Farmers could bear brunt of Tory wind farm plans

April 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

FARMERS are being urged to get the ball rolling with wind turbine installations after the Conservative Party vowed to axe public subsidies for new onshore wind.

The Conservatives said the changes, which could also give councils the power to block new schemes, would come into force within six months if they win the 2015 general election.

Existing wind farms and those already granted planning permission would be protected from the changes.

Energy Minister Michael Fallon said these installations would be enough to meet the 2020 emissions targets set by the European Union, meaning any further developments should not be subsidised in the form of Feed-in Tariffs. (See chart for current tariffs).

Farmers have been quick to take advantage of the benefits wind energy can bring to their farms, including slashing energy bills and generating an extra income from the land. However, experts said turbines still make good business sense on farms which use large amounts of electricity.

Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Ed Davey said putting the brakes on onshore wind would be ‘disastrous’ for business and jobs in the green economy.

Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Donna Hume said the decision did not make sense when onshore wind has fallen so dramatically in price.

Feed-in Tariff (FiT) payment rate table for wind installations (April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015):

Total installed capacity (TIC) ….. Tariff (p/kWh)

Wind with total installed capacity of 1.5kW or less – 17.78 p/kWh

Wind with total installed capacity greater than 1.5kW but not exceeding 15kW – 17.78

Wind with total installed capacity greater than 15kW but not exceeding 100kW- 17.78

Wind with total installed capacity greater than100kW but not exceeding 500kW – 14.82

Wind with total installed capacity greater than 500kW but not exceeding 1.5MW  - 8.04

Wind with total installed capacity greater than 1.5MW – 3.41

Source: DECC

View from the expert: Ivo Arnus is business development director at wind turbine specialists Norvento

Will Conservative Party plans to cut back on planning permission for onshore wind farms significantly harm farmers’ plans for turbines?

They will harm the appetite for big wind farms, which in turn might actually have a positive impact to smaller developments within the FIT scheme. In our experience, smaller schemes with single or twin mid-size turbine installations seem to have better response from the local communities as they are less visually intrusive than their large scale counterparts.

Are medium scale wind turbines still a good deal for farmers?

Medium wind turbines are a good deal. There are still a number of different ways that farmers can choose to work with developers that offer a good return, and indeed, which can be tailored to suit a particular farm’s risk profile. What we offer at Norvento for example, is the opportunity for the farmer to either buy the turbine out right and receive the full FiT payment, or lease the land back to us for a turbine installation and receive a smaller but stable rental income. In both types of installation, farmers still have the opportunity to benefit from the energy generated on site should the turbines be connected to their own grid. The UK FiT for medium wind is still one of the most promising European wind markets.

Is there anything farmers can consider to ensure that planners look favourably at their turbine planners?

They need to size the development according to their needs and the visual impact generated to the community. Siting properly is key not only to avoid visual impact but also ecology and heritage issues. Finally, they need to consult with their local community well in advance to get a good understanding of the opinion and likelihood of having the community’s approval for such development.


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