Financial backing has been secured to construct a 2MW on-site wind turbine to generate electricity at Dewlay Cheesemakers’ site in Garstang, Lancashire.
A deal was struck on March 23 between Dewlay, specialist Wind Direct, turbine supplier Repower and renewable energy investor HgCapital. The civil engineering contract has been awarded to Hanson Contractors, with the electrical engineering assigned to Agrilek.
Works for the single turbine will begin in April, commencing with construction of the compound and the foundation for the substation. Delivery of the turbine is scheduled for the autumn.
The project will supply energy direct to Dewlay’s dairy and cheese production facilities, with the excess exported to the United Utilities local distribution network.
Wind Direct’s chief operating officer Frances Karki said: “Achieving financial close on the Dewlay Cheese project is the culmination of a great deal of hard work by our development, construction and commercial teams respectively.
“In obtaining agreements from all parties we have demonstrated financial viability and, with all agreements in place, we are now able to enter the construction phase of the project.”
Benefits of on-site energy generation
Generally speaking, food manufacturers using half a megawatt or more of electricity per year could potentially benefit from on-site energy generation, said Wind Direct regional manager Mike Lee. “Whatever surplus you produce beyond your requirements, you can sell back to the grid.”
While firms signing up had to commit to buying electricity generated by the turbine at a fixed price for a minimum 10-year period, they did not incur any capital cost and effectively took on zero risk, claimed Lee.
“We do everything for you, from conducting an initial feasibility assessment to preparing planning applications, constructing the turbines, connecting them to your electrical systems and maintaining them once they are up and running. Manufacturers, in turn, must lease us the land where the turbine stands and buy the electricity it generates. But you can budget with certainty for 10 years.”
Marketing manager David Saxon added: “The minimum amount of time for which we fix the price is 10 years, but some customers are talking to us about locking in the price for 25 years.”
Rising cost of electricity
While some manufacturers had initially been reluctant to tie themselves down for a decade, they also accepted that the price of ‘brown’ electricity was “only going to go up” and that they could save money and plan ahead using wind energy, he said. “Our electricity is 30-50% cheaper than ‘brown’ electricity.”
One of the biggest barriers to progress was the planning regime, he added. “There is this ‘not in my backyard’ mentality and it can be incredibly time-consuming to get all the approvals you need, so even if everything runs smoothly you are looking at a minimum of 18 months from when we get an agreement from you to when the turbine is operational. And typically it’s closer to two years.”
Mars is expecting a decision next month over a planning application for a 2MW wind turbine at its petcare facility in Birstall, Yorkshire. Meanwhile, Noble Foods is monitoring wind speeds at its egg production facility in Thornton, Scotland, as part of a feasibility study for a large wind turbine (it already has 11 small-scale turbines operating across the UK).
Potato processor Greenvale has also lodged an application to install a mast to monitor wind speeds at its Doddington site.