Sir, Government plans to install up to 7,000 wind turbines to help to plug the energy gap have been spun as a huge leap forward for clean energy, (“Sea wind farms could light up Britain,” Dec 10).
However, Denmark, which is Europe’s most wind-intensive state, has subsidised its wind sector through consumers’ electricity bills to the tune of £231 million in the first half of 2007. The money was levied through the Public Service Obligation, which guarantees a minimum price for their output regardless of the wholesale price of electricity. The British equivalent is the Renewables Obligation, which costs British consumers £1 billion a year and rising.
Denmark’s wind farms could provide around 64 per cent of the country’s electricity but this rarely occurs as wind is intermittent and does not supply consistent baseload power to the grid. Consequently, in 2006 Danish carbon emissions rose as the Danish grid fell back on old conventional fossil fuel stations to plug the gap left by underperforming wind farms. Consequently, Danish carbon emissions rose by 36 per cent in 2006.
Over-zealous support for wind could be a step backward for energy consumers. Instead, the Government urgently needs to encourage new baseload providers such as clean coal, with carbon capture and storage, and new nuclear power stations to balance our energy mix and prevent us becoming too dependent on imported gas for electricity generation.
Sir, In 2006 the UK Energy Review demonstrated that off-shore wind power was the most expensive of the generation options; at £80/Mwh it is twice as expensive as several zero or low-carbon alternatives. The extra cost to UK consumers would be about £5 billion per year. The capital cost, according to the Energy Review, would be 15 times as much as the lowest cost alternative because the technology is expensive and the turbines can operate for only about 35 per cent of the time.
The Government seems to have decided against its own published documentation to go for a target at all costs. This looks like political grandstanding and we deserve better.
Sir, The proposal to build 33GW of wind turbine capacity can be expected to produce the energy output equivalent of only eight gigawatts of conventional steam plant. And that at largely unpredictable times and input points on the system.
Further, any attempt to apply even half of 33GW of wind generation when it is available, would render the network uncontrollable.
11 December 2007
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