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ECIU Wants To Double The Size Of Your Wind Turbines

March 28, 2018

By Paul Homewood


h/t Philip Bratby



From The Times:


Dozens of wind farms could be rebuilt with turbines twice the height of existing ones under plans to keep sites operating for at least another 20 years.

More than 750 turbines at 60 sites are coming to the end of their operational lives, with less than five years remaining of the 20-year period for which they have planning permission. They could be dismantled and the landscape restored, but the wind industry is lobbying to be allowed to replace them with much more powerful turbines.



The existing turbines are mostly 50m to 60m tall. The new ones would be up to 120m and produce up to eight times more power.

The taller turbines would increase the total capacity of the 60 sites from 440 megawatts to 1,300 megawatts and produce enough power for 800,000 homes, according to a report by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), a think tank that supports renewable energy. Wind farms could be rebuilt with fewer turbines, it said, as with the first commercial one in the UK at Delabole in Cornwall, where the ten turbines installed in 1991 have been replaced by four nearly twice as tall.

Critics say that the visual blight from taller turbines is worse even if there are fewer of them.


This all stems from the latest report from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), the renewable energy propaganda group run by ex BBC man Richard Black.

The report contains several gross distortions.


The central one is the claim that onshore wind is the cheapest source of new electricity generation capacity.

According to the ECIU:

The latest government forecasts project that the cost of electricity from a combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power station built in 2025 will be £82/MWh.

This is derived from a govt analysis in 2016.

But what the ECIU conveniently forget to mention is that these CCGT projected costs are artificially inflated by Carbon Costs, set at £29/MWh






Carbon costs are not “real”, and their sole purpose is to enable renewable energy to become competitive. The idea that the tiny amount of CO2 saved by this extra wind power will make the slightest difference to the world’s climate is in any event patently absurd.

Taking this out, the true cost of CCGT would be £53/MWh, well below the £61/MWh quoted for onshore wind.

BEIS also show sensitivities for fuel cost for CCGT. While costs could be £8/MWh higher, they could also be £16/MWh lower than the central scenario of £82/MWh. In other words, the projections are probably on the high side.




And, of course, the projected costs of onshore wind do not include the cost of intermittency. To get a true cost comparison, the correct way is to look at the total cost of wind power against the marginal cost of CCGT, as the fixed costs of the latter need to be paid for anyway.

If we do this, we can see that onshore wind costs £61/MWh, while the marginal cost of CCGT is £43/MWh.

ECIU quote a study by consultants by Baringa Partners, which suggests onshore wind costs could fall to £46/MWh, but anybody can come up with silly numbers. At the end of the day, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

If costs really were as low as that, developers would be queuing up to build new wind farms. But they are not, as the ECIU themselves admit, when they say

Although they represent the cheapest form of new generation, most proposed new onshore wind farms (and repowered ones) do not have a viable route to market.

 That is why they propose that new onshore wind farms be awarded guaranteed prices via CfDs. Intrinsically, wind power is worth a lot less to the market than proper dispatchable power.


The ECIU report also repeats the falsehood that government policy is effectively banning new onshore capacity.

The government’s policy, as laid out in their manifesto, is quite clear, to end all new subsidies and allow local people to have the final say:


The ECIU quote heavily skewed surveys, which purport to show that wind power is highly popular, so local planning should not be a problem!

If the ECIU are right about costs, there is no reason why new capacity should not be built. To claim that onshore wind is banned is an outright lie.

ECIU suggests that existing wind farms be rebuilt with much bigger turbines. However, the original planning permissions were given on the basis of the current turbine size, and for a strictly limited period, usually about 25 years.

To drive a horse and cart through those original decisions, and allow new turbines twice as high and for another 25 years would be a travesty.

Local people must have the final say, just as they were promised.

  1. 4TimesAYear permalink
    March 28, 2018 11:40 am

    Mid American is putting longer blades on the existing towers here. Not sure if they did any research as to how well they’d hold up. I should think they’d wear out much faster.

    • A C Osborn permalink
      March 28, 2018 12:08 pm

      Interesting item came out of that report.
      Planning permission for only 20 years.
      No planning, goodbye Wind Farms.

  2. Nordisch-geo-climber permalink
    March 28, 2018 12:29 pm

    During recent easterly winds and very cold weather, the Newlands Mill turbine at Hesket Newmarket was audibly very noisy. 1200 metres from the village where I heard it, the noise was really intrusive. This is a small turbine and generally well accepted and supported by the village as it powers a successful local business. It was the first turbine in the area and famously blew down and collapsed across the road ten years ago. However, it reminds us that nothing comes without strings attached. Imagine being 1200 metres from a big array, the vibration and noise would be like living near an airport. Let alone the landscape blight. Newlands is a single structure and as such does not have a massive impact on the landscape, but eight of them would be catastrophic for the character of the area.

