Mont-St-Michel Saved from Wind-Farms
The threat of wind farm blight to Mont-St-Michel the tidal island and Unesco World Heritage site, appears to have been averted, but proposals for subsidy-hungry turbines off the Normandy coast and notably the D-Day landing site at Arromanches are going ahead.
Following a major campaign by anti-wind groups and conservationists and concerns voiced by UNESCO, French authorities April 4 declared an exclusion zone around Mont-St-Michel and withdrew earlier permission — initially granted to German energy company Epuron — for three wind turbines to be sited at Argouges, 22 km from the fortified Breton monastery.
However on April 6 France announced tenders had been awarded for 3000 MW of wind turbines distributed across five offshore zones: Tréport, Fécamp, Courseulles-sur-Mer (the internationally contested Arromanches D-Day landings coast), Saint-Brieuc and Saint-Nazaire.
The concession for the Courseulles-sur-Mer or Arromanches site is certain to be the most controversial given the objections from allied servicemen that poured in when the project was first mooted a year ago.
At the time Gérard Lecornu, president of the Port Winston Churchill Association of Arromanches, said the giant structures, expected to be built 12 kms offshore, will be visible from the Normandy battleground beaches of Utah,Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. “Three million tourists come from the world over to the landing beaches. The first thing they do is look at the line of horizon from where the landings came,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “D-Day is in our collective memory. To touch this is a very grave attack on that memory.”
The Department of Sustainable Development described the tender as a first step towards meeting France’s EU-imposed environmental commitments. This despite the country’s reaffirmed and long-standing commitment to the 58 nuclear reactors that supply 75-80% of its energy.
The plan is to generate 6,000 MW of offshore wind and marine energy by 2020 at an investment of some 7 billion euros in 1000 to 1200 offshore wind turbines. This is said to be sufficient to generate energy to meet the annual consumption needs of 4.5 million homes.
A European Consortium led by France’s EDF Group won the offshore wind energy tender bid for the Saint-Nazaire, Courseulles-sur-Mer (Arromanches) and Fécamp projects equivalent to an installed capacity of 1,500 MW and set to create about 7,500 direct and indirect jobs, including a plant to manufacture Alstom’s Haliade 150 wind turbine in France.
Companies involved in the off-shore wind farms include: Eolien Maritime France (EMF), main shareholders — EDF Energies Nouvelles and Dong Energy Power (Denmark) using wind turbines supplied by Alstom; Société Ailes Marines SAS, main shareholders Iberdrola(Spain) and Eole-RES SA, in partnership with Technip and STX and using wind turbines supplied by Areva.
“ This decision will enable France to continue development of renewables, which alongside nuclear energy are one of the two pillars of our energy policy. In 5 years onshore wind installed capacity in France has been multiplied by 4, and photo-voltaic capacity by 200. The target for 6,000 MW of offshore wind and marine energy will also be achieved. This decision will also lead to the development of a new French global industrial champion creating 10,000 manufacturing jobs, and placing France among the world’s leading nations in offshore wind. ” the Minister of Energy Éric Besson said.
Influential French groups opposed to on- and off-shore wind generation for aesthetic and environmental impact reasons and because of the costly consumer-funded subsidies needed to make the industry viable, recognise they face a tough battle. Their fight has just been ratcheted up following the green light for wind turbine arrays off the Normandy landing beaches at Arromanches (Courseulles-sur-Mer).
When plans for these turbines were first announced in the summer of 2011 Jean-Louis Butré, Paris-based chairman of the European Platform Against Windfarms reported an outcry from WW11 veterans around the world urging France to protect sites commemorating the tens of thousands who died in the war to defeat Nazi Germany. Jean-Louis Butré reminded the government that Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches are war memorials and said plans were well advanced to have them recognized and included under UNESCO’s protected World Heritage programme. Arromanches, also known as Port Winston is already a classified heritage site.
A planning hurdle was raised following a decision by La Cour Administrative d’Appel de Nantes, in a finding dated 28 January 2011 which put a stop to the construction of wind turbines in coastal areas (met un coup d’arrêt à la construction d’éoliennes en zone littorale) that is onshore. However it is unclear whether any protest group is seeking to extend the judgment to cover offshore windfarms abutting the 885 Breton coastal communes.
Here France 3 Lower Normandy regional TV reports on the wind turbine announcement made in January 2011:
In July last year (11 juillet 2011 – Lancement du premier appel d’offres) outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy announced France planned to generate 6,000 MW of new offshore wind energy by 2020 – enough power for more than 3.5 million homes and, more controversially, that a large number of the wind turbines needed would by in the sea off the Normandy coast.
See this “Wind is the Problem not the Solution” video on the European Platform Against Windfarms (EPAW) page:« L’éolien, ce n’est pas une solution,c’est un problème ! » CANAL+ – Extrait de la seconde partie de Dimanche+ du 4 décembre 2011
The two sides in the wind energy/turbine debate hold deeply antagonistic positions. The wind industrialists insist they create new jobs and offer alternative energy that is cheaper and cleaner than oil . The anti wind groups say turbines disfigure the land- and sea-scape, provoke health problems, massacre migratory birds, are useless when becalmed, don’t work in high winds and are only viable because every consumer pays a super tax on his energy bill as a direct subsidy to the wind industry.
There are 84 gW of installed wind-generating capacity in the EU coming from 70,488 onshore wind turbines, mostly in Germany and Spain, and another 1,132 offshore turbines, according to a recent European Wind Energy Association report. By 2020, that 84 gW would nearly triple to 230 gW under one scenario in the report.
