to be generated through renewable energy sources by 2020 and promising the creation of jobs in the environment sector, environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth have called for the government to safeguard the jobs we already have.
At a time when governments and organisations are striving to make commitments to cut carbon emissions, the source of the UK’s energy is a bone of contention for many. Discussions about nuclear, new generations of coal fired power stations and carbon capture and storage (CCS) are discussed almost daily, and the arguments about wind power are certainly high up on the agenda.
Vestas Blades, Britain’s only wind turbine manufacturing factory, shut down operations and announced closure yesterday. The decision to close down has been blamed on a lack of demand for wind turbine parts in Northern Europe and the effects of the global financial problems currently affecting the world.
Severn Trent are causing controversy in Staffordshire with proposed plans to install a test mast to ascertain whether it would be a feasible site for the installation of full size wind turbines on the site of their sewage treatment plant near Checkley in the Staffordshire Moorlands. A meeting was held on Friday 6th March to enable residents living near to the proposed development site to voice any concerns and receive information from representatives of other communities where wind turbines have been installed. Local MPs were also present at the meeting.
Severn Trent’s corporate responsibility policy sees them making commitments to reducing the amount of energy they consume as a company, and their website states that Severn Trent
“is an energy intensive business, using large amounts of energy to pump and treat both sewage and drinking water.”
In addition, Severn Trent are working towards increasing the amount of energy used that is generated by their own activity. In 2007-08 they generated the equivalent of 17% of the total operating costs of the company, and state that,
“By 2013, we aim to have almost doubled our renewable electricity generation, covering 30% of our needs.”
Inevitably developments in this area are going to see Severn Trent installing more energy generation equipment including wind turbines and hydro technology. At the meeting on Friday, Severn Trent’s renewable energy development manager, Martin Dent, commented that the definitive site for the installation of the turbines has not yet been decided, and the proposed test mast they are seeking to install will be used to collect data over the next 18 months to inform the final decision.
Residents are concerned that the ultimate decision to install turbines at the site in East Staffordshire would impact on their homes and those of residents living within 5km of the site in the Staffordshire Moorlands by reducing property value, causing noise and ‘shadow flicker’ disturbances, and that the installation and look of the turbines would have a damaging effect on the local environment.
The report had shown that the wind turbines that had been on sale at B&Q were not producing the levels of energy that the manufacturer had claimed, and in some cases were only providing as much energy as the turbine itself required to operate, or to power a conventional light bulb for an hour.
B&Q have said that the problem with customers not being able to generate as great a proportion of the energy they use from the wind is due to the number of their customers who live in an urban environment. It is certainly true that in order to obtain a good power output, being in a more exposed area such as an open aspect, or at the top of a hill, is important. Let’s face it; most urban areas don’t tend to be in that sort of location.
The lesson to take from this is not that wind turbines are rubbish and a waste of money, but that taking advantage of renewable energy is not something we can do because we want to, but because it is there to be taken advantage of in the first place.
Find out more about Wind Turbines and installation at the Encraft website