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South West outshines the UK to top renewable energy table

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 16, 2014

Wind turbine

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South West households and businesses are leading the UK in terms of renewable energy installations, new Government figures show.

The region has more than a fifth of all UK renewables projects installed by homeowners, landowners and businesses under the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme, statistics have revealed.

The recent surge in applications for wind and solar schemes in Devon and Cornwall has sparked campaigns by homeowners and conservationist concerned at the proliferation of schemes and their effect on the tourism, house prices and the countryside.

But the so-called “gold rush” to harvest the longer hours of sunlight in places like Cornwall has also left the South West with the most installed capacity of any of the UK regions.

Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen SW, said “What is unique in the south west is that industry, local authorities and Regen SW have worked together to promote renewable energy and tackle the barriers to its success.

“Our leadership in local and community scale renewables is bringing us benefits in greater energy security, boosting incomes and creating local jobs”.

The south west has total installed capacity of 436 MW, compared to the closest region, the south east, which has 294 MW, according to data from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The figures, which do not cover large-scale projects generating above 5megawatts (MW), mean the region has 2.5 times more solar capacity than the regional average and 1.5 times more than its closest competitor.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England, which has been fighting a raft of schemes said tourism was being harmed while profits were going into developers’ pockets and by-passing communities.

Penny Mills, chairman of the CPRE in Devon’s Torridge District, which has become a hotspot for dozens of projects, said holidaymakers “may think twice" before visiting landscapes "blighted by turbines”.

“I can understand why developers and some landowners are cock-a-hoop about the growth in commercial renewable energy installations in the South West, because they are the few benefiting at the cost of the rest of us,” she added.

“If this was truly only about clean, renewable energy, the Klondike subsidies paid by all of us on our energy bills would not go into developers pockets, but entirely to our needy local communities and charities, leaving the 'green' developers with what they claim to want - the green energy alone.

“The true cost equation is not being highlighted: on one side we have the developers making fortunes, on the other side of the equation we have huge reductions in people's house prices, the increase in fuel poverty of the most vulnerable in our community and the priceless cost to our environment, countryside, landscape and consequential tourism industry.”

Interest in developing schemes in the South West has prompted Regen SW to hold its biggest energy event, “Renewable Energy Marketplace”, on April 8 at Westpoint Arena, Exeter.

The trade show will demonstrate the benefits of renewables to thousands more businesses and households.

Mr Hyman added: “Renewable energy can help homeowners and businesses cut their energy bills dramatically.

“Renewable Energy Marketplace is the opportunity to meet all the great local businesses supplying renewables in one place on one day – with a wide range of technical and professional advice also available.”

The FiT programme provides subsidies for electricity fed into the national grid by small-scale renewable and low-carbon electricity generation technologies.

It offers financial incentives to homeowners and landowners to encourage the installation of schemes up to 5megawatts (MW).

Larger-scale projects are incentivised under the Renewables Obligation (RO) mechanism.

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  • DEREK1664  |  January 20 2014, 2:13PM

    I dont quite understand why Pink Diesel made comments about Bulgarian and Romanian Immigrants in connection with an article concerning renewable energy. He was obviously criticising Penny Mills just because she stood as a UKIP candidate in a local election for Torridge District Council. Penny ran an excellent campaign concentrating on local issues and the spread of Wind Turbines throughout Torridge and the beautiful countryside surrounding her Ward. She put in a very creditable performance picking up 42% of the vote and was within 23 votes of taking the seat. I think pink diesel must be one of the landowners who has a Wind Turbine erected on their land and is earning a fortune in subsidies, all of which comes out of our pockets through hugely inflated energy bills.

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  • red01872  |  January 19 2014, 8:24PM

    Climate change events, flooding and the continuous onslaught of deep depressions from the Atlantic are upon us in now in 2013/2014. The people warning of climate change may in some peoples eyes be scaremongers, however can we ignore the warning signs? Sea level is increasing, fact, the polar ice cap is shrinking, fact and weather patterns across the globe are changing, again fact. The association of the release of carbon dioxide since the beginning of the industrial revolution and global warming, may in sceptics eyes, be co-incidental, but what if they are correct. There will come a tipping point with regards to the global warming that the climate may not recover from, the scientists are simply raising the issue that if the trend continues this critical point may come and be past us before we fully understand the mechanism and it will be too late! Green energy may or may not be the answer, the real issue is the burning fossil fuels. Until a satisfactory method of producing clean energy is developed renewable energy represents the most cost effective method of creating clean energy. Wind turbines and solar PV do have carbon footprints, however their lifespan of 20-25 years ensures that they will produce far more power than was needed to manufacture and erect these sources thus earning them the tag of "green energy". Feed in tariffs and ROC incentives are there to facilitate the construction of renewable energy schemes, investors are taking advantage of the system, risking money in the process, they are not greedy they are simply using the system. Something which is rarely mentioned, is that the turbines and solar farms are constructed in a manner such that they can be dismantled in 25 years without any detrimental affect on the environment. Hopefully within 25 years we will have more efficient methods of producing renewable energy, but the inventiveness will be fuelled from the incentives that are present today in the form of subsidies and concessions. Lastly, the truth behind the construction of renewable energy schemes in the SW is that the majority of the workforce is based in Cornwall.

