The wind industry quotes that we have some 4,399 turbines installed and the Scottish Government doesn’t actually know how many have been installed, approved or in planning. That fills you with confidence. Of course the lie is in the number of smaller on farm and in school yard turbines that have proliferated like a plague of measles all over the country. With big SFP payments in their pockets or grants to Councils and wild promises of riches tomorrow farmers and Councillors have proved rich pickings for turbine suppliers. Not all are that profitable it has to be said as Proven and Evance have both failed and that is the tip of the iceberg as dozens of installers have fallen by the way. A recent report by the Telegraph has un-earthed fields of turbines that are almost entirely reliant on subsidy as Feed in Tariffs even pay you for the electricity you use yourself. Promises of money tomorrow can run sour for those farmers that have experienced rotor or blade failure and have run into real problems getting them repaired, replaced or restarted. That the original mini turbines are increasingly being supplanted by large, but often de-rated turbines to get the bigger subsidies, is a source of some annoyance by non landed neighbours as each spawn copies as the salesmen move ever onwards and upwards. Figures now suggest some 30,000 turbines dotting our countryside and I must admit that does not surprise me as I travel around and see the proliferation for myself. The only glimpse of hope on the horizon is that it is getting more and more difficult to get approval as no one can ever claim that single turbines will do much for the UK’s windy aspirations. Talking to some senior engineers from a main power transmission company the other day, they told us that individual turbines were a serious problem for the grid due to their intermittency and the lack of controllability. Often feeding into local connections they can actually increase their neighbours electricity costs. To quote the network suppliers, “They are a nightmare!”
The aspirations of Renewable UK that suggest that three out of every four farmers will apply for turbines over the next few years is hopefully simply salemen’s spin as we know that these ever growing turbines are often built to within 300m of local residents. If not we are really facing a big problem.