The Ministry of Defence could undermine the government’s targets for UK renewable energy if it continues to oppose wind farms, according to a Royal Society announcement earlier this week.

Last year, the MoD objected to almost half of all proposed wind farms because of concerns connected with the interference of air defence radar. The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) claims the MoD opposed 48% of pre-applications to build land-based wind farms in 2003 and 34% of pre-applications in 2002.

The society’s announcement came days after the publication of the government’s Renewables Innovation Review, which says wind power is likely to be the dominant renewable technology until 2020. The review says both on- and off-shore wind can deliver almost all the necessary growth to meet the 2010 renewable energy target.

The vice president of the Royal Society, Professor David Wallace, wrote a letter to the minister responsible for defence estates, Ivor Caplin, in which he attacked the MoD’s rejection of any wind development application within 74km of air defence radars. He points out that, with 13 such installations, this “moratorium” covers much of the UK.

Wallace goes on to mention that the restrictions are at odds with the rest of Europe. Germany is the only other country to impose a distance restriction and, even then, it is set at 5km.

The Royal Society has issued a submission to the inquiry by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee into the practicalities of developing renewable energy.

The BWEA has tried to eliminate the problem of radar interference by promoting the development of advanced radar filters, such as the AMS Advanced Digital Tracker. The association says it looks for other technical solutions but is at a disadvantage because those “better equipped with knowledge and expertise on radar issues remain within the military and civil aviation field”.

The Wind Energy and Aviation Interests Steering Group, chaired by DTI, has led most of the progress into the issue. However, the group – which comprises members of the wind industry and aviation stakeholders – has spent over two years trying to understand why turbines are visible on radar and the BWEA believes it needs fresh impetus to find a solution to the problem.

BWEA’s head of onshore wind, Chris Tomlinson, said: “We do not believe that the Steering Group is going to unlock this issue to any significant degree with its current work programme. The focus needs to be clearly on opening up technical mitigation solutions to deal with radar concerns.”

Almost 200 jobs will be lost when South Wales Transformers closes and its operations are moved to larger premises in Loughborough.
FKI Transformers, the parent company, hopes the move will reduce costs and allow it to compete more favourably in the UK and overseas. It says competitors in countries where it costs less to produce transformers have greater flexibility with prices and have profited in the UK market at the expense of SWT.
The decision to relocate was totally unexpected by the union Amicus, which says a 90-day consultation period will begin in the hope of securing the factory from closure.

A Japanese man will attempt to travel around the world on an emission-free battery-powered scooter to highlight environmental concerns.

On 19 March, Kanichi Fujiwara will begin his 41,000km journey to Mexico, which is expected to take around three years.

Fujiwara will ride a Yamaha Passol scooter, marketed as the first mass-produced electric scooter in 2002. It weighs just 44kg when fitted with its lithium-ion battery, which can power the scooter for roughly 32km on one charge. The vehicle has a rated output of 0.58kW.

For areas where Fujiwara will be unable to stop at local inns to recharge his battery, such as in inhospitable stretches of Australia, his wife will ride along with him on a 250cc petrol scooter with six spare batteries.

(Picture from Yamaha Motor Corporation Japan.)

With domestic central heating controls in prominence and the government calling for more stringent energy control measures regarding home heating, TACMA’s new controls web site could prove useful.

The Controls Manufacturers Association, which is part of BEAMAEnergy, says the wide range of heating controls, suppliers and products makes it difficult for end-users and installers to locate the correct control for the job.

The web site, says TACMA, addresses this problem by providing the most comprehensive information source for heating controls, their application and marketplace. It also provides answers to questions concerning heating controls, types and applications, technical advice, manufacturers and their product ranges, industry organisations/companies, heating guides, relevant regulations and compliance.

For further information, visit

Atlas urges contractors, engineers and manufacturers to undertake its Lightning Protection Designers Accreditation Assessment.

Atlas, the Association of Technical Lightning and Access Specialists, says lightning accounts for 27% of storm deaths annually worldwide, which is only slightly less than the 31% of deaths caused by tornadoes and hurricanes combined. The association says there could be as many as 5,000 lightning-related injuries each year.

Sixty individual operatives have already taken and passed the assessment, which provides preparation for the next level of compliance in Europe (CENELEC), which will supersede British Standard BS 6651 lightning protection in the UK.

The assessment does not take up valuable work time and costs just £100 plus Vat per application. It is only open to existing Atlas members and demand for places appears to have been high.

Atlas is the national representative employers’ organisation for companies engaged in the steeplejack, lightning conduction, earthing design, installation, demolition, restoration and maintenance of high rise and historic buildings, industrial chimneys, churches, off-shore rigs, and other tall structures.

For more information, call 0115 955 8818.

The National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth, is the latest of four regional sites in the UK to win a grant in the government's solar panel demonstration programme.

Some 144 photovoltaic panels will cover an area of 216sqm in the heart of the aquarium. Once in place, the panels will produce around 30kW per hour, which will feed straight back in to the aquarium's conventional power consumption.

Costing nearly £200,000, the project is funded by the DTI, South West Regional Development Agency and the National Marine Aquarium.

