EDF Proposal

EDF submitted their application in April 2013, with further “supplementary environmental information” in December 2013.

In November 2014 the developer was granted permission for an 80 metre wind monitoring mast (anemometer) but EDF refuse to make public the data that this mast will provide, claiming that it is “commercially sensitive”. This means that there will be no factual evidence to support their exaggerated claims of electricity output.

It is unusual for a wind farm application to be submitted before the wind data has been recorded because the wind data should be an important part of the decision-making process. Planners are asked to weigh up supposed gains against local environmental harm, but cannot be expected to assess the “gains” without firm proof of electricity output. Wind data needs to be collected for more than a year if it is to be meaningful, because of variability between seasons. Even from year to year, the wind resource can vary by up to 25%.

KHG’s consultants have done their own research on the likely output of this proposed wind farm. Currently available wind data for this area indicates that Bullington would be in the worst 5% of wind farm sites in the UK. Also, daily average wind speeds recorded by the Met Office at nearby Middle Wallop showed that, in the course of 2012, on average only six days a month had enough wind to produce more than a trickle of energy from a wind turbine.

Wind developers routinely exaggerate the output of their proposals. Even with a feeble output they know that there are huge financial gains to be made, due to the bloated subsidy system. However, we pay for their profits, and a wind farm on this site would be a very poor investment for the public.

View the location map here.

The scheme would be for 14 turbines of 2-3 MW, up to 126m high. EDF claim the 28MW power station would produce enough electricity for the annual requirements of 13,000 homes and “potentially” save around 26,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

View EDF’s planning application and promotional material here.

Keep Hampshire Green’s comments on EDF’s claims

Electricity generated

EDF claim their turbines would produce enough electricity for 13,000 homes. Is that a lot?

It is less than half of one per cent of Didcot Power Station’s output (3 million homes). Also, Didcot is able to supply continuous power, whereas Bullington would be unpredictable and intermittent. Average wind speeds in this area are estimated to be 5.5 – 6.5m/s, among the lowest in the country. Wind turbines generate very little energy below 6m/s, so on an average day the output of electricity would be negligible. However, the levels of subsidy are such that it still pays EDF to put up these subsidy harvesting machines.

To match Didcot’s energy output would require more than 3000 turbines stretching over about 1000 square kilometres. The irony is, when the wind stops blowing 3000 turbines would produce nothing and would still need the equivalent of Didcot as back-up power.

The average UK energy consumption per person (all energy, not just electricity) is 125 kwh/day. To supply just 20 kwh/day per person in the UK with wind power would require double the current stock of wind turbines across the whole world. But remember, when the wind drops, turbines still produce nothing.

Carbon saved

EDF claim there would be carbon emissions savings of around 26,000 tonnes annually. Is that a lot?

If we accept this figure, it is less than one millionth of a per cent of global carbon emissions.

The savings are based on the assumption that wind power would slightly reduce fuel consumption at conventional power stations, which we would not dispute. EDF’s figure is based on the current mix of power generation feeding into the grid. However, as coal fired generators (such as Didcot) are closed down, that mix will change and the carbon savings will be less. Gas fired power stations, for example, have half the emissions of coal, and nuclear power stations emit nearly no carbon at all.

Several academic papers have attempted to estimate the carbon savings of a wind power system, taking into account the need for gas-fired back up power stations. Some estimate an actual increase in carbon emissions, but even the most optimistic of these suggest we should reduce EDF’s figure to around 10,000 tonnes of carbon saved. Taking that figure, we would need 2 million ‘Bullingtons’ (28 million turbines) to make 1% difference to global carbon emissions.

Income and subsidies

The wind industry has been keen to hide the true costs of providing them with profits and there is a great deal of misleading information in the public arena so we have tried to establish what the figures really are.

EDF will not confirm our figures but standard figures would suggest that an income of around £6 million per year could be expected. Around half of this (£3m) would be subsidies mainly in the form of Renewable Obligations Certificates (ROCs). This subsidy is paid for nationally through additions to our electricity bills. Electricity from land-based wind turbines is therefore supplied into the grid at twice the price of conventional electricity.

We estimate annual running costs at about £3m, so the £3m “profit” to EDF is entirely made up of subsidy.

If it supplied 13,000 homes, EDF would be claiming £231 subsidy per household supplied.

“The real tragedy of the large-scale dash for wind (across Europe) is that the public have been misled... It is a remarkable achievement to drive up costs, reduce competitiveness and security of supply, and still make little impact on emissions.”
Professor Dieter Helm, Energy Economist, Oxford University