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Quote of the month - Josh 147

With recent news  that wind farms have been paid a secret £13 million compensation to shut down over the last few months it is no wonder all those in the industry are hearing the clink of cash above the roar of the turbines.

Cartoons by Josh

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Reader Comments (39)

If anyone is wondering what a wind turbine sounds like and what a blight it can be watch this short video.

If, like me, you love birds then you might find this video a bit too sad.

But this will cheer you up a bit ... and this one

Feb 10, 2012 at 4:08 PM | Registered CommenterJosh

Is this payment very different from the Excess Facility Fee sometimes charged industrial users who misrepresent (not necessarily intentionally) the actual usage of their proposed factory such that the utility installs more capacity to serve the plant than the plant ends up using, hence the Excess Facility, which if not being paid for by watt/hour charges must be paid for somehow?

Feb 10, 2012 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterj ferguson

It's the reverse Robin Hood effect. Taking from the poor to give to the rich landowner. It's happening all over the country.

Feb 10, 2012 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"Money, money, money, makes the turbines go round!"

(With apologies to Monthy Python)

Feb 10, 2012 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Wasn't the money, money, money thing from Cabaret?

Feb 10, 2012 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterj ferguson

Renewable Energy Foundation claims on its database the biggest recipient of constraint payments was Hadyard Hill wind farm in south Ayrshire which received £2,150,068 since 2010.

It is operated by Scottish & Southern Energy on land owned by former presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament Alex Ferguson. According to his declaration of interests last year, he estimated his rental income to be between £40,001 and £45,000 a year.

That's the one near Girvan, seems Alex did not get a good deal, SSE got £2.1M to stop producing power plus an unknown amount for supplying power and the landowner gets £90K in the same period.

The local villages have done better.


The company was established in 2006 as an independent, community-led organisation to distribute funds arising from the first windfarm development in South Ayrshire. It is a partnership involving Barr, Dailly and Pinwherry/Pinmore, which are the 3 communities directly affected by the Hadyard Hill windfarm, with South Ayrshire Council, and Scottish and Southern Energy, owners of the windfarm.

The agreements reached with Scottish and Southern prior to building the windfarm included the provision of ‘community benefit’ funds. In broad terms this amounts to £120,000 per annum, index linked over a 25-year period, with an additional £240,000 provided in the first year of the agreement.

Feb 10, 2012 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

The Cabaret version is a little different.

Feb 10, 2012 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

j ferguson @ 4:19

"Is this payment very different from the Excess Facility Fee sometimes charged industrial users..."


As a taxpayer & electricity consumer, I involuntarily contribute towards that payment to the Wind Farm Operators.

Industrial users pay their (excess) costs themselves. [Of course 'overestimating' potential consumption to achieve a lower unit-cost, and/or a lower connection cost would never occur, would it?]

Feb 10, 2012 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Joe Public,
I see you too have been there. That these payments should be distributed from a secret fund certainly does show how their legitimacy is understood by the powers that be.

Feb 10, 2012 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterj ferguson

JF - not sure 'legitimacy' is factor here, more that the cost of Wind Energy is not transparent. How much does each turbine cost and how much energy does it produce? It may look good in theory but what is the true cost?

Feb 10, 2012 at 6:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Oh Josh, you've excelled even yourself with this one!

Feb 10, 2012 at 7:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

Josh, with due respect to his grace, is there such a thing as ecclesiastical economic justification. There has to be something very wrong with an attempt to hide a component of these costs from the public. We do that here in the states more usually with cost of politics by other means.

Feb 10, 2012 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterj ferguson

So was Pink Floyds

It's a gas
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash
New car, caviar, four star daydream
Think I'll buy me a football team

Dale Vince liked it so much he made it into his business plan. Not content with banning meat at his club, Dale is now apparently creating the "first organic pitch in the world". Not sure how that works unless all other grounds have switched to astroturf.

Feb 10, 2012 at 7:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Perhaps these funds could be used to power some wind mills to blow wind to other wind mills on calm days? I'm sure that would make perfect sense to someone, somewhere, someday.

Feb 10, 2012 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered Commenteredward getty

Can we stop using the palliative term 'wind farm' please? They aren't farms, they're (supposed to be) power stations.

We let BNFL kid us they're running neutron nurseries, do we?

Feb 10, 2012 at 8:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers


"Rural (or Coastal) Power Stations" is a more accurate description.

Feb 10, 2012 at 8:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Well, anemo- is a prefix meaning wind, and they seem to be raising hackles, so perhaps anemocity is appropriate? Better than anemic power stations, I should think.

Feb 10, 2012 at 9:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

I prefer Wind Subsidy Farms, myself.

Feb 10, 2012 at 9:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

I own up to renting a small area of land to 4 small generators, which in turn form a larger array, I also have a mobile phone mast on the farm and on a low income hobby farm both incomes are valuable but relatively small. I find it surprising that the libertarian right are so hostile that I should wish to make some money in this way. The Danish company pays annual rent regardless of how the wind blows, it would have been nice if it had been a UK company, but that is business. As I understand it the cost in my area of Wales per KWH is comparable to top end gas production. As for bird deaths I have witnessed more on the local roads especially leading up to the shoot season but perhaps the foxes or buzzards take fan kill.

