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John Laing has reached financial close at the 14.35MW New Albion wind farm in England.

The developer has confirmed that the project at Kettering in Northamptonshire will feature seven Senvion MM82 2.05MW turbines (pictured), as reported in subscription-only newsletter reNews last month.

Initial ground investigations and other construction preparations have wrapped up and work to install the turbines and supporting site infrastructure will continue in January.

The wind farm, which was acquired from Infinergy in August and is being developed by John Laing’s wholly-owned special purpose vehicle New Albion Wind Ltd, is scheduled to be fully operational by January 2016.

John Laing chief executive Olivier Brousse said: “Renewable energy remains an important growth sector for us and we have made considerable progress in gaining a strong position in the market.

“The financial close of New Albion follows our recent agreement with Gamesa to install six turbines on the Rammeldalsberget wind farm in Västernorrland, central Sweden.”

The balance of plant contractor will be Dawnus Construction from Swansea and construction services will be provided by PLY Energy. Total capital expenditure for New Albion will be £19m.

Debt financing is provided by Nord/LB, which has acted as sole mandated lead arranger. All output will be sold to Statkraft under a 15-year power purchase agreement.

Source – reNews

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RenewableUK is today highlighting the latest report by the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Select Committee, which has sharply criticised the Secretary of State Eric Pickles for the length of time he’s taking to decide on the numerous onshore wind farm applications in which he has personally intervened in England.

The study, which assess the impact of the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), noted that in 2013 Mr. Pickles approved 81.25% of housing schemes compared with only 28.6% of renewable energy projects. The committee warned that the Secretary of State’s actions risked deterring investors from entering the clean energy sector.

In written evidence to the committee, the Confederation of British Industry said that such intervention is “having a serious impact on investor confidence in the renewable energy sector and indicates a lack of trust by government in the planning profession to interpret policy and guidance appropriately”.

The committee also heard evidence from the Director of Policy and Campaigns at Campaign to Protect Rural England, Neil Sinden, who commented that, “there has probably been far too much ministerial intervention in the decision-making process”.

The CLG committee noted that some wind energy projects have spent more than two years in the planning system due to Mr Pickles’ intervention, so it recommended that the Government should take steps to speed up the process.

RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive, Maf Smith, said; “The British wind industry feels vindicated for taking Mr Pickles to task for his constant meddling in onshore wind applications in England. A cross-party committee of MPs has acknowledged the damage caused by the Secretary of State’s continued interventions in wind projects.

What the CLG Select Committee doesn’t call out though is the blatant political motivation for Mr Pickles’ interference. He needs to be reined in to stop stifling new developments; he’s sacrificing energy security, new jobs and much-needed local investment in the most cost-effective form of renewable energy that we have”

downloadRenewableUK and the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership are today welcoming the announcement by the Business Secretary, Rt Hon Vince Cable, of the development of a National College for Wind Energy. It will be the first National College dedicated to renewable energy in the UK.

The National College, to be based in the Humber area, will provide a ‘hub’ for skills, training and education initiatives. In addition, there will be a network of partners providing education and training across the UK. The primary focus of the Humber ‘hub’ will be offshore wind, where a large growth in skills is needed. The National College will also provide capability to support onshore wind and marine renewables.

The launch of the college is the result of a proposal to Government led by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership and RenewableUK; the project is key to capitalising on the enormous potential that offshore wind plays in the Humber region and elsewhere in the UK.

It is envisaged that the college will open its doors in late 2016, and will award new and mature students with professional qualifications and short courses (post A-level equivalent) in addition to bespoke programmes as directed and sponsored by employers.

Wind Energy is a growing industry with employment is expected to increase thereby greater demand for professional engineers, technicians, and a multitude of other roles, across the UK. Significant investment is needed to develop these skills to ensure the sector is able to meet its requirements. Recent research[1]  provides evidence that employers are already experiencing skills gaps across wind and marine energy technologies, with 37% experiencing hard-to-fill vacancies. A National College for Wind Energy will provide the long-term strategic focus to address these shortages.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “Helping young people acquire advanced technical skills for the industries of the future is vitally important. National Colleges are an essential part of our long term economic plan. The Humber is the natural choice for the HQ of the new National College for Wind Energy.  Through the College, Government and industry are investing in the people who will create local jobs and prosperity for the region. By arming people with the skills they need to be energy specialists we can provide career opportunities for thousands of young Britons, boost the competitiveness of British firms and help the UK economy remain strong for the future.”

