Inefficiencies & costs

the costs and benefits of wind turbines


This is a recent  extract from the Financial Times’ Letters To the Editor section. For the full letter from: Prof Peter P Edwards, University of Oxford, UK  please use this link:  Just how ‘green’ are renewable technologies?

….Magnets manufactured from these [rare earth] metals are used extensively in wind turbines and for extending the range of electric vehicles. The manufacture of solar PV panels — the icon of all that is green — requires caustic chemicals such as hydrofluoric acid and at least one rare or precious metal, including silver, tellurium or indium. One adds for consideration, the environmental and ethical burdens of cobalt production for electric vehicles (“Lack of ethical cobalt undermines Tesla debt” John Dizard, FTfm August 14).

Such fundamental problems significantly undercut the much promoted ability of “green technologies” to fight climate change. As with the hidden financial costs of integrating renewable power (letter from Robert Goss and Phil Heptonstall, August 24), similar hidden, environmental costs relating to all “green tech products” — must be laid open for careful scrutiny. Only through increased focus, analysis and transparency in tackling the dirtier side of otherwise clean energy sources can they one day be seen truly, and not just symbolically, green.

The A713 Castle Douglas to Ayr road was shut just north of Parton following the incident which occurred at 22.45 on Monday 6th February.


A DAF lorry, part of a convoy heading to the Brockloch wind farm at Carsphairn, had left the road.


Recovery work took over 3 days during which the road was closed. The road has now reopened after inspections of its condition.


Some people might suggest that attempting to take these extremely long vehicles along narrow, winding roads is irresponsible – more, that to do so in darkness looks like negligence.


For more on this story folloow this link to BBC News



Want to let Alex Salmond know what you think about his plans to cover D&G with a possible 1200 turbines?


Join TW312, Save Loch Urr and other local groups on a protest march in Perth at the SNP conference 19th October.


Transport available with local pick-ups CD, Dumfries, Dalry etc.  £10 – £15 a head (depending on numbers)

Leaving approx 8.30am


  All welcome.


To book or for further information, ring Alan on 01556 670692 now or email


A further 117 wind turbines and monitoring masts could be on the cards for Galloway if a current wave of applications is passed.


The most prominent of these will be 11 turbines at a maximum height of 100m planned for land near the A75 at Shennanton, Kirkcowan, which one council source claimed would leave motorists “practically driving through them”.


At next Wednesday’s planning meeting, the council will also be faced with applications for masts at Knockendurrick Hill, Gatehouse, which could result in 10 turbines from Banks Renewables; a mast at Mochrum Fell , Corsock, with a view to 15 turbines from 
Falck Renewables (which has prompted 233 objections), and E.ON has applied for a mast at Benbrack, Carsphairn, with the possibility of erecting 27 turbines.


Click here to read more

Extract from 'The Life Scientific' – BBC Radio 4 (Tuesday 26th Feb 2013)


"Jim Al-Khalili talks to Sue Ion about working in the nuclear industry in the dark decades post Chernobyl and about why nuclear power has to be part of our energy mix for the future" – BBC.  Click the link to listen to a 13 min extract of the BBC programme.


'Why we cannot keep the lights on without nuclear energy' – The Independent Blogs, 


Dame Sue Ion




By   Monday, 24 October 2011 at 6:00 a


"The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Study of last year, ‘Generating the Future’, took the view that we needed to deploy the MAXIMUM amount possible of renewable energy resources that engineers considered feasible. We worked out what you’d actually have to build. Each element was the maximum we thought feasible

  • 38 London (sized) arrays of offshore wind (we haven’t got one yet)
  • 1000 miles of Pelamis wave machines (we’ve only got a set of test units). 1000 miles equates to building 3 miles a month, for the next 40years, or the equivalent length of one London tube train a day
  • Nearly ten thousand land based 2.5MW wind turbines
  • 25million 3.2kw solar panels
  • The Severn barrage built (except it’s already been decided not to go ahead with it)
  • 2300 SeaGen marine turbines (we got a couple of test units)
  • 25+GW biomass energy

