Atlantic Array – RWE Innogy propaganda critique

The information provided by RWE Innogy to the public should be unbiased and accurate. However, the information provided by RWE Innogy is biased, inaccurate and incomplete. On the RWE Innogy website for the Atlantic Array[1] there is a section headed “Benefits”. There is no balancing section headed “Disbenefits” or “Harm”. Below, some of the RWE Innogy claims are examined and the real information is given.

RWE Innogy Myth 1

“Every year, Atlantic Array Wind Farm would prevent the release of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of polluting carbon dioxide gas.”

The Facts

Carbon dioxide is not a polluting gas.  In fact carbon dioxide is a natural and vital constituent of the atmosphere. Without carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, there would be no plant and animal life on Earth. Recent increases in the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration have been accompanied by “greening” of the planet, particularly in places like the Sahel.

This is attributable to the fact that carbon dioxide is a plant nutrient and causes increased plant growth with lower water consumption. If carbon dioxide were a polluting gas, commercial growers would not be permitted to inject it into their greenhouses and polytunnels. Historically, carbon dioxide concentration has been many times higher than it is today.

RWE Innogy Myth 2

“The development of Atlantic Array, and other proposed offshore wind farms, presents an exciting opportunity for the growth of a new UK industry which has the potential to create thousands of jobs.”

The facts

The Atlantic Array will be highly beneficial to foreign industry. The turbines are likely to be manufactured in Germany or Denmark.

RWE Innogy make no mention of the effect of the Atlantic Array on consumers, on UK industry and on the UK economy. The cost of producing electricity by the Atlantic Array will be about three times that produced by conventional power stations. The subsidies paid for the electricity generated via the ROC scheme come from UK consumers (see below).

Many studies have shown that increasing the cost to industry, commerce and consumers for electricity causes job losses in industry and reduces consumer spending which leads to further job losses. For example, a study by consultants Verso Economics found that for every job created in the UK in the renewable energy industry, 3.7 jobs were lost elsewhere in the economy[2].

RWE Innogy Myth 3

“The Atlantic Array would also contribute to the UK’s security of supply for electricity.”

The facts

The Atlantic Array will only produce electricity when the wind blows within a certain range.  At low wind speeds the Atlantic Array will produce no electricity. At high wind speeds the turbines have to be stopped to prevent them being destroyed and the Atlantic Array will produce no electricity.  There is no security of supply when the production of electricity is dependent on the vagaries of the weather and when and how much the wind blows.

RWE Innogy Myth 4

“Energy generation – The annual generation expected at the site would be equivalent to the approximate domestic needs of around 1.1 million average UK households.  This is equivalent to over 40% of the domestic electricity consumption for the South West of England or over 90% of the domestic electricity consumption for Wales.”

The facts

The amount of electricity that Atlantic Array will generate is dependent on many unknowns such as how much the wind blows and how much of the time the turbines are broken down or undergoing maintenance.

Based on the claimed 1.1 million households and the annual consumption per household of 4.7MWh, it can be calculated that the claimed capacity factor of the Atlantic Array is 39%. Given the harsh conditions in which offshore turbines operate and the difficulties of maintenance, capacity factors are likely to decline as wind turbines age. Also, given the fact that in 2009 and 2010, the measured capacity factors for existing offshore wind farms were 30% and 29% respectively, the very high figure of 39% is another myth. Thus the figure of 1.1 million households is a myth.

What RWE Innogy doesn’t tell you 1: Energy prices

RWE Innogy provide no information about the effect of the Atlantic Array on electricity prices.

The facts

The electricity produced by the Atlantic Array will be subsidised through the Renewable Obligation scheme via Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs). A description oh how the Renewable Obligation scheme works is given by the Renewable Energy Foundation[3]. The subsidy is paid by consumers through their electricity bills.  The Atlantic Array will increase the price of electricity to the claimed equivalent of 1.1 million households by about 9p per unit (9p/kWh), an annual increase in bills for the 1.1 million household of about £428; this represents an increase of about 76%.

