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Got a wind farm nearby? Could you save on your energy bills?

Paper windmills made out of currency in note form

Would you back local wind farms if they gave you discount on your energy bills? Good Energy’s founder Juliet Davenport explains why the company is trying to ensure that local customers share in their success.

We recently announced that we’d be launching the UK’s first dedicated local electricity tariff early next year. Households situated close to our Delabole wind farm in Cornwall are set to save more than £100 a year with 20% off our standard electricity tariff. And if the wind turbines perform better than expected, then there will be an additional discount of up to £50.

The scheme will be available to around 300 existing and new customers who live within two kilometres of the wind farm. We also plan to develop a range of new renewable energy sites over the next four years, and we will offer this tariff to residents near to any wind farm we build over a 4MW in size.

Rewards for local communities

For us, the rationale for launching a local tariff is quite simple – we think it’s only right that those communities playing a role in supporting the kind of projects that can help deliver better energy security and lower our carbon emissions should be recognised for doing so.

I think that wind power has a huge role to play in meeting the UK’s future energy needs, and it’s only right that local communities should be recognised for their contribution to tackling climate change and reducing the UK’s reliance on expensive imported fossil fuels.

The question is, would you be happy for a new wind farm to be built near you if you could directly draw from its energy and enjoy a discount on your bills?

Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from Juliet Davenport, Good Energy’s CEO and founder. All opinions expressed here are Juliet’s own, not necessarily those of Which?.

Comments

Lobro, many thanks for suggesting that book; it looks very readable and I’ve ordered the paperback version.

Lobro and Malcolm R, the undersea turbine I mentioned was harnessing the power of the tidal stream, and therefore no barrage was involved. (I remember from my sailing days that folk were often surprised to learn that tides move horizontally as well as vertically!). I just googled ‘Tidal stream generator’ and got 850,000 results. It seems that things are at last moving and I see that Malcolm has already found details of the Siemens device. I know nothing about the practicalities of these things but suspect that much more effort should have been put into this generation method instead of messing about with intermittent wind turbines that need backing up by conventional power stations.

Like Billy I see this as more of a bribe, a bit like developers offering Councils a school in exchange for letting them build new homes on greenfield sites! Windfarms on hills are a worse eyesore than the existing pylons that track across our beautiful landscapes. The best sources are solar panels and tidal power. The latter is underdeveloped and more complex but tides are constant and this is good for energy production, unlike the vagaries of wind (too strong or too slight). Wind turbines in an industrial estate are probably just acceptable but as Billy states the carbon consumption in their production and intallation is probably disproportionate. I hate to say it but Nuclear has attractions. How do the French manage it? Given that the Government has chosen to let the free market prevail and allow, mainly, overseas companies to manage our utilities we are in big trouble. Can you imagine the USA tolerating this situation? Where do the profits and tax go? In such a small Nation as the UK it is probablybetter, on balance, to have a nationalised industry. Maggie did a disservice.
Brian.

Brian, I agree with a nuclear future but am worried about fusion. I have just heard that the US has just abandoned its laser fusion programme! Sad but ineviatable. In my view from a professional point-of-view, fusion is very unlikely to provide us with small modular distributed sources of energy that mankind needs to be able to sustainabley grow.
The future for my children and grandchildren has to be shale gas CCG turbines for 100+ years then thorium reactors for over 50,000 years. Unfortunately the UK politicians have given away all our nuclear capability (Westinghouse to Japan) and the US have run away (thorium to China) . But fracking will see me and mine looked after.

Marie says:
8 December 2012

I would rather see small local community projects for energy and all houses required to have pv and solar panels where at all practical;
Small wind turbines are possible on the tops of houses, in gardens etc;
All tower blocks should be self sufficient.
UK building regulations should stipulate this as compulsory in all new and refurbished buildings. The extra cost would be small compared to the life time savings on fuel.
If a house is properly built there should be minimal variation in temperature inside all year round. I have a friend who is an architect and has successfully built homes like this for decades.
We don’t need huge wind farms or nuclear power stations.
Require companies to produce all their own power.

Domestic wind turbines proved a failure in most situations, and domestic PV only seemed economic with a subsidy via the original excessive feed in tariff – and I don’t want to subsidise uneconomic personal projects. Larger-scale pv may be a better bet.
Heat pumps can extract 2-3 times the energy for the input, but again the capital cost must be weighed against the savings. You are right about energy conserving houses, and this should be the focus – as well as improving insulation in existing housing. Again, it all comes at a cost, and you need to look at the pay-back period. Making energy suppliers provide this insulation and retrieving the cost through your energy bill – at a low interest rate – seems a fair way to fund it.

A little off topic but I would like to see solar PV installed in new housing, taking advantage of the economics of bulk installation. I don’t see why the feed-in tariff should be any greater than what the householder pays for electricity. Those who can afford to install solar PV should be encouraged to act responsibly and do so.

It would be so nice to think that as individuals we could build our own low-energy shelter and not depend on hand-outs from the rest of the community. But I don’t think that many people understand just how much energy we need to live as happy as we are in dear old UK. The problem is that, if you look at all the electricity the average citizen consumes in an average day to provide us with food, health, transport , warmth, light, public services, entertainment and the internet . . .etc. It works out at about 130kWhrs per day! I don’t think that the few Whrs we could save with dim lights, switching off chargers and stand-by would be worth the hastle. I must repeat, if you dont believe me go and download a free copy of David MacKay’s book. It is a free PDF from http://www.withouthotair.com/download.html. He may be a Fellow of the Royal Society but it is put in a straight-forward way and is very very readable. He spells out just where we depend on electricity in the UK and looks at the myths that we (and our politicians) heve been brain-washed into believing.