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Maria McCaffrey, said: “This is an exciting day for wind energy in this country and a cause for celebration. This unique college will provide cutting edge training for a generation of young people looking for a springboard into renewable energy. We need to ensure we maximise the extraordinary rise of green jobs in the UK; the growth in much-needed wind projects onshore and offshore has created a real demand for new skills and training as the sector goes from strength to strength. The college’s launch means we are one step closer to ensuring our global lead in offshore wind is reflected in home-grown skills as well”.

Lord Haskins, Chair of the Humber LEP commented: “It is excellent news for the region that our bid to establish a National College for Wind Energy in the Humber has been successful. This is a major step forward in achieving the ambition we set out in March for the Humber to be the national centre of excellence for energy skills, and builds on the other investments we are making  training facilities.  We worked closely with Government, industry and education to develop the National College proposal which will focus on delivering excellence in teaching, learning and assessment, underpinned by quality standards set by employers to reflect the sector’s skills needs.”

Mike Parker, Chair of the Humber LEP Employment and Skills Board added: “The Humber is already recognised as the Energy Estuary with twenty five percent of the UK’s energy generation connected to the area.  Our economy is growing; building on their Grimsby presence, Siemens are set to locate in Hull, Eon, Centrica, Vestas and Dong Energy have chosen the south bank of the Estuary as their preferred sites.  Supporting the generation companies is a growing supply chain of maintenance and facilities management. Wind Energy generation is still relatively new and demands higher level skilled employees, the lack of an able qualified workforce has led to the sector facing a serious challenge in filling vacancies. Having a dedicated National College will be a major step forward in helping the UK to bridge that gap.”  

Notes:

[1] Working for a Green Britain & Northern Ireland 2013-2023, published September 2013, Cambridge Econometrics commissioned by RenewableUK and Energy & Utility Skills (http://www.renewableuk.com/en/publications/index.cfm/working-green-britain)

More information on post A-level-equivalent qualifications:   https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/courses/Pages/QualificationsTable.aspx

wind-turbine-maintenance-370x229Almost half of UK homes were powered by wind turbines on Sunday after wind farms racked up a record level of electricity production.

Official National Grid figures showed that on Sunday 7 December an average of 7.315GW of power was produced by wind farms, beating the previous record of 7.234GW set on 3 January this year. This means around 43 per cent of all homes were powered by wind that day, trade body RenewableUK said.

The record comes after preliminary figures showed wind farms provided more than 100 per cent of Scotland’s domestic electricity needs in November.

The figures were welcomed by industry groups who have consistently argued onshore wind is the cheapest form of renewable power and that it remains one of the most popular energy technologies.

Surveys consistently show around two-thirds support and now new research finds most householders are happy to have wind turbines nearby.

A poll carried out by Accent for the Energy Institute and New Power Magazine showed that 61 per cent of householders would accept a wind turbine, or several turbines, within five miles of their home. By contrast just 24 per cent would welcome a gas extraction site and 18 per cent backed local nuclear.

The survey also showed that 54 per cent of UKIP voters and 57 per cent of Conservative voters support wind energy within five miles of their home, despite the leaders of their parties opposing onshore wind.

However, despite its evident popularity, trade body RenewableUK says onshore wind developments are consistently blocked, with Communities Secretary Eric Pickles personally calling in over 50 planning applicationssince June 2013.

“This research shows the majority of people welcome wind turbines near them, and no wonder when they’re providing clean, domestic power when it’s needed most like on cold December Sundays,” Jennifer Webber, director of external affairs at RenewableUK.

“Yet despite voters from across the political divide clearly showing that they want more wind power, it continues to be blocked. It’s time for politicians to get real and show support for the technology which currently powers over six and a half million homes for 5p a day on the average household bill.”

