Thursday, 11 March 2010

Major electricity company EDF pulls out of bidding for the Hackney wind turbine because of doubts over wind reliability at the site

''EDF abandons 2012 Olympics turbine due to ‘lack of wind.''' This is what the London Evening Standard's Matthew Beard reported on 21 January this year, yet curiously, this detail is absent from the council's report on its consultation, completed just four days later on 25 January.

It's also missing from the BBC's report, published on 25 January.

There's no mention of the fact that a mainstream electricity supplier - London's largest - has taken itself out the bidding because the resource it needs to make money just isn't there.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Eton Manor wind turbine backgrounder

In its reply to my original FOIA request, Hackney council refers to another proposed windmill at Eton Manor Here's an extract from the section describing this wind turbine:

The proposed wind turbine is a tall, moving structure that is to be located within the Eton Manor site in the north of the Olympic Park. Its maximum height is 130m. Its three blades will move around a horizontal axis and will be connected to the tower at a hub height of up to 83.5m. The diameter of the circle described by the blades may be up to 93m. The flexibility in the height and diameter is required in order that the selection of a manufacturer is not restricted at this stage.

The hub allows the blades to turn towards the wind and contains all of the gearing mechanisms. It is proposed that the turbine will be light grey in colour. The speed of the revolution of the blades will be controlled, with their movement cutting out at low or high wind speeds. The movement of the blades is likely to make this a significant feature that will generally be seen above the existing skyline within views.

The Wind Turbine is to provide renewable energy for the Games and Legacy communities and deliver significant carbon mitigation in supply of energy. A substation enclosure will house the electrical equipment required to connect the turbine into the site-wide electricity network.

What interests me about this high-level description of the Eton Manor turbine is that once again, there's just no mention of its designed power output. Instead, we just have the impressive-sounding claim that it will 'deliver significant carbon mitigation.' How, significant?

Come on. Once again, we need a few hard facts. What's the power output in megawatts?

Hackney's east marsh wind turbine - how the money works

Under my FOIA request dated 8 February 2010, I asked Hackney council:

8) What is the estimated revenue from re-selling the electricity generated by the turbine?

9) What will this revenue be used for?

This is Hackney council's response, dated 8 March 2010:

"In response to the above questions:

The Council will not re-sell the electricity generated by the turbine, but will look to utilise this power for local benefit, for instance to power the borough’s street lighting and main Council buildings."

10) Over how many years will the turbine have paid for itself?

11) Under what budget category is the initial capital outlay?

"In response to the above questions:

The Council does not hold information in relation to Questions 10 and 11. The turbine will be developed by a private company. In developing their proposals, the developer will be expected to consider a full range of financial viability factors."

Hackney wind turbine - enough energy to power a child's torch?

When Hackney Council published its own response to the public consulation ('Green power on Hackney Marshes') it announced:

'The two wind turbines together could generate enough green electricity to power Hackney’s main council buildings and nearly all of its street lighting.'

But as I showed in Facts about the proposed wind turbine on Hackney marshes, Hackney Council just doesn't know how much power could be generated by its proposed turbine. It doesn't know the maximum output and it doesn't know the likely output. It doesn't even know how many days a year the rotor blades won't be turning at all.

Now it may seem a little silly to ask whether a turbine mounted on top of a mast the height of a tower crane could produce enough energy to light a child's torch.

Of course it could. But at the time of posting this, Hackney council just couldn't tell you how many children's torch bulbs it could light.

0.34% of Hackney's resident population responded to the Hackney wind turbine consultation

According to figures published by Hackney council on 10 January 2010, residents overwhelmingly said 'yes' to a turbine on Hackney Marshes. Green Power on Hackney Marshes

But just what does that mean? Well, the percentage in favour sounds robust: 87% of those consulted. But I wanted to know what fraction of the electorate that figure encompasses. Under FOIA, I found out:

Here's my question:

7) What percentage of the population of Hackney does this response represent?

And here's Hackney council's answer:

"In response to the above questions:

712 people responded to the public consultation on the proposal to locate a wind turbine on East Marsh. This represents 0.34% of Hackney’s resident population (estimated in 2008 to be 212,200)..."

So, rather less than one half of a percent of Hackney's population responded to the consultation.

And barely 0.3% of Hackney's residential population positively supported the proposals in the consultation.

Facts about the proposed wind turbine on Hackney Marshes

Hackney's east marsh wind turbine: what the council doesn't, but should know.

1) Hackney council does not know the potential power output of the wind turbine on Hackney Marshes.

2) Hackney council does not know on how many days a year the proposed wind turbine will be able to produce its maximum power output.

3) Hackney council does not know on how many days a year the proposed wind turbine will be able to produce 50% of its maximum output.

4) Hackney council does not know on how many days a year the proposed turbine is predicted to be idling and therefore not producing any electricity whatever.

5) There is no site-specific data on the power-generation capacity of the wind turbine.

6) Hackney council references Ecotricity, a turbine developer with vested interests, in its discussion of modelling carried out on another local site.

Source: The blog author, Alistair Siddons, obtained this infromation from Hackney council under the Freedom of Information Act (2000), on 8 March 2010. Below is a full transcript of the response, as well as the questions I asked under FOIA.

Please note my slip in which in question 1 I describe the marshes as Walthamstow Marhes. However, the context is always clear and in the first line of their response, Hackney council refers, correctly, to the 'proposed wind turbine on Hackney Marshes.'

8 March 2010

Dear Mr Siddons


Thank you for your email of 8 February 2010 in which you requested information regarding the proposed wind turbine on Hackney Marshes.

Your request has been considered and the information requested is below:

1) What studies were carried out to determine the average working capacity of the proposed wind turbine on Walthamstow Marshes? I would like to see a copy of any relevant report.

2) What is the proposed capacity in KW/hrs or MW/hrs of the turbine?

3) For how many days per year is the turbine predicted to be producing the maximum output of the turbine?

4) For how many days per year is the turbine predicted to be producing 50% of its maximum output?

5) For how many days per year is the turbine predicted to be idling?

5a) Have you published any of the figures relating to questions 3, 4 or 5? If so, where?

In response to the above questions:

The Council does not hold information in relation to Questions 1 to 5a. Ecotricity, a turbine developer - working with the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and Lea Valley Regional Park Authority - has assessed the viability of delivering a turbine at Eton Manor, which is land adjacent to East Marsh. The background work undertaken for the Eton Manor turbine project has helped inform consideration of delivering a turbine of a similar specification at East Marsh.

Our ref: LBH57215-10