David Miliband is quoted in The Journal (“Peer wins fight to build wind turbine” September 23) as saying: “Anyone who says they believe in renewable energy, but not about wind farms (sic), needs to be exposed for their hypocrisy.”
Well, much as his Government encourages faith-based policies, I would suggest to the Environment Secretary that the relative merits of renewable energy technologies are not a matter of belief, or ministerial diktat, but of evidence.
Wind power generation, compared to other renewables, is a low value technology, a fact now demonstrated in depth by empirical data from Germany and Denmark.
The evidence shows that the degree to which wind power can replace conventional capacity is very low (German grid operators estimate that 48,000mw of wind will replace only 2,000mw of conventional plant).
Large scale expansion of the grid is required solely to cope with intermittent wind power. “Achieved capacity factors” (actual power produced compared to headline capacity) for onshore wind in the United Kingdom are not promising, with significant regional variations which have important implications for the likely concentration of the UK wind development. The North-East has the lowest average in the country.
Both Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office (NAO) have criticised the Government for “poor targeting” of the Renewables Obligation (RO) subsidy system, creating undeserved rewards for onshore wind at the expense of other renewables which are more deserving of support. The NAO has accused the RO system of paying 33% more than is needed to encourage development by onshore wind developers. It is this excess, and nothing else, which is fuelling the present Klondike windrush.
The Government’s recent Energy Review came to the same conclusion. But, such is the urgency of global warming that the Government does not intend doing anything about it until 2009/2010!
The hypocrisy of Mr Miliband and the Government is summed up by their total lack of action to discourage the huge, ongoing expansion in air travel in this country.
Most experts agree that the projected expansion of air travel in the UK will more than wipe out the theoretical saving in carbon emissions from the entire projected onshore wind build in the UK.
DON BROWNLOW, webmaster: www.windbyte.co.uk www.moorsydeactiongroup.org.uk, Norham, Northumberland
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