  3. March 28, 2018 12:51 pm

    Most wind farms (and individual turbines) in England are surrounded by residential property. Most wind turbines cause a noise nuisance and consequential ill health. Bigger wind turbines produce much more noise and, with all the new knowledge about wind turbine noise (which the wind industry, the acoustics industry and Government have been covering up), it is very unlikely that existing turbines would get permission to be replaced by bigger ones.

  4. Joe Public permalink
    March 28, 2018 1:01 pm

    “The existing turbines are mostly 50m to 60m tall. The new ones would be up to 120m and produce up to eight times more power.”

    Deliberately misleading, by omitting fact that turbine spacing is proportional to height.

    Rebuilding an existing wind farm with taller turbines, results in it accomodating far fewer turbines:

    Wind turbines need to be positioned so that the distances between them are between 3-10 rotor diameters …..

    Bearing in mind the requirements for optimal performance, a distance of not less than two rotor diameters from adjoining property boundaries will generally be expected, unless there is written agreement of adjoining landowners to a lesser distance.

    • Paddy permalink
      March 29, 2018 6:18 am

      One would have thought the foundation blocks would have to be proportionally bigger.

      • Joe Public permalink
        March 29, 2018 1:02 pm


        Why waste concrete:

  5. rapscallion permalink
    March 28, 2018 1:47 pm

    Apart from all the planning considerations, they always bang on about capacity, and as we all know actual output is roughly 25% of capacity. Therefore to double the size of the blades they intend to increase actual output from 110 Megawatts to a massive 325 Megawatts.

    For a mere 215 megawatts it’s hardly worth the effort

    How many more birds are these monstrosities going to slaughter?

  6. Athelstan permalink
    March 28, 2018 1:56 pm

    We binned wind whirlygigs when we developed that rum, very odd idea of steam power. Now, the watermelons aka the post modern Luddites: they’re dragging us back to the dark ages.

    • March 29, 2018 10:43 pm


      This “very odd idea of steam power” is very much alive and kicking and is still generating power from coal, oil and nuclear generators. It is also the prime thermostat for global temperature in that the Hydro Cycle is in fact a Rankine Cycle which is this “very odd idea” and serves well pumping for every Kilogram of water in the system some 680 WattHrs of energy up into the clouds, some of which winds up in space via the Cirrus clouds.

      Could we have a bit of respect here? Meanwhile — Cheers my friend!

  7. Roger Graves permalink
    March 28, 2018 2:10 pm

    The people most in favour of wind power tend to be city dwellers for whom wind turbines are usually out of sight and out of mind. If 120-metre turbines are to be installed, why not put them in urban areas, so those most in favour of them can enjoy them? A grid of giant turbines across the Greater London area would provide (intermittent) power for London and enable all the urban greenies to signal their virtue on a 24-hour basis.

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      March 28, 2018 2:40 pm

      One right next to the houses of parliament and one in the grounds of Buck House for the clown prince to enjoy sounds good to me: I’ll be willing to make my contribution to these!

    • March 29, 2018 12:41 pm

      Very telling, is the episode over wind farms off Cape Cod. Both late Senator Ted Kennedy, who had experience with things in water, and his nephew, “eco-activist” Robert F. Kennedy Jr., were outspoken opponents of the proposed 130-turbine wind-power project in Horseshoe Shoal, a shallow portion of Nantucket.

      Their reason? It would be visible from the Kennedy Compound at Hyannis Port. A perfect example of “not in my backyard.”

  8. Bitter@twisted permalink
    March 28, 2018 2:40 pm

    “Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit”?!
    What genius comedian thought of that name?
    I pi$$ed myself laughing.

    • Athelstan permalink
      March 28, 2018 2:58 pm

      the green virtue signallers are the morons dedicated to promulgating lack of energy ruinables, and certainly stress the moron, in their oxymorons.

    • March 28, 2018 4:41 pm

      If you look at the members of the Advisory Board, you’d know:

      • Athelstan permalink
        March 29, 2018 7:54 am


        doesn’t quite describe that lot and riding on the gravy train taking Britain down the track to nowhere and a cold hell, the green devils ride and green devilment would be a more apt phrasing.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      March 28, 2018 10:48 pm

      I wonder if they thought themselves a successor to ETSU at Harwell?

    • March 29, 2018 8:05 am

      An oxymoron I’d say!

  9. Roy Hartwell permalink
    March 28, 2018 3:39 pm

    Does this mean they’ll be able to be paid more for not producing even more power ?

  10. Harry Passfield permalink
    March 28, 2018 4:28 pm

    I left this comment at the end of the ‘About’ thread but it’s relevant here.

    You may recall that I left a comment on an earlier thread to say I was reporting OVO to the ASA because of a misleading advert in the DT claiming their customers could go 100% renewable.

