‘Is this England’s last new onshore wind farm?’ asks renewable energy chief

Dawn breaks over the new Ecotricity wind turbine farm at Alveston - but is the sun setting on England's onshore wind farm industry?
Dawn breaks over the new Ecotricity wind turbine farm at Alveston. Or is the sun setting on England’s onshore wind farm industry?

Britain’s greenest energy supply company yesterday turned on what might be England’s last onshore wind park, as Ecotricity founder and former hippy Dale Vince lamented that the once-dynamic onshore wind industry had been “effectively killed off by government policy” which blocks all new developments <south of the Anglo-Scottish Border>

The company’s new three windmill site at Alveston in Gloucestershire will provide enough electricity to power more than 3,000 homes for the next 30 years.
 
A new report from the Energy and Climate Change Intelligence Unit (ECIU) think tank supports the widespread view that new onshore wind energy development in the UK is an economic opportunity as well as environmental.

It estimates the current <English> government policy could more than £1 billion to consumers’ energy bills over the next four years,because onshore wind is cheaper than other sources of power which the government backs financially, like nuclear, biomass and offshore wind generation. 
 
Vince said: “It’s always great to build another wind park and put it into operation. This one is a little bittersweet because without a change of government, or government policy, this could be the last one built in England.

“Current government policy, to prevent new wind parks in England makes no sense and is a political choice – because onshore energy isn’t just good for the environment, it makes good economic sense too.”  

Dale Vince
Dale Vince

Dale Vince is a green energy pioneer, having masterminded the world’s first green energy company back in 1995 when he launched Ecotricity, then built his first windmill in 1996 near Stroud, approximately 21 years and 21 miles from this latest – and possibly last – wind park.

When Ecotricity switched on its first electricity windmill 21 years ago, less than 3% of the UK’s electricity was renewable: this now sits at a significant 25%.

One of the obstacles to greater levels of renewable energy on the grid is the ability to store electricity, which has been commercially difficult until now. Recent advances in battery technology made by the global take up of battery-powered vehicles (BPVs) make this now possible.  

The company now has 25 wind parks with over 70 windmills that generate around 90MW a year – almost a quarter of all electricity used by Ecotricity’s 200,000+ customers.
 
Meanwhile, Ecotricity is building one of the country’s first grid scale battery storage projects on the Alveston site.

The 10MW project will share the grid connection with these three new windmills, making better use of the available capacity – and enable Ecotricity to balance variations between supply and demand each half hour of each day.

Meanwhile, Ecotricity and has teamed-up with Boston-based charge-point manufacturer Rolec EV to launch a new domestic electricity plug-adaptor to re-charge battery-powered vehicles (BPVs) with 100% green electricity.

Ecotricity says its Fully Charged Bundle ‘plug-n-drive’ re-charger will save the average BPV household around £120 a year compared to a Big Six standard tariff.

Vince said: “Our ambition in doing this is clear – to make BPV charging at home and on the road more simple, joined up and cost effective for existing and new electric vehicle drivers, and in this way to encourage more people to go electric.”

8 Dec 2017

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