Tag Archives: wiind turbines

Je suis le Roi de la mairde


A normal pond? Not quire – note the white colouration of the water, This is spent drilling fluid from drilling through chalk to bring cables off the North Sea wind farms.



The attached below link is to the Dutch drilling company, VSH website. The pictures (scroll down a bit) are of the drilling operation bringing cables off the North Sea wind farms to the site at Holt in North Norfolk.  This brings renewable energy to the UK consumers.  What Land Research does is to take the cuttings and spent fluids from such operations and re-use them, usually on agricultural land to replace the 2.5 million tonnes of top soil which the UK loses by wind and rain erosion, down into the sea, every year. Renewable energy with zero waste from such construction operations.


Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 22 June 17


Farming, the utilities and UK economic life

Dom Arnold’s JCB Fastrack and 360 excavator on its way to assist in laying cables from the North Sea wind farms under farmland in Norfolk to the National Grid to supply the economicm life of the UK.

Farming is not just food production, it is the back-bone of the economic life of the UK. It is not just the food chain which is integrated with so much of UK industry, it is the land itself.

The land is what the whole lot stands on, even the City of London and all its financial activity. It is the land across which we travel and which carries the life blood of economic activity.  It is the land across which the water, electricity and gas are channelled to carry energy to the people and their businesses.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ld. 7th June 17













Shale gas is BEO



Do you heat your home by gas? How long would it take to change your house and several million others to renewable electricity – if we had it? (Which we don’t.)

Why is shale gas BEO (Best Environmental Option) and an environmental necessity in the UK? There is a stark choice looming.  Solar and wind turbine farms do not produce gas. Around two thirds/ three quarters of UK homes are heated by gas. Just suppose we had the renewable energy capability which was also sustainable (you get more out then you put in), which we do not have yet, but even if we did, how long would it take to change all those domestic properties to renewable and sustainable electricity?  Never mind the cost (which would be substantial), how long would it take to change several million households? Without any doubt, any doubt whatsoever, several generations.

A significant proportion of our gas is imported.  No other country in the world has technology as good as the UK drilling industry.  No other country in the world is as well regulated and inspected as the UK.  There are British drilling fluids you can drink. (Not too much at once – you would get constipated but not poisoned.)  Logically, if we have a higher degree of environmental friendliness, have our shale gas not someone else’s.  Shale gas is a clean burn “transition fuel” which will buy us the time and give us the cash to develop sustainable renewable energy – provided we do not squander the cash on something else. (Not to mention North Sea oil?) Keeping jobs here is a bonus and not an insignificant one.

Want some more figures?  Go to www.shalegas.co.uk.

Bill Butterworth 6th February 2016



Wind powered flour mill


  • Example of a flour mill with more than half its power coming from a wind turbine.
  • It probably is sustainable.
  • Have the vision.
  • Doing the wind homework.

By Bill Butterworth

11 March 15




This flour mill in Kansas, USA, has 65% of its total electrical power provided by the turbine in the photograph. Photo courtesy of Stafford County Flour Mills. Kansas is good with wind. How is your site? How do you know?

Despite my frequent warnings that not all renewable energy is sustainable, some of it really does make sense. As an example, Karl Ohm, editor, from First Quarter 2015 Milling Journal, reports “Besides being one of the best wheat growing areas in the United States, Kansas ranks consistently as one of the top two states in terms of total wind capacity for generating economically from wind turbines, according to the US Dept of Energy.” Ohm goes on to report on the facility in the picture above of a wind-powered flour mill. (Photo courtesy of Stafford County Flour Mills.) The mill reported in Milling Journal has a storage capacity of 3.4 million bushels and the development of wind power was to generate electricity sustainably for the production of “2,400 cwt per day of certified organic flour”. Well, the 850 kW turbine meets 65% of the facilities total electricity demand.  You can read the full report at http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk//launch.aspx?pbid=2b069177-755d-46eb-ae0d-874d01288b93&pnum=46

So, does it work and is it really sustainable? Well, at this distance, I am not in a position to prove it with specific evidence one way or the other. However, Milling Journal is a long established and respected journal, not given to anything but correct, factual reporting without wild claims. Secondly, the US Dept of Energy does recognise the geographic area as one of potentially good generation characteristics from wind turbines. Thirdly, some of the USA-based university surveys do indicate that well sited, well maintained wind turbines can deliver a lifetime output several times their total energy input to manufacture, commission and decommission.

So, this example probably is what it claims to be; economically sustainable and environmentally sustainable.

What’s the lesson? Have the vision, do the homework. Have the courage to act on the evidence; do it or get off it.

Wind homework

Back in February, I went to the “Energy Now” exhibition in Telford, UK. I went on the Met Office stand. As a follow up I had an e-mail summarising what they could do to assist in the homework.

So here it is.

1) Virtual Met Mast and Virtual Met Mast Plus – site wind assessment to support site search/screening, selection and development activities. We also generate 30 years of hourly time series wind speed and direction. A sample report can be found at  http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/renewables/vmm and more case studies on VMM at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/renewables/standards. Also attached is the latest verification report which details the method of producing the report and data – and the results of the verification against live site data. 2) VisualEyes – site specific weather forecasts web based application – up to 2 weeks out – for health and safety and operational planning resulting in major operational cost saving benefits. 3) Wind Production Forecast – a site specific short term wind forecast – up to 2 weeks – but most normally used for next 24/36 hours as input to power forecast models for grid energy balancing and/or supporting trading activities.

