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Are Smaller Turbines the Way Forward for Wind Energy in Herefordshire?

Linnell, Peter (2010): Are Smaller Turbines the Way Forward for Wind Energy in Herefordshire? Published in: MSc Dissertation, University of East London (10 June 2010)

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This study set out to determine the social and economic viability of a proposal that smaller turbines are 'better' for wind energy in the county of Herefordshire. The study is in two parts, an opinion poll and a technical desk study. The opinion poll was to discover variations in attitude to three sizes of turbines. Data gathered to allow sample verification also allowed investigation of how attitude varied with demographic factors. Additional questions gave estimates of public perception of WECS effectiveness related to size; and some basic findings on issues of ownership and investment. A random stratified sample of 500 county residents yielded results showing strong correlation between size and attitudes. Questions were designed to also test the 'conditional' supporter model proposed by Bell and others, which was confirmed. Older and better off groups are significantly more likely to be opposed to any size of WECS; but strongest support also includes younger better off people. Respondents over estimated output of smallest and under estimated output of largest turbines. A considerable sub population supports the technology and local ownership, appearing willing to invest. Some methodological issues remain unresolved, but the results given are considered sufficiently robust for this scale of study. The economic analysis was heavily dependant on a few meta-studies, backed up with calculations from primary data for calibration. The proposal to develop arrays of small turbines in place of large machines is revealed as unviable in energy and financial terms. A model of sub urban or industrial locations for medium and large scale WECS is proposed. In addition a community ownership model for projects at this scale is advanced as a pathway to local energy resilience, supportive participation, and energy equity.

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