Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Extra costs for Endurance wind turbine owners

This wind turbine was installed in May last year on a small sheep farm in Wales. It is an Endurance X35Q - quite small (180 kW) and very quiet. Six months later the manufacturer went out of business due to the cuts in the Feed in Tariff for small renewables [1]. There are about 900 Endurance wind turbines in the UK, mostly on farms. With luck they will continue to operate for many years as local service companies are collaborating on maintaining stocks of spare parts. However, it is still bad news for many turbine owners as warranties from Endurance are now invalid and they will have to take out new insurance or take the risk on themselves [2][3].

This Endurance wind turbine was installed in May last year. The manufacturer is now bankrupt.
This photo was taken by my nephew Mark Burchell

I went to see the turbine last weekend when visiting my sister in Wales. The farmer is a neighbour and the turbine is only 400m from her house. When she heard about the plans she was very worried that the turbine would be noisy. But in practice this turbine is very quiet. There is almost no noise from the blades, just a bit of hum from the gears. You can hear the turbine from the road 100m away if you listen quietly, but certainly not from her house. At the moment the dominant source of noise in the landscape is sheep. The bleating of sheep and lambs is incessant at this time of year!

The turbine is quiet enough we can have easily have a conversation standing right at the base

It's a real shame that the drop in feed in tariffs (now down to 3.92 p/kWh for wind between 100kW and 2.5 MW) and deployment caps have lead to uncertainty and extra costs for existing wind turbine owners as well as potential new ones.

There is still activity in the wind sector, with some firms making power purchase agreements directly with generators rather than through supply companies. For example British Telecom recently made a deal worth £185 million with a wind farm in Scotland [3]. However, it is hard for small generators to deal in that market.

Farmers like the the owner of this turbine use renewable energy as a way to diversify and stabilise their business. Wind turbines like this one are quiet and non-intrusive and would have great potential, if the economics were a little more supportive.

[1] Wind turbine owners offered support after collapse of manufacturer Endurance (FG Insight) Nov 2016
[1] Endurance wind turbines - NFU guidance (NFU) Nov 2016
[3] Latest news regarding Endurance Wind Power (Earthmill) Nov 2016
[4] BT signs new PPA in pursuit of global clean electricity target (Clean Energy News) April 2017

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