Thursday, March 15, 2007

Halvergate Marshes

Not in my back yard!!

The NIMBYs are out in force in West Norfolk. Some enterprising farmer would rather like to cash in on the wind power craze – but his nimby neighbours are not all that keen.

One of the reasons I so like going to Yarmouth is to catch up with the goings-on at Scroby Sands Windfarm; or, as I prefer to call it – Scroby Stands Still Windfarm. This off-shore alternative energy development really takes the biscuit!

There are 30 of the little rascals 3 kilometres off the coast. I love to watch them turning as I drive the last 8 miles down the (otherwise) boring Acle Straight. What a sight. Bountiful energy provided by Mother Nature and not a carbon atom in sight. Bootiful -as we say in Norfolk – at least we used to say bootiful until bird flu arrived at Bernard Matthews.

What's wrong with our brethren out in the Bermuda Triangle that is West Norfolk? Surely they would want to have some of these tourist attractions out in the boondocks? (that's what they are billed as on the Powergen website – tourist attractions in Great Yarmouth – I'm not making this up! ) Apparently not.

The West Norfolk NIMBYs are out in force to put a stop to what should be a real boon to the local tourist economy. How short-sighted can you get?

Then again, perhaps they are not as daft as they appear? Certainly if Scroby is anything to go by, maybe the West Norfolk NIMBy's are on to something. Have you ever counted the number of turbines actually turning as you drive down the Acle Straight? I have never seen them all turning all at once. Never. I must have been to Yarmouth hundreds of times since the turbines appeared and, I repeat, I have never seen them all turning at the same time.

We have been treated to an analysis of the pathetic power output of the Scroby turbines in the local press. Substantially, this is what is really going on at Scroby:

UK government has published its first annual report into the performance of the Scroby Sands wind farm, built off the Norfolk coast.

The report from the Department of Trade and Industry found the 30 V80 2 MW turbine wind farm near Great Yarmouth generated less energy than originally forecast, with capacity on average at 28.9%.

Mechanical defects including the replacement of 27 intermediate-speed and a dozen high-speed gearbox bearings as well as four generators 'significantly' cut production, the DTI report said.

According to the DTI, the problems at the £67m project had 'serious implications for resources, costs and downtime'.

Despite the slowdown, Jason Scagell, director of E.ON UK Renewables, the owners of the site, said the wind farm generated 153Gwh, around 90% of forecast annual output.

'Scroby Sands was and remains a pioneering project from which lessons will be learned,' he added.
Although the wind farm is expected to produce sufficient electricity to power 41 000 homes, last year only 12 000 properties were actually powered by Scroby.

Meanwhile, Scira Offshore Energy Limited is planning to build the Sheringham Shoal wind farm, comprised of 70 turbines, in the Great Wash.

When completed, the firm said offshore wind power could supply up to 176 000 homes with electricity.

The DTI said it had invested £107m in the first round of offshore wind farm development.

OK – call me stupid – but have you noticed that these figures don't add up? You can't reconcile 12 000 homes supplied versus 41 000 homes planned and call it 90% planned output! Even my maths won't let that one go!

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: this project cost £67 million pounds. I calculate that each of the 12 thousand houses consuming the Scroby-generated electricity should have paid 5500 pounds a year for the privilege of being so renewable. I think I'll pass on that one!

So, now let's build a bigger farm at Sheringham and lose even more money. This is nice work if you can get it.

I've got a better idea. Halvergate Marshes. Why not put the turbines there? There is nothing else there except for a few cows, horses and sheep. I reckon you could put a few hundred on the marshes for a lot less money. Do you think the cows would complain?

Chances of this happening? Virtually none. It makes too much sense, and there is no mileage in interviewing spokespersons for the Coalition Ranged Against Poofy-Power – or as they are acronymly known - CRAP.

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