The wind turbine proposal in detail
Force 9 Energy have submitted a planning application for a wind farm development at a site (known as Dorcas Lane) less than 1km to the west of Stoke Hammond in Aylesbury Vale. The application was submitted just before Christmas 2011 - and is for 4 turbines each with a blade tip height of 125m (415ft).
A public exhibition of their proposals was held in Stoke Hammond on July 1st 2011.
In the meantime, Force 9 Energy has already erected a meteorological mast on the proposed site, the application for which was submitted before the Public Exhibition took place. The application was approved by AVDC despite overwhelming local opposition and the mast was erected in December 2011
The purpose of the mast will be to measure wind speed/weather conditions over an extended period of time in order to gauge the suitability of the proposed site for the Wind Farm, albeit quite inexplicably such information seems to not be required by Force 9 Energy prior to the submission of the full application for the wind turbines.
How big are they?
To give you a better idea of how big a 125m Turbine is, have a look at this comparison. You can see that it dwarfs a house, is 25% taller than Big Ben, and is only slightly smaller than the London Eye, which dominates the skyline for miles around
A more familiar comparison might be the Snowdome/Xscape building in Central Milton Keynes, which dominates the local landscape for miles around. At 44m tall, it will be dwarfed by the Turbines which are almost 3 times higher. If you can see The Dome, rest assured you will be able to see the Wind Farm!
Where exactly are they located?
The Map below indicates the proposed location of the turbines.
We have attempted to estimate the distances from each of the surrounding villages on the map . Locations of the Turbines are approximate in the absence of any specific co-ordinates being provided.
As you will see, the nearest turbines are extremely close to residential properties in the surrounding villages. The Public Exhibition on 1st July showed several impressions of how the Turbines might look from selected “distant” points around the area. None of these elected to show the visibility from directly over the houses and incredibly, they elected not to show any visuals from a single Stoke Hammond or Hollingdon location! A simple over-sight, maybe? Or did they not want to shock the public by showing the true size of these turbines? Make your own mind up…..
0.8 km from Hollingdon
0.8 km from Stoke Hammond
1.6 km from Soulbury
2.3 km from Stewkley
2.4 km from Drayton Parslow
3.1 km from Newton Longville
3.1 km from Great Brickhill
There are several farms closer than these distances. These families are not the landowners who are intending to sell/lease the land the turbines are proposed to be sited on.
The nearest turbine to the edge of the much larger developed area of Bletchley (Water Eaton) is a mere 2.3km away.
You may be reading this page from a location further away than those listed above and be of the opinion that the Turbines will have no visual impact upon you? If so, you may be interested to know that the Public Exhibition included a map indicating vantage points from which part of one or more of the Turbines would be visible. It may come as a surprise to find out that, for example, they would be visible beyond Hemel Hempstead to the South and as far as Bicester to the West!
You should also bear in mind that if the application is successful then there is a precedent set and a change in the designation of the character of the landscape with regard to planning. In other areas of the country this has resulted in a deluge of wind turbine developments being submitted and/or erected. For example, in nearby Cambridgeshire, there have been 27 wind farms and 115 turbines either opened, under construction or in planning since the first were erected in 2005. Equally it is very common for extensions to the number of turbines - or Phase 2 developments - to follow swiftly after the turbines are erected, pushing them closer to surrounding villages
How much electricity will they provide?
Force 9 Energy advise that each Turbine will be 2.5MW (megawatts) – a total of 10MW across the 4 turbines.
Wind Farms are an inherently unreliable/unpredictable source of energy as they depend upon the wind blowing. As such, Dorcas Lane may have an Installation Capacity of 10MW but due to the vagarities of wind, across a 12 month period a UK wind farm will typically run at around 20%-30% of capacity (sometimes referred to as the Load Factor). Indeed it was widely reported in the press recently that the average capacity across inland wind turbines in the UK was 21% in 2010 having dropped from 27% in 2009
The UK Government has agreed with the EU a legally-binding target of 15% of UK energy being from renewable sources by 2020 (reduced from an earlier commitment to deliver 20%). About 75% of this will come from wind power. Without wanting to lose the reader with too many statistics, the Dorcas Lane Wind Farm would contribute only 0.04%, or 1/2325th of the UK’s 2020 wind-driven renewable energy requirement. A more detailed explanation of the calculation can be found at the bottom of this page.
Force 9 Energy has also stated that the electricity generated will serve 5591 homes. They have used a Load Factor of 30%, which is excessive based on current statistics and hence we dispute this – at a 21% Load Factor the development would provide electricity for only 3,914 homes.The electricity generated will go into the national grid and hence be distributed around the UK rather than being specifically channelled back into the local villages.
Most importantly, the power generated from wind turbines cannot be stored for use later. Given this and due to its inherent unpredictability, wind power cannot therefore exclusively serve a single home with 100% of the homes required electricity. Wind Power relies heavily on “back-up” energy from traditional Power stations in order to iron out the supply-fluctuations from wind farms. E.ON Netz, the largest grid operator in Germany, admitted that every megawatt of installed wind power required 0.8 MW of backup from [conventional] ‘shadow power stations’, This is usually arranged inefficiently by keeping turbo-alternators at less than peak output so that an instant increase of generation is possible. This causes a significant amount of extra CO2 emission from such plants. Thus, even when not generating, wind turbines are still causing some CO2 emission, albeit this by no means negates the CO2 benefits of wind farm technology.
All of this of course assumes that the Dorcas Lane site has wind speeds which are suitable for a wind turbine development. The latest available DTI average wind speed data for the exact Ordinance Survey Grid Reference for the Meteorological Mast is 5.9 m/s at 45m above ground level. This places the wind speed at this height for the site in the bottom 2% of all on-shore wind farms currently built, consented to, under construction or in planning in mainland UK.
Footnote: Calculation on Energy provision
Future 2020 consumption forecasts vary, but are generally in the region of 380TWh.
The 2020 Government Renewable Energy Obligation with the EU is 15% of UK Electricity. 15% equates to 57TWh (57 million million watts) at 2020 predicted levels.
75% (42.75 TWh/annum) of this is estimated to be from wind farms (off and on-shore) Source: Energy and Environment Research Unit.
Hence, to meet the 2020 target, the UK would have required an Installed capacity of wind power of 23,238MW (at 21% Load Factor) i.e. 23238 x 21% x 24hr x 365days = 42.75 TWh/annum.
Dorcas Lane, at 10MW would contribute 0.04043%, or 1/2325th of the UK’s 2020 target-driven renewable energy requirement i.e.10/23238
What will the community get back in return?
Force 9 Energy have advised that a Community Fund of £12,000 per annum will be made available. This money would be available upon application to support local community projects across all affected villages.
It is worth noting that the Government currently provides enormous subsidies to the Wind Power industry in order to encourage wind farm development. As tax payers, this is our money. Indeed, this Community Fund would only represent a paltry 1% of the £1.2 million budgeted annual subsidy that Force 9 will receive for the electricity they hope to generate from the site, or put another way, 1% of the money we will have given them for the privilege of using the electricity they generate!.