Gathering sheer raw energy of wind
Last updated at 11:11, Tuesday, 11 September 2012
THE thing about wind turbines is that once they’re built your raw materials are free,” says Andrew Barrow of the giant energy firm E.ON.
He spoke as the expected date to switch on the first part of the 60-turbine Robin Rigg wind farm off the North Cumbrian coast approached.
The £330m development is the first offshore wind farm venture in Cumbria for the German-owned E.ON, although it already operates 30 onshore turbines at five county sites from Siddick in Workington down to Askam in Furness.
Robin Rigg, in the Solway Firth, will send its power ashore at Workington, where it will be used to run 117,000 homes.
E.ON has already been given leave to investigate the feasibility of a second 60-turbine site in the Solway waters.
Cumbria’s bid for low carbon energy diversity mirror’s E.ON’s own policies.
Mr Barrow said: “Cumbria’s geography obviously supports a good mix of energy sources offshore and onshore
“Our company’s philosophy is we need a good mix of energy... there is no silver bullet.
“You can’t tackle Britain’s energy needs with a single energy source.”
Mr Barrow says nuclear gives what is called “baseload” power, which is a solid, reliable flow of electricity although one which cannot react to peaks and troughs. Wind uses a free fuel but it only blows right for around 85 per cent of the time, and is expensive to install. Clean coal is flexible but there is still the carbon question. Gas supplies, meanwhile, have declined in the UK.
Since there is no single simple solution, E.ON deals in all types of energy.
Nick Medic, of the British Wind Energy Association, believes Cumbria’s economy, ports and people will all benefit from the growing offshore wind farm industry that is symbolised by the nearly finished Robin Rigg.
Already the green light has been given for hundreds of wind turbines to be erected in the sea along Britain’s Energy Coast™, with nearly 300 in the south off Barrow alone.
Robin Rigg is following Cumbria’s first offshore wind farm at Barrow .
Bowind, four miles off Walney Island, has 30 turbines which began turning commercially in 2007.
Like Robin Rigg, its offshore substation was fitted out in Barrow by wind farm electrical experts Agrilek.
Several other large wind farms including two massive ones off Barrow, the Walney Wind Farm scheme by Dong, and the West of Duddon Sands scheme, led by Scottish Power Renewables, are due to go ahead, having more than 250 turbines between them.
The Ormonde, field seven miles off Walney, with another 30 massive five megawatt turbines working in a unique hybrid combination with two marginal gas fields, is also cleared for go.BWEA official Mr Medic believes the next round of wind farm licences, due to be announced in the autumn for turbines placed much further out to sea, will be a fresh energy opportunity for the north west including Cumbria.
Mr Medic said whereas if all rounds one and two schemes are built it amounts to maybe 2,000 turbines – and round three could lead to another 5,000 towering windmills.
On June 25 the Government's strategic environmental assessement (Sea) said the UK's seas could provide enough wind energy to power 19 million homes. The Government said offshore wind had the potential to to provide more than a quarter of the UK's needs , create 70,000 jobs and generate £8bn a year in revenue.
First published at 22:18, Wednesday, 01 July 2009
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk