BT Signs £440m Wind Farm Contracts

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

Long term renewables backer BT pumps £440 million into wind farms in Wales, Scotland and Lancashire

BT, which already gets all its energy from renewable sources, has put £440 million into long term contracts with wind power generators. The 20-year deals mean BT’s Scottish operations are effectively all powered from wind.

The operator, which once had ambitious plans to build its own wind farms, is supporting the market for others by buying more than 100 MegaWatts (MW) of renewable power, furthering its mission to reduce its overall carbon footprint. The electricity will come from the 48-turbine Fallago Rig wind farm near Edinburgh, the Heysham South Wind Farm in Lancashire and the nine-turbine Mynydd Bwllfa Wind farm in South Wales.

wind farm turbine energy renewable green © WDG Photo Shutterstock

BT’s Wind farm investments

At one stage BT was keen on the idea of owning and operating its own on-site wind generation capacity in order to become less reliant on the National Grid, and further a goal of cutting its carbon footprint by 80 percent.

This deal shows BT using its wallet to fund and promote renewable energy from third party providers, helping build the market and – presumably – cutting a good deal for itself. It is buying around 50 percent of the output of Fallago Rig, over the next two decades, which matches BT’s power consumption in Scotland.

In Wales, it is spending £100 million with Mynydd Bwllfa over 15 years, which covers about half its electricity usage in the country. England is a different story, but its 15-year, £40 million deal with Heysham South wind farm in Lancashire, will significantly shift it greenwards.

While Fallago Rig is already in operation, the Welsh and Lancashire deals are helping to fund the building of the sites there by Pennant Walters (Mynydd Bwllfa) and The Banks Group (Heysham South)  over the next few months.

BT consumed around 2 Terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity in 2013/14, with all its UK power coming from renewable sources, thanks to a long term deal with npower, which put BT entirely onto green energy in 2012. The operator has also cut its demand substantially each year for the last five years, saving more than £131 million in the process.

“These large-scale, long term agreements are a vote of confidence in UK renewable energy and support BT’s continued commitment to securing all its electricity from renewable sources,” said Rob Williams, BT’s head of energy supply. “They not only give us long term price certainty but enable us to support local economies in which we operate, with the ‘New to the Planet’ agreements in Wales and Lancashire underpinning the construction of these two new wind farms.

BT has made a commitment to cut its own carbon emissions, and provide products and services that help others do the same. “We’ve reduced carbon emissions from our own operations by 25.5 per cent globally during 2013/14,” said Williams.

All the deals have been arranged through BT’s npower, which worked out a new kind of supply process for the Scottish deal which ensures BT’s electricity consumption is matched by equivalent volumes from Fallago Rig.

BT’s move from owning turbines to buying their output matches that of Google, which invested heavily in renewable energy developments, till around 2010, but now concentrates on buying the output, in big deals in places such as Iowa. Oklahoma and Sweden.

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