To even suggest that wind power is an answer to the “energy crisis” is, at best, a bit misleading and some would say simply wrong. Let’s start with basics: electricity cannot be stored economically on an industrial level, it needs to be generated at the rate and at the time that it is needed.
This matters because wind does not always blow strongly (or even at all). Consequently, all industrial wind developments (such as those owned by Ecotricity) need to be shadowed by an equivalent quantity of conventional plant – predominantly fired by gas, coal or nuclear.
Regardless of the number of wind turbines built, the need for the conventional plant is undiminished.
Indeed, not a single conventional plant worldwide has closed down because of the development of wind power and, in some countries extra coal plant is being built to deal with the fluctuating output. Secondly, if there are any emission savings made from the use of industrial wind, these are incredibly expensive.
The Renewables Obligation (and the climate change levy), subsidies paid from all consumer bills to companies such as Ecotricity, make up more than 60 per cent of the developer’s annual income. These subsidies are costing the UK about £1 billion a year. Ofgem, the regulator, says they should be abolished, and no wonder.
For each unit of carbon saved by wind turbines under the Renewables Obligation the consumer pays £480, unbelievably high. When it comes to reducing CO2, industrial wind also has a huge opportunity cost. Money paid to Ecotricity boss Mr Dale Vince won’t be spent on other, more effective, ways of tackling climate change.
J C Langham Address supplied
17 May 2008
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