Monthly Archives: July 2014


A summary of the wind’s efforts

SmartestEnergy have produced a report which discusses the rapid pace of growth of the renewable energy sector. The Energy Entrepreneurs Report 2014 discusses different renewable technologies including Hydro and Solar PV, however we wanted to draw focus to the incredible advancements wind energy has made in the last 12 months. Despite a background of political cynicism and constrained funding, onshore wind has seen a 40 per cent increase in capacity and now accounts for 45 per cent of independent generation. With a capacity of 2.8 GW, onshore wind remains the most dominant technology across Great Britain.

Yorkshire, Devonshire and Aberdeen were the most active in terms of new onshore projects with the farming sector remaining the most active investor in commercial scale renewables. The number of farm owned turbines almost doubled with 179 new designs becoming fully operational. This is particularly significant for Fine Energy as we offer competitive land based rental to landowners in the UK, of whom a large proportion are farmers.

Farmers and landowners are increasingly looking to diversify their income as the result of poor weather conditions, rising feed costs and competition from imported produce has seen incomes fall by more than half. Whilst local councils are encouraging farmer’s markets in the effort to ensure British food is consumed locally, multigeneration farmers are desperately seeking financial support. Recognizing the importance of creating lasting economic opportunities rooted in agriculture is vital for preserving an agricultural market in the UK. Installing one wind turbine on a small portion of land gives landowners a guaranteed annual rental income for 20 years. Whether the money is used to order cattle feed or fix equipment, this additional income offers farmers the breathing space they deserve.

Taking inspiration from the wind

Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy of the wind into electricity, a successful method of producing renewable energy, and it appears that the technology has inspired engineers to develop alternative ways of producing electricity in the UK. Sea Generation Ltd is to launch Wales’s first commercial tidal energy farm in 2016. The electricity generators will operate like wind turbines but with blades driven by tidal wave action instead of wind.

The turbines will be installed and operated for up to 25 years, where they will serve as a test case for the development of tidal technology. The Crown Estate said that leasing the sites for technology development was “critical” for the UK to unlock the potential of wave and tidal energy. First Minister Carwyn Jones said the benefits to the economy could be significant.

It has been estimated that the potential energy generated by the Anglesey Skerries Tidal Array project is equivalent to three or four nuclear power stations. The advantages of tidal power include zero carbon electricity generation and the predictability of tidal currents. Concerns have been expressed regarding the environmental impacts. In response Sea Generation commissioned an Environmental Impact Assessment and established an environmental monitoring programme to bridge any knowledge gaps.There are already huge ambitions for this energy sector and this announcement is a step in the right direction for the development of wave and tidal stream industries.


Harestanes wind farm goes live

Consent for the proposal of Scotland’s largest onshore wind farm was granted by Scottish Ministers in 2007 after the proposal promised to support more than 150 jobs and to provide enough electricity to power 73,000 homes. Seven years later and Harestanes has been officially opened by Energy Minister Fergus Ewing. Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) is behind the 68 turbine scheme which cost £160m – and they are not stopping there! SPR are keen to take advantage of the excellent wind resource in the area and an application for an additional seven turbines was submitted in November 2013 which aims to increase the operational efficiency of the existing wind farm. Ewing has applauded the project and said the wind farm could help meet Scotland’s 100% renewable energy target.

The construction has delivered a range of benefits including a new turbine technician course at Dumfries and Galloway College which should provide future career opportunities for young people in the area.Undoubtedly a lot of effort goes into the construction of these large onshore wind farms and the benefits to the local community are significant. Scotland is famed for its impressive wind resource and the support offered by Scottish Ministers will ensure wind projects like this reach their full potential.

Furthermore, it is refreshing to see plans for Harestanes to be used recreationally by members of the public. New paths have been developed to attract walkers, cyclists, joggers and even fans of wind farms, and the Forestry Commission Scotland and SPR have been working together to deliver a new specially designed mountain bike track. Maybe renewable energy projects can be fun for the community after all?


Green Investment Bank launch fund for investors

The UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) are looking for co-investors to help raise £1 billion towards offshore wind farm projects in Britain. The bank received criticism when they revealed a £5.7m headline loss but Chief executive Shan Kingsbury said this was “somewhat misleading” because a number of projects are still under construction.

The Scotland-based bank was set up in 2012 and has committed a total of £1.3 billion to projects already. GIB announced 24 June 2014 that it was launching a fund for long-term investors to purchase equity stakes in already-operational offshore wind farm projects. This approach will encourage investors to buy shares in renewable energy projects that have previously been considered too risky. GIB want to do more to maximise their green impact and plan to extend their reach into new markets like community-scale renewables.

Community owned renewable energy projects can mean people benefiting in real and financial terms from the provision of their own energy. Allowing communities to generate their own energy is a better option than subsidising unsustainable fuel consumption. This is certainly a step in the right direction and we look forward to hearing more about GIB’s community based renewable energy projects.


East Anglia ONE gets the government go-ahead

Located off the coast of Suffolk, the East Anglia One offshore wind farm will cover an area of approximately 300 square kilometres and is scheduled to install up to 240 wind turbines – which would make it the biggest wind farm in the world! The consent application for East Anglia ONE was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in November 2012, consented in June 2014 and the developer estimates the farm will be operational in 2019.

East Anglia ONE Offshore Wind is a joint venture between ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenfall, and is the largest renewable energy project ever to receive planning consent in England and Wales. Once built, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) predict the wind farm will generate enough electricity to power approximately 820,000 homes. Throughout its construction the wind farm is expected to add more than £500 million into the region’s economy.

We specialise in small-scale onshore developments but we applaud the huge contribution to emissions reduction this development will make.The UK have a lot to gain from it including 2,900 job opportunities and reduced reliance on imported fuel. The approval marks a significant stepping stone for the future of renewable energy in the UK at a time when the coalition government is threatening to remove subsidies for onshore and offshore wind energy projects. Wind power is continuing to play an increasingly important part in meeting the UK’s energy needs despite mixed messages from government.