    Well, The ASA has rejected my claim with this reasoning:

    “Your complaint

    I understand that you consider the claim for “Renewable is Unstoppable, Switch to 100% renewable electricity” to be misleading, because electricity is supplied through the national grid which uses a variety of fuels to generate electricity and consumers will not be able to confirm they have been given renewable certificates for their energy. We have looked into your complaint carefully and considered all the issues raised. On this occasion, our decision is that we will not be taking further action at this time.

    Our rules

    Advertising is considered to be misleading if it causes, or is likely to cause a consumer to make a decision they would not have otherwise taken.

    Our decision

    The ASA has established a position that this claim is acceptable provided it is not used in a manner that implies direct supply to the consumer. You can read more about our position on such claims here. The ad makes no claims that renewable electricity is supplied direct to a consumer’s house. We consider that consumers are likely to understand that electricity tends to come into their homes through connection with the national grid and that the advertiser supplies electricity to consumers through the same national grid but matches all of the electricity used by their customers over a year with the same amount of electricity from renewable sources. We also note the footnote to the page which states that OVO will match electricity consumption with renewable certificates and understand that a renewable energy supplier must legally provide enough energy to the grid to satisfy the demand from their customers. We therefore consider that consumers are unlikely to interpret the ad as suggesting direct supply and, the claims surrounding renewable energy are likely to be justifiable and unlikely to materially mislead. For these reasons, we will not be taking any further action on this occasion.”

    I have replied to them thus:

    “Thank you for your response to my complaint to the ASA. I’m sorry to see that it has been rejected. But as I see you have re-defined my complaint to say that I considered consumers ‘will not be able to confirm they have been given renewable certificates for their energy’, I am not surprised. That was not the nub of my complaint.

    My original complaint was that OVO were promising users 100% renewable energy. That is a misleading statement and one that is incorrect as a matter of fact. They have used the get-out that they do this by purchasing RCs on behalf of their consumers so that they, and not the consumer, can account for renewable energy. Meanwhile, their consumers do not get to use 100% renewable energy. That is the grossly misleading point I was trying to make.

    I urge you to take the full-page advertising by OVO at its face value and see if it really does fit the ASA guidelines. In my opinion, it is not ‘honest and truthful’.”

    • March 28, 2018 5:27 pm

      I would have thought that the one with Trump’s head exploding would probably be objectionable to most sane people. (I’ve seen two versions – one with Trump flying on a turbine blade I think, the other with his head replaced by an explosion. Not cool, whatever you think of Trumpy.)

      • April 1, 2018 1:43 pm

        It’s actually the sun, not an explosion.
        I double checked about the small print, which I swore the Times full page ads didn’t have.
        Actually it is there in tiny WHITE letters on a LIGHT-BLUE background
        that breaks fairness rules surely.
        Likewise the small print also appears on the TV ad, but for so little time, you can’t read it.

      • April 1, 2018 11:29 pm

        Here’s a screenshot of that small print
        Can you read it ?

  11. Greg permalink
    March 28, 2018 4:30 pm

    I would guess part of the reason is to make new sites viable. About 8 years ago (in Ontario Canada) I attended a session sponsored by the professional engineers licensing body on wind power. The guest speaker, a wind advocate and university prof, admitted that they had already achieved saturation in terms of locations of wind farms in Ontario where there was sufficient wind speeds on some minimal time percentage. He showed a large map of the province indicating average wind speeds and locations of existing wind farms. The only fix was to go taller.

  12. Graeme No.3 permalink
    March 28, 2018 9:49 pm

    I have a question or two. As the tip speed would double if the rpm is the same, would the blades be strong enough? And what happens to the sound at double the tip speed?
    Also if they run at lower rpm how does that effect the output? (I am wondering if the heavier blades can get the extra energy necessary as current models are supposedly near 90% of the Betz limit).

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      March 29, 2018 12:15 am

      Other things being equal, sound pressure will increase with the fifth power of the speed of the blade relative to the surrounding air. You will therefore notice that modern wind turbines with large rotor diameters have very low rotational speed.



      It’s an excellent site for explaining many technical questions (and how they play into economics) about wind turbines – recommended if you want to understand them in some detail.

      The Betz limit is 16/27ths, or about 59.3%. Compare that with the Power Coefficient curve for a typical turbine:


      It has a peak of just 44%, and tails off sharply, because the turbine must take out only as much energy as the generator can handle, which is the flat part of a power output curve – while the energy in the wind continues to increase with the cube of wind speed. As the page points out, the game is mostly about getting the lowest average cost per kWh generated rather than maximising the energy efficiency of individual turbines.

      Mutatis mutandis doubling the rotor diameter roughly doubles the hub height, which benefits average wind speed


      It also increases the swept area and potential energy at a given wind speed by a factor of 4. These benefits allow them to design a less efficient turbine and still come away with a lower cost even after the added costs of the higher, stronger tower (partly to support the bigger generator) and longer blades. Of course, it depends on having a viable engineering design: an early 100m diameter turbine failed in a matter of weeks, vibrating itself to death.

