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."