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Small wind turbines risk 'undermining credibility' of wind energy

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: February 06, 2013

Dale Vince says older small wind turbines are badly designed

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The West’s leading green energy pioneer said small wind turbines are giving wind energy a bad name because they are poorly designed and “risk undermining the credibility” of wind energy.

Dale Vince, who built his first wind turbine 18 years ago near Stroud and now runs Ecotricity, said his firm was switching its attention to making a new kind of small windmill, to save the industry from criticism of wind power.

Mr Vince, who has used some of his green energy wealth to buy up Forest Green Rovers FC, said a new kind of British designed wind turbine, called the Urbine, could be the saviour of the wind power industry, amid attacks from anti-wind protesters who claim turbines are too inefficient to be worth erecting.

Mr Vince said large-scale wind turbines, like the ones he is still battling to build next to the M5 in Gloucestershire and Somerset, are fine, but smaller “micro-windmills” that are bought and erected with little planning fuss on buildings, schools, farms and homes are not efficient.

That is because they are merely scaled-down versions of big turbines, and their lack of efficiency and poor design quality “risked undermining the credibility of wind energy”.

“Most micro windmills on the market are simply scaled down versions of large wind turbines and that is a mistake,” said Mr Vince. “We don’t want people getting disillusioned and becoming sceptical about renewable energy because they buy a small windmill and it doesn’t work as well as it could.

“Large windmills rotate on a horizontal axis and do a great job because they turn themselves to track prevailing winds, but our 20 years of experience have shown us that closer to the ground and in more built-up areas, you get different conditions with the wind constantly changing direction,” he added.

His new Urbine micro-wind turbine is about to be tested next to Ecotricity’s first wind turbine, near Nailsworth, before undergoing more official performance certification tests in Scotland. Mr Vince said it could be as much as 40 per cent more efficient than other small windmills.

“Small windmills with that horizontal design spend too much time searching for the wind,” he said.

“So we’ve created a British-designed, British-made micro windmill that is an excellent piece of engineering; it’s super-efficient and has great potential for the creation of new green jobs,” he added.

“It’s a really exciting time and the world is about to see a range of new green innovations emerge – machines that harness wind, wave and tidal power – and will once again have ‘Made in Britain’ stamped on them,” he said.

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  • siarad2  |  February 07 2013, 11:42AM

    It's a bit worse than you think there are more turbines, 4,366. The rip-off is quoting power, MW, pretty meaningless instead of energy, MWh. My car has a power of 80kW but thankfully isn't consuming fuel sat in my drive, likewise turbines don't produce energy equal to their power for MOST of the time. Those turbines only produced last year 19,914,295 MWh of energy from an installed power of 8292MW i.e only 27% of power. No conventional power stations have been hurt in the making of this :-) What is the point of wind power's vast subsidies if we have to keep all the existing power stations as backup. This 'spinning reserve' negates 7% of wind energy generated, cutting that 27% to nearer 25%, equivalent to generating just 6 hours a day a 42 hour working week! within the EU working time directive LOL Have to think that value is twice what guessing looking at the yearly graph seems to me. http://tinyurl.com/6ja8btf

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  • johndavies  |  February 07 2013, 10:43AM

    Dale Vince ! Would that be the same Dale Vince who- Drives £750,000 'eco'car part funded by……..us Is worth £90million (2010) Owner & chairman of Forest Green Rovers Salary £145,000 And lives very comfortably on subsidies derived from our energy bills. Doesn't like "attacks from anti-wind protesters who claim turbines are too inefficient to be worth erecting." Well, over the last 4 days we've had gales at just about the ideal speed for max output & our entire UK fleet of 4,158 windmills (on & offshore) gave us a max of 5GW. Now wind is dropping back to normal they are giving only 1.73 GW, that's just 3.5% of today's demand. See- This http://tinyurl.com/6ja8btf site it gives UK Grid status - demand & generation by fuels.….. now + Day, Wk, Mth, Yr, history. * Caution *, scales are all different so don't compare at first glance !! Look at the figures !! So as they are not very effective at energy production…..maybe it's the money !! Here are the subsidy levels for various generators for 2010, Wind - £0.7bn per year for 2.6% of our electricity = £0.27bn per % delivered. Nuclear - £0.5bn per year for 20% of our electricity = £0.025bn per % delivered. Oil, gas and coal - £3.6bn per year for 75% of our electricity = £ 0.048bn per % delivered. So, the subsidy wind receives is an order of magnitude GREATER than Nuclear or Fossil fuels. In excess of £1 billion in wind subsidies was given away in 2012, … and the ROC & FIT schemes will continue to pay cash to developers at these levels, increasing year on year until 2037. Nice scam Dale !! More Dale detail here - http://tinyurl.com/bpojd2v & http://tinyurl.com/aa2h4o8

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  • siarad2  |  February 06 2013, 4:11PM

    Sounds like a vertical windmill, none has proved efficient. However good luck it's about time we had Made in Britain again.