Rugby FoE > Local Campaigns > Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy:

In the UK a typical home uses 4,700 units (kWh) of electricity a year and each unit costs about 7p each so that adds up to an annual electricity bill of around £329. Therefore, Rugby's 39,000 households demand a yearly supply of over 183 GWh (183 million kilowatt-hours) of electricity for which we collectively pay about £13million annually;

Where will all their energy come from?

Wind power has great potential to make a significant difference:

The British Isles is the windiest place in Europe -

Local wind power saves energy:

Photo of small windmill against large cement works in the background 2008 taken by FG

Power stations tend not to be near centres of population, so there is an average power flow across the grid of about 8 GW (i.e. 8,000 megawatts) from the north of the UK to the south and on average about 5% is lost in transmission to get the power to the area where it is needed.

Wind power is popular:

Climate change is the most serious long-term threat not just to us but to wildlife too, yet windpower is emission free and comes from a renewable inexhaustible source; When compared to other power generation, windpower is also quiet, safe, visually attractive, and has a small footprint and minimal impact on the land, residents and any wildlife.

Not surprisingly, around 80% of the population is in favour of wind energy:

  1. Construction of wind farms is quick and simple
  2. Very little space is used by the wind turbines themselves. The larger turbines are visible but not intrusive. Most of the land within the site can generally continue to be used as before.
  3. Appropriately positioned wind farms do not pose a significant hazard for people, birds, bats or other wildflife. They create no waste and, as they require no fuel, have no pollution or risk of accidents in the supply chain.
  4. Wind farms provide clean, efficient, safe, sustainable energy that contributes to renewable energy targets to fight climate change
  5. At end of their lives, turbines can be decommissioned quickly and simply, with the site reinstated to its former landscape

Site Selection ...

Proximity to the National Grid is essential (usually the link travels underground following the roads) and clearly a significant requirement is a suitable access route to bring the structures in, so sites near motorways or major roads are good, but ones which avoid disruption to the local community are best.

Nearby examples:

The best thing to do is visit Burton Wold Wind Farm near Kettering (also in Central Networks' area) for an idea of what a wind farm looks like in real life and how quiet it is. Burton Wold Wind Farm is Northamptonshire's first Wind Farm, consisting of 10 turbines with a combined maximum wind farm output of 20 MW, generating 47 GWh of renewable electricity annually (equivalent to the needs of around 10,000 homes and also equivalent to £3.29million of bills from households).

There has been no effect on house prices in Burton Latimer, the town nearby:

Near Rugby there are now also several plans for wind farms to the east of the M1;

The developers are putting on exhibitions and holding consultations with the community, so if you require any further details please do not hesitate to contact them. Their details are available on their respective websites.

More renewables are needed:

To hit a national target by 2020 of 15% renewable energy this would require something like 12GW from onshore windfarms, plus a further 20-30GW from offshore windfarms but windpower is is only one solution among many and we also require power from other solutions such as;

On a local scale:

Micro-generation from rivers is needed too. Thousands of river weirs once powered the industrial revolution and we've got some rivers in the Midlands, so we should re-use them to produce green electricity at no cost to the planet.

Photo of Clifton Mill taken by FG       Photo of Little Lawford Mill taken by FG
A number of nearby watermills have been converted to apartments or inns like the Old Mill Inn, Baginton and the Saxon Mill pub, Warwick, but some watermills still operate. Restoration of Charlecotte Mill started in 1978 and Wellesbourne Watermill was restored in 1990. However, it would be great if all these mills could be renovated and put to work generating electricity.

Once installed, hydro turbines can run for between 50 and 100 years using a natural and free source of power - running water! So, let's rebuild Rugby's great heritage in power systems and on the basis that every kilowatt helps let's refurbish all those old mills and, instead of grinding corn, start grinding out kilowatts!

The tide is turning:

On a national scale:

The Severn tidal schemes could provide up to 1% of UK energy. There were ten options being considered by BERR in their Severn Tidal study.

On 26th January 2009 a shortlist of five schemes was unveiled by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) for 3 months of consultation which closed on 23rd April. There are concerns about these proposals as the least damaging option for wildlife, the tidal reef, has been excluded, whilst two very damaging ones have been included on the shortlist.
  • The Wildlife Trusts immediately said the tidal reef should have remained in the shortlist: "We implore the Government not to leap-frog common sense. Barrages are not the only answer. Current studies indicate a barrage across the Severn Estuary would destroy wildlife on an unprecedented scale. And it would be the least cost-effective means of tackling climate change."
  • Martin Harper, Head of Sustainable Development at the RSPB said it was "hugely disappointing" that the Cardiff-Weston barrage option was on the short list.
  • Friends of the Earth Cymru's energy campaigner and author of their Severn Barrage Report, Neil Crumpton said: "Plans to build a Severn barrage are too big a threat to an internationally important wildlife site and must be scrapped - ministers must focus on developing the estuary's potential for tidal lagoons instead."

Looking at the bigger picture:

Concentrated solar power (CSP) mirror arrays covering just 1% of the Earth's deserts could generate a fifth of all the Earth's current energy requirements. It is the single biggest energy reserve.

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