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'Cut wind farm subsidies to invest in marine power' – North Devon MP Nick Harvey

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 17, 2012

North Devon MP Nick Harvey

North Devon MP Nick Harvey

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The Government has been urged to slash wind power subsidies to fund the development of marine power off the Westcountry coast.

North Devon MP Nick Harvey has called on ministers to reform the funding regime to ensure "adequate investment finance" is available for offshore green technology.

If not, the Liberal Democrat MP went on, ministers should take subsidy away from "30-year-old wind technology" and pump cash into new renewable energy.

Mr Harvey, a former minister, pointed to successful test turbines generating power from the sea's currents off Lynmouth, North Devon, eight years ago that have yet to make it to commercial scale.

In August, ministers cut subsidies to onshore wind farm developers get by 10%, but many MPs want the Government to go further.

During Energy Questions in the House of Commons, Mr Harvey asked Energy Minister John Hayes what he could do to "ensure that adequate investment finance is available to marine energy and its attendant infrastructure?"

He went on: "Is he aware that it is now more than eight years since a marine current turbine was trialled off the north Devon coast, which more than twice exceeded expectations for energy production but has not come to market because of a lack of finance?

"If he cannot make new finance available, can he re-balance existing finance away from 30-year-old wind technology and towards the new technologies that could drive forward the process of de- carbonisation?"

Mr Hayes responded that the Government had sanctioned two "marine energy parks" – the first was in the South West – and the UK now boasts six of the eight major wave and tidal energy projects around the world.

He went on: "We are investing in that significantly, but I will look at it again because it is absolutely right that we are at the cutting edge of technological change when that can contribute to the energy mix."

Bristol-based Marine Current Turbines planted the world's first experimental marine current turbine at Foreland Point, near Lynmouth on Devon's North coast.

Conservative backbenchers were leading calls for onshore wind to have cuts of up to 25% to its subsidy, which is paid for from household energy bills.

Onshore wind, which has drawn criticism for being ineffective, over-subsidised and being a blot on the landscape, faces another subsidy review next year.

Tory Mr Hayes, appointed energy minister in this year's reshuffle, is a known sceptic of onshore wind but his boss – Energy Secretary Ed Davey, a Lib Dem – is a proponent.

More than 100 wind turbines are in operation across the Westcountry, and the UK's biggest onshore wind farm in North Devon will be up and running shortly. The massive Fullabrook wind farm between Barnstaple and Ilfracombe consists of 22 giant turbines. Many more are pending.

The nascent South West Marine Energy Park will mean the region is the sector's focal point in the UK. Cornwall's Wave Hub, a wave energy "nursery" in Falmouth Bay, and research facilities at Plymouth and Exeter universities, are all key to the "virtual" park plan which will gravitate around the ports of Falmouth, Hayle, Plymouth and Bristol.

Meanwhile, North Cornwall Lib Dem MP Dan Rogerson asked ministers to kick on with "hot rocks" geothermal power. The technology, which uses the heat of the Earth's core to generate power, is being pioneered in the Westcountry, with planning permission granted to two major projects in Cornwall, including a £35 million scheme at the Eden Project.

"This is an exciting opportunity for Cornwall." he said.

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  • Cottage Farm Organics  |  January 31 2013, 2:18PM

    Well, I did not realize my comments generated quite so much fury. Here are a few explanations for the wind energy objectors: If Global Warming exceeds 2C then natural positive feedback processes will push it to 6C with unstoppable force, which will result in the desertification of most of the planet surface. So far global temperature has risen by 0.8C and a further 0.8C worth of CO2 is already in the atmosphere. We therefore have just 0.4C to play with before the planet becomes largely uninhabitable by humans. Fossil fuel reserves already known but not yet dug up and burnt will, if burnt, produce four times more CO2 than is required to push us through the 2C barrier. And of course every oil company is looking for more. The only solution that anyone has ever come up with is to leave much of the coal, oil, gas, shale gas and oil, tar sands and heavy oils in the ground, not burn them and instead switch as rapidly as is feasible to renewable energy, including numerous wind turbines, solar panels, AD plants, wave and tidal energy, even nuclear power and energy storage facilities. That is why it is our duty to our children and grandchildren to support just about every proposal for renewable energy project at least up to the level of local energy consumption. For our part, we do as we say. We have converted our farm, Cottage Farm, Jacobstow, to produce and deliver organic food using just renewable energy and near zero fossil fuels. Clearly, conversion to clean energy is possible. Now we just have to do it on a larger scale. If you care to look at http://tinyurl.com/bfeyry6 Learning Resources/ half way down you will find a collection of fully referenced articles explaining why the anti-wind lobby's arguments are absurd and pure nonsense. But let me just mention: • Wind turbines repay their investment in CO2 in between three and nine months • Research shows that tourist are largely happy to visit areas with wind turbines • Wind turbines are virtually inaudible. Regulations ensure that neighbours will hear not more than 35 decibels, which is half the noise your fridge produces right in your kitchen! • Wind turbines kill about 0.0001 per cent of all the birds and bats that man-made structures kill. Their effect on the bird and bat population is imperceptible and about 100,000 times less than cars, windows in buildings, fertilisers and agri chemicals. • Combination of wind turbines and PV panels produces energy on just about every single day of the year. Adding AD plants and energy storage to the system solves the intermittent issue of renewable energy. • Wind turbines are some of the most beautiful, graceful and pleasing structures ever built by man. I am all for them and for doing everything in our power to safeguard Cornwall and the whole planet for future generations, rather than destroying it for the sake of personal aesthetic objections to wind turbines.