4) Solar Production Forecast – a site specific short term wind forecast – up to 2 weeks – but most normally used for next 24/36 hours as input to power forecast models for grid energy balancing and/or supporting trading activities.

5) Site Specific Solar Report – a site specific solar assessment to support site search/screening, selection and development activities.

Contact details are;

Amy Evans

Account Manager – Renewables

Met Office. FitzRoy Road, Exeter.  EX1 3PB

Tel : +44 (0)1392 885317

Mobile: +44 (0)7867 958467


Wind turbines: are they sustainable?

  • Evidence that some wind turbines receive up to 39 times as much energy back than is put in
  • Coal fired power stations produce up to 100 times the life-time greenhouse gas production of wind turbines
  • Benefits of turbines depend on careful research and planning

29 December 2014

By Bill Butterworth

photo (3)

There is something comfortable about windmills. However, not everyone feels so good about wind turbines. In this blog, I really do like to question commonly held views. I like to question my own, too.

Are you in the “wind turbines are green” camp or just think they are a bit of a silly fashion because they will never pay back the energy put in? Would you have one on your property if they make money? Do you think that the politicians are wrong to spend so much taxpayers’ money subsidising them? Do we really know if wind turbines are genuinely “sustainable” and does it matter anyway?

It is commonly said that one should never believe anything until a government minister has denied it. Probably the converse is true in this case; as government wants us to believe that wind turbines are “green”, environmentally friendly and “sustainable, they probably aren’t. So what really is the truth?

Craig and Neal Birch farm at Sproxton, near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire. The brothers joined Land Network, the farmer-owned group, nearly a decade ago with the objective of reducing mineral fertiliser use by recycling urban wastes; thus saving indirect energy inputs in their farming. Their long term strategy is to change energy inputs and move into 21st century technology then move attention to direct energy production. They decided to put a wind turbine in a couple of years ago and did their homework carefully, including a year of wind recording on the proposed site. Their operation is computerised, so Craig can sit in the farm office and monitor exactly what is happening up the mast. While I phoned him about this article, he switched over to the turbine monitor on his computer and observed that in the last hour the turbine had produced 37kWhrs and earned £10. Their best day was 1700 kWh (£459) and the worst was nil, of course. When queried about whether the facility was producing as expected, he observed that the manufacturer (Opus Energy) and the installer (Aeloar) had given a prediction which had actually, in practice, been consistently exceeded by between 10 and 20 %. The payback has allowed the Birches to buy some more land and they are likely to put in another wind turbine – but larger.

There is a lot of research on this subject. Some of it looks biased in that what it does not say is significant. There is, however, one bit of research which looks good and trustable. The University of Wisconsin, USA, which looked at the available research and calculated the “Energy Payback Ratio” of a wide range of turbines in the published research reports as being between 17 and 39, which means that the minimum payback is 17 times the energy cost of the set up, maintenance and operation of turbine installation and, at best, output was 39 times inputs. That sounds pretty conclusive – but was it? Well, the University researchers looked at research from several countries across the world and calculated the total inputs using the following equation;

Energy Payback Ratio = Energy produced in the turbine’s full operational life
Total energy invested in manufacture of materials used in lifetime
+ construction of whole installation
+ operation of the facility in its lifetime
+ decommissioning

All of that sounds thorough and definitely in favour of the turbines. By the way, that research was for on-land turbines. The energy cost of set up for turbines out at sea is at least 3 times that of land and the risk of catastrophic failure risk is very much higher.

The other part of “sustainable” is whether there is a gain in Carbon dioxide from the production of energy to manufacture and to install? Again, it depends on what the comparison is. That same research from Wisconsin concluded that a wind turbine does, for all those factors listed in the equation above, produce some greenhouse gases; principally Carbon dioxide. However, averaged over its life, it really is quite small and a coal-fired power station would produce 50 to 100 times as much per unit of energy. This, then, becomes fairly believable. However, does this mean that we can put these facilities anywhere and it will produce these sorts of payback? The answer is most certainly not. If a facility is placed where there is little or no wind, where there is turbulence in the lea of a sheltered area, and/or not maintained and operated properly, then the figures will change downwards and may become negative. The only thing that is common to failures is poor maintenance. However, there are many other causes of failure and a common one is lightning strike.

Success with wind turbines, as anywhere and everywhere in business, depends on professional management. Initially, it is formulating an outline plan where an economic connection to the national grid is critical. Doing wind monitoring at a range of heights for 12 months is likely to appear a bore but very likely to allow the design of a better business. Part of that initial homework is consultation with the local planning authority and with neighbours. It is a good idea to talk to your accountant, too, and look at tax planning. When it comes to design of the equipment and the detail of installation, relevant technology (not all turbines are the same) and commitment to a professional maintenance programme are both part of delivering profit.

That phrase “delivering profit” raises the question and why anyone might do this. There is little doubt that some wind turbines really are good for the environment compared with burning fossilised fuels. However, it is equally true that a smaller percentage are not so good and a minor percentage are a disaster. This is not a game for amateurs. You might find it instructive to put into your search engine; “wind turbines lubrication fires”. To balanced view, if motor cars were invented now, the EU regulators would stifle them at birth; they are dangerous. Wind turbines, like so many other things, are potentially dangerous but that does not mean all are under all circumstances. Read the safety research and check the small print in your insurance policy very carefully.

It may be sensible to put good environmental intent on one side and look at the other reasons for developing wind power. First, will it make money sounds a reasonable enough business question. There is also a longer term issue; might we need our own sources of power, to isolate ourselves from imports if need be? This applies at national level, at local level and for the individual. A strategic view of self-reliance is sometimes a good investment.