Renewable Energy Foundation

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Transmission Constraint Licence Condition Consultation

REF has responded to the Ofgem consultation on the future of the Transmission Constraint Licence Condition as follows:

1. The Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) is a UK charity that publishes data and analysis on the renewable energy sector. The costs of payments to on- and off-shore wind farms to reduce output during periods of constraints are included in the published data. Since 2010 we have repeatedly expressed our concerns that wind farm constraint payments are an excessive and unfair burden on consumer bills.

2. Although this consultation concerns both import and export constraints, we note that export constraints’ costs exceed those of import constraints by nearly 9 times , and that the majority of the export constraints’ costs arise from the two locations designated by National Grid as Cheviot and Scotland. This problem has clearly arisen because of the large scale deployment of onshore wind farms in Scotland prior to construction of infrastructure capable of exporting the excess generation from these locations. In this response we have concentrated on the impacts of the TCLC on the Scottish onshore wind fleet.

3. In order to respond to this consultation we have analysed two sets of bid price data: the wind farm bid prices accepted by the system operator since 2010 as well as all the bid prices submitted by wind farm operators but not necessarily accepted by the system operator.

IoA Consultation on AM Noise

REF submitted a response to the consultation carried out by the Institute of Acoustics (IoA) on Amplitude Modulation (AM) noise of wind turbines. We made a number of general remarks on the consultation process and further comments on the detailed questions raised by the IoA.

2015 Update on Progress Towards 2020 Renewables Target

This note updates REF’s report of the 5th of May 2014 on progress towards the electricity component of the 2020 European Union Renewables Directive target for renewable energy. In that report we noted that significantly more renewable electricity capacity had been granted planning consent than was needed to generate the electricity component of the 2020 target (110 TWh).

The present study shows that over the last year DECC has not been successful in addressing the overheating of the sector and that there is now 49 GW of consented capacity (21.2 GW built, 28.1 GW under or awaiting construction) and that the overshoot has grown very significantly, from 5% to 34% (37.7 TWh).

Progress Towards the 2020 Renewable Electricity Target

The UK government expects that renewable electricity will contribute about half of the renewable energy required in 2020 by the EU Renewable Energy Directive of 2009. This amounts, DECC estimates, to about 110 TWh.

Analysis of DECC’s own Renewable Energy Planning Database (REPD) suggests that there is already 35 GW of capacity consented, and now either operational, or under or awaiting construction. This is sufficient to meet the target with a 5% margin.

However, there is a further 18 GW of capacity in the planning system, which would deliver a target overshoot of about 50%, and exceed the Treasury’s cap on subsidy spending.

The Efficacy of the RUK AM Condition

In a study using real wind farm noise data exhibiting significant Amplitude Modulation (AM) we have been able to test the efficacy of the AM noise condition proposed by RenewableUK. The summary of the findings are : 

1.1. The proposed RUK AM condition would not be breached by recorded wind farm noise data with high levels of AM measured at Askam, a site widely recognised to be producing severe AM problems, and at Swaffham, from data where the AM is clear and significant in magnitude. By comparison, data from both the Askam and Swaffham sites would be in breach of the Den Brook AM condition.

1.2. We conclude from these facts that the RUK AM condition is manifestly inferior to the Den Brook condition and does not offer to wind farm neighbours any realistic or significant protection against AM disturbance. 

IoA Supplementary Guidance Notes on Wind Turbine Noise

REF has responded to the latest consultation by the Institute of Acoustics on the Supplementary Guidance Notes designed to accompany their Good Practice Guide to the Application of ETSU-R-97 for the Assessment and Rating of Wind Turbine Noise.  The summary follows and access to the full text of the consultation response is below.

Response to Professor Mackay on REF's UK wind farm lifetime analysis

Following a recent and unfortunately misleading article in the Sunday Telegraph (08.12.13) by Christopher Booker there has been a certain amount of renewed comment on Professor Gordon Hughes’ work concerning the economic lifetime of wind turbines, work that used empirical performance data gathered by REF. This comment includes blog postings by Bishop Hill and Roger Helmer MEP, to which Professor David Mackay, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change has responded personally with online comments, by releasing a draft paper criticising Professor Hughes’ work, and also with an extended blog posting on his own site.

The following statement comments on the extent and significance of the disagreement with Professor Mackay. For the avoidance of doubt, readers should be aware that Professor Hughes does not accept Professor Mackay’s criticisms of the statistical methods employed in his analysis, criticisms which he regards as ill-informed, and unconstructive.

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Freedom of Information material concerning the IoA Good Practice Guide on Wind Farm Noise

In May this year the Institute of Acoustics (IoA) published a study, A Good Practice Guide to the Application of ETSU-R-97 for the Assessment and Rating of Wind Turbine Noise (hereafter Good Practice Guide) on how to assess the probable noise impacts on neighbours of a proposed wind power installation. REF has a long established interest in this field, which bears directly on public acceptance of wind power, and we submitted Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to both DECC and the IoA. The responses we have received to date are published here.

Solar Photovoltaic Generation in the United Kingdom

REF analysis of trends in the deployment of solar photovoltaic technology in the UK has been used in a press story today in the Sunday Telegraph (23.06.13) with an editorial comment. Since the development trend towards very large solar revealed by the analysis seems to be surprising to many, we are publishing the following details.


Wind Farm Noise Guidance Launch Should Not Hide Behind Pay Wall

REF has today written to the Secretary of State at DECC concerning the decision to charge stakeholders and members of the public to attend the launch of the wind farm noise guidance. The consultation and launch of the guidance is under the auspices of the Institute of Acoustics but was instigated and subsidised by Government. 

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