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Author: Caroline Lockyer - Sector expert, Energy Sector

Whether wind farms or solar panels, the one thing we can definitely say about alternative energy is that it divides opinion. In its various forms it provides clean, efficient energy. However, questions are often asked about its effectiveness in providing power to our communities and its impact on surrounding environmental areas.

The main story from Glenigan’s newsletter last week pointed to a boost in renewable energy projects and there has been increasing talk of The Green Deal since the start of the year. So what do the coming 12 months have in store for the energy sector? Glenigan’s resident expert Caroline Lockyer gives us her view.

Wind energy

Wind farms are large in size and whatever your opinion of them, they do provide an alternative to fossil fuelled power generation. Glenigan is currently tracking billions of pounds worth of proposals for wind farms on and offshore that would ultimately have capacity to generate alternative energy for thousands of homes.

In Great Britain, The Crown Estate owns the seabed and grants licences for energy companies to generate electricity from offshore wind turbines. 

In Humberside, a company called Able have recently submitted plans for a £180M marine energy park, part of which will include a manufacturing facility for turbines. Ports are also gearing up for the turbines to be transported, either out to sea or an alternative destination along the British coastline, to a nearer point of docking for their final destination onshore. 

There is currently a proposal for a large offshore wind farm, west of the Isle of Wight. With between 133 and 333 turbines proposed the Navitus Bay Wind Farm (Glenigan project ID: 10027617) is currently under scrutiny from pressure groups and Government bodies alike.  

Tests on the seabed are on-going, wind strength is being tested, geological and topographical surveys continue and the onshore cable route has been announced. The scheme has a long way to go; EDF and Eneco, the developers of the £1.3bn scheme, need to appease opposition. 

Pressure groups have taken issue with the number of turbines, their height, position and the possible interference to public life and the vista. 

The developers will argue that the project can generate between 900MW and 1200MW of capacity in the northern part of the awarded area, a site which covers 76 square miles. This is enough power to supply between 615,000 and 820,000 homes and will also prevent the production of approximately 11,860 tonnes of CO2 each year.

Energy from waste

Some landfill sites in the UK are nearing capacity and several local councils have cited that they only have another 2-3 years’ of space before they run out. Recycling schemes are diverting a large quantity of household waste from landfill and we have witnessed an increasing demand for energy from waste plants.

One example of such a scheme is in Cross Green in Leeds. The energy from the waste treatment facility (ID: 08352269) is set to process approximately 182,000 tonnes (per annum) of residual municipal waste primarily from households and household waste sorting sites and could generate enough electricity for 20,000 houses. This £125 million proposal has been in the pipeline for just over four years, and now, with a site and a preferred bidder appointed, this scheme looks like it just needs to clear the planning hurdle before works can commence. 

Solar energy

There are large numbers of proposals for solar parks, comprising numerous solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in one place, sourcing the sun’s energy. Eco Sustainable Solutions Ltd are currently preparing another planning application for a solar farm which will cost between £15M and £100M (ID: 11024235). A previous application for this project was refused early in 2011, but they also have an anaerobic digester plant of £7M proposed (ID: 12293038) and a bio energy plant of £12M (ID: 08033197) proposed for this site at Chapel Lane in Parley, Dorset. 

Companies are certainly investing in this type of alternative energy with local authorities letting contracts for solar ‘PV’ panels on their social housing stock. For example Shropshire County Council are already underway installing solar pv panels to their 400 commercial and 3.000 domestic property portfolio (ID: 11325785).

Nuclear Power

Nuclear power generates one sixth of the UK’s electricity. In October 2010 the Government gave the go-ahead for private suppliers to construct up to eight nuclear power plants across England. £60bn of investment could be made at the eight sites across the UK. Bradwell in Essex (ID: 01611115), Hartlepool (ID: 01611105), Heysham in Lancashire (ID: 09041937), Hinkley Point (ID: 01611123), Oldbury in South Gloucestershire (ID: 09130365), Moorside in Cumbria (ID: 09130369), Sizewell in Suffolk (ID: 01611111) and Wylfra on the Isle of Anglesey (ID: 09130346). 

All these projects are at varying early stages in planning from investment still being sought to planning applications having been submitted already. In 2012, RWE npower and E.ON pulled out of their respective proposals (Wylfra and Oldbury), putting the future of nuclear power in some doubt.

Hinkley is progressing through the planning process with consultations being held. An issue recently raised was the storage of nuclear waste. Nuclear waste has not previously been stored at Hinkley, naturally bringing about further concerns for the community and the project. 

The Scottish Government said there will be no nuclear power plants constructed in Scotland.

In conclusion

People tend to adopt differing opinions on renewable energy, their feelings influenced by where they live, how it will change the landscape and environment and affect individuals and communities. 

Renewable energy projects are happening, Glenigan is currently tracking over 2000 live projects in this sector. What remains to be seen is how the big energy companies will respond, what policies the Government puts in place to encourage its adoption and public opinion about the projects and their impacts and benefits.  To find out more about projects in this sector you can subscribe to Glenigan’s newsletter or if you are a customer your Account Manager can put you in direct contact with Caroline Lockyer our energy sector expert.

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