If you are involved in gas, electricity or housing, this conference is not to be missed... These are momentous times for domestic combined heat and power. As the insecurities and uncertainties in traditional forms of power generation became all too apparent during 2003, the first commercial dCHP units appeared on the market to offer consumers a genuine alternative, with many companies developing their own products for the home energy revolution.
But if we are to make the most of this opportunity, now is the time to act. Domestic CHP - Driving Products to Market builds on the success of last year's conference and brings together high-profile speakers from equipment manufacturers, installers, trade associations, utilities and the government, to ensure that delegates are properly informed to take an active part in creating the energy market of the future.

Why you should attend:
• Establish the business case for dCHP technology.
• Meet customer requirements by correct product positioning.
• Benefit from the experience of housing associations and local authorities.
• Maximise accessibility to financial assistance from government.
• Create a new market to include utilities, installers and distribution companies.

Tuesday 8 June 2004 Thistle Hotel, Charing Cross, The Strand, London WC2

The second ‘Green Light for Part P’ seminar did not, as anticipated, announce the selection of the NICEIC to run a self-certification scheme. Although there is little doubt about its eventual approval, the NICEIC had hoped to receive a governmental green light in January.

Paul Everall, of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM), blamed the delay on “other departmental matters”, and stated the requirements for running the scheme are yet to be finalised by the ODPM. It is now hoped the announcement will be made by Easter.

Although the NICEIC was disappointed about the delay, several issues remain to be addressed by the government.

If Part P is to come into force in October, the ODPM must first determine exactly what constitutes a dwelling. It must also issue concrete guidelines on DIY work that requires an inspection.

The certificates themselves must also be finalised. While the format is as yet undecided, it is likely that they will be electronic.

Another question is how Part P will be enforced. NICEIC director general Jim Speirs says there will be a six-month period of grace to get contractors onboard.

However, it has also been said that there will be no period of grace, and, at the previous seminar last October, there was talk of a two-year window from the NICEIC’s technical director Mike Clarke.

Despite these uncertainties, the NICEIC wants to reassure contractors that the process will be painless.

According to Speirs, NICEIC Approved Contractors will already easily meet the ODPM’s final criteria, hence the estimates of 8,000 contractors available from day one. “As far as I’m concerned the crossover will be a simple paper-based exercise for existing Approved Contractors,” he says. “The harder task is processing the new contractors that are coming in and getting them ready for day one: They will have to be assessed.”
The NICEIC is hoping to process some 24,000 applications but remains confident despite the latest hold-up. “We’ve had a project team working on Part P for some time now,” says Speirs. “We’re trying to gear ourselves up so that when the green light is given we are ready. And I believe we are ready.”

GET has unveiled a new corporate identity in a bid to boost its profile.

The wiring accessories market is worth an estimated £300m. GET’s turnover in the year to August 2003 was £73m – with 90% coming from accessories. The company wants its brand perception to reflect its sizeable market share.

Chief executive Lance Joseph says GET’s image is not helped by a common misconception: that it is “merely a distributor shifting boxes”.
In reality, the company manufactures much of its stock at factories in China, where it has a 1.8m-square-foot plant opening this spring. Joseph hopes the new facility will further its ambition to provide the accessory equivalent of “a Ferrari at Honda prices”.

With a broadening product offering, the increased production capacity will play a vital role – especially as the company quotes 100% availability, according to group commercial director Gerry Barnett.

Also crucial, says Joseph, is product design that puts the contractor first. He says every GET product is designed to make the contractor’s life easier and believes the new Ultimate screwless flat plate is a strong example.

To ensure brand clarity, the company has brought all of its product ranges under the GET banner. All packaging will now carry the new logo. The new product catalogue, with three clearly defined areas – GET Light, GET Connect and GET Air – illustrates the company’s intentions.

Call 01707 601601 for a free catalogue.

Tony Marshall never thought that surfing the internet would result in a complete career change when he sold his business, which supplied, installed and supported accounting and business management systems.

Tony comments: “I wanted a business that adhered to a proven system and which offered potential for growth and development. In all my years in business, I have never come across anything like the team spirit and camaraderie that I have found with Mr Electric.”

Mr Electric Northumberland and The Borders is a family business owned by Tony and his wife, Diana. Currently they employ one service technician and the workload is growing so rapidly that they are already in the process of recruiting a second technician.

All Mr Electric franchisees are required to attain NICEIC registration within 12 months. Tony Marshall told Electrical Times he hopes to register by Easter 2004. Mr Electric claims franchisees are fast-tracked through the registration process as they form part of a larger national group.

Mr Electric Northumberland and The Borders covers an area from the edge of north Tyneside up to Berwick-upon-Tweed and across Jedburgh. It is one of 43 Mr Electric franchises in the UK.

Merlin Power Management has simplified refuelling telecom mast generators situated in inaccessible locations with a specially commissioned refuelling buggy – a John Deere Gator 6x4 with low ground pressure tyres.

Fitted with a specially built welded aluminium fuel container carrying 450 litres of fuel, pump, hose and spill kit; it is able to travel, fully laden, across terrain unreachable by 4x4 vehicles without disturbing the land.

The fuel container is replenished by a mother vehicle, which tows the buggy from location to location. The system is currently supporting major networks such as T-Mobile, Orange and BT’s Airwave network.