As well as all these installations, in order to meet our apparently legally binding carbon targets we would also need:-

  • At least 40 new nuclear power plants or fossil plants with Carbon Capture and Sequestration (we haven’t got any of these yet either and CCS has yet to be proven as a viable technology)




  • A reduction in demand of 25-30%. That’s 25-30%, with the massive sociological and behavioural challenges that brings

The Engineering challenge in delivering all of this is massive in itself. But when you also consider the associated additional infrastructure, in terms of development of the national electricity grid, and the port infrastructure to facilitate particularly the offshore wind and marine technologies, it becomes nigh on impossible in engineering terms.


These issues haven’t been thought through properly (if at all!), neither the buildability nor the cost, which you and I the consumer will ultimately bear. Efforts to update the power network of the National Grid have not kept pace with the construction of wind farms.  We are having to pay windfarm operators hundreds of thousands of pounds to keep their turbines idle, when the energy they are producing cannot be accommodated.  …….."


Click here for the full blog article


Dame Sue Ion is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a visiting professor at Imperial College London.

Thousands of Britain’s wind turbines will create more greenhouse gases than they save, according to potentially devastating scientific research to be published later this year.

Click the link to see the full article in The Telegraph (Sunday 24th Feb 2013)

Ministers from the UK and Ireland are set to sign a deal which will see Ireland buiding 180m (600ft) turines on land with the power being exported across the Irish Sea to Wales.


This is supposedly set to save the UK money as onshore wind will prove cheaper than off shore.  Wonder if the transmission losses, impacts of nearby residents health and environmental damage has been included in the costs?


Best of all though is the reason for the turbines being so tall:-


Because the bog lands are relatively windless, the company behind the scheme says they will need to stretch high into the sky to catch sufficient wind to generate power.


Obviously, not the wrong place for a wind development then?


To read BBC Report click here



Credit:     The Galloway Gazette     (20/01/13)


"Russell Brown told the Chief Executive of EDF that the peaceful and unique Airriequhillart valley should be left as it is.


Mr Brown was speaking during a Question Time-style debate at the Annual General Meeting of the Whithorn Business Association. Speakers from the Conservatives, the SNP and Visit Scotland also took part.


EDF, which is planning to build 18 450-foot turbines across the historic Airriequhillart valley, had sent a three-strong team to Whithorn with hopes of persuading the business community to back wind energy. Besides their chief executive, Christian Egal, two more senior executives and a press officer turned up for the session.


Mr Egal had been in direct contact with the Airriequhillart Protest Group over several weeks and had been coming under increasing pressure to make a personal visit to the proposed site. As none of the protest group were members, the Business Association decided to allow two of them to attend as guests.


Questions included why companies plan to place turbines close to people’s homes, and why no compensation was built into the process for those whose properties were blighted by turbines.


There were gasps of disbelief in the crowded room when both EDF and the SNP representative, Aileen Mcleod, argued that the imposition of a turbine site did not affect the value of adjoining properties.


Mr Egal argued that there was no evidence that turbine sites affected property prices, despite the fact that compensation schemes are in force in other countries."


TW312 comment:-

At the very least, once a turbine site is publicly identified it makes nearby properties more difficult to sell –  there is evidence that the presence of turbines (dependent on proximity and visual impact) can reduce property prices.  Houses have been down graded in council tax-bands by the Valuation Office Agency which provides the Government with valuations and property advice!


Credit:     Peter Dominiczak,     Political Correspondent ,     The Telegraph,     (14/01/13)


Millions of families face higher energy bills because of a “shocking” catalogue of errors made by the Government when it awarded contracts for expensive offshore wind farms, MPs will disclose today.