What is business supposed to do- take an opportunity or lose, the money we make goes into land improvement which enhances the local wildlife. The 'green' fund has actually been around for years, pre 1990 when it was a fluffy means to promote expensive nuclear energy.

I feel the confusion between science and politics does not address the real lack of sceptism I see on these and other sites. Wind power does have some value in a volatile energy world, in either a climatic stable or AGW world but I would agree that solar north of the Thames is a waste of money.

Feb 10, 2012 at 10:57 PM | Unregistered Commenteriwannabeasceptic

Here is a good article from a far left political blog* that dumps on wind power.

*(Alexander Cockburn's blog, the fellow who made this video last spring.

Feb 10, 2012 at 11:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce Cunningham

Taking from the poor to give to the rich landowner. It's happening all over the country.

It's not like there isn't a history of this kind of behaviour...

Feb 11, 2012 at 12:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Norman

The noise is caused by the blades creating turbulence in the air as they spin
similar to early wing design on the first jet fighters

If you look at modern jet fighter wing design eg the Vulcan and the Euro Fighter (and Concord) they all have a delta wing shape

Feb 11, 2012 at 12:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Bishop you better put up a link for this Noel Edmonds site
I dont mean Deal or No Deal

Feb 11, 2012 at 12:59 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Someone phone up this Chris Mostyn tell him your a media studies student and say you want a list of him of the top 10 power surges at the National Grid
Xfactor finals England Penalty shootouts a good story line in Eastenders or Corronation Street (Ken Barlow when Deirdre had that affair with Mike Baldwin ) they will all be in there

Find what good these wind farms would have been when a couple of million electric kettle all get switched on at once

Feb 11, 2012 at 1:14 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Adding wind power to the national grid is as good a solution as adding a bunch of toddlers to a Cirque du Soleil -show:

- The toddlers have to run, jump and perform exactly in sync with the real artists, but they are too unpredictable to do that.
- They add almost no value to the show, though people say that they are cute and adorable.
- A lot of effort has to be taken to integrate the toddlers to the show in some meaningful way.
- Someone has to keep on eye on the toddlers and prevent them from causing accidents and injuries.
- During the most demanding parts, a kindergarten teacher has to be paid to keep the toddlers out of the stage.
- Some people think, that the toddlers can finally end the greedy grownup artists' monopoly on the show and that most Cirque du Soleil artists in the future will be toddlers.
- Without the grownups, you'd not be watching Cirque du Solei but your kid's kindergarten show.

Feb 11, 2012 at 6:56 AM | Registered CommenterVieras


So we are subsidising your HOBBY farm for a market for which you are uncompetitive in?

Shall I cut out the tax man and send you the cheque directly?

Forgive me but perhaps you should use your own money?

As to land management? Well forgive me but the "wild" in wildlife does mean something. As long as they do not build a housing estate or power station on it, it will do very well without you. Unless you are suggesting we "land manage" the whole planet?

Feb 11, 2012 at 7:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

I'm with you Jiminy Cricket. I have plenty of hobbies which I pay for myself. Isn't that the essence of a hobby? If someone can afford to buy a hobby farm then they should pay for that hobby themselves, not by milking the taxpayer. The vast majority of taxpayers should not be subsidising the richer members of society who can afford to buy the land and take the rents offered by wind farm operators who are so heavily subsidised they can offer very attractive rents to landowners. I feel the same way about solar panels; the better off can afford the capital investment to stick the damn things on their roofs to milk the taxpayers for the FIT. It all seems totally ar£e about face. And I'm a conservative (a despairing one).

Feb 11, 2012 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterBiddyb

I sympathise with iwannabeasceptic. In this country we have created a market for wind energy and land owners are making the most of that opportunity. It may grate but they are only doing what any small business does to survive, and small rural communities can do with all the help they can get.

When the subsidies go my guess is so will the bird choppers.

Feb 11, 2012 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Coldest night of the year..... (-15C on my patio at 0830 this morning)...

Wind contributing 0.9% of electricity demand...

My goodness - aren't they just the most amazing value for money - and always there when you need them..?

Feb 11, 2012 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Wind now down to 0.3% or 110 MW. What a joke, just when we need it.

Feb 11, 2012 at 9:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterNiels

I agree, that based on the evidence, solar panels north of the M4 are a waste of resources and are probably sweeteners for the conservative homeowner. From a subsidy point of view onshore wind gives the best return although I feel tidal and wave, if they had been developed in the 70-80s rather than Gas cooled nuclear could have been a really positive investment for UK industry particularly the shipbuilding industry. 'Green' energy subsidies were initially a sweetener for the nuclear industry that business does not want to touch.

But to vocal critics- wind seems to be a rather soft target, farmers pay no duty for their fuel, nor do the airlines. This inequality seems to be off the radar. I drive more than I ever fly yet their special status remains beyond reproach.

As for the wild, most of the UK has been crafted by humanity, by reinstating natural woodland on steep slopes biodiversity is greatly improved compared to the sheep shaved grass that was there before.