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  • DipStick  |  January 17 2014, 2:16PM

    @pink_diesel: ignorance is bliss. You must be a very happy person .... :-) DS

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  • ukiped  |  January 17 2014, 11:26AM

    What we all have to understand is that the Local and County councils are antiquated. They don't know how to generate funds other than hiking up the Community Tax or increasing Car Parking fees. Another way they generate funds is by allowing Wind Turbines, and House building both of which bring in to the Councils a huge amount of profit for doing nothing other than destroying the local countryside and lowering the price of property. Our Councils are living in the dark age. Devon as a whole will never get the progress and growth it deserves while we have the old school type politics that blight this county. It is not the easy funds from wind and house building that we need but more industry. We had the chance to make something of the disused harbour which berthed the Kathleen & May sailing ship. What did our council do? send the ship to Liverpool where it made a £1,000,000 in revenue from visitors in its first year. There has been talk about developing the harbour area but that is all it is talk. The council is blinkered in it's attitude towards creating a profit from tourism for the county. All they want to do is to take the easy money which requires little work other than voting yes to wind and building applications. When the next elections come along, these so called Councillors who are supposed to represent the local electorate, will find themselves judged by their previous actions and achievements. The electorate are now much wiser to the fact now. We know how you have destroyed our countryside . We want no more wind farms enough is enough.

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  • letigre  |  January 17 2014, 9:45AM

    Why don't the figures include installations over 5MW btw? Could it be that SW has already exceeded it's peak minimum demand for power and as such we're going to see lots of constrained systems? Of course the DECC doesn't think we pay for this.

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  • letigre  |  January 17 2014, 9:42AM

    And what's the prize? Because our bills are going up and the climate doesn't seem to have stopped changing or whatever it's supposed to be doing these days.

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  • wringer  |  January 17 2014, 8:53AM

    oh look its Merlin advertising one of his events again! its been days since the last "renewables are great story" on thisiscornwall. This is greed energy pure and simple. you and I pay for it in our taxes. you and I don't get any of the benefits. the panels are made in china, the work force is polish or Czech the farmer stuffs his pockets full of money and sits back and does nothing. how can a govt subsidise one industry - greed energy - at the expense of another, tourism. Cornwall is like an industrialised landscape. if these were factory chimneys you would all be going off about it. but no. stick the word green in front of it and no matter how ugly they are we are supposed to just suck it up. I don't care about the politics of it. this is killing cornwall and everyone is just sitting back and putting up with it. In 10 years time when the land is covered and one or two people are stinking rich whilst the rest lose their jobs, our kids are going to be open mouthed at what we allowed to happen.

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  • PAWB46  |  January 16 2014, 7:34PM

    Pink-Diesel: Have you thought of going to school and learning a bit of literacy? Of course climate change is a big scam. Are you aware that there has been no global warming now for 17 years? Are you aware that these useless, unreliable and intermittent generators of so-called "green electricity" actually increase CO2 emissions? Renewable energy from wind and solar is another big scam, transferring money from the poor to greedy developers and landowners, whilst at the same time ruining our green and pleasant land, causing misery to nearby residents and increasing fuel poverty.

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  • Pink_Diesel  |  January 15 2014, 10:16PM

    Qoute,, //Penny Mills, chairman of the CPRE in Devon's Torridge District, which has become a hotspot for dozens of projects, said holidaymakers "may think twice" before visiting landscapes "blighted by turbines".// Penny Mills is also a UKIP council candidate and her lealet warned us of the 26,000,000 nasty Bulgarians and Romanians heading this way - to Devon. But, of couse, UKIP beleive CO2 climate change is a con. So no wind turbines are needed. I wonder, though, if the turbines might keep Bul and Rom tourists away. For even more than turbines, Buls and Roms are the greatest threat to Devon.

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