Frequently Asked Questions
- How Effective Are Wind Turbines in producing Electricity and reducing CO2 emissions
- Do Wind Turbines cause Noise and Pollution?
- How long do wind turbines last?
- Can the Grid Cope with Variations in Wind?
- How do wind turbines help Climate Change?
- Impact on Animals and Wildlife
- What about birds?
- What is the Payback Period on a turbine?
- How does wind benefit to the Community?
- What has been the experience of Communities?
- Are there implications for tourism ?
- How will Communities be kept informed?
How Effective Are Wind Turbines in producing Electricity and reducing CO2 emissions
Wind turbines are among the most effective renewable technologies used to generate electricity thereby reducing CO2 emissions
The energy generated by a wind turbine is proportionate to the cube of the local wind speed. Hence the output varies significantly with location, topography and is generally higher close to western coasts.
The productivity of a wind turbine is measured as a percentage of the rated output for a particular unit - known as capacity factor. Taking wind variations that occur with weather conditions and site location as well as turbine profile, into account, a wind turbine will generate about 30% of what it could generate if running constantly at its rated capacity.
A typical wind turbine, rated at 2.0MW, will generate enough electricity to supply over 1,100 homes, thereby saving the emission of over 4,400 tonnes of CO2 by replacing power generation using fossil fuels.
Do Wind Turbines cause Noise and Pollution?
All wind turbines have been designed to minimise any noise arising from their operation.
As part of the wind development site planning process, and in choosing turbines which meet these requirements, standards issued by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) are observed.
Particular care is taken to ensure that the turbines are sited at an appropriate distance from residences and other buildings. Frequently the noise from the wind and surrounding trees and vegetation is more significant than from the turbine itself as noted in the ETSU Working Group guidelines 1996.
Scientists have proven that wind turbines, under normal operation, do not emit any harmful substances and have no adverse impact on vegetation, crops or animals grazing nearby.
How long do wind turbines last?
Modern wind turbines are designed to operate for at least 20 years. However this can be extended by effective scheduled maintenance which is put in place as part of the turbine operating contract
Can the Grid Cope with Variations in Wind?
The power generated by a wind turbine may be used either locally on site, in an industrial or domestic context, or transmitted by the main electricity grid to other users, in the same way as other power stations. Variations in power produced by wind or other sources are normally anticipated in advance by the grid operator and are managed in conjunction with other generators in the system to ensure a stable supply for the consumer. This enables wind power to contribute a growing percentage of total renewable energy requirements for the future.
How do wind turbines help Climate Change?
According to the RSPB, Climate Change is the greatest threat to people and wildlife. The replacement of fossil fuel based power stations with wind turbines is one of the most cost effective and reliable methods of reducing green house gases which are a major contributor to climate change. In this context, the RSPB, Natural England, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature have all expressed their support for wind energy in helping reduce CO2 emissions – one of the most significant contributors to climate change.
Impact on Animals and Wildlife
WhiteRock and its advisors are in communication with organisations such as English Nature, Friends of the Earth and the RSPB to ensure that the design of its wind farms takes does not interfere with animals,wildlife or natural habitats.
Friends of the Earth quotes the RSPB in its website by including the following comment:
“The RSPB supports wind power, and has said that from its own studies at three wind farms in Wales, “the scale of bird strike does not seem to be of serious concern”, and that wind turbines will have little effect on birds outside their main migration routes. Years of experience in other countries have highlighted a few specific problems where wind farms have been sited too close to high concentrations of migrant birds either feeding or roosting. When properly sited, wind turbines present no more of a danger to birds than other structures such as pylons or roads”.
What about birds?
Extracts from the RSPB website indicate that
Switching to renewable energy now, rather than in ten or twenty years time, is essential if we are to stabilise levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at safe levels. Wind power is the most advanced renewable technology available at a large scale during this time period. For this reason, the RSPB supports a significant growth in offshore and onshore wind power generation in the UK.
We believe that this growth can be achieved in harmony with, rather than at the expense of, the natural environment. We will therefore continue to require that wind farms are sited, designed and managed so that there are no significant adverse impacts on important bird populations or their habitats.
Wind power has a significant role to play in the UK’s fight against climate change. With the right strategic approach and planning safeguards, it can be expanded without significant detrimental effects on birds of conservation concern or their habitats. We will work with Government and developers to ensure this outcome.
What is the Payback Period on a turbine?
WhiteRock intends to use new, state of the art turbines but for now will not be able to confirm the model of turbines to be used at its wind farm sites, as this will be subject to availability and further dialog with the planning authorities.
A number of factors influence the time it takes to recover the investment cost of a wind turbine. These include wind speed, power price, capital cost, cost of grid connection and financing structure. As a result it may take up to 10 years in some cases to recover the costs.
How does wind benefit to the Community?
Apart from the positive impact on climate change, WhiteRock believes that the development of a wind farm benefits the local community in a number of ways. For instance, the construction and ongoing maintenance of a wind farm can create opportunities for local contractors. In certain cases,local community activities may be supported by a donation from the project.
What has been the experience of Communities?
In Scotland, existing wind farms found high levels of community acceptance and strong support for wind power, with much support from those who lived closest to the wind farms. Reports indicate that the Scottish public would prefer the majority of their electricity to come from renewables, and have rated wind power as the cleanest source of renewable energy.
Are there implications for tourism?
A summary of the findings in a report commissioned in 2008, by the Scottish Government indicated that,
...our overall conclusion is that the effects are so small that, provided planning and marketing are carried out effectively, there is no reason why the two are incompatible...
How will Communities be kept informed?
In addition to regular consultation with the Statutory Consultees, WhiteRock intends to keep all local communities informed of its proposed developments by way of direct communication, its website and email. WhiteRock is sensitive to the views of local residents and is keen to achieve the highest level of communication and review any concerns with them. Residents will be briefed on how the development will appear on the landscape and will be made aware of any communication with the Planning Authorities in the context of the environmental informed of proposed public exhibitions in each area. These will be held at convenient local venues and will be well advertised.