Repowering Great Britain?s oldest wind farm

The wind farm is the oldest in the UK. The dismantling of the old wind turbines has begun this spring. The Delabole wind power project is part of the company’s strategy to invest in own generation sources as well as creating a community of generators, explains Chief Executive Juliet Davenport. The aim is to “give customers the best price possible for their 100 % renewable electricity supply”.

Windblatt: Good Energy is mainly a provider of electricity from renewable sources. Why did you start repowering the Delabole wind farm?

Juliet Davenport: It’s always been part of our plan to invest in our own generation sources as well as buying from a network of independent generators. We wanted to be able to create a community of generators as well as owning our own. Having more of our own generating capacity gives a natural hedge over the price of energy, so we can give our customers the best price possible for their 100 % renewable electricity supply. Repowering Delabole to increase its output by two and a half times is the first in a pipeline of future large-scale developments for Good Energy.

What were the biggest challenges for Good Energy in the realisation of this project?

Davenport: One part of wind farm development that can often be a challenge in the UK is planning. Our team worked with Delabole  residents from the very beginning, to introduce the wind energy project and get their feedback before submitting our plans. The whole planning process took nine months – which is good. I think it’s testament to the power of time, and how things become the norm.

Delabole was the UK’s first commercial wind farm, so it has become part of the area and the residents are used to the reality of living near a wind farm.

Too many applications stall here in the UK because regulation favours those people who oppose plans rather than those who support them.

What was your company’s motivation to choose ENERCON wind turbines?

Davenport: We went through a competitive process for choosing our wind turbines, and ENERCON came out top out of the four wind turbine manufacturers we considered. The wind turbines were slightly more expensive per MW, but for this site, the performance of the ENERCON wind turbines over the other wind turbines meant that the cost per MWh produced was actually lower in our financial modelling. ENERCON also performed well on noise, and meant that we could put four turbines on the site rather than having to reduce the number to comply with the planning conditions.

Finally, ENERCON have an excellent reputation for operational and maintenence and availability, and this meant that when we choose ENERCON the bank financing was more straightforward.

How do you secure the 100 % renewable quality of the electricity delivered to your customers?

Davenport: Good Energy is the only company in the UK to have a 100 % fuel mix disclosure. This means that for every unit of electricity we sell to our customers, we own a Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificate, generated by a renewable generator during the year. We make sure we have this through careful planning and marketing by our procurement team, who spend a lot of time working with renewable generators and making sure we can match the needs of our customers over 12 months. We have just under 1,000 generators making electricity.

What will be the impact of the new British feed-in tariffs, beginning 1 April 2010, on the development of renewables?

Davenport: We hope that the feed-in tariff will significantly in crease the uptake of microgeneration technologies in the UK. It certainly makes installing these types of technologies much more financially attractive, as it significantly shortens the payback time. Importantly, what domestic renewable technologies can do that large-scale ones like wind farms can’t is reconnect people to the source of their power – absolutely vital in reducing our energy consumption and changing the pattern of when we use energy.