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The wind turbines on average produce electricity 7,450 hours per year, which is 85% of the time. For the remaining 15% of the time, there are situations when the wind farm does not produce electricity because they are receiving either too much or too little wind. There are also other times where maintenance is being carried out. In addition, on occasion the National Grid & Western Power Distribution has to carry out essential works and refurbishments to their respective networks to ensure continued security of supply. This can result in a reduction of network capacity for the export of power from the Alltwalis Wind Farm, as well as other wind farms and generating plants. During these periods the export of power is curtailed to zero, although the site will usually remain energised. Such a reduction occurred within the Western Power Network during the months of May, June, July and August 2013.
These works are often outside Statkraft's control. It should be noted that it is in the financial interest of Statkraft to have the turbines turning as much as possible.
Wind turbines, and other forms of renewable power, are given financial support through the Renewables Obligation (RO) system. The Government put this system in place to provide incentives for firms to invest in renewable technology. Despite still being in its infancy, the renewable power sector has been able to compete with other more polluting forms of energy generation. The RO system provides support only whilst wind farms are generating.
This system also supports other forms of renewable energy generation and accounts for just over 3% of an average energy bill. The amount paid to wind energy generators through the RO was reduced in the last year and is expected to come down further in the coming years as the cost of onshore wind decreases. This can be compared to the large price increases of natural gas seen in the past decade, and particularly within the past few weeks.
Since 2005 the price of wholesale gas has more than doubled from 1p/kWh to 2.2p/kWh,* feeding into the large increases in domestic fuel bills. Increased use of renewables will go some of the way towards protecting the consumer from these volatile price changes.
*'Energy Prices', House of Commons Library research note, November 2012
Unfortunately Statkraft is not a supplier of electricity in the UK and therefore cannot provide local homes with electricity directly from the wind farm. Consequently, they cannot provide discounted electricity. However the Alltwalis Community Benefit Fund is in a position to offer grants to groups wishing to develop micro-renewables projects in the local area. The community fund has already provided solar panels at the Neuadd Eglwys Cymunedol Llanllwni, the Cylch Meithrin Llanllwni and the Old School in Alltwalis.
Statkraft will continue to encourage the Community Benefit Fund to make best use of its funds and investigate supplying more buildings in the future. However, all final decisions rest with the Community Benefit Fund.
Since its commissioning in 2009, Statkraft has worked closely with the local council and residents and wind turbine supplier Siemens to respond to noise complaints. Actions have included a number of turbine retrofits, operation modifications on the wind farm and a faulty gearbox being changed in 2011.
We are committed to being a good neighbour and continue to keep the situation under review. We work closely with the wind turbine manufacturer and the local council to ensure noise levels are kept to a minimum. If you have concerns about the operating conditions and noise limits permitted at Alltwalis Wind Farm, you should contact the local council. In addition, our 24 hour community hotline remains in operation and we can be contacted on: 0330 063 6229.
Despite a large number of studies into this issue, both the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and the House of Commons Library hold the view that a constructed wind farm has no effect on house prices. It has been observed when a wind farm is announced or begins construction there can be a slight effect on house prices, however, this has not been an observed problem in the long term, once the wind farm is constructed.
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Wind Turbine Syndrome ("WTS") is an alleged condition proposed by paediatrician and anti-wind farm campaigner Dr Nina Pierpoint. Her study cited a wide range of physical symptoms found in a sample of 10 families whom she had pre-selected. Her findings formed the basis of a self-published book but were never printed in a single peer-reviewed medical journal.
WTS is not accepted by the medical community. Commenting on the study the NHS said:
"This study provides no conclusive evidence that wind turbines have an effect on health or are causing the set of symptoms described here as "wind turbine syndrome". The study design was weak, the study was small and there was no comparison group."
Wind turbine sound and health
Wind Turbine Syndrome Review
Both internationally and in the UK there is a good understanding of environmental noise, and guidelines have been produced which take low frequency noise into account.
To learn more, check out Renewable UK's website: www.renewableuk.com