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  • Countrylover  |  December 19 2012, 7:51PM

    We do not want any more wind farms in North Devon not even the one NDC are thinking about where I believe the supplier says it wants to pay people, isnt that bribery?? The household bill is going up all the time so how would you know when the were putting their prices up to cover the cost of paying out?? If wind turbines are wanted then put them up in London and main cities as it seems to be city people that want them. Why should rural areas be the guinea pig for government policy, instead they could do the marine experiment on the Thames.

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  • sandman18  |  December 18 2012, 5:24PM

    Current Demand on the grid 54.63GW , wind turbines producing 0.44GW from around 4,158 turbines so how many would it take to supply all of the 54.63GW ? Fecking useless things!!!

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  • kegs23  |  December 18 2012, 4:01PM

    Someone ought to point out to this foolish MP that 50% of all Britain's potential sites for marine current turbines are actually around the Channel Islands - sure let's have them where we can - but they aren't going to replace wind and solar

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  • The West Country Inn  |  December 18 2012, 11:51AM

    I agree wholeheartedly with sandman's comments. Cottage Farm, are you living in the real world? 10X more wind farms, do you know anything about this inefficient and out of date technology based on political infatuation? It is all about greed not green energy, but hey, who will fix the turbines once they start to rust and decay when the subsidies for the rich developer and land owner run out? Start reading my friend.....A good place to start is a book called "The Wind Farm Scam", an ecologist's evaluation. It is endorsed by David Bellamy who states on it's cover "Wind power is a swindle, please read this book and find out why". Author Dr Etherington.

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  • johndavies  |  December 18 2012, 1:07AM

    ("Mr Hayes responded that the Government had sanctioned two "marine energy parks" – the first was in the South West – and the UK now boasts six of the eight major wave and tidal energy projects around the world. He went on: "We are investing in that significantly, but I will look at it again because it is absolutely right that we are at the cutting edge of technological change when that can contribute to the energy mix." Bristol-based Marine Current Turbines planted the world's first experimental marine current turbine at Foreland Point, near Lynmouth on Devon's North coast.") British company - Marine Current Turbines set up in 1999 in Bristol, although a very successful design, (twice as effective as wind & more predictable) had little British banking or government support…… It is now owned 100% by Siemens !!! We will now pay £millions to them, to use a British idea, that's a good energy policy. Thinks…. I wonder how many politicians have shares in Siemens.

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  • johndavies  |  December 18 2012, 12:50AM

    (" heading straight for the destruction of the planet ") ("if we manage to avoid global climate catastrophe. ") You've been watching too many disaster movies & reading too much junk science fiction The end of the world isn't nigh. ("In addition we should impose additional taxes on a fossil fuels") And that will raise food prices again, better get yourself a gun, cos when we cant afford to buy food we'll come over to Jacobstow & take yours. That'll start a civil war, possibly a full scale world war (historically we're well overdue for one), see how much CO2 is released when the bombs start flying about. But it will lower the population, stimulate industrial growth & make a few people very rich ….. so not all bad news !!

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  • sandman18  |  December 17 2012, 1:10PM

    So we need 10 X more wind farms do we GET REAL where are we going to put them we have already ruined North Devons Rural Areas !!! And who is going to happily keep paying the subsidies to foreign companys and those privelaged people that can have wind turbines on their land and also live no where near them. In the last 8 months based on BM Reports website data and ROC payment amounts and also Constraint payments they have taken £620 MILLION POUNDS before they even get paid for any electricity they may generate. and if you estimate the 4 months I have missed of this year it takes you to around £1 BILLION POUNDS and that goes on everybodys electricity bills. Mother nature rules no matter what we do.

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  • Stork  |  December 17 2012, 12:32PM

    Cottage Farm Organics And when the wind doesn't blow, then what ? Industry grinds to a halt ? Or switches to a small propellor off Lynmouth Beach ? Or obtains "juice" off an anerobic digester on someone's farm ? If we did what you want us to do. We'd all be bankrupt, and cold, even if we all wore organic woolly jumpers !

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  • 2ladybugs  |  December 17 2012, 11:34AM

    Oh, I forgot, it takes that hard up country, India, to lead the way in that type of research.

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