According to economist Jacques Attali writing in L’Express in December 2009, Germany has 25,000 MW of installed wind energy, the world’s largest such capacity and France plans to catch up with Germany by 2019. What he labelled this “delirious” programme – described by others as the untrammelled excesses of wind fairies – requires huge subsidies which in France give wind energy companies a taxpayer-subsidised ROI of 22 % on average rising to as much as 40 % in the windiest locations, along with an abandonment of any planning controls.
For a Dutch scientist’s arguments on calculating fuel saving and reduction of CO2 emissions through use of wind energy read: Electricity in The Netherlands. by C. le Pair (firstname.lastname@example.org) Briefly he concludes: “Wind turbines increase fossil fuel consumption & CO2 emissions” but his paper is open for peer review.
“Abstract: First we describe the models presently used by others to calculate fuel saving and reduction of CO2 emission through wind developments. These models are incomplete. Neglected factors diminish the calculated savings.
Using wind data from a normal windy day in the Netherlands it will be shown that wind developments of various sizes cause extra fuel consumption instead of fuel saving, when compared to electricity production with modern high-efficiency gas turbines only. We demonstrate that such losses occur.
Factors taken into account are: low thermal efficiency at low power; cycling of back up generators; energy needed to build and to install wind turbines; energy needed for cabling and net adaptation; increase of fuel consumption through partial replacement of efficient generators by low-efficiency, fast reacting OCGTs.” (CV here)
On the wider topic of climate change — the genesis for the whole expensive edifice of subsidised alternative energy programmes imposed by Brussels on EU member states — here is French scientific sceptic Serge Galam, director of research at the Le Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS):
Serge Galam : “le réchauffement climatique n’est… par rue89
For Serge Galam there is no consensus on climate change because “science is not democratic.” For him the apparent global unanimity that has emerged regarding the harmfulness of CO2, with all the concomitant shared guilt, higher taxes and demands for dramatic action, bear the seeds of a creeping totalitarianism. “Science is amoral, it cannot be decreed, nor is it conducive to unanimity or consensus or majority views. Science has to be proved full stop”. Serge Galam’s climate skepticism comes he says from his right to doubt: “It is too early to say with unshakable certainity, as is currently the view of the majority of climate scientists, that we are moving inexorably toward global warming. The fact that the data for half 2008 indicate a cooling of the Earth shows the complexity of this phenomenon. Not after ten years of warming can we conclude that this trend is unstoppable. What is certain is that there are important fluctuations. But a fluctuation does not make a definitive trend. Most climatologists have great difficulty accepting this idea”.
Sceptics call it the “greatest hoax in the history of modern science” while converts speak outrageously of “climate change deniers”. One thing is certain opinions divide passionately over so-called climate change, its carbon-emission-free-credo and favoured remedies such as on- and off-shore wind turbine arrays.
The official debate in France has generally been favourable to alternative renewable energy despite the country’s commitment to nuclear and its reliance for 80% of its energy on a highly developed nuclear industry. But as climate change zealots are increasingly cast into the wilderness by scientists and others sceptical of the so-called “science” on which the climatologists make their assertions — grassroots opposition towards wind energy is growing just as it has been to shale gas fracking.
With the overwhelming majority of householders still clients of the former monopoly supplier EDF despite market deregulation, consumers are beginning to wake up to the real costs of the subsidised renewables industry. The charges for alternatives are starkly portrayed on their energy bills each month. La contribution au service public de l’électricité (CSPE) as it is known and introduced in 2003 had by 2011 risen to 7.5 €/MWh and is set to rise each year from 2012 by a further 3 €/MWH. It is mainly used to pay subsidies to the wind energy industry the only way the turbines can be profitable. Read more about how tariffs are set here.
A feed-in tariff was introduced in France in 2001, revised in 2006 and reconfirmed in 2008. The level of tariff is EUR 8.2 cent/kWh for onshore installations and EUR 13 cent/ kWh for offshore installations for the first 10 years of operation, and then adjusted for the following 10 years depending on the actual wind conditions and corresponding turbine performance.
France 24 the English-language French global television broadcaster has carried a two-part series on increasing scepticsm towards climate change: “The wind of doubt” which can be viewed here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).
Finally here is a useful and well-balanced source for arguments by both sides on climate change: MasterResource is a blog dedicated to analysis and commentary about energy markets and public policy.
“Precisely because energy is the lifeblood of the modern economy – the “master resource” that affects the production and use of all other resources – energy markets are often thought of as “different” and thus deserving of special political direction. We believe that the economic rules governing energy are no different from those governing other markets and are thus skeptical about government intervention. Drawing on this perspective, while employing both economic theory and market history, we hope to better inform the energy debate in a civil but forceful manner, without recourse to political partisanship or ideological cant”, its authors declare.
Story: Ken Pottinger
- This Offshore Wind Turbine Is Quite The Monster (earthtechling.com)
- French State bans wind turbines “barely visible with the naked eye” from Mont St Michel (heritageaction.wordpress.com)
- Devouring De Maupassant: Legend of Mont St. Michel (robaroundbooks.com)
- Advanced Controls for Wind Turbines and Farms Boost Efficiencies, Profitability (cleantechies.com)
- Ministers preparing to veto windfarms (telegraph.co.uk)
- Ontario government forcing wind turbines (ontario-wind-resistance.org)
- Cashing-in from Flopenhagen to Cancún
- Fillon U-Turns on French Fracking
- Cafés Wastefully ‘Warm Sparrows in Winter’