Part of the reaction which we have seen against onshore windfarms has been a transfer of enthusiasm to offshore developments. They are undoubtedly attractive to a range of interests with an undertone of “out of sight, out of mind”. Unfortunately, they still suffer from the paradigm problem of “No Wind - No Power”. They are also not out of sight.
In the case of the Celtic Array which was planned to cover most of the Irish Sea between Anglesey and the Isle of Man, the turbines will be visible from Rhyl to Conwy as well as any part of Anglesey which has a view out to sea. Strollers along the promenades and footpaths will only be protected from seeing them by … air pollution! Great!!
Offshore development also brings a whole new set of maritime dangers. Some of these dangers might be considered acceptable if the benefits were sufficient - for example we begrudgingly accept road casualties because roads form the backbone of our economy etc. But as is becoming increasingly clear, wind power offers few benefits.
At the most fundamental level, every Megawatt of wind power has to have a backup MW from a reliable source – which makes them, as a species, a pretty useless form of power generation. The knee-jerk response to this axiom is to claim that the intent of building wind farms is to reduce CO2 emissions. If that is so, then we need to see the carbon footprint created by their design, manufacture, maintenance and destruction (something which I have been unable to tease from anybody) compared with other forms of modern power generation. It is a number the developers MUST have calculated in order to make the claim in the first place … isn’t it??
Following the abandonment of the Atlantic Array by RWE, DONG and Centrica have announced that they are scrapping the Rhiannon part of the Celtic Array, which was destined to span the waters of the Irish Sea from Anglesey to the Isle of Man.
Turbines were to have been up to 1000 ft high with a clearance for the super-structure and masts of passing vessels of only 22m (the height agreed with the MCA for the coastal windfarms at Burbo Bank and North Hoyle). This is well below the clearance needed by sail training vessels and would have presented a serious hazard to shipping.
A spin-off from this decision is a substantial extension to the time available to National Grid to determine the route across Anglesey for the power lines from Wylfa nuclear station.