|An old watermill on the River Teifi at Cenarth Falls|
The Way Forward for Wind?
Renewable energy may well be part of the answer to society's quest for a sustainable future, but converting a dream to reality can prove to be a long and arduous process. Commitment and perseverance are essential qualities. A renewable energy project is not for the fainthearted. That was the message members of Pembrokeshire South East Energy Group took from the talk given by Steve Hack of Seren Energy at their recent meeting.
Steve outlined the five stages that needed to be completed before even a planning application could be lodged As he was aware of the Group's interest in a community wind project, he directly related the processes involved to this form of renewable energy.
The first stage was a review of the proposed site. This was a desk based exercise It involved the confirmation of the average wind speed – generally of over six metres per second – and checking the distance from the nearest properties. Industry guidelines require that there should be no residential property within four hundred metres of the turbine. Other considerations were ease of access and proximity to electricity transmission lines.
The next step was to undertake a full feasibility study. Part of this would be to produce a visual impact map. This identifies areas from which a turbine would be visible within a five mile radius. Photo-montages are also produced. These give a visual indication of how a turbine would look on the site. This can prove tricky as it is often necessary to climb roadside banks or find suitable field entrances to gain a sight of the site. In this stage a full noise impact assessment is also made to ensure that there is no possibility of disturbance in the area.
After this study is completed there is a greater understanding of the suitability of the site. Future stages are identified and the developer has greater confidence to proceed towards planning. He is also more able to accurately assess the financial implications of the project.
Stages four and five involved liaising with the local planning authority, preparing the required specialist studies and finally submitting the planning application. Even if the application is successful there is still much to be done. An anemometer to confirm wind speed must be erected and financial arrangements have to be finalised. The turbine must be ordered and a deposit paid. Delivery time of over a year is not unusual.
Steve went on to describe two of his projects, one at Shipping Hill and one in Lincolnshire. Both had been successful in gaining planning consent. The one in Lincolnshire was particularly interesting in that it provided energy for a co-operative's food processing plant.
Wind was not Steve's only area of expertise. He described a hydro project he was currently developing at his own home at Alltcafan near Newcastle Emlyn. Here there is an existing leat which once turned a traditional mill wheel. The mill is now gone. The plan is now to use the water in the leat to drive an Archimedes Screw that will feed electricity into the Grid.
Many questions then came from the floor. Of particular interest was the time-scale, often apparently as long as three to four years and the very high costs involved, particularly if environmental impact assessments were required. Fortunately these were only normally requested for projects over 5MW.
The Chair thanked Steve for his most impressive and thought-provoking presentation and the meeting continued with reports dealing with various events attended by Group members. Prominent amongst these was a meeting at the Bloomfield Centre, Narberth, attended by Jane Davidson AM Sustainability and Housing Minister, as part of the Climate Change Challenge. The Minister mentioned that she would be writing to all local planning authorities reminding them of their renewable energy targets. Also at Narberth was a meeting organised by PLANED, at which Tobi Kellner from the Centre of Alternative Technology, explained the new very generous feed-in-tariff. It was clear however, that in 2012 there was a very good chance that the Government would reduce this tariff. His advice was clear – if you are thinking of putting photovoltaic panels on your roof – delay could be costly.
The meeting was then updated on the progress of the Dulas energy survey. It was reported that on the basis of the available evidence the best site for the proposed turbine would be on Prout's Park farm at East Williamston. The meeting unanimously accepted the report. It was anticipated that Dulas would complete their work by the middle of January.
Advanced notice was given of the Group's Question Time event due to be held on 28th January 2011. The candidates from the four main political parties for the forthcoming Welsh Assembly Election had agreed to take part and were prepared to answer a wide range of questions on environmental issues. It was agreed to publicise this event as widely as possible.
Notice was also given that the speaker for the next meeting of the Group, to be held on Thursday 20th January at 7pm in the Regency Hall Saundersfoot, would be Steve Keating, Energy Manager for Pembrokeshire County Council.
Steve has been with PCC since 1997 and his role is now to advise and implement energy efficient design and improvements in the County's buildings. Few may realise that economically viable 'green' engineering has long been the Authority's guiding principle. Low energy lighting, natural ventilation, maximum insulation, renewable energy and best practice design to the BREEAM standard all figure prominently in Steve's remit.
His presentation will be of great interest to many. A cordial welcome is extended to all members of the public.
|12th November 2010||How Green is your Castle?: The National Trust & Global Warming|
|15th October 2010||Challenge of the Rising Sea: The effects on the Pembrokeshire coastline|
|10th August 2010||The beautiful Welsh coastline: Response to possible rising sea levels|
|18th June 2010||Visit to Costain at Canaston Bridge: Not Costing the Earth|
|16th April 2010||Feed in Tariffs: Power to the People|
|12th March 2010||Heat Pumps & Photo Voltaic Panels: Prepare for the Goodlife|
|12th February 2010||Parliamentary Candiates at Green Question Time in Saundersfoot|
|15th January 2010||Weather & Climate: A Question of Energy|
|4th December 2009||Sustainable Community Ventures: Regeneration in Pembrokeshire|
|13th November 2009||Community Initiatives: Sustainable Wales leads by example|
|16th October 2009||Climate Change Challenge for Candidates & Micro-generation with wind turbines|
|2nd October 2009||A Visit to Castle Pill Wind Farm: Quiet blows the wind|
|11th September 2009||Renewable Sustainable Energy: An Energy Survey for South East Pembrokeshire|
|10th July 2009||A talk by Lorraine Dallmeier of Infinergy: Wind Power - Pembrokeshire's Potential|
|12th June 2009||St. Oswald's, Jeffreyston - Pembrokeshire's Beacon of Sustainability|
|24th April 2009||Solar Panels: Three Cheers for Sunny Pembrokeshire|
|13th March 2009||Ashton Hayes Community Energy Reduction & Hot Water From the Sun|
|13th February 2009||Could Pembrokeshire go carbon neutral?|
|14th November 2008||Environment Wales to provide 'Start-Up' Funding for PSEEG|
|17th October 2008||PSEEG to become a Registered Charity|