Gone when the morning comes…
Like a bat out of hell it was gone when the morning comes. On 3 June 2010, the ODA announced the cancellation of their proposed wind turbine for the Olympic Park. With it came a little media storm with headlines such as “what hope now for the Green Games?” and “Olympic chiefs scrap wind power plan”. The first question I was asked by one journalist was “What other environmental targets are the ODA going to ditch?” Words like “scrap”, “ditch” and “abandon” appeared in most headlines.
The fact is, the ODA are ditching nothing and we expect them to honour the commitment they made to deliver 50% carbon reduction and 20% energy from renewable sources. In the face of increasing challenges with wind power, they have now chosen to deliver their 20% renewable energy commitment using biomass Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system and other renewables, not a wind turbine.
Biomass is the ugly duckling to the wind turbine’s beautiful swan. Whether you like them or not, wind turbines take a great picture against a background of a crisp blue sky, a spectacular sunset, or even a thunderstorm. They look good in PowerPoint presentations, on websites or in glossy CSR reports. A biomass CHP is a collection of unattractive machines hidden away in an unglamorous plant room.
The problem with wind turbines is that they don’t go round when it is not windy and if you put one in a place that is not very windy it will not generate the amount of electricity you need. You will only know this after you have collected extensive wind data over a number of years. There were also health and safety issues to deal with such as new regulations requiring exclusion zones around wind turbines.
This was the dilemma facing the ODA and they have made a good decision based on the information they have. The decision cannot be delayed any longer because equipment needs to be ordered and construction needs to start very soon.
Wind turbines are easy for people to understand. CHP based on biomass sounds like a complex dish to serve up to the public. This technology is not new. It has been in use in Scandinavia and other countries for more than 30 years.
The Commission will expect to see the detailed plans for the solution now favoured by the ODA. But from what I have heard to date, I am confident that this is being done in a professional manner. We will continue to hold the ODA to account to deliver on this important commitment.
What do you think?