      • dave permalink
        March 29, 2018 11:59 am

        “…vibrating itself to death…”

        It died happy.

      • Athelstan permalink
        March 29, 2018 3:05 pm

        It’s an interesting conundrum for engineers, but actually speaking for all the techie stuff considered, when load factors and bigger = more shear – does it not, the benefits accrued for the domestic consumer when costs are added in, is not clear at all – is it?

        Again, we’re dancing on pinheads, as I said an interesting exercise in the physics and engineering of said sooper dooper whirlygigs but really, the conversation should be academic – only.

    • dave permalink
      March 29, 2018 8:11 am

      “…the sound…”

      It gets worse according to this report:

      It does not seem that noise from the tip is the real problem. It is more the whoosh from the blade sweeping past the pylon.

      Many people are essentially nervous and irritable. Why should they have to suffer FOR ONE SECOND from intrusive noise impacts – especially for this ludicrous virtue-signalling?

      • dave permalink
        March 29, 2018 8:23 am

        OT, but sea-ice volume in both the Arctic* and Antarctic** have increased markedly in March. No doubt, it is mere natural variation; but it is inconsistent with notions that the sea-ice is subject to “tipping points” and “death spirals.”

        *”Extent” is steady, while “thickness” has increased.

        **We only have “extent” to work with down there.

      • John189 permalink
        March 29, 2018 12:32 pm

        There is another nuisance to be considered as well. Homes with south-facing windows and a good view of rotating turbine blades will endure “shadow flicker” whenever the blades are in the eye of the sun – this will usually occur in winter when the sun is low in the sky. It may not be a frequent event, but a regular flicker reflecting on interior walls is a clear danger to health.

  13. March 29, 2018 10:49 pm

    When the wind does not blow these big ones produce the same amount of power that the small ones do. A big fat Zero and a big fat cost to us consumers.

  14. March 30, 2018 11:34 am

    What the general public, the media, politicians and investors don’t appreciate is that wind turbine companies and bodies are, at best, disingenuous but could reasonably be accused of duplicity.

    Wind turbine performance degrades at 1.6% per annum, so on average over the 25 year lifespan of theses turbines, they will not [intermittently] power 800,000 homes, but only 664,000 homes. Their performance is overrated by 20%.

    Pen Y Cymoedd, the latest big onshore windfarm to come online had an installed capital cost of £1,4 million/MW. Such are the differences between the old and new windfarms, it’s doubtful any improvement in this rate will be possible. But, say, a near 10% reduction to £1.45 million/MW would still mean a capital cost for 1,300 MW of £1,885 million.

    3,200 Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant will generate 24/7 power to 6,470,00 homes, every year for its 60 year design life. It would take 12,667 MW of these giant turbines to [intermittently] power the same number of homes in a year at a cost of £18,367 million; coincidentally just about the same capital cost as Hinkley.

    But then – there’s an even bigger BUT! That 12,667 MW of gigantic turbines will only last 25 years, so they’ll have to be built a 2nd time and be 10 years into the 3rd build before the 60 year target is reached. That’s a factor of X2.4 and a capital cost of £44,000 million.

    Yet, somehow, 9,999 people out of 10,000 think nuclear is ‘SSSsssooo Expensive’. How wrong can so many be!

  15. March 30, 2018 11:38 am

    “…£1,4 million/MW…” Should read £1.6 million/MW.

  16. April 1, 2018 2:42 pm

    Seems ECIU have moved on to advertising their report on BBC local
    Thursday there was a development
    And the award for creative advertising work on Windfarm Promotion, goes to BBC’s Pa.ul Murphy for putting together 2 packages on BBC Look North
    probably in cooperation with with Greenblob PR guys ECIU
    Balance ?..yeh
    – 6:30pm segment was with Richard B.lack of ECIU (former BBC) ,
    – 10:35pm seg was with head of PR of the Wind industry lobby group
    with a token 27 words from an anti-noise campaigner …. whose concerns were quickly dismissed by Murphy and black
    “no scientific basis for people experiencing health effects of windfarms”
    ..that seems a bit callous when there are real people saying they are victims and have won out of court settlements with (non-disclosure orders).

    Melvin Grosvenor told me that he was upset that they didn’t even mention the title of his org Independent Noise Working Group (INWG) produce a Wind Turbine Amplitude Modulation, Wind Turbine Amplitude Modulation a known effect, and the government report about it

    His main point was that the larger turbines are like your neighbour who owns a mini, switching to a Ferrari or your village festival becoming the Glastonbury.
    However due to BBC editing his point was dismissed.

    Mel had a proper live interview the day before on Radio link

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