COMMUNITY ENERGY IN GARGRAVE & MALHAMDALE
Wind Power – a role to play in the right location.
The UK is one of the windiest countries in Europe and here, on top of the Pennines, wind is our most prolific source of renewable energy, but also our most controversial!
Large scale onshore wind farms make a cost-effective contribution to the UK’s demand for clean electricity. New technologies such as smart grids and energy storage will, in future, overcome intermittent performance. However the value of their contribution has to be weighed against high visual impact and loss of landscape quality, while expensive undersea infrastructure pushes up the price of electricity generated by offshore wind farms.
Locally our proposed community-owned renewable energy scheme aims to replace as much as possible of our share of national demand from the grid with home grown clean energy. Income from the government’s Feed-in Tariffs (FIT’s) can be used to support local amenities such as village halls, sports facilities, churches, etc. Small scale wind power has a valuable role to play if developed sensitively in consultation with residents, local authorities and the network operator.
The National Grid distributes electricity “downstream” from large central power stations. Hence there is a limit to the amount of energy we can feed “upstream” into the local grid as it stands. What we generate needs to roughly match local demand.
A survey of local energy usage will set an overall target for installed generating capacity. Sensible decisions need to be made as to how best to deploy small scale renewable energy technologies to get the most out of existing solar, wind and other renewable energy resources. As part of this process consultation with residents and local authority planners will minimise environmental and visual impact.
Siting of wind turbines
To be effective, small wind turbines need a site where they can benefit from an average wind speed of around 5m/sec or more, or 11 – 12 mph. When choosing a site it is essential to assess wind speed by erecting an anemometry mast and monitoring wind speed for at least 6 months, preferably a year.
The wind turbine shown here with a capacity of 12kw and a tower height of 15m on a good site with an average wind speed of 5 m/sec will give an output equivalent to the average annual electricity demand of 6 – 7 family homes or, to put it technically, an annual output of 22,500 kWhrs.
While the installed cost per kW of small wind turbines is 3 to 4 times that of solar panels their energy capture is twice as high. Wind provides more energy in winter and at night so will do more to reduce the energy usage of your home or business. In combination they complement each other.
In upper Malhamdale suitable wind turbine sites are unlikely to be found below the 300m (1,000ft) contour while grid connection may be a problem on Malham Moor. Further down the dale and around Gargrave suitable sites at a lower altitude can be found. To be effective the site must be clear of obstructions such as trees or buildings. An arrangement most likely to harmonise with the surroundings would be an appropriately sized turbine situated in the proximity of the settlement it serves. Nearness to a settlement is also necessary for connection to the grid.