*How many wind farms are there in the UK?
How many are being planned?
Simple questions which surely deserve simple answers?
Today it’s not possible to answer these questions.
- Ofgem have some information on the stations that claim subsidies.
- DECC have information on planning applications for renewables.
- Renewable UK have a statistics page listing some stations with very limited information.
In order to allow the debate around renewable energy to be informed it’s necessary to be able to answer these and more questions. Knowing the details of every station will allow many questions to be answered.
“Just the Facts, ma’am”
Variable Pitch has been running for over a year and I have been contacted by people from all sides of the debate. Such a reception has confirmed my view that sites providing information should be totally impartial, regardless of the views of their authors. Opinion and commentary have no place on such sites and I would suggest that a register is certainly in that class.
At a minimum the information needed for each station is (I believe)
- Name and address
- Owner details
- Dates of key events
- Geographic location
- Details of renewable generation
- Number and type of installed generators
- Contact information
The information collected should then be
- be freely available to all
- easily searchable and exported
- as up to date as possible
- as accurate as possible
Following on from work I have done for http://www.variablepitch.co.uk/ some of this information can be obtained from Ofgem. Some of it can be obtained from DECC and some is simply not readily available. Quite why so many companies go to great lengths to not reveal the turbines they install is an ongoing source of mystery and amusement.
Once the information has been gathered the next challenge is keeping it up to date. Most of the sources of information listed above are slow to update (if they ever are). There is nothing that forces developers of renewable energy to inform anyone of their plans until they enter the planning stages. Once complete they only need to supply the information requested by Ofgem. Asking them for information will sometimes result in a reply but often simply results in silence. For an industry that claims to be open there is a lot they don’t want to openly discuss!
Making It Happen
There is no point lobbying the government for such a resource. Even if they were interested and motivated we’d end up with another travesty like the Ofgem website (which is barely fit for any form of purpose).
Any collection of information needs to be totally impartial so none of the trade bodies or protest groups are in a position to manage it.
That leaves us.
I believe that such a site should be created. Further I believe it should be created sooner rather than later. There are people throughout the UK developing websites that collect information on developments in their areas, whether geographic or technologic. Pooling that information would be an excellent start, but we need more. We need to push for developers to be more open and for information to be updated on a more regular basis.
The success of online communities shows what’s possible. Those of us who have experience around this subject need to start talking and thinking about how we work together. If that sounds like you, get in touch!