Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Straid wind farm # 6

Well, it seems ecotricity have finally communicated their new turbine positions to the residents of Lendalfoot via a letter. I have now had an opportunity to read one of these letters, and it makes interesting reading.

First of all, I have to give ecotricity a very small amount of credit for two things. First, the head of the letter contains a photomontage (albeit narrow and dark) of the proposed development - and to my mind, it is a reasonably realistic depiction of the proposed development - dark in tone yes, small, yes - but it does APPEAR display the proposition in all its horror. Secondly, ecotricity have unusually quoted a capacity of 27.7% for their proposition - and I have to note this and give credit where it is due. So many other companies use 30% - its becoming laughable.

However, that's where the good news ends. It seems ecotricity have a real problem with their average household electricity consumption numbers. They have consistently used 3,300 Kilowatt hours as the annual average consumption for a household in all of their communications with regard to Straid. However, virtually every other wind farm application in Scotland uses 4,800 Kilowatt hours as the average annual domestic electricity consumption. Indeed, the 2007 report published by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on Energy Trends (page 28 refers) shows that the annual average consumption for Scottish households varies from 3,866 to 6,601 Kilowatt hours (depending on location). Now, it would take quite a complicated statistical model to come up with an average consumption that satisfied a statistician - even if we had all of the raw data, but 4,800 seems to be an accepted average for the UK as a whole (source 1, and source 2). So, how about we use 4,800 Kilowatt hours as an average consumption figure? If we do this, then the number of 'average' households that the Straid wind farm could supply is in actual fact:

(32.2MW Χ 24 Χ 365.25 Χ 0.277) ÷ 4.8 = 16,289

a massive difference of 6,711 from the 23,000 homes claimed in the mailing. I will leave you to draw your own conclusion from that piece of mis-information.

There is one more subtle but very significant change contained within the mailing - and one that has not been pointed out by ecotricity in their dash for positive press. Originally, the Straid turbines were going to have a 64 metre hub height with a rotor diameter of 71 metres. This would have given a blade tip elevation of 99.5 metres (326 feet). Presumably as a result of all that positive feedback received during the Community Consultation, the Straid turbines will now have a hub height of 80 metres, and a rotor diameter of 90 metres (I can only assume the community of Lendalfoot couldn't get enough of those turbines). This increase equates to a blade tip elevation of 125 metres (410 feet). So yes, ladies and gentlemen as a result of the Community Consultation, 2 turbines were removed - but the rest have had their height increased by a huge 25.6 metres (84 feet).

Finally, I note that the photomontages and turbine dimension data on ecotricity's Straid wind farm web page is for the original 99.5 metre proposal. The story being communicated by ecotricity is both inconsistent and inaccurate, and I think the true colours of ecotricity are now crystal clear - they appear to have absolutely no interest in protecting the amenity of the residents of Lendalfoot whatsoever - or of really keeping them informed.