ASA Adjudication on Druim Ba Sustainable Energy Ltd
Druim Ba Sustainable Energy Ltd
24 Great King Street
31 October 2012
Internet (on own site)
Industrial and engineering
Number of complaints:
Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, one was Upheld and the other Not upheld.
A website www.druimbasustainableenergy.com for a wind farm project included the claims "Druim Ba Wind Farm will consist of 23 turbines with internal transformers, each with a nominal capacity of a maximum 3MW and a maximum blade tip height of 149.5m. The total installed project capacity will be up to 69MW, providing enough clean electricity to supply over 38,000 homes" and "Wind energy is free and does not produce harmful emissions. Wind is one of the only energy sources that we will never need to import and which will always be abundant". Further text included “Equivalent Electricity 38,000 households per year”.
The complainant challenged whether the following claims were misleading and could be substantiated:
1. "The total installed project capacity will be up to 69MW, producing enough clean electricity to supply over 38,000 homes"; and
2. "Wind is one of the only energy sources that we will never need to import and which will always be abundant".
CAP Code (Edition 12)
1. Druim Ba Sustainable Energy Ltd (Druim Ba) stated that the calculation for the number of households that would be served by the wind farm was based on a calculation from the industry body which took into account the wind farm MW capacity, the capacity factor, the number of hours in a year and the average household electricity consumption.
They stated that the total installed capacity referred to in the ad as "up to 69MW" was based on 23 turbines with a maximum nameplate capacity of 3 MW each, giving the maximum nameplate capacity of 69 MW, as per their section 36 application to the Scottish Government. They believed the statement relating to capacity was not indicative of actual generation rates and that the website did not state or imply that the wind farm would operate at this technical maximum throughout the year.
They said the actual or predicted generated numbers tended to be lower than the theoretical technical maximum and that this was reflected in the capacity factor which formed part of the calculation. They said they had used a capacity factor of 30% in their calculations to reflect the fact that the wind farm would not generate electricity at the technical maximum of 69 MW throughout the year. They said the use of this factor reflected the fact that the wind did not blow all the time or at a constant speed and that it also took into account outage time for maintenance. They said this 30% figure had historically been used for Scotland and was supported by the industry body’s methodology and further supported by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) Numerical Objective Analysis of Boundary Layer (NOABL) wind speed data for the relevant square kilometre data for the site.
They said that if the wind farm were to operate at the maximum nameplate capacity of 69 MW throughout the year (i.e. 8,760 hours), the amount of electricity produced would be 604,440 MWh and that, dividing this by the average MWh household annual consumption resulted in the figure of 128,604 households. They explained that when the capacity factor of 30% was entered into the calculation this had produced the figure 38,581 households, which had been rounded down to 38,000. They stated however that they had modified the claim slightly to read ".... producing enough electricity to supply approximately 38,000 homes".
They provided details the industry bodies recommended methodologies (including the use of the 30% figure for the capacity factor) along with DECC advice on average household electricity consumption.
2. They said the claim "Wind is one of the only energy sources that we will never need to import and which will always be abundant" was based on the fact that Scotland was one of the windiest places in Europe. They said this was supported by a wind atlas published by an independent organisation for the European Commission and by information on the Scottish Governments website concerning wind farms and energy.
The ad included the text “The total installed capacity will be up to 69MW producing enough clean energy to supply over 38,000 homes” and “Equivalent electricity 38,000 households per year” which was likely to be understood by consumers to mean that the equivalent of 38,000 homes would be supplied with electricity generated by the wind farm. The ASA noted the formula used to establish this figure moderated the maximum MW capacity of the proposed farm with a ‘capacity factor’ in order to take into account the fact wind was not constant and that wind speeds varied. Whilst Druim Ba believed this was supported by NOABL wind speed data for the general wind conditions for each square kilometre for the proposed site, the data confirming it was not submitted. We considered that NOABL data could be used as the basis of a calculation when making an estimated claim about the amount of electricity that could be generated from a planned wind farm. However, we understood it did not provide the level of certainty and accuracy associated with measurements taken on-site and therefore was not suitable for supporting absolute claims for electricity generation in relation to a proposed wind farm. Because the claim in the ad used definitive language, we considered that it was not clearly presented as an estimate and that the calculation that formed the basis of the claim should have used a capacity factor that was based on site-specific data. Because the calculation was not based on site-specific data, we concluded that the claim had not been substantiated and that the ad was misleading.
On this point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.11 (Exaggeration).
2. Not upheld
We considered the claim "Wind is one of the only energy sources that we will never need to import and which will always be abundant" would be understood by consumers to mean that, compared to fuels such as oil and gas, wind was a plentiful natural resource that could always be harnessed and would not be depleted through use. Because the ad did not state or imply that wind speeds were guaranteed or that it would be windy all of the time, we concluded that the claim was not misleading.
On this point we considered the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.11 (Exaggeration) but did not find it in breach.
The ad should not appear again in its current form. We told Druim Ba to ensure it held site specific data if making absolute claims for energy generation for the proposed site.