YES, wind farms will be a benefit to the Isle of Man.
This is a response by the Manx Energy Advice Centre (MEAC) to the recently published open letter to election candidates Wind Farms: Wuld they be a benefit to the Isle of Man? in the Examiner of Tuesday, August 16, by the self-styled Green Power Manx Group (GPMG). The response aims to redress the balance of a rather one-sided letter.
The letter, an apparent précis of the recent key reports commissioned by the government, is informative but leaves some very important information lacking. These reports, which are downloadable from the government website, are Technical and Economic Appraisal for Onshore Wind Generation for the Isle of Man, completed by Mott MacDonald in April 2009, and the AEA Renewable Energy Sustainability Study – Impacts and Opportunities for the Isle of Man, from November 2010.
Currently factors beyond our control are at play on the island, namely economic contraction, fossil fuel depletion, energy security and climate change. These factors are shaping our future ability to prosper and the only way to counter them is to build in resilience in all aspects of future infrastructure. You could describe resilience as an ability to bounce back and it is characterised in our motto ‘Quocunque jeceris stabit’ ‘whichever way you throw me I stand’.
The Mott MacDonald report identified that it is technically possible to connect 20MW of onshore wind to the existing public network, as well as concluding that the total net benefit of an onshore wind farm of up to 20MW in the Isle of Man could increase installed renewable capacity from onshore wind to 12% of total generation, providing fuel cost savings of £3.2 million per annum but introducing operating losses of £1.54million. The losses were identified as efficiency losses, CCGT (combined cycle gas turbine) cycling costs and a reduction in export profit. Thus the net benefit will be projected in the report at £1.56 million annually.
The AEA report identifies eight locations favourable for developing 10MW wind farms, mostly in the central and northern parts of the island. It also charts the economics of technologies, and identifies that onshore wind is the cheapest and most developed of technologies identified as appropriate to the island.
The GPMG make no mention of these facts and locations in any of their press reports but mention that they have no political or commercial interest or have any NIMBY (not in my back yard) argument. This is hard to understand when they have sent their open letter to all election candidates and promote an organisation (charity?) that supports objections to onshore wind farms. It is hard to understand how a so-called green group do not embrace and promote all aspects of renewable energy generation.
The conclusion is therefore YES, wind farms will be a benefit to the Isle of Man.
They will provide financial resilience to the increasing costs and availability of scarce fossil fuels, a carbon reduction effect in producing low carbon power and offsetting gas burned at Pulrose, as well as contributing to the government’s brave and to be commended forward-thinking goal on 15 per cent of renewable electricity produced on the island by 2015.
MEAC is a Manx charity (registration number 846), set up to provide free advice on energy efficiency and energy generation from renewable sources. We are available at the Green Centre, opposite the Shoprite store in Chester Street, Douglas, on Saturdays from 10am to 4pm.
Manx Energy Advice Centre