Given that 10% of extra winter mortality is attributable to fuel poverty, RWE Innogy do not want the public to how many extra households are estimated to be forced into fuel poverty by this increase in electricity bills and how many extra deaths per winter the increase in fuel poverty will cause.

What RWE Innogy doesn’t tell you 2: Back-up

RWE Innogy provide no information about what happens when the wind doesn’t blow.

The facts

The electrical output from the Atlantic Array will be dependent on the strength of the wind.  At low wind speeds the Atlantic Array will produce no electricity and at high wind speeds the Atlantic Array will produce no electricity.  In between, the amount of electricity produced changes as the wind speed changes.  The electricity needed by the supposed 1.1 million households will have to come from somewhere else as the wind speed changes and the electricity produced rises and falls.  This is known as providing back-up to meet the electricity used by consumers.  Is RWE Innogy going to build the conventional power stations to provide those equivalent 1.1 million households with their electricity when the wind changes and when it doesn’t blow?  RWE Innogy doesn’t say.  Not only does RWE Innogy not say who is going to build those conventional power stations for back-up, but it does not say how much it is going to cost to build those back-up power stations and how much it is going to add to household electricity bills.

The requirement for back-up has recently been confirmed by British Gas who have stated that 17 gas-fired power stations costing about £10 billion are required by 2020[4].  A modern gas-fired power station is rated at about 750MW, thus each one would cost about £600 million.  Since the Atlantic Array is rated at about 1,500MW, then the equivalent of about two gas-fired power stations, costing £1.2 billion, will be required as back-up.

Does it make sense to build the Atlantic Array to provide electricity when the wind blows and to build two conventional power stations to provide back-up and to provide electricity when the wind doesn’t blow?  Why not just build the conventional power stations and provide cheap electricity all the time?

9 thoughts on “Atlantic Array – RWE Innogy propaganda critique

  1. Same old NIMBY rubbish. RWE’s consultation guide clearly lists all the potential impacts. Last time I checked this was on their website for all to see! Have an opinion on the plans – fine. Play your part in the planning process – great, but please spare us your irresponsible half truths about things you clearly don’t understand.

      • I notice that neither David Jones nor Mark Watson have provided any response to the points made in the critique. I presume this is because they can’t find fault with the critique.

        Insults like “Same old NIMBY rubbish” and “things you clearly don’t understand” carry no weight in a constructive discussion.

    • Oh David Jones do you really know what you are talking about? or is it that you think that you are so clever? The simple facts are that these windfarms will NOT provide all that is being promised by RWE!
      They will be a massive blot on the horizon!
      They will damage more than they will benefit!
      I could go on and on but the truth is that they are NOT efficient!
      They will cost the UK taxpayer!
      These are statements that people need to be aware of, so no more of your claptrap accusation and rubbish.

  2. Hi There – really glad to see that local people in North Devon are prepared to try to prevent “Atlantic DisArray” from going ahead and trying to do something about it. I am someone who would in the past have been considered “green” i.e. environmentally aware and in favour of any enviromentally friendly “Alternatives”…..So it was surprising for me to be attending the “Atlantic Array Public Consultation Process” as an objector of “green technology” Wind Farms….but I was already aware that this was not the case. I put all your above mentioned arguments against windpower to them…several months ago….at the Royal Britania in Ilfracombe, and filled in a feedback form stating my reasons, enviromental ones off course, as to why I strongly objected. However, it was obvious that this very flashy “Presentation” was a fob off, and that my response would most likely be of little interest to them. The freaky part is that they act like it is a forgone conclusion that the Atlantic Array will go ahead – public consultation or otherwise. It is going to take some doing to stand up against the Government and RNE Renewables and prevent this abomination from going ahead. I can hardly believe that this truly beautifull coastline is being threatened with something so ugly, destructive, polluting and pointless as this development. Please keep me informed of your progress and let me know if there is anything practical I can do to help stop this enviromentally unfriendly monstrosity!!

