In May, just before our screening of In Transition 2.0, Paul Watkin invited people to Hulver Farm, St Michael South Elmham to see his 5kw wind turbine, which has been up and running since February. Clutching a sheaf of graphs and tables he explained enthusiastically how wind power has cut his fuel bill substantially over the last three months. And apart from building a shed to house new circuitry (mostly out of salvaged materials) he hasn’t had to pay a penny!
How is that possible? Well, the government-guaranteed feed-in-tariff (FIT) allows the Norfolk installer, Windcrop Ltd, to finance projects in a similar way to the better-known solar-PV technology. Farmers benefit from all the free electricity they can use from the turbine, and excess is fed into the grid at the premium (FIT) rate.
Planning and feasibility requirements would prevent most people from doing this – wide open space with good wind potential is needed. But thanks to the parish council chair’s casting vote at the planning meeting, Paul should be joined by other nearby farmers in benefitting financially from this inspiring shift to renewable energy in Bungay’s hinterland. And of course we all benefit from the increased resilience of local energy supply and lower greenhouse gas emissions.