Memorandum by the British Wind Energy
BWEA, established in 1979, now represents 170
companies involved in UK wind energy, including all existing onshore
developers (422.2MW of capacity at the time of writing), together
with all of the companies holding agreements for lease for offshore
windfarms. It represents the wind industry in negotiations with
the Crown Estate and DTI on the development of "further offshore".
Wind energy is widely expected to form at least
half of the envisaged target of 10 per cent of electricity from
renewables by 2010. It is BWEA's view that this may prove to be
a conservative estimate, given the uncertain deployment of biomass
and the exclusion of energy-from-waste from renewable obligation
The Committee has asked for answers to a number
Given the imminent dependence of the UK on energy
imports, how can the UK maintain a secure energy supply? What
mix of fuels would maximise security?
Indigenous sources clearly offer the greatest
security of supply. Wind energy is one of the greatest renewable
energy resources available to the UK, with the technical potential
to meet total demand eight times over. Approximately 40
per cent of the available wind energy resource in Europe occurs
in the UK. Most envisaged onshore and offshore schemes should
generate within the range of the price indicated in the renewables
obligation. It is difficult to imagine a sustainable UK energy
mix without significant volumes of wind energy.
Wind energy is unlikely ever to represent a
threat to system, as a loss of even 1000MW of wind at once is
arguably less likely than the regularly occurring temporary unavailability
of say, a large conventional plant or an interconnector.
It is also worth noting that a system with more
"embedded" plant could accommodate considerably more
than a conservatively estimated 10-20 per cent of "intermittent"
generation within the existing grid. This issue is being examined
by both the Foresight programme and the Embedded Generation Co-ordinating
Group. Already, both German and Danish systems operate satisfactorily
with high levels of wind generation.
The fuel source (wind) is not vulnerable to
economic or political activity outside of the UK. Renewables at
large, but in particular wind farms, are geographically widely
dispersed and are, therefore, physically difficult to disrupt.
Moreover, renewables, again in particular wind
energy, are not vulnerable to variance in fuel costs. Therefore,
price is more predictable than fuels at the mercy of global markets.
Is there a conflict between achieving security
of supply and environmental policy? What is the role for renewables,
and Combined Heat and Power schemes?
A progressive and planned movement towards a
sustainable energy mix is the lowest pain route for the necessary
changes in system, market and public attitudes. We recommend an
early announcement of the extension of the initial 10 per cent
target to enable both generation and supply companies to plan
for further development of renewables which would offset the scheduled
closedown of thermal plant.
Although we offer no particular comment on combined
heat and power, we are working closely with our colleagues in
the Combined Heat and Power Association on matters directly affecting
our technologies, notably the inequities of NETA and its operation.
What scope is there for further energy conservation?
Energy conservation and good practice is key
to reducing demand. However, there will always remain a demand
for energy (electricity demand grows by ca. 2 per cent annually).
Therefore, we believe the best strategy will be to secure increasing
volumes of low-environmental impact and high-security sustainable
What impact would any changes have on industrial
competitiveness and on efforts to tackle fuel poverty?
The opportunities afforded by a significant
offshore wind industry present a rare opportunity for offshore
oil and gas companies to diversify into the supply and support
of offshore wind. BWEA has been awarded a contract by the Oil
& Gas Directorate of the DTI to forge such links. This suggests
that competitiveness can be enhanced, particularly as the UK is
self-evidently blessed with extensive wind resources. Other European
countries are also developing offshore wind and will require installation
and deployment technology, particularly of an innovative (and
cheaper) type than currently available, which could be supplied
from the UK.
Is any change of Government policy necessary?
How could/should Government influence commercial decisions in
order to achieve a secure and diverse supply of energy?
The introduction of the Renewables Obligation
appears to have had a positive effect on the incentives for companies
to invest in, and develop, wind energy projects. For example,
the so-called first round of offshore windfarms proved to be more
popular and (at the time of writing) will lead to perhaps three
times as much installed wind as was envisaged by both ourselves
and the Crown Estate. Offshore development is taking place in
a market largely unsupported by Government (other than by the
Similar, though less tangible, improved rates
of development are taking place onshore, particularly in Scotland,
with so-called "fully commercial" projects, both large
and small, recently constructed.
However, in our submission to the Government's
ongoing Energy Review, we identified four major areas of concern
that are, in our view, key to the success of growth in the wind
energy sector. The first three of these were identified in the
PIU's renewable energy scoping note. All are within the direct
influence of Government. These concerns are as follows:
1. THE DIFFICULTIES
Considerable progress has been made in Scotland
in the successful operation of the planning system to deliver
renewable energy targets. Quite the opposite has occurred in Wales.