As for my scepticism- disputed by some- I feel some loud mouth conspiracy theorists have high-jacked an important debate- the insurance policy we take out in a naturally or humanity changing world has to be based on evidence not political opinion. Developing a sustainable energy policy will cost, I for one in a stable climate would not want to depend on the Middle-East or Russia- and with even a 'likely' yet un-known climate future I would want to be prepared. Decarbonising the global economy is 'highly unlikely' even if the worst case scenario was proven fact now. For me the sceptic debate should re-engage in risk assessment and options.

I intend to post some questions on the forum so if your interested in sharing views they would be most welcome. I [we] are developing a moderate approach which we hope to publicise in the future. Part of that is understanding the skeptic movement and building up a profile of what is within that homogenised mass that includes moderates to conspiracy theorists.

Personally I accept a lot of the science, a lot less of the predictions, and little of the solution. Am I in a minority?

Feb 11, 2012 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered Commenteriwannabeasceptic

wannabe - "But to vocal critics- wind seems to be a rather soft target, farmers pay no duty for their fuel, nor do the airlines."

Finances and tax breaks aren't the only issue - look at the two comments above yours. I suggest apply the same reasoning powers that you do to "solar north of the M4" to your whole statement upthread:

"Wind power does have some value in a volatile energy world, in either a climatic stable or AGW world but I would agree that solar north of the Thames is a waste of money."

What exactly wind doing - what is its "value"? And if you want to look at the finances please do so wrt alternative displaced investments.

Feb 11, 2012 at 11:13 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Iwannabe, sounds about right to me and, no, I don't think you are in a minority. Plenty of to discuss here or elsewhere. Do check Roger Pielke Jrs blog re decarbonisation, I will try to find the right ref.

On the subject of bird deaths there was a nice wee war of words over at WUWT and a great comment here.

Feb 11, 2012 at 11:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Niels, I would love to see an "app" that would show how much electricity is produced from Wind, Wet Renewables, Coal, Gas, Oil, Nuclear.

Is there any chance that someone on here might be able to write one?


Feb 12, 2012 at 10:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnockJohn

Thanks @ Josh it is reassuring that moderate scepticism is alive and well.
as for wind power- the more critical voices- I see no reason in defending the wind industry although I don't want to bite hands that feed me- however I it made me think,
Subsidies are a tool and the current system is designed to eventually phase themselves out, certainly if gas increases as it will then it is just a matter of waiting. The UK has decided on a certain course which is to hurry the process. I recall that the UK used to import most vegetable oil but with subsidies on rapeseed and linseed it was sufficient to get the ball rolling and for the infrastructure to become established. Nuclear was and has been completely subsidies in the UK although some of the early cost was to create weapons grade material. I am unaware of the totals except for the current estimate of £50 billion for decommissioning and the unknown cost of waste management. The estimated £400 million sub, on both onshore and the very expensive offshore wind is less than the cost of 4 Euro Fighters. Years ago when we considered leasing and attended the planning hearings the call from both green and conservative opponents was that the real investment should be in offshore wind.

Subsidies are used across the world, the free market is a bit of a myth it seems, new nuclear will cost, oil will continue to increase in cost as the developing world wants more of the share, ultimately it comes down to choice.

As for noise- offshore solves that problem, but personally the barn roof makes more noise. But the human environment is very noisy, if I visit friends in the south, the town is so loud, planes are LOUD, neighbours and pubs are LOUD.

But frankly the idea that they don't work is la la- they only get a subsidy when they sell the stuff. None for construction, none for planning, none for development. And I am doing something I don't want to do which is defend the industry. I am looking for dialogue. The is no point in me posting a link to the RSPB site that does not express a concern for blade deaths, everybody is now able to find reasonable impartial data. Electric transmission wires are a big killer but no one here is suggesting we spend billions burying them. Likewise the argument that it is either OAP suffering hypothermia OR wind-turbines is fallacious. If we can afford to use a £30k missile to kill one taliban then we afford to eradicate fuel poverty.

Feb 12, 2012 at 11:50 PM | Unregistered Commenteriwannabeasceptic


You have no fracking idea mate.

Feb 15, 2012 at 7:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy


Are you Paul Whitehouse trying out a new character?

Feb 15, 2012 at 7:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

The only Green the enviromentalisys want have big $$$$$$$$ all over them they couldnt care less about all those poor birds and bats

Mar 28, 2012 at 8:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpurwing Plover

Josh, thanks for posting that video about the effects of noise and flicker on the residents of what was apparently a previously tranquil rural area.

The guy whose house we see says he believed what the promoters told him, and was fine with the windmills. It wasn't until they were up and running that he found out that they lied, and that his quiet little homestead was turned into a disco in the mornings because of the flicker (that would drive me crazy - I can't tolerate strobe lights at any time) and intermittent, pulsing noise.

He has every right to be furious.

What is especially annoying is that the people who support windmills in theory are the same city-based NIMBYs who fight any development proposal that might even slightly affect their own property's amenity tooth and nail.

Mar 26, 2013 at 12:06 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

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