UK Energy Minister launches rural wind energy scheme

Brian Wilson, UK Minister of State for Industry and Energy yesterday launched “WindWorks” – National Wind Power’s new scheme for small wind energy projects typically comprising one, two or three wind turbines. The service will help farmers and landowners to develop a low-risk income stream from the wind and make important contributions towards the UK’s renewable energy targets.

The WindWorks package offered by Innogy subsidiary, National Wind Power (NWP), allows landowners to benefit from an income derived from electricity production without the financial risk associated with a new small scale venture. With farmers incomes estimated to have fallen on average to just over à‚£4000 as a result of BSE and the foot-and-mouth crises, a two or three turbine scheme would allow farmers to double their income on average, according to the Department of Trade and Industry.

Brian Wilson said, “This scheme offers a great opportunity for small scale involvement in the generation of electricity from wind power. Many farmers will look with interest at the chance to create another revenue source while contributing to the drive for green energy.”

The Government is supporting the development of a renewable energy industry and aims too create a ௿½1 billion market for green energy by 2010. It is encouraging interested individuals and groups to come forward and participate in the DTI’s renewable research and development fund, designed to stimulate growth in green energy in a community friendly way throughout the UK, said Wilson. Electricity generated from sustainable sources will benefit from subsidies.

Alan Moore, managing director for National Wind Power, said, “The WindWorks service enables farmers to benefit from a sustainable, environment-friendly income provided by wind energy projects. It is bringing to the UK a formula that has for years been successfully implemented in Denmark – the world’s leaders in wind energy. If we can replicate the success that small wind projects have had in Denmark and elsewhere, it will greatly help in meeting the UK’s renewables targets.

The National Farmers’ Union supports the use of renewable energy and sees wind farming as an opportunity for farmers to supplement their depleted incomes. Likewise, the Country Land and Business Association (previously known as the Country Land Owners Association) supports the development of renewable energies including winds, and sees them as an “opportunity for a profitable contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases.”

The UK aims to generate ten per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2010. This would save the annual release of about nine million tonnes of carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere from fossil fuel power stations.

Farmers or landowners that sign up for the programme will be responsible for obtaining all necessary planning permissions. NWP will offer guidance and assistance in this process as part of the package.

When consent has been granted, NWP will manage the arrangements for grid connection, the financing and purchasing of the wind turbines, the construction of the turbine foundations and the installation and commissioning of the turbines. Typically this will take about six months.

Throughout the life of the project, NWP will carry out operations and maintenance to ensure that the project runs reliably and safely and will make payments to the landowner (plus any other required payments e.g. rates and insurance) in accordance with the agreement between NWP and the landowner.

At the end of the project’s life (about 20 years) NWP will be responsible for its decommissioning and the reinstatement of the site. If the landowner wishes to have new turbines installed this can then be negotiated and – subject to planning consent being granted for the new turbines – implemented.

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