  3. I see in the Bideford Post, June edition, that ‘Atlantic Array plans halved after Huge Public Concern’, and that opposition groups are celebrating. I believe it is far too early to celebrate, and I question what is actually being celebrated.
    I quote from the Atlantic Array Project Update Leaflet produced by RWE: ‘There is no change in the distance of the Array from Lundy, or from the closest points on the North Devon coast.’ RWE have reduced the maximum number of turbines from 417 to 278. This number was within the scope of the original plan. As the output of the Array has not been reduced this just means that larger turbines will be used, so although there may be fewer, and they may be slightly further away from Somerset and Wales, they will be no less visible as they will be higher. In fact the ruination of the view from Lundy and North Devon will be enhanced! The report also states that Stanley Bank is ‘an area particularly favourable for a wind farm so the boundary has remained unchanged in this area’. Ask any local fisherman and you will find this is also the prime fishing and spawning area. It is also right next door to the Lundy Marine Conservation Area. By clearing out our main fishing and spawning ground means our Marine Conservation area, as well as our views, and much else, will be destroyed.
    It should also be noted that the future areas for the Array extension have not been changed, allowing any reduction in the area used by the Array phase one to be short term reductions only.
    Although RWE claim this reduction is due to heeding public concern, don’t be fooled. It clearly states in this update document that ‘on-going engineering studies have provided us with information on engineering constraints. These include seabed conditions, water depth, and safe access to the wind farm area for construction, operations and maintenance boats and technicians’. If you compare the original plans with the Admiralty charts for the area, you would have seen that this safe access should be a consideration. The boats were previously forced to sail through the second largest marine firing range in the world. Possibly not a good idea for the health and safety of the employees! However more to the point, if it enables safer access then it reiterates that these construction, operations and maintenance boats and technicians will be based in Wales, NOT NORTH DEVON, proving that the idea of loads of new jobs to our area is a myth, a point we have been making all along.
    The new timetable for further consultations has been published. Again this is a disgrace with only seven meetings planned for the whole of South West England and six for the whole of Wales. Please note the only meeting in Bideford is Sunday 15 July, 11.00 am till 5 pm and will be held at Bideford College. There is also a consultation on 12th July at Abbotsham.
    Having talked in person to one of the SW grid managers I am assured the only reason that RWE has opted to bring their electricity ashore at Abbotsham, an area of special scientific interest, is one of cost. It could just as effectively be sited to come ashore at Hinkley Point and link up with the grid there.
    Since last year I have been asking Torridge District Council at their highest level why the council are not counteracting this wind farm proposal with a scheme to embrace our tremendous tidal power instead. I have addressed the same question to Geoffrey Cox, our MP. Since my questions began the South West has been named as the UK’s first Marine Energy Park, supposedly ‘placing the region on the international map for leadership in marine renewable energy’. Apparently the designated South West Marine Energy Park will stretch from Bristol through to Cornwall and as far as the Isles of Scilly. So where does North Devon fit into all this? It is the Bristol Channel which has the second largest tidal rise and fall in the world. It is measurable, consistent and never fails, unlike the wind. It could attract much needed jobs and investment to the South West. I have never had a satisfactory answer from our councillors or our politician. Torridge is already one of the most economically deprived areas of the UK with few jobs and low incomes. If the plans for Atlantic Array are passed, it will only force North Devon into further decline with a reduction in its main industry – tourism. With its maritime background and ship building skills, together with prime tidal flows, one would have thought we should be well positioned to be involved in marine energy in a major way.
    Yours sincerely
    Niki Tait

    • Niki Tait, I appreciate your comments fully but please, please, please do not attempt to suggest that the answer or even part of the answer is tidal power. Remember that tides are the manifestations of the inter-planetary forces holding together our universe. It is also ONLY water energy density you are considering. But in contrast we have energy densities from fossil fuels and nuclear generation, which is why these occupy only minute land and/or marine areas compared to renewables.
      For your own amusement find out about what the intrinsic energy densities of materials is about and what is realisably releasable.
      The tides may be regular but do not occur with the periodicity of our daily lives and even tidal generation will enforce NEW fossil fuel inefficient tide-following backup into the UK energy portfolio, yet another economic, non-environmental, subsidised non-performer.
      Whatever happened to the ‘scientific method’ used during the last 100 years for our electricity generation?

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