DSCF1125_editedThe Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has today announced its draft budget for 2015/16. The sum will be £3.31bn, of which £2.1bn comes from the public sector. That’s public money being used to subsidise electricity which has already been used.

The cost for subsidising electricity via the Renewable Obligation, is around £2bn, with another 1/2 billion for the FIT, and – since we’re comparing – the latest estimates for fossil fuel support are around £4bn.

All elements of our energy system attract subsidy. What I find distasteful is that the users of nuclear electricity over the last 60 years have handed the cost of dealing with the waste to the citizens of today. Our leaders of yesteryear created a large unfunded moral hazard for future generations. The waste issue remains one of the biggest problems faced by the nuclear industry in their programme for new-build in the 21st century.

The decommissioning figures don’t include any aspect of subsidy for electricity production, or the credit guarantees which have been offered to nuclear projects in the UK. In the future, nuclear will benefit from a very generous subsidy of its own for electricity production, via a 35-year, index-linked Contract for Difference agreement, which will see UK taxpayers making generous contributions to state-owned French and Chinese utilities.

The renewable choice

Renewable energy continues to tumble in cost – the industry expects solar energy to be subsidy-free around the turn of the decade, and onshore wind is projected toreduce its cost by another 10% in ten years. That’s in stark contrast to the nuclear industry which has a history bedevilled by cost and time overruns in its latest projects (Finland and France).

Renewable energy isn’t a panacea to our energy needs – at least not yet. Although renewables have highly predictable output, we’re not able to store significant amounts of electricity on a daily or seasonal basis. That limits the ability of renewables to become the dominant part of our electricity economy, and points to the need for a far greater effort to incentivise R&D in energy storage technologies, and to commercialise those that currently exist.

Expertise in the energy storage and smart energy sectors would serve the UK well in the future, providing us with the opportunity to export goods and services over future decades. And yes, maybe some of those customers might be French and Chinese!

Our energy future, and our hard-earned cash as taxpayers is best served by a massive focus on energy efficiency, increased deployment of existing technologies, and a huge effort in R&D on energy storage and smart energy systems. Let’s run our existing nuclear fleet as hard and as long as it’s safe to do so, and then spend our money where it delivers best for our children and grandchildren; a renewable future.

David Clubb

Director, RenewableUK Cymru at RenewableUK

Richard_Mardon_EandE_conference_crop-20141203120620832Richard Mardon, chief executive officer of Airvolution Energy, was speaking about the financial viability of wind farms at Planning’s energy and environment conference in London yesterday.

He warned that the roll-out of onshore wind in the UK is at risk of being “squeezed out” by government planning constraints, as well as the state of the electricity market.

About 80 per cent of all onshore wind appeals were now being recovered by communites secretary Eric Pickles, Mardon said, with a success rate for projects of 13 per cent.

He said: “I think [Eric Pickles] has over-stretched his remit slightly because he’s actually throwing out schemes that are voted locally as well, so he’s calling in projects that have had recommendation for approval and a local committee has voted in favour of the scheme. That’s localism gone barmy.

“There’s been a number of occasions where he’s overturned an inspector’s decision on approval against the policy judgement which is difficult to interpret.”

Mardon added: “Planning needs to be sorted out; it’s a mess at the moment.”

He also said that wind farm developers feel like they are being “picked on”.

He said: “We try to site projects in a very sensitive way, near brownfield land or motorways. But developers sometimes don’t always get it right. Not all supermarket or housing developers get it right.

“But we seem to be under the spotlight. As soon as one wind farm developer does something wrong, there is talk of banning the whole business.

“It seems a little unfair. We feel like we are being picked on a little bit.”

According to Mardon, about 5,000MW of consented wind farms had still not been built, of which at least 1,000MW will “probably not” be built.

Speaking earlier, Kate Henderson, chief executive of the Town and Country Planning Associationsaid that planning for onshore wind farms has been “politicised beyond belief” by the coalition government.

The Planning for Energy Infrastructure and Environmental Sustainability conference was organised by Planning magazine with ENDS Environmental Data Services and Waste Planning, and sponsored by Border Archaeology and Pegasus Group.