Consumers could see bills rise in the coming years after “generous” deals worth £17 billion were agreed with energy firms delivering wind-generated power to homes, a report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has warned.


Under a scheme agreed by Labour leader Ed Miliband during the last Labour government, but implemented by Coalition ministers, the contracts guarantee that the power firms will be paid even if they fail to deliver energy to households.


Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the PAC, described the contracts as a “licence for the private sector to print money at the expense of hard-pressed consumers”.


Click here to read more



Credit:     Simon Johnson     Scottish Political Editor     The Telegraph     (13/01/13)


"Primary pupils in North Ayrshire were handed plans, seemingly written by a developer, encouraging their parents to back a planning application for an extension to a wind farm in the area.


The letter contained a section for parents’ signatures at the bottom and was addressed to the local council’s planning department.


Critics yesterday expressed their anger at both the developer and SNP-run North Ayrshire council for allowing wind farm “propaganda” in the classroom but the local authority claimed the letters were “directly relevant” to the pupils’ school work."


And the developer is…….. none other than our old friends Community Windpower Ltd!


Clcik here to read more


Credit:   Jody Harrison     The Herald     (20/12/12)


An Edinburgh University study found that onshore wind farms, instead of lasting for 25 years without a drop in input into the grid, are more likely to reach the end of their lifespan in 10 or 12 years.


The report, commissioned by the Renewable Energy Foundation, which is against wind farm expansion, raised fears of massive hidden costs within Scotland’s renewables industry.


The report by Professor Gordon Hughes could have serious consequences for the Scottish Government’s plans to make Scotland 100% dependent on renewable energy by 2020.


The results show the average load factor of wind farms declines substantially as they get older, probably due to wear and tear. By 10 years of age the contribution of an average wind farm to meeting electricity demand has declined by one-third.


Click here to read more

Credit:     Margareta Pagano     The Independent     (10/12/12)


A community councillor from Argyll is mounting a landmark legal challenge against the UK and the EU at the United Nations in Geneva this week over their renewables policies, on the grounds that the public is being denied the truth about the alleged benefits, and the adverse impact, of wind power.


Christine Metcalfe, who represents Avich and Kilchrenan Community Council, claims that the UK Government and the EU have breached a fundamental tenet of citizens’ rights under the UN’s Åarhus Convention, and she will appear before the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe to explain why.


Mrs Metcalfe will present her council’s case at a hearing before UNECE’s Compliance Committee next Wednesday alleging that the UK and the EU are pursuing renewables policies which have been designed in such a way that they have denied the public the right to be informed about, or to ascertain, the alleged benefits in reducing CO 2 and harmful pollution emissions from wind power, or the negative effects of wind power on health, the environment and the economy.


To read more click here


Our best wishes to Christine!

Credit:     Simon Johnson     Scottish Political Editor     The Telegraph     (13/11/2012)


SNP minsters have waved through more than four out of five of the largest and most controversial planning applications for wind farms, according to official figures just published.


Since the Nationalists took power five years ago, 29 out of the 35 major developments referred to them for a final decision have been approved.


The Conservatives, who published the figures, said ministers were sending a message to wind farm companies saying: “Come straight to us and you have an 80 per cent chance of success”.


Clyde wind farm by Olive Repton


Conservation charity, the John Muir Trust, today released the results of a YouGov poll revealing widespread support across Britain, including in Scotland, for prioritising the protection of scenic wild land over large scale wind farms.


• 40 per cent of people said the Government should prioritise protecting scenic wild land from large commercial wind farms, even if this means that there is less opportunity to develop wind power in those areas.



Threat to Tourism


• 43 per cent of people in Britain who visit scenic areas in the UK for their natural heritage and beauty would be ‘less likely to visit a scenic area with a large concentration of wind farms’


• Just 2 per cent say they would be ‘more likely to visit a scenic area with a large concentration of wind farms’.


Read more here


As cracks appear in the UK Government over the issue of wind farms it seems Alex Salmond is taking a different stance.


