Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Is there really such a thing as too much renewable energy?

According to Western Power Distribution, the answer is yes. The company claims that the infrastructure will shortly be insufficient to cope with the amount of energy being generated by renewable sources such as wind and solar in Cornwall.

I presume that the problem isn't simply confined to renewables. If someone were to build a nuclear or other big power plant in Cornwall then I presume the wires wouldn't be able to handle that either. But there are no plans for such schemes in Cornwall (and nor are there likely to be), but there are still many renewable schemes in the pipeline.

Western Power Distribution say that the schemes that currently have permission are sufficient to take the current network up to capacity. Would this be grounds to refuse more schemes? I would hope not. Surely each application should continue to be considered on their individual merits - good schemes will be approved and bad ones rejected.

My colleague Robin Teverson has hit the nail on the head, saying that the real problem has been the failure of Western Power Distribution to invest in the infrastructure themselves.  


Badham Farm said...

The whole renewable energy project is a scam, making landowners rich & consumers poor. Failure is because Councillors have no plan on where schemes are acceptable & have not considered effect on home owners or Tourism. Why not restrict renewable to roofs of new bldgs or Brownfield sites ? Why ruin values of voters homes to make land owners richer ? No shortage of natural gas & evidence shows warming stalled 20 yrs ago .

Jock Coats said...

There may be a difference between renewables' infrastructure and large scale full time transmission. I'm not the expert but I'd imagine that if you're shoveling 200,000V down a cable constantly there's less switching stuff needs to happen than if you are dealing with inconsistent feeds, more connection points and so on. Just a thought.

PaulS said...

I agree. It is ludicrous to face the possibility of a slow down in building renewables simply because Western Power is so slow of the mark in upgrading the infrastructure.

Renewables are vital to the future of the Cornish economy. The question is how do we force Western Power to invest. If we cannot, how can we take the grid back into local ownership and then ensure such investment takes place.

That would be a much better project for the Council to support than the Newquay airport or the associated 'hub'.

andrew porteous said...

The Liberals are being obtuse.Wind energy [onshore] averages 20% of rated capacity .Would you buy a house & use it for 72 days/year on average?
Time to get real & recognise that the UK produces 1.8% of global CO2 & China's annual ADDITION swamps this.
Do stop wasting money.Go for 'Fracking'& Nuclear NOW.

Dudley said...

Nuclear, gas, coal all working happily for 50 years on existing grid.
Cost of turbines: £120bn. Cost of updated grid to cope with intermittent and decentralized supply: £120bn, plus huge damage to swathes of countryside by pylons.
No contest.