LAND close to a former coal handling complex on the Northumberland coastline is set to become the United Kingdom’s first demonstration site for a super-efficient breed of wind turbines.
Permission for three turbines at the old coal stocking area near Lynemouth was granted by the Government more than two years ago, after local councillors had rejected the bid.
Now energy giant Clipper Windpower Europe, which has a research and development base at the nearby New and Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, wants to make Lynemouth an operational demo site for its Liberty wind turbines.
The US-owned company wants to increase the height of the three approved turbines from 110 metres to 130 metres, as the 2.5-megawatt Liberty turbine is taller than those previously proposed on the site. Next week, members of the county council’s planning and environment committee are expected to grant permission for the bigger machines, only one of which is planned to be built by Clipper at this stage.
The Liberty turbine, which is manufactured in the USA, is said to be highly reliable and efficient, and capable of reducing generating “down time” and maintenance costs.
No objections have been received by the council to the proposed 20-metre increase in the height of the three turbines. Clipper proposes to initially erect a single 130-metre turbine while geological, coastal erosion and aviation issues continue to be explored at Lynemouth.
The Liberty machine will be capable of generating enough electricity to power about 1,690 homes a year.
A report to the planning committee says: “In addition to providing electricity through a renewable source, the development offers the opportunity for local socio-economic benefits.
“Clipper Windpower Europe is based at NaREC in Blyth and wishes to use the development as an operational demonstration site for its first Liberty wind turbine in the UK.” No one from Clipper’s United Kingdom arm was available for comment yesterday.
Planning officers believe the increased height of the turbines will not have a significant impact on the local landscape or people’s views.
Planning permission for the Bewick Drift site was originally granted to Harworth Power, an offshoot of UK Coal which operated nearby Ellington Colliery and the Lynemouth coal stocking area.
In February 2008, Government planning inspector John Braithwaite concluded that the three turbines would not harm the look of the coastal area or hamper regeneration efforts.
Since then, approval has also been granted to Scottish Power for 13 turbines on land near Lynemouth’s Alcan aluminium smelter.
Three years ago, it was revealed Clipper Windpower was to use the cutting-edge facilities at NaREC to engineer, build and test a prototype 7.5 megawatt offshore turbine, which would be the world’s biggest so far.
The link-up, known as Project Britannia, was supported by a £5m investment package by One NorthEast.
Just one of the 150m-high turbines has the potential to provide enough electricity to power more than 5,500 homes and offset more than 32m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
Clipper previously announced that it would base its European centre of excellence for offshore wind technology in Blyth, which already has both onshore and offshore wind farms, and is regarded as a leading centre for the development of green energy.
Pledge to make it easier for wind farms
THE Government has said it will do all it can to make it easier for wind energy firms to site thousands of turbines off the North East coast.
Energy secretary Chris Huhne made the commitment as part of the Government’s first annual energy statement to Parliament.
Mr Huhne said the Government would tackle concerns that offshore turbines planned for Dogger Bank, 100 miles off the east coast, would need huge infrastructure changes in order to feed in energy to the national grid. Mr Huhne said the Government was taking “three big steps forward“ by creating a market for energy savings through the green deal, ensuring the electricity market worked properly, and a strengthened carbon price.
He also said the Government was “clear” new nuclear power could go ahead providing it did not receive public subsidy.
The Government plans to publish an analysis of the impact of energy and climate change policies on household and business bills up to 2020. But Labour leadership candidate and shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband accused the Government of missing an opportunity to bring about real help for the industry.
Mr Miliband said: “The truth about this Government is that you promised it would be the greenest Government ever.
“Any fair-minded person looking at this statement will conclude that it is a huge disappointment – a huge disappointment to industry, to the country as well.”