As rising energy prices impact on businesses of all sectors, 'merchant wind power' is being hailed as a way to drive down costs and tackle climate change.
According to the green energy company Ecotricity and campaign group, Friends of the Earth, businesses could reduce energy bills by up to 35 per cent, at no cost to themselves, by relying more on on-site wind power generation.
These agreements aim to allow businesses to benefit from renewable energy without the costs, risk and hassle involved with actually building the wind turbines.
A viable option
Ecotricity pioneered merchant wind power a decade ago and believes it is a viable option for many.
Founder of Ecotricity, Dale Vince said: "Building wind power on-site and supplying it directly to a factory, a distribution centre or port, not only cuts carbon emissions but because you don’t need to transport electricity via the grid – energy costs can be slashed.
"We take on the cost and the risk of building the wind turbine – while the merchant customer simply provides the land and gets smaller energy bills and a smaller carbon footprint. Any unused electricity spills back into the grid."
Ecotricity has already built wind turbines at Bristol Port, Ford’s Dageham diesel plant and Michelin’s Dundee factory in the last five years.
Generating your own energy
Environmental group, Friends of the Earth are also behind merchant wind power. "If we are serious about growing the country out of recession with a low carbon economy, UK manufacturing and industry should be generating their own clean British energy on-site," explained Andy Atkins, Friends of the Earth executive director.
Businesses need not be dissuaded by the legal and planning requirements involved as this is usually a smooth process. Whereas on average only one in four greenfield wind farm proposals get planning permission, this figure rises to 95% when the turbines are located on industrial land.
In 2004, eight new turbines were built at Bambers Farm in Lincolnshire, the energy from six of these is powering the Co-operative Banks and CIS offices across the UK.
The turbines produce over 13 million units of electricity and save over 11,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. Over the lifetime of the project, the merchant wind power is expected to save the Co-operative financial services group around £250,000. The rest of the electricity is provided to Ecotricity’s domestic customers at the same price as conventional electricity.
Businesses in the North West can also get free support with resource efficiency and renewable technologies from locally-based ENWORKS advisers.
Posted under General Interest on 13 June 2012