Businesses could see their energy bills cut by a third or more at no cost to themselves through 'merchant wind power', according to Ecotricity and Friends of the Earth.
Under merchant wind power
agreements, businesses benefit from on-site renewable energy
without having to take on the cost and the risk of building the wind turbines. Green energy firm Ecotricity
, which pioneered merchant wind power a decade ago, said it can reduce business energy costs by up to 35 per cent if the turbines are built alongside industrial sites.
"Building wind power on-site and supplying it directly to a factory, a distribution centre or port, not only cuts carbon emissions but because you don’t need to transport
electricity via the grid – energy costs can be slashed," said Ecotricity boss Dale Vince. Rising energy costs
Only a handful of businesses in the UK currently power their operations from a wind turbine, but green group Friends of the Earth said more should do because UK-based businesses, like British households, are facing rising energy costs due to growing worldwide demand for fossil fuels.
"If we are serious about growing the country out of recession with a low carbon economy, UK manufacturing and industry should be generating their own clean British energy on-site," Friends of the Earth, executive director, Andy Atkins said.
Only one in four wind farm proposals on greenfield sites currently receive planning approval from local authorities, but Ecotricity and Friends and the Earth point out that 95 per cent of wind projects on industrial land do get approved.
Ecotricity has also built wind turbines at Bristol Port, Ford’s Dageham Diesel plant and Michelin’s Dundee factory in the last five years.
"We take on the cost and the risk of building the wind turbine – while the merchant customer simply provides the land and gets smaller energy bills and a smaller carbon footprint. Any unused electricity spills back onto the grid," Vince explained.
"In the process, British industry becomes more competitive – helping to safeguard local British industrial and manufacturing jobs."
In five years, the three wind turbines at Bristol Port have produced 72.2 gigawatt hours (Gwh )of electricity – the equivalent of powering 3661 average homes annually. Bristol Port have used 55.5 Gwh, while the excess 16.8 Gwh has been exported to the grid. According to Ecotricity, this has reduced the port’s energy bill by thousands of pounds and cut its carbon emissions by almost 24,000 tonnes of CO2.
Later this year, Ecotricity will be building wind turbines to power a second Michelin factory in Northern Ireland, while there is also planning permission for a wind turbine to be erected at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn, Norfolk.
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