German utility giant RWE caused a stir yesterday by threatening the movement of a UK community wind farm. The company may want to move the wind turbines to make way for its new nuclear power station at Kirkstanton in Cumbria, England.
The Haverigg wind energy project owned by Windcluster, Baywind and Triodos Renewables was constructed in 1992 and is one of the first non-utility operated wind energy projects in the UK. The wind farm was later expanded to a total of eight wind turbines and is said to be locally popular.
Talking about the Government’s allocation of nuclear power station sites, Matthew Clayton from Triodos Renewables said “It’s staggering that they don’t exclude areas that are already productive sites for renewable technologies as part of the initial screening process. It just isn’t very joined up. They’re stamping out prime wind sites with arguably a much less sustainable technology.”
Baywind Director Annette Heslop said “to face the prospect of having part of Baywind casually destroyed in this way is completely unacceptable. There is inequity in the approach by the Government towards nuclear, such as a dedicated website by decc where is the equivalent for wind power? If a tiny fraction of the money pumped into nuclear plants was instead to be devoted to community renewables we might all face a much more sustainable future in which ordinary people owned their own energy supplies.”
RWE- one of the ten biggest carbon dioxide emitters in the world is also looking at other sites in England and Wales for new nuclear power stations. An RWE spokesperson said plans to move the wind turbines were by no means certain but that “an overlap could lead to some turbines needing to be moved…but we would have to discuss that with the operator and landowner“.
Government ministers expect a total of ten new plants to be built in the UK by 2020 at a cost of around £8.6bn (US $12.5bn) for each. UK energy companies are being incentivised to build new nuclear plants as the cost could initially be less than generating from coal fired power stations. This is not to say that building and operating nuclear plant is cheaper – however companies are not required to buy carbon emission permits and it is likely that government will “help” with the financial liability for decommissioning the nuclear power stations and waste disposal – another big bill for the next generation.