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Millions wasted on wind farms with no breeze, claims expert  

They were meant to be the green answer to Britain’s energy needs.

But one expert has claimed the Government is throwing away millions on subsidising wind farms – where there is no wind.

It has also emerged that some wind farms are sitting idle – because they are not connected to the National Grid.

The astonishing claims were made by Michael Jefferson, from the World Renewable Energy Network.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth programme, he said that financial incentives were encouraging firms to site wind farms badly.

He alleged companies were over-egging the figures for planned developments – which led to the Government paying out cash.

“We should be putting our money where the wind is and that is quite often not where the development pressure is,” he said.

According to Mr Jefferson, the problem is particularly acute in the Midlands and Home Counties where there is little wind.

The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) has rubbished the claims as “nonsense” as subsidies are given per unit of electricity to the National Grid – and not for the building of plants.

Chief executive of the BWEA Maria McCaffery said: “Nobody in their right mind, not a developer and not the government, would support the building of a wind farm where the wind speeds are not high enough to generate a viable amount of electricity.

“It’s absolute nonsense.

“The only pertinent figure is the amount of electricity actually supplied and there is a fixed amount of subsidy per unit of energy. You are only subsidised for what you produce.”

She added a backlog in conncecting the most remote wind farms in the UK to the National Grid was now being tackled.

Wind turbines are gradually spreading across the UK but have provoked strong reaction from many quarters.

Many have branded the turbines – often sited in the most beautiful parts of the country – as eyesores.

And, even though they are Britain’s fastest source of renewable energy, they still meet less than 0.5 per cent of energy needs.

European Union targets state that 20 per cent of all Britain’s energy should come from rewewable sources by 2020.

During the Radio 4 programme, Jim Oswald, an engineering consultant, claimed that wind speeds in Britain were too variable – which led to turbines underperforming.

He said: “The volatility thing is a bit like driving your car and I say to you, ‘OK, here’s a green car, it uses absolutely no fossil fuel but you can only use it when it’s windy.

He added variability in wind speed could lead to major power failures in future if the system was not redesigned.

“It’s the power swings that worry us. Over a 20-hour period you can go from almost 100 per cent wind output to 20 per cent,” he said.

Despite his criticisms, Ms McCaffery said Britain was windier than any other country in Western Europe and most farms would be generating some electricity for 85 per cent of the time.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks insisted the Government remained committed to wind energy.


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