In England the industry awaits the uncertain outcome of the process
begun with the regional assessments of renewable energy resources.
The Energy Minister reported in the Commons
on 16 October, "By promoting the development of regional
plans for renewable energy, and through the proposed update of
National Planning Policy Guidance Note on Renewable Energy (PPG22),
the Government are seeking to ensure that local planning decisions
on proposed wind energy projects are taken in the context of wider
We do not yet understand how the resource studies
will be converted in regional plans (or as previously described,
planning targets), or how central Government will work with regions
and locally in promoting the appreciation and implementation of
In 2000, the Association published a document
"Planning for wind energy: a guide for regional targets"
in which we illustrated how the DTI's indicated onshore target
might be deployed across the UK.
It has also been suggested that the planning
policy guidance note might usefully be updated. Although it is
true that certain parts of the note would benefit from updating
(eg the sections dealing with the technology) it is not our view
that this is the single most important task facing the industry
and we would be concerned if this document (which has been disregarded
in previous planning applications) was seen as overly significant.
This Association is a strong advocate of community-involved
projects. Whereas these might not directly involve, say investment,
close links between developers and local communities have proved
key to the success of recent positive decisions. Initiatives directly
involving farmers, for example have proved popular. The Association
is increasingly contacted by companies with land (and/or grid)
assets looking to develop their sites, either for on-site generation
or for leasing to development companies.
This is a complex issue, but essentially reflects
the changing nature of generation; from large-scale distributed
generation to smaller-scale, embedded projects. Related to this
are questions about the cost of connection and how these should
be borne, particularly in the context of large offshore sites.
We are currently recommending that the provision of additional
grid reinforcement/availability would be of the greatest value
in securing renewables development.
3. THE EFFECT
It is our firm view that NETA is, in its operation,
unfair to wind energy, adding an unnecessary additional cost to
generation. Although trading may be able to minimise the impact,
particularly on larger, or quasi-vertically integrated companies,
there remains a risk, which adds a cost. It may be a side-effect
of the implementation of NETA that smaller (and in particular,
very small, so-called "community schemes") are made
unviable because of the additional costs, and therefore reduce
competition in the market. We are in dialogue with the regulator
on this matter.
To quote from our formal submission to the regulator,
". . . despite the emphasis on reliability and predictability,
perhaps . . . thermal plant presently receives favourable treatment
under NETA. We noted that reserves are primarily influenced by
the need to cover against the loss of the largest unit on the
systemnormally Sizewell B. The cost of these reserves is
not, however, charged to that station and we therefore find it
even more incongruous that the risks associated with wind on the
systemnon-existent at the momentshould be so heavily
We therefore [propose] that wind generators
be exempted from exposure to the balancing market for a limited
period of timeeither until satisfactory and fair arrangements
are made, or until the amount of wind on the system reaches the
point where measurable operational penalties are incurred. This
is not "special pleading" for wind, rather a reversal
of the present situation where wind receives unfair treatment".
This occurs at all levels, from local populations
wary of unfamiliar technology, to a generalised tendency to prefer
the status quo in large institutions as diverse as MoD,
NGC and Ofgem.
To help overcome this latter point, a genuinely
integrated effort between Government departments, with a supporting
"awareness of need and familiarity with the technology"
information programme would be a considerable boon to introducing
more renewables into the system. This would be helpful whether
the agenda was climate change, sustainable generation, security
of supply or any similar policy agenda.
Wind energy is a well-established technology,
with more than 20,000MW installed around the world. Typical prices
for onshore generation in the UK are between 3-4p/kWh. Wind energy
is secure and sustainable. Significant volumes of wind energy
can be integrated into the grid to replace scheduled shutdown
of thermal plant without disruption to supply. Wind's intermittency
does not threaten grid stability. Offshore wind is itself a potentially
large industry. The UK is the windiest country in Europe.
For your convenience, I have appended both our
submission to the Energy Review team and our letter to the regulator,
together with a copy of our document "Planning for wind energy:
a guide for regional targets" which outlines an equitable
regional split of the DTI's scenario for onshore wind energy [not
Further details on many of these topics are
available at our web-site www.bwea.com and www.offshorewindfarms.co.uk
We will be pleased to make ourselves available
for oral examination by the Committee at its convenience.
31 October 2001