On the day dissent emerged within the Coalition government, Alex Salmond was addressing a renewable energy conference in Glasgow.  What he said should be a warning to all rural communities across Scotland:-


"When I became First Minister in 2007, I inherited a target for 50 per cent of Scotland’s electricity to be produced by renewable sources by 2020.


We now know that we can achieve much more than that, more quickly – having already exceeded our 2011 target.


In the light of that progress, I can announce that we have set a new interim target. By 2015, the equivalent of 50 per cent of Scotland’s electricity demand will be met by renewable sources."


Which in a nutshell means more wind turbine planning applications being submitted for inappropriate locationss, more division in more rural communities, more pressure put on our councils, more over-riding of local democracy, more decisions being referred to the Scottish Government for decisions, more people condemned to noise nuisance and health impacts from more turbines placed closer to homes.


To read more:-


Left swinging in the wind


Energy secretary slaps down minister who called for end to wind farm sprawl





Credit:     Daily Mail Reporter     Daily Mail     (22/10/12)


Tourism chiefs have admitted for the first time that wind farms could drive holidaymakers away.


In an intervention likely to embarrass the Scottish Government, VisitScotland has said an application to put turbines on a site north of Dumfries could have a ‘detrimental effect’ on tourism.


Its statement comes after Alex Salmond claimed wind farms ‘enhance our appeal as a country’ and puts the Scottish Government-funded quango on a collision course with its paymasters.


Click here to read article


In our October newsletter I stated that CATS were organising the Perth Wind Farm Protest which is incorrect.  Apologies to the people who have worked so hard to make this happen – please see details below.  The march will start at 11am.


If you are interested in joining us at the demo please contact Alan Keith ASAP




Much as CATS would like to take the credit for originating and organising this important protest, which we wholeheartedly support, CATS has not organised it.


It was the idea of a number of people, including Lyndsey Ward, Mary Young, Linda Holt and Graham Lang, and it has been developed in conjunction with a local Perthshire group (GASPS) fighting an Ecotricity wind farm in the Strathearn Valley (see


For further information, questions etc about the protest, please don't contact CATS/Kim but use one of the following instead:


·      visit our facebook page Protest against SNP Wind Policy
·      email:
·      or call 07590 994690



It was always known the National Grid made ‘constraint payments’ – cash given to operators to temporarily shut down their turbines when electricity supply outstripped demand.

But what was not made public were details of so-called ‘forward trades’, in which the National Grid agrees a pay-out when the weather is expected to be stormy.

The money is paid out even before a turbine shuts down.

Limited information about the forward trade deals is published in an obscure section of the National Grid website – and in a format that even energy experts have struggled to interpret.

The National Grid has admitted £15.5million was paid out to energy operators in the form of conventional constraint payments in 2011-12 in England and Scotland.

But for the first time it has emerged that an even greater sum – £18.6million – was paid out in forward trades. It means the total payments for that year were £34.1 million, far higher than previously reported.


Read more of the report from the The Daily Mail by Sam Greenhill and Graham Grant


Here is CATS response

12/P/2/0219     Guffogland, Dalbeattie     50m met mast     Approved


11/P/2/0418     Margrie, Borgue     2 x 46m turbines     Refused (landscape)


12/P/2/0191     Nether Ernambrie     2 x 27m     Refused (landscape impact)


12/P/2/0065     Loch Urr     70m met mast     Approved (Chair's casting vote)


12/1/P0260     Gass Farm, Glenluce    70 m met mast     Approved


The Institute of Mechanical Engineers say the wind turbines of Scotland are operating well under capacity – meaning more are being built than are necessary.


Read more here

The new Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, appears to be sceptical about climate change policies and is not a  fan of wind farms.


Read the article by Rowena Mason here


According to this article by Christopher Booker in the Telegraph, Owen Paterson favours massive investment in gas generation.


Read here


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