HC Deb 26 May 2004 vol 421 cc1684-5W
Miss McIntosh

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment the Government have made of the(a) energy and (b) carbon costs of wind farms including (i) the concrete content of foundations, (ii) losses in transmission and (iii) infrastructure such as access roads. [174802]

Mr. Timms

While there are some carbon emissions associated with the construction of wind farms and their associated infrastructure these are very small compared to the carbon emissions saved by the wind farm over its lifetime of operation. Wind Energy Fact Sheet 14, which can be found on the DTI website (www.dti.gov.uk/energy/renewables/publications/pdfs/windfs14.pdf) provides further information on the life cycle emissions from wind farms relative to fossil fuel electricity generating technologies.

In relation to transmission losses, these will affect all forms of electricity generation in a similar manner related to the distance transferred, type of power cable transferred through etc. Overall losses in the England and Wales transmission system are approximately 1.5 per cent. but no estimate has been made of what proportion of this energy loss is attributable to wind energy.

Miss McIntosh

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how the Government's energy policy takes account of the problems of grid security and stability caused by large-scale remote wind generation; [174803]

(2) how the Government's energy policy of large-scale wind farm development, particularly in remote parts of the UK, will affect the risks of large-scale electricity blackouts in the UK. [174806]

Mr. Timms

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 6 February 2004,Official Report, column 1098W.

Large-scale blackouts are very rare events in the UK. For example, in England and Wales, the amount of energy not supplied by NGT due to transmission failures over the last 12 years is an extremely small proportion to total system throughput, averaging less than 0.0001 per cent. This compares very favourably with other transmission network operators.

The Government are working closely with the electricity industry to ensure that all necessary reinforcements required by the integration of renewable generation will be completed expeditiously. In addition, the industry is working to ensure that wind and other renewable generation connection to the system in future will have the characteristics necessary to maintain the integrity of the electricity networks. The Government in conjunction with the electricity industry, are also exploring possible means of further mitigating the effects of intermittency and unpredictability, for example by the application of additional electricity storage. DTI and Ofgem will continue to monitor electricity security issues through the Joint Electricity Security of Supply working group.

Miss McIntosh

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many miles of new power lines will be needed in(a) Yorkshire and (b) other parts of England to accommodate the grid development identified by Ofgem as necessary to implement the Government's energy policy for wind farms. [174805]

Mr. Timms

The plan for remodelling the transmission grid to accommodate new renewable energy generation is currently being prepared by National Grid Transco, Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Electricity.

(a) There are no planned upgrades of the transmission system required in Yorkshire.

(b) For the rest of England there will be a need to upgrade transmission lines but the final plans have not been presented.

Ofgem have now issued their second consultation on how to fund the costs of upgrades and the first of the transmission developments required to facilitate the delivery of our renewables targets, a new transmission line from Beauly to Denny in Scotland, is currently the subject of a pre-statutory consultation by Scottish and Southern. They hope to submit an application for section 37 consent this autumn.