Civic wind turbines wrongly sited says council

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A COUNCIL which spent £70,000 installing wind turbines on top of a civic building has admitted that they were put up in the wrong place.

Critics have laid into Kirklees Council for spending money on the turbines in 2006 which proved costly to maintain and repair.

They were installed to raise awareness of renewable energy but a Green Party leader suggested yesterday that it was a PR stunt that backfired.

Council officials admitted yesterday that mistakes were made and the turbines had been “inappropriately sited, leading to poor performance”.

A council spokeswoman blamed “wind turbulence” for the failures of the turbines which are to be taken down.

The council has now received an offer of two new turbines which will be provided free of charge by Kingspan Wind.

The spokeswoman added: “These turbines are to replace two Proven Energy 6kW systems that both the council and Kingspan believe had been inappropriately sited, leading to poor performance.”

Kingspan Wind has acquired some of the assets of Proven Energy, which manufactured the old turbines that are on the Civic Centre in Huddersfield town centre.

The new turbines will be eligible for renewable energy payments known as Feed-In Tariffs (FIT).

The council will begin work to identify a suitable new site for the new turbines over the coming months with support on the new project from Kingspan Wind and Yorkshire-based specialist wind installers Eagle Power Energy.

The current wind turbines on the Civic Centre will be decommissioned.

The turbines “were part of a European demonstration project testing how different types of renewable energy would work together to meet a portion of the building’s energy demand and raise awareness of renewable energy”, the council spokeswoman added.

“Provided the turbines are well sited, they will generate an income stream through the FIT payments. Kingspan will be advising the council in relation to siting. Kingspan will also provide labour at no cost for the new installation.

“The turbines were installed on the building five years ago. Considerable developments and learning in the small wind industry have been made during this time and, with help from Kingspan, we are confident that the new turbines will generate an income over and above the cost of installation and maintenance.”

Council leader Mehboob Khan said: “We are pleased to accept the advice and support from Kingspan Wind and look forward to working with them in finding a new home for the wind turbines. The turbines have served their useful purpose as they were erected in a central location to raise awareness of renewable energy in the district.

“We remain committed to cutting carbon and energy costs and will continue to invest in saving energy through measures such as upgrading street lights and making buildings more energy-efficient by using double glazing, insulation and heating controls”.

Kingspan’s sales director, Tony Staniforth, said: “The siting of wind turbines is of paramount importance, and we at Kingspan are confident that by supporting Kirklees Council on this project and helping chose the correct site, it will demonstrate the true capabilities of our world-leading, robust small-scale wind turbine technology.”

Huddersfield Green councillor Andrew Cooper said mounting the turbines on a building had been a mistake.

But he added that he supports the new proposals and believes council officials have learned from past mistakes.