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Dover District Council's wind turbine 'fails to deliver'

By Dover Express  |  Posted: February 05, 2013

Comments (5)

by Mike Sims

THE much-trumpeted £90,000 wind turbine installed outside the council offices has generated just a tenth of the energy it should have done, the Express can reveal.

The 17-metre machine, erected outside the Dover District Council headquarters in Whitfield, was supposed to generate 45,000 kW hours per year, producing 7 per cent of the electricity used in the offices.

But the Express can reveal that just 22,080 kWhrs has been generated in total since November 2007 – less than 4,500 kWhrs per year.

Critics have called the project a "white elephant", but the authority has defended the scheme and said it has "raised the profile" of renewable energy by educating people across the district.

Earlier this month, the Express reported it had broken down before Christmas and was being fixed by apprentices from Swale Skills Centre.

It prompted scores of readers to get in touch debating the merits of the turbine, with many casting doubt on its usefulness.

One reader, Heather Baker, said she had heard the machine was generating much less power than originally predicted, and her concerns were confirmed when the Express asked DDC for figures this week.

Mrs Baker added: "I do not consider the turbine to be a valuable source of energy... a white elephant indeed."

Another reader, Chris Burnham, said it would take years for the turbine to pay for itself and cast doubt on how long it would last, while Colin Little, of Danes Court, Dover, said it was a "monstrosity".

Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request about costs and savings six months after the grant-funded turbine was installed, DDC said at the time: "It should save 45,000 kWhrs per year, producing 7 per cent of the electricity used in the offices."

But, this week, it appeared to backtrack from the numbers, saying the 45,000 kWhrs figure was the upper limit it could generate and was only achievable with constantly favourable wind speeds and direction.

A spokesman said: "The 45,000 kWhrs quoted is the optimum generation – in order to achieve this, the wind speed would always need to be at the maximum speed that the turbine could operate safely in, and the wind direction would always have to be favourable.

"While the electricity generated by the turbine was an important factor, the grant-funded turbine demonstrates the council's commitment to renewable energy, and has been used to raise the profile of renewable energy, and as an example of renewable energy technologies for educational purposes across the district."

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  • johndavies  |  July 19 2014, 3:22PM

    £90,000 ÷ 22,080kWh = £4.08/kWh !!! Even IF it had produced its design output, the cost per kWh would have been 41p, that's 8 x the wholesale cost of electricity - http://tinyurl.com/oxcktba - So why did they not do the above math's when the project was first looked at ??? • • If they can't do simple maths like that why are they allowed to be in charge of our money ???

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  • mrpeteraustin  |  July 14 2014, 1:53PM

    "Ten years ago, small scale wind turbines in towns and cities were becoming popular as perceived sources of green energy by generating electricity at the point of use. However, research by specialist environmental engineers at the University of Southampton revealed these micro-wind devices were very inefficient and some actually consumed more power than they generated. Publication of their findings in 2009 attracted considerable media coverage and major DIY chain B&Q withdrew from selling domestic wind turbines altogether." http://tinyurl.com/k48fyj7

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  • mrpeteraustin  |  July 14 2014, 1:51PM

    Perfect "example of renewable energy technologies for educational purposes across the district", but not in the way its backers hoped.

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  • Vindpust  |  February 05 2013, 3:18PM

    Far from uncommon. Edie Energy report that, "Four out of ten farmers surveyed by Lloyds TSB Scotland are disappointed with the performance of their wind power investments which they say are producing less income than expected". A couple of other examples: "PLANS to install a wind turbine at a north-east school have received a setback after councillors heard the mast would take more than 100 years to turn a profit. "Aberdeenshire Council wanted to erect the structure at Balmedie Primary School. "Councillors on the Formartine area committee refused to give the project the go-ahead after hearing it would cost £102,156.54 to instal. "'The estimated annual reduction in electricity costs due to the energy produced by the wind turbine is £1,000.' "The report went on to say it would take 100 years to pay for itself without taking into account maintenance or rising energy costs, adding that "the payback period is significantly longer [by at least five times!] than the expected life of the turbine'." ('Balmedie wind turbine plans suffer setback', Press & Journal, 24 March, 2010) And: "A council that spent £100,000 installing two wind turbines on a civic building six years ago have admitted they didn't work because the site was not windy enough. "Kirklees Council placed the turbines on the roof of the Civic Centre in Huddersfield, West Yorks in July 2006 to generate energy and to raise awareness of renewable energy among the thousands of motorists who drive past them every day. "But the six-kilowatt turbines proved to be a costly advertisement and at one point in 2008 were generating a mere £2,078 a year despite the council forking out £6,431 to maintain and repair them over the same period." (Telegraph, 18 May, 2012). Might also mention the hundreds of Proven customers who have been left high and dry after the company, the then largest small turbine manufacturer in the UK, went bust in 2011 following major technical problems with its 'flagship' P35-2 model. Examples like this certainly "raise the profile" of wind power production!

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  • BillBeer  |  February 05 2013, 12:23PM

    This is no surprise to me - I have always said that wind energy is not a viable alternative to conventional power stations because of the narrow parameters within which it can work efficiently. It cannot replace conventional power generaton because, for every MW of installed wind turbines, you have to have a MW of conventional power station on standby, ready to take the load immediately if the wind fails. The only reliable source of energy around the coast would be derived from the tides and currents through the Channel, which will never fail. Putting wind farms out at sea is expensive, un-reliable and a hazard to shipping, apart from being an eyesore.

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