Besotted as the BBC is by wind turbines, BBC South last Monday chose to celebrate the go-ahead given to the world’s largest windfarm in the Thames Estuary with a special broadcast from Green Park, Reading, where millions of motorists each year see the 2 megawatt (MW) turbine erected by Ecotricity next to the M4. The BBC excitably announced that its programme would be powered entirely by electricity from the turbine. Bang on cue ““ no wind. The BBC had to fall back on a nasty CO2-emitting emergency generator.
The symbolism was perfect. One of the many drawbacks to turbines that the BBC seems incapable of grasping is that much of the time there isn’t enough wind to make them work. The Ofgen figures for every windfarm in Britain, recently published by the Renewable Energy Foundation on its website, show that the Reading turbine last year generated only 16 per cent of its “installed capacity”.
This is why the BBC (and pretty well everyone else) got it hopelessly wrong when they reported that the two windfarms planned to cover more than 100 square miles of the Thames Estuary. at a cost of £2 billion. will generate 1,300MW, “enough to power a third of the homes in London”. They will do nothing of the kind. That is their maximum theoretical output, if they were working all the time. In fact, thanks to the vagaries of the wind, they will be lucky if they generate a third of that, very unreliably and unpredictably,
A single nuclear reactor can generate more than 1,000MW, all the time. The giant Drax coal-fired station in Yorkshire generates 4,000MW, far more than will be produced by all the turbines the Government wants to see dominating thousands of square miles of Britain’s countryside. And, most ridiculous of all, turbines are so unreliable that we will have to build a dozen new conventional power stations, emitting CO2, just to provide constant back-up for when the wind decides not to blow.
When will the BBC realise that this is one of the craziest fantasies of our age? Perhaps not until it has to close down all its broadcasts because there aren’t enough emergency generators to keep them going.
By Christopher Booker
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