I do urge you to think about all those attitudes to sustainable living we rushed into accepting in the early days of our desires to ‘save the planet’. Think again and re-appraise the true situation. We (and the rest of the world) have tasted the electric apple, we like the flavour and want more of it – so what do we have to do to get it? Wind farms are no answer nor are uncontrollable and other intermittant sources of electricity without efficient energy storage and funding of their manufacturing and maintenance costs.

lobro – the overall reduction in UK demand for electricity last year was 9.3% less than in 2007. Domestic energy consumption has fallen by 9.5% since 2007 and forms 30% of total consumption. So making changes has helped, and making more changes will continue to be significant. Every 3% reduction at home will save the national consumption 1%. Also cut down on your car usage – lots of scope there for energy saving. Keep trying!

We’ve all drifted off-topic a bit. The original question was, ‘Would you back local wind farms if they gave you discount on your energy bills?’ My answer to that is a definite no; not in a million years. Nor would any other rural dweller with whom I’ve discussed this. We know that if a wind ‘farm’ is placed near us we stand to have our environment degraded and our homes devalued, possibly massively. Under these circumstances the offer of reduced electricity prices is quite insulting.

Gordon Hogg says:
20 December 2012

As someone who does not live in an area that could benefit from wind power (unsuitable sighting) I do not see why I should subsidize a bribe to make them palatable to the local communities that are having them foisted on them. I would also suggest that most wind farms benefit the large companies and large land owners at the expense of the mainly relatively poor consumers through the huge subsidies paid to get them and keep them going. I live in central Scotland, and at the moment, I can drive from Lockerbie in Dumfriesshire to Livingston in West Lothian (a drive of 65 miles) and only be out of the sight of a wind farm for about five minutes and this is only the beginning. I am no fan of Donald Trump but I agree on his analysis of the economics of wind generated electricity: mad! There has to be back up base load powerstation that must be in place when the wind does not blow often on calm days in winter when peak demand is needed. Another point is if we are serious about saving the planet nuclear power is by far the best option as it produces no CO2 after construction. If one witnesses the destruction to the landscape i.e. great tracks of moor being destroyed for access roads on the hills (remember the size of these blades and towers), thousands of tons of concrete for stable bases. There has been a report this week (see Scotsman) reporting on research done in Denmark that the lifespan of these huge turbines in now only 10 years giving the increase in size and wind strain in Scotland. I could go on…

FINSBURYPARKER says:
20 December 2012

Hello Gordon,

You don’t have to explain the stupidity of these Turbines to me, only to those that have little or no knowledge of the logistics of the need for a stable ‘Base Load’ for out Industry!

My analogy of the situation is as follows:-

EASTER ISLAND REVISITED.

In years to come, when all that is left of the Wind Turbines will be a few rusted stumps, like rotten teeth protruding from the earth as a testimony to man’s folly, exactly like the Easter Island Monoliths, mankind will ponder the reason for their mystical existence.

Guided tours will be arranged, and money extracted from gullible tourists.

Academics will write various essays & books on them, a latter day Eric Von Daniken will tell them that they are remnants of a visit by Extra Terrestrial beings, Archaeologists of the day will explain them away as remains of a once super race like the ones who inhabited that fabled Island Atlantis.

But the real truth will be, we were just as ******** stupid as the Easter Islanders!

Regards Gordon.

KEN.

It’s quite farcical how often we have to hear some bore tell us all about base load, or about how nuclear is the answer to all of our problems.

Wind on its own is not a solution, but it’s certainly part of the solution – whether it’s really more effective to be building these on land rather than at sea is another matter, as is how the Government chooses to provide incentives.

FINSBURYPARKER says:
20 December 2012

Its not even ‘Part’ of the solution!

Yes, we do need reliable non polluting energy sources, its just that wind turbines aren’t it, or even part of it!

It will take time for the penny to drop, but, it will eventually!

Electricsaver1200 says:
5 March 2014

Having wind turbines on my back yard is truly amazing, I can save more on my bills and I can always gaze at the beauty of the turbine almost everyday… Its clean, green and I save more..

Anyone know if windfarms were working during the heavy winds we had in Dec/Jan or were they all switched off?

FINSBURYPARKER says:
5 March 2014

If the wind speed is above a certain level, (and they would have been during the recent storms) the blades automatically ‘Feather’, the same as they do on prop driven air planes when an engine fails, to reduce drag, therefore, there would have been no energy production.

Check out the links below for alternative energy!

Way to go?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3rL08J7fDA

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flibe_Energy

Sorry, I should have emphasised the tongue in cheek aspect of my question.

FINSBURYPARKER says:
5 March 2014

I knew it was a ‘Tongue In Cheek’ post Will, I just used the opportunity to post the links I did for the mentally challenged on here Will!

It’s time we abandoned on-shore wind farms and worked on tidal energy – constant, predictable, reliable and surrounds our island. Also pretty green.

FINSBURYPARKER says:
5 March 2014

Trouble is, most of the Tidal/wave schemes would not be as visible as ‘In Your Face’ Wind Turbines.

Govs: like the Wind Turbines as a statement akin to ‘Look, We Are Doing Something’ to impress the Greenies, we hear what you say, and yes, we know they are useless, but, look how tall and impressive they are!