Go Green, Get Diesel!!
By Paul Homewood
As we know, many operators have been signing up to provide standby generating capacity, for when intermittent renewables fail to supply power.
Many of these rely on parks of diesel generators for this. Now it appears that green power companies are getting in on the act. The Sunday Times (unfortunately paywalled) reports:
BRITAIN’S green energy barons are getting huge taxpayer subsidies to install diesel generators — exactly the kind of polluting energy source their wind and solar farms are meant to replace.
Wind and solar power firms are being encouraged to install the generators, which pour out CO2, a greenhouse gas, and toxic nitrogen dioxide, on their sites in order to provide standby generating capacity and prevent the lights going out during periods of peak demand.
The giant Roundponds solar farm, near Melksham, Wiltshire, is among the first green generators to take advantage. The directors of Hive Energy, which owns it, have won permission to put diesel generators near the solar panels — despite local objections.
Similarly, First Renewable has won permission for a diesel farm next to its wind turbines and solar panels at Kettering Energy Park in Northamptonshire.
Diesel generators are typically built into shipping containers, each producing 2 to 3 MW.
The rest of the article is paywalled, but the local paper, Melksham Independent News has the story of the Hive Energy proposal:
THE company that built Roundponds Farm Solar Farm at Norrington, near Broughton Gifford, has applied for permission to install 10 diesel generators on the site – but the plans have already drawn sharp criticism.
The plans propose a 2,400sqm compound be set up on part of the solar farm, to house five pairs of standby generators, three transformers, an equipment store and three 30,000 litre fuel storage tanks.
The application predicts that the plant, designed to provide emergency electricity when the National Grid is under pressure, could use 218,000 litres of diesel per year.
Broughton Gifford resident Martin Freeman is outraged and concerned that the plan could set a precedent. He said, “This application is outrageous. Diesel farms are dirty, noisy and ugly. They have no place in the countryside.
“Storing 90,000 litres of diesel with no additional protection or drainage looks like a recipe for disaster, especially in an area which is prone to flooding. It’s bad enough covering green fields with solar panels, but putting polluting power-plants next to them just adds insult to injury.
“We know from experience that once you build something like this, it will expand and others will follow. We also know that Wiltshire Council doesn’t enforce breaches of planning conditions. So the only way to ensure that it is safe and not the first of many is not to build it.
“We are subsidising renewable energy because it is clean and reduces our reliance on oil. Then we pay even greater subsidies for diesel farms because the renewable energy is unreliable. You couldn’t make it up.”
The applicant, Roundponds Energy Ltd, included an open letter to local councillors and residents in the application, which explains the need for the generators. The letter explains that the fossil-fuel powered generators will provide back-up energy for the National Grid when demand is too high.
It reads, “While derived from sustainable sources, most renewable generation is intermittent and unreliable by nature, so plants such as this new one are required to ensure the lights stay on when, for example, the wind does not blow.”
The letter also tells residents that “realistically the units are only planned to operate for a few hours each year.” The design specification submitted with the application, however, predicts that “the total annual running is estimated to be approximately 110 hours”.
On the last capacity market auction, held by DECC last year, the clearing price awarded was £19.60/KW. Assuming the 10 generators proposed are 3 MW each, they would have attracted an annual payment of £588,000, in addition of course to the revenue generated for any electricity sold.
In total, last year’s auction awarded contracts to diesel and OCGT operators (not split separately) for 2101 MW. Timera Energy believe about half of this could be for diesel, which would imply a cost of more than £20 million.
It is richly ironic that owners of heavily subsidised solar and wind farms, which create the need for back up capacity, then make more money from consumers by supplying it!